Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Setting up Workshops for Reading, Writing, and Math {Workshop Wednesday}

Today I am here to talk about some tools for setting up your workshops for the year!

First off, we do everything in journals/notebooks!

Reading journals.

Writing journals.

Math notebooks.

Word study journals.

Grammar notebooks.

You get the picture... :O)

So, we HAVE to have these to start the year!

We basically paste everything into these and do all of our writing and notes in them, so these are a must have!  I think our grade level asked for students to bring in 7 of these on the school supply list for the year because we use them in science and social studies too!

I also label all of their notebooks by typing their names and the subject it's used for and we just stick them on and are good to go.  It takes a little time on the front end, but it is still a time saver on the day all of the supplies come in!

We also use very large rubber bands to stick in the middle of the notebook (around the spine) so separate the front and the back of the notebooks, especially for reading and writing.  In reading, the front is used for lessons and notes.  The back is used for response to their reading, either independent or guided reading group response.  For writing, the front is used for lessons and notes and the back is used for their actual writing.  The middle is pretty easy to find because of the stitched binding, but it helps in the beginning to put the band there until they get used to it.

Hopefully you can visualize it because I don't have one here to take a picture of as an example.  :O(

I also use a good bit of chart paper so we can make our anchor charts when we start our workshops!
Ok, once the notebooks are set up, we can get started!

Reading Workshop
I use Fountas and Pinnell's Guiding Readers and Writers to set up reading and writing workshop.  We do the first 20 days of setting up reading workshop.  I do condense a lot of it since our school uses the workshop model and they've done this each year, so by 4th, we can move a little faster.

We make a lot of anchor charts so that we can pick "Just Right Books" and I have posters that I've made that I put up near our classroom library so students can remember this when they are picking books!

I also have the genre posters up by our library by Beth Newingham but I can't find a link that will get you to the free posters.  :O(  I'm not sure what's going on with that but if her site comes back up I will add the link.

We spend a lot of time talking about books, brainstorming things we like that we could read about, exploring different genres, etc.  Then we start practicing independent reading.  I have pillows in my room and we practice getting comfortable and using the pillows.  We start working on our reading endurance and we go over how to use the classroom library.  I have my books leveled and that is how they are in bins.  At this point, I'm doing running records so they are picking books that they like more so than based on their level.

This is also a great resource for setting up reader's notebooks and mini-lessons that you can do.

Writing Workshop
I use Fountas and Pinnell's book for writing workshop as well, but we spend a lot of time using mentor texts (surprise surprise) to set up our writer's notebooks.  Here are some of my favorites from the beginning of the year!
And these barely scratch the surface of books...books are such a great way to teach author's craft and as examples of how to be a good writer...I could go on and on...but I won't...

A few more resources I use for writer's workshop are:

Math Workshop
I don't have too many teacher resources for setting up math workshop.  I just think it's important to teach your students what they should be doing while you are pulling small groups during math.  I usually have students doing games that can be easily done independently while I am pulling small groups.  

I start out by teaching them some really simple games that only require skills they've already mastered before coming to 4th grade.  This way, they are successful and they aren't jumping up and coming to me for help while I have a group.  We shared some of the games in a previous post.

This is the first game that I teach because it's fun and it only requires addition and subtraction.  This is always a favorite among my classes and they ask if they can play it all year long!

Van De Walle has some great books that you can look through based on the skill and find activities that you can do in small group that really helps students understand that skills.  It really takes the kids from concrete to abstract AND can help teachers understand how to teach the skills as well!  :O)

This is really just the tip of the iceberg!  I will go more in depth as we start all of this in the upcoming year and I can share actual photos!  Hopefully you found something useful here today!  :O)

Make sure to go to my good friend Jivey's blog to find more ideas for tools for starting workshops! Click the button below!

Also, we are having a sale starting tomorrow and through the weekend in celebration of July 4th!  Click the button to head over to our store!  :O)


  1. Love the rubber band idea!! I will also need to check out that Van de Walle book. I have one of his but don't think that's it... Thanks for linking up!!
    ideas by jivey
    Follow Me On Facebook! :)

  2. I love Notebook Connections and Notebook Know How! I used reader's and writer's notebooks when I was teaching grade 3-5 but I am teaching grade 1 and 2 next year so I'm not sure how well it will work with that age group...

  3. Cool idea with the rubber bands. :) We also use those same Beth Newingham genre posters. And we play that same math game at the beginning of the year. Too funny. It is a fun game. I love your anchor charts too. I pinned them in my back to school board.

    Wild About Fifth Grade

  4. I used labels for my writing and math notebooks, too, but some of my firsties still got confused. Quick fix: all my students colored the math label green. Then when I said "Get out your math journal" someone inevitably asked "Is that the one with the green sticker?" This was helpful for our little ones!

    Amanda @
    Teacher at the Wheel

  5. So much fantastic information going on in here! I set up my Reading and Writing Workshops the same way. I am excited to run a math workshop this year for the first time (and a little scared!)

    I love your rubber band idea. I am going to need to do that this year.

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  6. I love the rubber band idea! Another thing we do is to flip the notebook upside down and around so that the 2nd half of the notebook is upside down but the spine is still on the left. Does that even make sense? Thanks for all of the wonderful tips :)
    Fun in Room 4B

  7. When I first starting reading this post, it was amazing how much it sounded like me, and mentioned the RUBBER BANDS! What a fabulous idea! I am all about the compositions books, and we must have labels, but the novelty of the rubber band idea is very exciting to me! YAY! Thanks!
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  8. Thanks for the rubber band idea, I was thinking of gluing in two different colour ribbons to mark their page but this seems easier, so thanks for saving me some time. I love the notebooks you use but our school won't order those ones so I would have to purchase them...still thinking.

  9. I love ALL the information you shared in this post!! Wow! In the past, I have only used one ELA journal (reading and writing combined). Now you have me really thinking about having two! I need to get to Notebook Connections (just got it in June!).
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  10. This is such an awesome post! Thank you for all of the details, resources, and ideas. I'm excited to see that I already have many of the professional books you mentioned...we must be on the same page!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  11. Great information! Found you through The Resource Room Teacher's give-away. Teaching with Giggles

  12. I love reading about what works for others! You have many wonderful ideas. You have me thinking again!

    Rockin Resources

  13. We do the exact same thing, minus the rubber bands. What a fantastic idea! Now I'm just hoping they don't shoot them across the room?! HAHA! Great post!


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