District 64 will be introducing a different way to teach reading, called Reading Workshop, along with new resources for students to use while learning as the 2017-18 school year gets underway, according to Superintendent Laurie Heinz.
“Together, the Reading Workshop model and these new resources will help District 64 achieve an important objective within our 2020 Vision Strategic Plan to provide a rigorous education for all students, within an aligned, articulated curriculum,” Dr. Heinz noted.
“Research supports that the Reading Workshop is best practice in reading instruction based on the high level of differentiated support it provides readers,” Dr. Heinz affirmed, “and we are very pleased to standardize this approach throughout our kindergarten through eighth grade classrooms,” Dr. Heinz added.
According to Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning Lori Lopez, the change was recommended by the District 64 English Language Arts Review Committee. “The committee took an in-depth look last school year at both District 64’s instructional practices as well as the resources available to teach reading, writing, word study, and speaking/listening,” she noted.
To specifically support instruction in reading, the committee recommended two new resources that are aligned with the Reading Workshop model: Units of Study - Reading at the grades K-5 level and Schoolwide Reading Fundamentals at the grades 6-8 level.
In Reading Workshop, instruction begins with an explicit mini lesson that targets reading skills and strategies, Dr. Lopez explained. Students then practice these strategies and skills in shared texts before applying them independently in their own texts.
“Because these texts are matched to students based on their individual instructional levels and interests, the Reading Workshop challenges students and motivates them to read,” Dr. Lopez noted.
In the workshop model, students’ progress is closely monitored. “Teachers conference with students to learn more about how they are applying reading skills and strategies,” Dr. Lopez explained.
In addition, assignments and class activities are designed to assess students’ comprehension and help teachers understand which strategies and skills students need to learn next.
Groups of teachers at each school will implement the new approach immediately, to be followed by professional development later this school year for all District 64 teachers on the new workshop model. The resources will be fully implemented during the 2018-19 school year.