3 Ways to Effectively Use the Mid-Workshop Break

reading workshop upper elementary classroom

The Reading Workshop model is a great way to engage students in reading and build their reading stamina throughout the year. This means that as the year progresses, students are able to sustain reading for longer periods of time. One way to increase reading time on task and reading stamina during your reading workshop block is to use the mid-workshop break. 

The mid-workshop break takes place about halfway through your reading block after the students have read independently for about 20 minutes. It allows the students a chance to take a quick, yet purposeful break, then return to their reading recharged and ready to go! 

The mid-workshop break is a scheduled pause during independent reading and something that is exciting for the children. Our workshop break is always a positive experience and a highlight of our reading time. It is a chance to celebrate the great thinking that your students are doing as readers. It is not a time to redirect or correct students. You want students to leave the break energized and ready to keep on reading! 

Here are three ways that I have found engage and energize my students during the mid-workshop break. Only use one of these a day as the mid-workshop break is a just a short pause in their independent reading time. It is about 5-8 minutes long, just enough time to stretch, discuss reading strategies, and then get back to reading!

Reader Super Star Shout Out

motivating students during readers workshop

By the time the mid-workshop break comes along, I have had enough time to check in with a few students and find great examples of reading strategies in use. After celebrating each student, I put a sticker in their reading notebook next to their writing evidence of a reading strategy in action. On days that we have Reading Super Star Shout Outs, those students stand up and share how they used a reading strategy during their reading. After about three students quickly share, we ring the bell, and reading time resumes.

Why I love it: This strategy calls attention to students who can be reserved or too timid to volunteer to share on their own. There is always something positive to share about students of all levels. It is a true confident booster!

Reading Conference Highlight

reading conference teacher form

This is a great mid-workshop break strategy to use when you are short on time because you control how long this one takes to share. By the time the mid-workshop break rolls around, I have met with a handful of students for a reading conference. During this time, I pay close attention to strategies in use and take quick notes on stickies to share during the break. During this type of break, I share student thinking about something about a previously taught strategy, a strategy used correctly from the current unit or even a reading fluency strategy that was used. I always ask for student permission first and make sure that it is OK that I share their thinking with the whole class. Everything that I share during the mid-workshop break is always positive, remember that this is not a time to redirect or correct students. At the close of this type of mid-workshop break, I present the students with a challenge to see if they can use the same strategy in their reading. Grab a copy of a reading workshop kit for FREE below.

Why I love it: This is completely teacher-controlled. It is perfect if you are short on time or have a lot of students absent (students would be without their reading partner so they would not be to collaborate during the break).

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

reader's workshop partner talk guide and reading stems

As you can imagine, this is always the class favorite! 

Students love to collaborate and talk with each other! Who doesn't love to get up and talk to their friends, especially about a good book? This mid-workshop break strategy has to be very structured and purposeful or students can get off task quickly. During this time, my students meet with their reading partner (these change for each reading unit) and discuss a specific question that I pose related to the mini-lesson. This question is shared before students head out to read on their own and written at the board. During the first 20 minutes of independent reading, the question focuses students' reading and gives them something ahead of time to share with their partner. 

For example, if we are in a character study unit a question for this type of break may be: Think about the main character in the book you are reading. Would you be friends with that character, why or why not? Students would need to collect evidence to support their thinking on a sticky note and be ready to share with their partner. They are also encouraged to read aloud a section of the book to support their reasoning. After both partners have shared, they head back to their independent reading spots and after about 8 minutes all students are back to reading independently. Grab a copy of this student partner talking guide that I use for FREE below.

Why I love it: Student engagement!

The mid-workshop break is a planned and purposeful pause during reading. As with all the steps of the reading workshop model, the expectations of the mid-workshop break require explicit teaching, practice, and time for students to know what to do and to do it successfully. The more time you spend practicing, the more effective this break will be for both you and your students. Students will return to their reading energized and excited to read for the remainder of your reading block.
How do you run your mid-workshop break?

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3 Ways to Effectively Use the Mid-Workshop Break

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  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Where can I find the collaborate questions? I can't seem to find the link.

    1. HI there! It is part of the reading workshop kit that you will have emailed to you once you submit your email address! : ) It is right at the bottom of the post.

  3. How long into independent reading do you have your mid-workshop for 5th grade?

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