purposeful planning · readers workshop · writers workshop

Putting It All Together: Purposeful Planning for the Workshop Model

My learning this summer about readers workshop has taken me to a new place as a teacher. I’ve read about guided reading, conferring, the framework of readers workshop, and creating more effective mini-lessons and share times. My learning can easily be transferred to writers workshop as well. I’m excited to jump in and try new things. I feel like my current practice has transformed and I can’t wait to get started.

So with all of this new learning in mind, how do I plan with purpose for readers workshop and writers workshop? One of my goals this year is to make sure that all components of my literacy program support each other and follow the gradual release of responsibility. Here are my visuals for the gradual release of responsibility in readers workshop and writers workshop:


I’ve decided to use a planning sheet that includes all of the components for teaching reading on one page. I’ve also made one for writing. This will help me ensure that each component supports each other. Click the picture below to check it out on TPT!

Readers Workshop PlanningWriting Workshop Planning

I will also copy my mini-lesson planning sheet to the back of my weekly planning sheets for readers and writers workshop. You can get the mini-lesson planning sheet here.

Backwards Design

I love to plan using the backwards design model. Backwards design is planning with the end in mind. I like to think about it as if I’m planning for a long road trip. First, I need to pick the final destination and what I’ll be able to do when I get there. Then, I need to figure out the route that I’ll take and all of the stops along the way. Here is a visual for the backwards design model:


Identify desired results: In this stage, we have to determine what our students should know and be able to do by the end of the unit. I identify goals during this stage. In Growing Readers, Kathy Collins says that her goals come from the standards, the unit of study, her knowledge of the students in her room, and what she knows about the reading process. Identifying our goals first will help us picture the work that we want our students doing to achieve those goals.

Determine acceptable evidence: During this stage, we will determine how we will know when our students have mastered what we want them to know.  We will develop our assessment methods and make sure that they are aligned with our standards and goals.

Planning learning experiences and instruction: During this stage, we ask “how will we get there?” We plan the daily mini-lessons and learning experiences and we think about the work that we want students to do. Kathy Collins says that it’s important to visualize how independent workshop will look and sound as we plan the day-to-day work.

For example, I use backwards design to move students from level to level in reading. My school district’s expectation is for kindergartners do be at a DRA level 6 by the end of the year. I’ve identified my desired results as a level 6. Next, I determine acceptable evidence by researching what skills and strategies my students need to have in order to be a level 6. I turn to Fountas and Pinnell’s The Continuum of Literacy Learning for their lists of skills, strategies, and reading behaviors for each reading level. I use the information to create a checklist for reading levels A through 6. I will use these checklists as an assessment tool. Then, I need to plan learning experiences that will teach students the reading skills and strategies that they will need to achieve a level 6 by the end of the year. This example is an ongoing lesson design process throughout the year.

When planning, it’s important to remember to be flexible. Students’ strengths and needs drive our instruction. We have to be responsive to what we observe. I hope you find my planning tools helpful!


” I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” – Psalm 139:14

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