Monday, June 29, 2015

Reading Workshop: Unit 2 {Characters Face Bigger Challenges - And So Do Readers}

(Click on the image above to be taken to the first post in the book study)

Hello all! I am joining some great ladies for a book study about Reading Workshop.  I just finished my first year of teaching workshop, and  I am thrilled to receive some more PD on the topic. 

I was asked to focus on chapter 3 (even though I've been reading the whole thing and love it!).  One of the first things I noticed when reading the chapter was how you as a teacher can assess students on their reading.  I know that I often feel that I need to do a detailed running record each time.  She mentioned that you can simply sit and listen to a student read- then you can determine whether the student is at an appropriate level or not.  I wouldn't advise doing this every time, but when working at the lower reading levels - I think this could be appropriate. 

This chapter goes in great detail about focusing on characters in text.  The unit is based on fiction text, and the author said this was a great time to push students to higher levels to encourage higher order thinking.  You can even sit and read the first few chapters with the student if it is a difficult text to help get them started. This may be time consuming, so you could also suggest parents to do this!

When starting this unit on characters, this book explains how you can help prepare the students for the lessons and help them relate to the unit. When students make a connection to what they're learning, I find that they are much more willing to learn.  

Characters can be tricky, especially for the simple books because the author clearly states how the character is feeling or shows it in the pictures.  However, this unit focuses on thinking with more depth about each character and finding connections within the story.  Students will also learn to look for the problem in the story and focus on how the character responds to the problem. 

Use this to teach character personality/traits. 

You might use something like this when asking students to describe the character in the story or when they are focusing on the problem and how the character responds.

Once they know how to find the problem in the text, students learn to infer character feelings and explain why they think the character did something.  Students will also make predictions about their characters based on what they have read and the schema they have created.  I believe that teaching students to build their schema and use what they know to make inferences is very important. This is a life skill.  This can be tricky to teach, but I found a fun lesson by Libby Swanson here!
Students will also learn to make connections to the characters in the story by asking questions and thinking, "How would I react to this situation?" This helps them better understand what is going on in the text.  I also think that when students connect to the book, they become attached to the characters.  Then, once you're attached you'll love to read!  And, that's the whole point right? To love to read!

Look at that smile!  Doesn't that make you happy! :]

When teaching this unit, you'll also want to keep in mind how students can track the characters in the book.  Students will need to learn to explain how a character's feelings or traits change throughout the story.  This is important because it helps students make connections within the book and find text evidence to support when or why they think the character changed. 

When they are learning about discussing how the character changes in the text - this might be a good anchor chart to use!

When you get to wrapping up the unit, you'll want to remind students to practice rereading important parts within the text.  This can often be difficult for students to figure out how to find important parts, so you'll have to teach them how to do this.  Then, encourage students to look closely at these parts to help them better understand the characters. 

This might be helpful when trying to find important parts of a book!

Then, there is always a celebration with Lucy Calkins!  You could celebrate this unit by having students pick a character within their book and compare and contrast themselves to the character.  You could also have students make a fun drawing of the character and then place bubble words around the character's head describing his/her character traits.  Students could share these with the class!  

I hope you've enjoyed reading about unit 3.  I created a fun unit to go along with this and it matches the season of November perfectly (which is when you would teach the lesson).  You can check it out below!

Then, be sure to check back Friday for our next book study post!


  1. Kelsey I love your anchor charts. Like what was mentioned in the chapter, anchor charts give students a great reference for independent reading.
    Eventually, these good reading strategies will come naturally for students and they will be able to self monitor their own reading. These results are proof in the beautiful smile on your kiddo's face. :)

  2. Your anchor charts were very helpful as I read through your post. I liked the purpose for re-reading and the chart that helps find important parts in a book.
    Burke's Special Kids