Sunday, October 16, 2011

Collaboratively Planning a Literacy Party

Collaborative planning has risen to a new level for me this year. I am honored  to plan the reading workshop for our first grade team. Reading is one, among many tasks in teaching I adore. After our team decided on a planning template, I could hardly wait to get started. I diligently poured over all ‘the literacy greats’! It is so much fun to revisit our reading resources! They are like old friends. From our  resources provided by our beloved trainers,  to the gurus I love so much; Calkins, Fountas and Pinnell, Routman, Taberski, Miller… I could go on and on. I love those resources. I love this work…

The Reader’s Workshop model invites the true gems to the literacy party: 

·        Read alouds (complete with a comprehension focus anchored by charts)

·        Interactive read aloud (got to have the turn and talks)

·        Guided reading (careful to include that differentiation to meet the needs of all of our readers)

·        Shared reading (focusing on accuracy and fluency and fun!)

·        Thoughtful and focused centers (for learners to practice the newest tricks)

·        Plenty of independent practice (to settle in and develop that love of reading!)

·        The mini lessons focused on word patterns.

Needless to say, I was really enjoying this work.  Until… over the past couple of weeks I have found myself pouring over these materials (seriously 8-10 additional hours on Saturdays) to attempt to meet the needs of four different classes while planning this balanced literacy workshop. The pressure has settled in as I realize… this can’t be done. Balanced literacy can’t be scripted.  Balanced literacy isn’t a neat lesson plan. As much as I adore the reader’s workshop- it must be personalized from class to class. When done well, the party gets messy! I have a passion pulling the mess together for my learners, but I would be a fool to assume teachers don’t enjoy the ownership of orchestrating their own literacy party.  A teacher knows their own class and is able to take advantage of those ‘teachable moments’ on the fly! We all have to make those decisions for our students. I am fortunate to work with top notch professionals. Yes, I can plan the party, but I would seriously diminish credibility and professionalism when I try to step in (on paper, in a plan) and influence a teacher’s workshop.  Literacy instruction is the heart and community of the classroom. This year, our school has divided the planning duties and I am honored to provide the reader’s workshop piece. (Did I mention, in addition, I will be helping out a teammate by taking on planning the writer’s workshop in the following weeks.) I have done this with ease in years past for myself and I have loved the planning. Yes, I have wonderful resources and feel I can pass along the suggestions of ‘the greats.’ Remember, I love those resources. However, I am so open to hearing how others collaboratively plan their literacy party.


  1. It seems that the varied work you're doing is going to have to be given away, right? I admire you for doing so much for your colleagues. In order to fit different classes, you provide the resources yet they do the planning. I'd like to know more about these literacy parties as I'm unfamiliar with the term. Is it a celebration with the students?

  2. So much much thinking! I think this line: "We all have to make those decisions for our students," is the heart of your post. Thanks for sharing it with us.