2 Independent work time is NOT SSR (silent sustained reading, DEAR (drop everything and read), or quiet reading time. Rather, it is a time for purposeful student reading and application of skills, strategies, and standards that are modeled during the mini- lesson.
3 Components of Independent Work Time Independent Student Work Related to Mini-LessonStudent StaminaJust Right BooksConferringInvitational Groups
4 What will you see during independent work time? Students are:The teacher is:Practicing what the teacher modeled during the mini- lessonReading, writing, talking, and thinking to make sense of what they are readingConferring with the teacher or working in a small, invitational group with the teacherConferring with individuals or working with a small, invitational groupMonitoring student work to determine whether or not students need additional modeling on the spotProviding additional modeling if needed (“catch and release”)
5 How do you get students to read and work independently for that long? Build their STAMINA!!!Students cannot be expected to sit and work independently for a great length of time the first day of school, or the second day, or the third day, or the…. well, you get it.Use your mini-lesson time to introduce or review the concept of stamina with your students.
6 How do you build stamina for reading? Start small!! Your independent work time block will not start out at the minute length. At the beginning of the year, it’s ok to devote more time to your mini- lessons and less time to work time. Just keep your end goal in mind: working up to minute stretches of work time. Each day or so, add a few more minutes to the amount of time your students are expected to work independently that day (ex. set a timer for the amount of time students are expected to read/work and add minutes to the timer when you are ready to increase their time).
7 Just-right books: What are they? Students should be reading texts that are neither too easy nor too hard. Just like Goldilocks and her porridge, students should have books in hand that are “just right”. These are the books your students will use to apply their learning (along with teacher-selected texts).Students should have “smart stacks” or “book boxes” accessible to them for independent work time. Smart stacks/book boxes are the collection of books for each student that the student has chosen for herself.Mini-lessons at the beginning of the year can be devoted to teaching students (or reviewing with students) how to select their just-right books for their smart stacks.
8 Organizing books for students: In order to choose their just-right books, students need to be aware of their own reading levels (SRI level, Five Finger Rule, etc.).Books in the classroom library should somehow be organized so that students can choose their own just- right books (kept in baskets by SRI level, color-coded, genre baskets/shelves, etc.).Each student’s set of just-right books can be kept in a large baggie, cardboard/plastic magazine holders, small bins, or even cereal boxes!
9 Response JournalsResponse journals are a great tool to use in order to allow students to have a place to “hold their thinking” so that you can determine whether or not they are “getting it”.Graphic organizers, sticky notes, short texts, etc. can be glued in or stored in the response journal. These can be reviewed by you during student conferences and/or during a time outside of independent work time.
10 ConferringConferring is the best way to get to know your students as readers.Spending time with each student one-on-one periodically will give you an opportunity to truly identify their needs as a reader AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT ON THE SPOT.Conferring should be scheduled so that you are deliberate in meeting with each of your students on a regular basis. You do not need to meet with every student every day or even every week. Just be consistent!
11 Conferring (con’t)It is encouraged that teachers go to the student in order to confer rather than the student come to the teacher.Students will be using their just-right books during conferences, so having their smart stacks/book boxes accessible is important.Conferences should be short (typically 3-5 minutes) but may be shorter or longer depending on the student’s needs.Make sure you have your purpose for conferring in mind. (ex. Do you want to observe the use of a particular thinking strategy? Do you want to hear the student read in order to informally assess his fluency? Do you want to observe the student applying a certain literacy standard?)
12 Conferring (con’t)Set a goal with each student at the end of the conference. Be sure you and the student have BOTH recorded the goal so you will know what to check on during your next conference and the student will know what she needs to be working on.Keep notes/records from each conference. These notes will not only help you remember what you have discussed/observed from one conference to the next, but they can also help you look for patterns among students that may lead to future mini-lessons or invitational group meetings.Conferring with a Fourth GraderConferring with Rick Kleine
13 Suggested purposes for conferences: Listen to a student read aloud to determine accuracy and fluencyAsk questions regarding what the student is reading to determine comprehensionDemonstrate the strategies of proficient readers (thinking strategies)Reinforce direct instruction done in whole-class settings by repeating a point, such as how to use the Reader’s Notebook/Response Notebook correctlyConverse with the student about any problem you have noticed or that the student has identifiedMake recommendations regarding texts the student might enjoy or benefit from readingDiscuss reading habitsStrategize with the student about what needs to happen nextEvaluate the student’s reading accuracy by taking a running record
14 Invitational GroupsBased on your conferences or monitoring during independent work time, you may realize that a group of students need just a little more instruction on a particular skill, strategy, or standard.Rather that conferring for a day or two, you can pull these identified students into a small group (invitational group, focus group, flexible group).This small group setting can serve as both a time to instruct and to gather conferring data (it can replace one-on-one conferring with those students for that particular time).