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Reading and Writing Workshop Ideas for the Middle and High School Classroom

Integrating Readers and Writers Workshop into your ELA program will help with student engagement and make planning your lesson for more read this blog post by 2 Peas and a Dog.

Readers and Writers Workshop is an important element in many middle and high school English Language Arts classrooms. I know a lot of schools are starting to embrace this approach to teaching ELA. In this #2ndaryELA Twitter Chat recap, teachers shared their best ideas for Interactive Read Alouds, Mini-Lessons, Guided Reading and Assessment. Read the curated chat below to gain some new ideas for your literacy program.

Q1: Have you used guided reading before at the secondary level? Describe your experiences.

  • I have used guided reading before but I would like to learn more. Lots of small group instruction in my classroom
  • My school has an F&P leveled book room with book sets for guided reading and literature circles. We use novels and non-fiction small group reading
  • I switch between a round of literature circles and a round of guided reading. Each student reads about 5 books with me in sm. groups each year. 
  • Expectations of what the other kids are doing when you’re with a guided reading group have to be crystal clear, practiced, and modeled
  • Anchor chart
  • Use guided reading frequently (at least every other class). Keep it short with poems/short stories
  • Me too! Hardly used at middle school level and now at high school I haven’t been able to, but I’m looking for ideas on how I can 
  • I use reading strategies (1-2 per text). One on one practice with reading conferences (10-15 min. per class)
  • I use guided reading in all of my classes, but I would love to learn how other teachers use it. 
  • Does anybody’s school have the LLI Teal System. Awesome short fiction and non-fiction text appropriate for middle school and high school students. 
  • Quick guided reading ideas intermediate guided reading
  • For guided reading, I use short pieces, mostly non-fiction articles some fiction. I need to learn how to use novels
  • Not me – I haven’t heard of that before…. we use SpringBoard and have something called ZINC 
  • Yes! We are in year 3 of implementing workshop & guided reading. I love it. I use lots of @Kasey_Kiehl ideas in my routines 
  • My teachers use guided reading in small groups within a blended station rotation model. Great discussions and modeling


Q2: What are your favorite books to read aloud to students? 

  • I love to read The Giver, Fish in a Tree, and Bronx Masquerade. I also love the audiobook for Curious Incident
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was always a hit with Ss. Slightly absurd, plenty creative
  • A Long Walk to Water, The Tiger Rising, and Out of My Mind are my all-time IRA favorites
  • Favourite read alouds The Giver, Fish in a Tree, The Outsiders, picture books depending on the unit 
  • Pink & Say and Crow Call are two of the picture books that I always go back to for middle school students
  • I love to read aloud things like Harrison Bergeron, The Tell-Tale Heart, various picture books
  • Reading aloud Pax right now and they love it!
  • We just adopted SpringBoard and are required to go page by page…it’s been a difficult year so far
  • Sections of To Kill a Mockingbird, Speak and The Road 
  • I love reading The Lottery aloud! and excerpts for book talks like Eleanor & Park, Looking for Alaska, All American Boys, etc. 
  • Love reading aloud 1st chapter of books to get students hooked. Especially The Catcher in the Rye 🙂 Happy banned books week!
  • I love using chapters from high-interest books as my read alouds. Anything by Sonnenblick, Jacqueline Woodson, WD Myers 
  • I love to tie my read aloud into word study, RW, and WW. It always works better when I connect the pieces 
  • This is important! I did a read aloud this week and then we used it to talk about varying sentence structure
  • Love the idea of 1 chapter to get them hooked! 
  • My students love Bradbury’s texts: A Sound of Thunder, The Pedestrian, The Veldt
  • We also read aloud All American Boys, Boy. 21, & Cass McMride 
  • The Giver and The Book Thief how do you not lose your voice when doing read alouds in different periods throughout the day

Q3: How often do your students get time to read independently in your classroom?

  • Students get a sustained silent reading day once a week, the second half of a double lesson. They can sit anywhere, which they love
  • We only have 45-minute periods so maybe 5 minutes a day if all else is done
  • Sustained silent reading every day 10-15 mins. This is when I get my reading conferences in!
  • Students apply the day’s mini-lesson to their independent reading as they read. They get 30 minutes a day usually.  My minilessons always involve gradual release (modeling, have-a-go, application). Students get 30 minutes of application
  • Students read at least 15 minutes a day in English, and sometimes in other classes. I make reading a priority
  • Everyday! We read as a bell ringer on teaching days and as one of our choices on working days
  • Since we MUST use SpringBoard, there’s really no room for anything else
  • Moving towards Penny Kittle Book Love approach. Reading is also a priority in my classes
  • Daily! I guarantee at least 15 min. Typically a part of reading workshop for independent practice
  • My 9th-grade teachers do 40 minutes every Friday. Independent reading. My middle schools do about 20 minutes on Fri, too.
  • My goal is for students to have time to read *their choice* of reading material at the start or end of every class period 
  • Yes!!!! I was always hoarse on days that I read aloud. Had to do voices
  • Two days a week the entire school has independent reading for 30 min., In my classroom. the first read of short texts is usually independent
  • Independent reading time should connect to how we’re asking students to think as readers to build a community of readers.
  • This is awesome! I’ve heard of schools doing “drop everything and read”
  • We get about 30 minutes 2x a week


Q4: What types of writing about reading do you ask students to do?

