No Series: Rick's Reading Workshop: Silent Reading

Rick's Reading Workshop: Silent Reading

Lesson Objective: Tailor individual tasks for students with differing abilities
Grade 5 / Reading / Differentiation


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. When is it most appropriate to pair students with differing abilities?
  2. How does Rick structure this?
  3. In what ways is this individualized time with students important?
  4. How does Rick make tracking individual goals both sustainable and manageable?


  • Private message to Robert Elder
Setting goals is important, getting the kids to understand and strive to meet their goals is powerful, but really hard. The kids I am teaching have years of learned apathy and a well trained, internalized sense of defeatism about school. Getting them to buy into a growth mindset is both needed and challenging.
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  • Private message to Jenna Schuld
How do you know which goals to set for each kid?
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  • Private message to Jane Kettering
I like the plan where a student who is struggling with reading can turn to a designated partner for vocab help. I also like the individual conferring during the silent reading period. It's strategic and specific.
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  • Private message to Carrie Howard
This is great! Many useful ideas for teaching reading at a deeper level. Thank you!
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  • Private message to Ashley Bolton
I love this! My students struggle to silent read when I have them do so. I always have students up getting books, or talking. Any ideas from anyone on how I can get them silently reading??
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  • Classroom Close Up: Rick's Reading Workshop: Silent Reading with Rick Kleine

    Rick: Reader's Workshop has a format of

    Classroom Close Up: Rick's Reading Workshop: Silent Reading with Rick Kleine

    Rick: Reader's Workshop has a format of kids choosing books that are at their level and reading silently. I don't like to think of it as silent because silence implies that it's, that it's just quiet, and I feel like there's this whirring going on in their heads. As they're reading, I hear noises and things that tell me that brain activity is happening. To me, that's not so silent. But, the real purpose of it is so that I can confer with kids, so that I can really focus in on one kid and give them some kind of skill work or some kind of comprehension work for the day, that they need to become a better reader.

    Today's lesson was about growing theories, about characters and about the story.

    "See what kind of theories you can grow right away about your characters, OK? Do you have any theory going so far? About any of the characters? You should. Already you should know something about them."

    Student: "It's Ramona that's really, like, she's making it into a disaster."

    Rick: "Everything turns out to be a disaster, OK. That's a great theory. Let's see if that theory stays the same or if something happens to make it change. OK? Keep reading."

    Student: " 'She wanted to be a fourth grade teacher and..."

    Rick: I have a student who is not monitoring her reading well. So, part of her goal is to notice when she doesn't understand words, individual words. I had her practice reading to me, and finding, and looking for places that she didn't understand words, so she could actually do it right in front of me."

    Student: " 'Ramona, holding her mouth, a mouth organ in her teeth, was riding around the living room on her tricycle. Since she needed both hands to steer the tricycle, she could blow in and out on only one note."

    Rick: "Wait. What is she blowing in and out on?"

    Student: "She can only ride on, ride her tricycle with two hands,"

    Rick: "Yeah."

    Student: "It might be, like, hard for her. So, she's like, taking deep breaths."

    Rick: "What does she have in her mouth?"

    Student: "Oh, she have like a teeth organ."

    Rick: "Do you know what that is?"

    Student: 'No."

    Rick: "It's a harmonica."

    Student: "Oh, a harmonica."

    Rick: "When you read things like that, that's when I want you to talk to Helen, and ask her, OK? 'Cause you know what a harmonica is."

    So, I've buddied her up with someone who has a very good vocabulary so that she can just quickly ask "What, what's this word mean?" in a real non-thretening way, hopefully getting her to build more vocabulary, but moslty, it's not really about vocabulary, It's more about understanding the story in better detail.

    Student: " 'A secret grandmother always said. Said.' "

    Rick: "OK, were there any words in there you didn't know?"

    Student: "Um... concealed."

    Rick: "What should we do?"

    Student: "Ask Helen."

    Rick: "Do it."

    Student: "Helen, what does conceal mean?"

    Helen: "Conceal?"

    Students: "Yeah."

    Helen: "To like, hidden."

    Student: "Hidden?"

    Helen: "Like, like if you hide something, it's conceled.

    Student: "Thank you."

    Rick: "Now, read it with that word , Insted of concealed, say hide."

    Student: " 'Hide a not as you would a secret.' Yeah, makes sense."

    Rick: "Yeah, it makes more sense, huh? Good. Good. Don't pass by those words, OK? I want yo asking Helen. She won't mind. Alright?"

    Student: "Alright."

    Rick: "Alright. Carry on."

    I have a notebook that I keep track of all the goals that I'm working with on each student, so that the next time I conference the next day, I can quickly go over it and listen to them read and see "Are you really doing what I asked you to do?"

    I'm keeping track of what they need to become a better reader, one by one.

    The best part about Reading Workshop is that I really feel like I'm teaching every kid, every day.

School Details

Jefferson Elementary School
1400 Ada Street
Berkeley CA 94702
Population: 422

Data Provided By:



Rick Kleine
English Language Arts Math / 5 / Teacher


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