We try to overlap what we are teaching in reading and writing workshops as often as possible, but it doesn't always work perfectly. For example, our students are studying poetry in reading and writing workshop during the same time of year, but it is not that way with fiction. We feel that studying the fiction genre is an important way to start the year for third graders in reading workshop since we expect them to really dig deeper into the elements of stories throughout the year. For that reason, it is our second unit after launching reading workshop. However, we do not feel like third graders are ready to write fiction that early in the year. They are still focusing on personal narrative writing. We do build upon the in-depth study of characters, plot, and setting we do in reading workshop at the beginning of the year, however, when we teach fiction writing within our writing workshop in the spring. A great resource for reading workshop units of study to help you get started is the Denver Public Schools reading curriculum website. Here is the address: http://curriculum.dpsk12.org/index.htm#lit_pg
You also asked specifically about my mini-lessons during which I teach students to infer character traits based on their actions in a fiction story. You wondered what the students who are reading a nonfiction book at the time are supposed to do. During any unit of study, my students must always have some books in their book box of the specific genre we are studying. This ensures that they are always able to do the daily IDR tasks. If a student happens to be reading a nonfiction book on the day of the lesson you referred to, he or she would be expected to read a picture book (Patricia Polacco always works well for character analysis) in order to complete the task. However, I find that most students tend to read books of the genre we are studying because they become so interested in what they are learning. When I teach the fiction unit, many students are reading fiction chapter books. This works well because they are often able to use the same book for many different IDR tasks.
I wish you continued success with your reading workshop!
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