  • I do book talks and then gradually release them to the students. One requirement is to read a passage aloud to gain interest. 
  • I carry a novel in my tech bag, so I can pull up a chair and read a chapter next to a kid when I’m on different campuses. Model!
  • I give my students about 20 min a day- we’re a high school on 4×4 schedule (90 min block every day until Jan)
  • I love to teach my students multiple genres to respond to reading in and have them choose which genre best fits their book
  • Reading journals once a week, Article of the Week response 1 a week. More writing about reading if we are doing a novel study
  • I’d like to do more interactive things with their independent reading books but I spend a lot of time getting them interested in reading again 
  • Students usually look for style when reading. They use professional writing as a guide to writing
  • We do a lot of comprehension questions and connecting the book and our lives
  • We have journal prompts every week, and we also have a writing unit on formal lit analysis.
  • You can try opinion writing, narrative writing, argumentative writing, group writing… lots of options!
  • Writing in the style of the author, text-dependent questions, hexagonal writing, blog responses…
  • Free-write about themes connected to their book.
  • Dialectical journals where they connect quotes to self/text/world love reading about their ideas
  • I give students about 15 min a day – works great for my 9th graders! On a 4×4
  • Augmentative writing for “The Lady or the Tiger?”, analysis with short fiction, song lyric connections for acts of R&J
  • It’s interesting for students to write their own essential question and answer it. Less guidelines, more original work 
  • Lots of t-charts w/comprehension strategies. Weekly response journals reading response journal
  • Have also used @KyleneBeers notice and note signposts for fiction as guides for reading responses-fun to compare whole class 
  • My students do a lot with making connections in independent reading books & curriculum works. Normally quick writes that are more personal 
  • It’s a concrete way to get kids to enter complex texts in 6 areas and then choose strongest to write about. Abydos strategy. 
  • My high school teacher would give us a thesis and we wrote the rest of the essay after we read/discussed the book. Plus project on theme 


Q5: When and how do students interact with each other during reading in your classroom?

  • Students interact during book clubs, but I am looking for more ideas
  • Ideas for getting students to discuss books with each other throughout a class period. Ways to Get Students to Discuss Books
  • IRA discussions, minilessons, guided reading and literature circles are all times students are talking with each other about books. 
  • Today we liked for a sentence pattern in independent reading books. Most days students do a quick @donalynbooks style log
  • My 9th-grade teachers build partner and small group discussions into lit circles and other reading analysis work
  • One min book chats with partners then rotate; small groups answer generic questions in group and hear about other stories 
  • I’ve used Padlet and Today’s Meet for students to post questions (confusions and curiosities) as they read
  • Letting students create big projects around a book always got them reading it AGAIN during their group planning & creating 
  • IRA discussions, turn & talk book chats, mini-lesson discussions, book talks, guided reading & lit circles
  • [hexagonal writing] depends on grade level… Explain that essential questions require more than a simple answer and connect to real world
  • Mixing up how we ask and answer questions with kids is huge. Is it always whole class? Switch to turn and talks sometimes.
  • Create a question then pass to another group to discuss and log, keep rotating throughout period
  • We have used Padlet and Google Classroom to discuss 
  • Social media gives even the quietest students a voice. Fun to have TweetChat going while teaching Shakespeare! 
  • I’ve used both of these tools to have students “discuss” online. Very fun, especially with adv. guided reading groups for extra meeting. 
  • Using a backchannel like Padlet
  • For tech classrooms asking a question then using a backchannel like @TodaysMeet for silent discussions online can also post on board     
  • Reading conference based on strategies. Students prove understanding of 1-2 per conference. Meet about 1x per 2 weeks at sustained silent reading. 2-3 per day 
  • I am thinking of a way for students to “read dating” to share their book picks with their peers in 1 -2 minute time slots 
  • We don’t formally interact daily but lots of student to student recommendations claps when a student finishes book, walk & book talk with two students, etc.
  • hexagonal-thinking
  • I do couple of Reading Minutes a week 1sr quarter; students take over 2nd quarter.

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