Tips for Setting up your Reading Workshop

It's that time of year again! Some of you are already back in school. I still have a month, but August always snaps me back into teacher mode.

I'm joining up with my friends in The Reading Crew for a fun link-up!

I have a few posts about how I set up my reading workshop in my first grade classroom. This one will pull some bits in but won't be the how-to set up like those were. (I will mention those posts as they come up in this post.)

One of the most important things you can do for kids is set your expectations, right? Well, knowing yourself exactly what you want out of your students is the first step. Delivering that information to your students is the next step. I do this with rubrics. Yes, I love rubrics. Mostly, I love the consistently it brings me. It sets me straight.

When you're setting up your Reading Workshop, there are three bigs things I do:
1. Guided Reading
2. Literacy Centers
3. Daily 5... sort of. It's more like "free"/choice writing and reading in my class.

You can read about how I set this up in detail HERE.

I've come up with a few tips for you. Enjoy! :)

Tip#1: Have a Guided Reading "Snapshot" 

This is one of my oldest freebies, but I've updated it since I originally made it. I call it a "snapshot" but it's really a rubric for guided reading. I thought about what I expect of my students and what I want to see. You can fill these out weekly or monthly. It's a great way to help turn guided reading into a "grade" if you need to. It's also a great communication tool for parents and for your students. If you keep track of these assessments, they can help you make goals for your students as well.

There are two options (as shown above.) One is more of a rubric style while the other is identifying specific strengths and goals. You could use both (two-sided) or just one. 

Click HERE to download this freebie. 

To recap... Benefits of this "snapshot":
  • Helps you set goals for students
  • Specifically show skills you've observed
  • Communication tool for parents
  • Provides expectations for students
  • Keep YOU on track

Tip #2 Give your expectations for center time and communicate this with parents.

Of course setting those expectations for centers is so important! Sharing these expectations with parents is also important. I've made a rubric for assessing literacy centers. These would work for any set of centers. There are a few different options, too.

Click HERE to download the literacy center rubric. 

Benefits of this "rubric":

  • Sets your expectations for centers
  • Holds students accountable
  • Communication tool for parents
About my literacy centers:
I have a whole system for literacy centers that seems elaborate, but it's really quite simple and effective once you get started. These centers are nice because you get them all ready at the beginning of the month, then you are all done! Students figure out routines and it just flows. Here's the short version of how these work:

  • Students are given a menu with all of the centers for the whole month.
  • Menus have the same four categories ALL year long but specific skills and themes change each month. 
  • Center are all compact, fitting into a folder. Four folders for each category, so four folders per folder holder (shown below.) 

You can read more about my literacy centers (with photos) HERE 
OR watch this video below for a quick introduction. 

I have literacy centers available for K, 1, and 2. 

Tip #3: Keep track of independent writing using notebook tabs and keep track of their progress/goals with a writing "snapshot."
The third piece of my Reading Workshop is Daily 5. It's actually not Daily 5 in the traditional sense though. I loved the Daily 5, but my students and I also loved my literacy centers. So... I did both. The literacy centers were activities that were created for them. Students are told what to do with centers. With the Daily 5, students get more choice. I don't do all five. In my classroom, it's basically just "free choice" writing and reading. They have the choice between reading, writing, buddy reading, and listen to reading. They also get to choose what they read and write. This means little to no prep for me. The only thing I do is set up their notebooks to help keep track of their writing. I made these tabs to organize their writing.

You can get these tabs HERE in my TPT store.

Students use these notebooks for Daily 5 (independent writing) and for writing workshop. I wanted to create an assessment that was different from the traditional writing rubric. I use writing rubrics for specific writing assignments, but I use these writing "snapshots" for their independent writing. I wanted it to focus more on skills and less on an actual score.

 You can download this free "snapshot" HERE.

I have a few posts about the Daily 5 from last year. There are more freebies if you want to get started with the traditional Daily 5. Click on the picture to go to those posts.

I hope these freebies help you to start the year off right! A few last tips to manage all this:

  • Stagger the assessments and snapshots so that you don't have to do them all at once. 
  • Keep a little calendar to make sure you are on track. 
  • Use this little calendar to help you make sure you have mini-conferences with each student to go over their progress with writing and their performance on literacy centers and guided reading. 
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There are TONS of other tips for you. You don't want to miss these!


  1. Ah...we sort of teamed up on this without knowing it. I mentioned keeping a writer's notebook in my post too. I think I'll insert a link to your notebook as a great example. :-) Thanks for joining in, Sarah! Excellent tips!

    1. Thank you Carla! I didn't plan on included that little bit about the notebooks originally, but it seemed to fit so I threw it in there. :) Thanks for visiting and including me in this link-up!

  2. Your literacy rubrics are awesome! Thank you so much for sharing :)
    The Techie Teacher

  3. Oh my gosh! I love these tools for the beginning of the year! You are so organized.

  4. So many wonderful tools to start the year right! Thank you!

  5. Great post! I like how you've simplified assessing/record keeping with the 'Snapshots.' I know my K and 1st teachers will love the idea of putting monthly tabs in students' writing notebooks. I'll share with my school and will pin your ideas. Here's to a wonderful new school year!

  6. Hello! I am your newest follower and loved your post. I look forward to reading more. Have a great weekend and happy blogging!

    Jen @ Professional Bloggers Association

  7. Dear Sarah, thank you for setting up a reading workshop here in your blogpost. I, as your faithful reader, was happy to hear about the newest and extremely useful tips for the teachers to develop reading skills. I noticed how well organized and planned the post is, a truthfully great way to show the teacher the right way to plan a reading-objected lesson. I’m grateful for all the work you have done here and an effort to make the reading practice more enjoyable. I would also like know if you can give an advice on some sites where to order essay online and develop writing skills.