What do readers read? What do writers write?

Educational researcher Lucy Calkins writes, “How do we teach reading—the heartbreaking, soul-searching kind of reading, the reading that makes you feel as if you are breathing some new kind of air? How do we teach the kind of reading that makes you walk through the world differently because a light bulb is no longer just a light bulb; it’s filaments and electricity and the industrial revolution and all that tumbled forth from that? How do we teach the power of reading—the way it allows us to see under the words, between the words, beyond words? How do we teach the intimacy of reading—of belonging to a community that has a shared vocabulary, shared stories, and shared petitions and projects?” Our readers workshop focuses on the fact that reading is, first and foremost, a process of making meaning from a text. Reading is thinking, not merely decoding words. This week, in the Patience Fruit Stand, we focused on why readers read and why writers write. We first discovered that all people read by thinking about our own families and the people around us. Later, to inspire our thinking, we read Read Anything Good Lately? and brainstormed all the different things that people read. Readers read stories, of course, but also ingredients on cereal boxes, newspapers, websites, magazines, lists, letters, cards, emails, text messages, signs, maps, recipes, instructions, jokes, calendars, and dictionaries. We realized that reading is everywhere! We also shared some of our favorite books after reading Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book and listed all the different kinds of books we could think of, then sorted them into fiction/non-fiction categories.

Bulletin Board Reading is Everywhere

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Why do writers write? We learned that all writers have something to say. Writers might write because they just love to write, they want to tell about something that happened, they need to persuade or teach, or just share their feelings. We practiced writing in different forms, including cards, lists, postcards, letters, poems, stories, and recipes. Regardless of what we’re writing, we are developing our own voice through choice. Writers choose to write about topics that are meaningful to them; they choose their own writing topics. This means that each individual student is at a different stage of writing. This allows the teacher to meet with each student at his or her own level and provide individual instruction, encouragement, or motivation as needed. Some students are working on using a single complete sentence correctly while others are beginning paragraphs. At all stages, we worked on writing using correct letter formation so that our messages are readable for others. We also practiced building writing stamina so that we can write the whole time without getting tired, and thought about what to do when we think we’re done with a story. We learned that “when you think you’re done, you’ve really just begun!” Good writers always re-read their own writing, check their spelling and punctuation, and add details to the story or illustration before moving on to their next piece of writing.

I hope you enjoyed a peek into our readers and writers workshops. I am excited to see what develops next week!

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