The Structure of the WorkshopThere are four major components of Readers Workshop:Mini-Lesson
Mini-lessons come from what you know about your students and are focused on a topic or skill that you know many of your students need. The topic of the mini-lesson should not be something that most of the students already know how to do. The time for mini-lessons will vary, but the majority of them should be quick (10 minutes). The teacher should monitor the length of lessons over time, and strike a balance between shorter and longer mini-lessons.

Independent Reading Time

During independent reading time, students should be reading books of their choice. They should not be limited to their guided reading or small group books. Student choices should not be dependent on reading levels, but should reflect a wide range of texts and genre. During independent reading time, students develop the stamina to read for an extended time. Establish a reasonable amount of time you expect students to read independently. Begin the school year with short periods of time and push the limits, keeping in mind students' developmental levels and monitoring their engagement. Help students recognize what independent reading looks like and sounds like.
"We can't learn to swim without swimming, to write without writing, to sing without singing, or to read without reading. If all we did in the independent reading workshop was to create a structure to ensure that every child spent extended time engaged in reading appropriate texts, we would have supported readers more efficiently and more effectively than we could through any elaborate plan, beautiful ditto sheet, or brilliant lecture."
The Art of Teaching Reading, Lucy Calkins

Here are some possible guidelines for Independent Reading Time:
  • Read the whole time
  • Stay in one good spot the whole time
  • Read "just right" books (no pretend reading)
  • Respect the readers around you
  • Read quietly
  • Do not interrupt the teacher during conferences
  • Record texts in reading log
  • Write in response log on assigned day
Students will need to choose several books to go into their individual bag or box of books. These should be "just right" books, not too easy and not too difficult. It will take time and explicit instruction for students to learn to choose appropriate books.

Individual and Small Group Work
During independent reading time, the teacher should be having individual conferences and leading small groups. This is when explicit teaching should be evident. Instruction can include working with students at their reading level, but should also include a wide range of work on skills, strategies and reader identity. Small group work and individual conferences do not always need to depend on leveled texts. Individual conferences and small-group work should not be just observation and monitoring/assessment. Each encounter should help students understand themselves as readers, focus on improving a skill or strategy, and set goals for their reading. Figure out what a student needs to become more independent and thoughtful.
Share Time/Closing Conversations
End the reading workshop time with a whole-class conversation. The focus for these conversations should be to share a skill or strategy, something students learned as readers, or one of many conversations about being a reader and the reading community in the classroom.
Read Aloud
Read aloud occurs beyond the structure of the reading workshop. It should be interactive, and focused on the skills and strategies that students need. Read aloud time offers opportunities to have conversations that strengthen understanding and develop strategies for independent reading. Discuss developing themes, but also help students realize that as they move through the story their thinking might change and a theme may become clearer as they uncover characters and events in the story.