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Once Upon a Reader's Workshop

Rating: 4 votes, 4.00 average.

Once Upon a Time

Posted 04-06-2010 at 05:18 PM by BookMuncher

Once Upon a Time, a very long time ago (in the year two thousand and six) in a kingdom called Pennsylvania, a young teacher started a blog. All she had was a pretty silver Dell laptop, bestowed upon her by her school district, and her day-to-day experiences teaching first grade. She taught and she blogged. She taught and she blogged. People from far, far away logged onto their black and silver and pink laptops and onto their gray desktops (and even onto their classroom computers!) and they read the teacherís blog. Pretty soon, the blog had a merry group of readers. At all times of day and night, they talked and shared about all things reading.

And the blog grew. And the young teacher grew. The two of them (the blog and the teacher) became part of each other. Years passed. The teacher started teaching second grade. For four years they grew up and up and interwined more and more. The young teacher changed the way she taught because of the smart things her readers suggested and because of the long conversations they had together. Pretty soon it was hard to tell whether the young teacherís ideas started in her classroom or on her blog.

But in her fourth year, the young teacher started to notice something strange. The ideas about reading that used to swirl in her head while she ate her breakfast and rode to school started to get replaced by other swirling ideas- ones that were not about reading at all. Pretty soon, the young teacher was thinking about everything from painting on the royal grounds, to bird-watching in the tower, to taking long, windy walks. Where were her reading ideas?

Her merry readers were patient. They waited and waited. Some sent messages asking if she was in distress. The young teacher was not hurt or sick, but she was in a kind of distress. She was trying to figure out where her reading ideas had gone.

While she waited for the answer to come, she acted on her other, new ideas. She painted. She bird-watched. She took long, windy walks. And on one of those long walks, she realized something:

Almost nothing in life ever remains the same. You have to change to grow.

She had learned it from her favorite storybook, and she had taught it to her students. But she had forgotten it herself! She was changing, and that meant she was growing! But what to do with her blog? If she couldnít think of reading ideas, what could she tell her merry readers?

She sat down on a rock to think. The sun rose high in the sky and warmed her cheeks. Her fingers itched for a paint brush. She watched the birds flit from branch to branch. She sat all day, thinking. And as the sun was slowly sinking, she scratched this message to her readers into the ground in front of her:

Dear Loyal Readers,

Only in fairytales do things remain the same. I have bloomed into the teacher I am today because of you. But I am not done growing. If I am to keep growing, I must paint. I must watch the birds. And I must take long and windy walks.

Iíd like you to come on some of those walks with me. Maybe some days we can still talk about reading. But other days Iíll want to talk about new ideas. You see, we have become good friends, and Iím not yet ready to part paths.

Please consider joining me on this new bend in the road.

Yours in Words,


Not The End

Posted in Teaching Related
Comments 10

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  1. Old Comment
    liketeaching1's Avatar

    Holding my breath

    I was so afraid that this WAS the end of your blog. I have to admit that, yes, I have missed your thoughts, comments, and definitely inspirations to me as a teacher. And yes, I do admit that I have been floundering this year. The excitement seems to have slowly sunk.

    But I also do know that we all are constantly changing. Nothing stays the same. If it did, how boring would our lives be?

    So, yes, BookMuncher, I will continue reading and celebrating your changes and new interests.

    For you have truly found that we have to be happy in our personal interests in order to be successful in our classrooms.

    And if this is truly not "the end" I do thank you for all you have done.
    Posted 04-06-2010 at 06:38 PM by liketeaching1 liketeaching1 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    BookMuncher's Avatar

    Mz. L.

    Mz. L. posted:
    I can't figure out the new Blogs, but I wanted to respond to your blog. I appreciate that you have so many things to learn in your life. I am looking forward to any thoughts you may want to share. I sense a general dampening of the reading/writing teacher thinking. And yet we do it daily and continue to find the best ways. Do you think we are all on our own very special paths? Are we not in the mood to share, but rather to do? I look forward to your thinking when you write. Windy walks?
    Posted 04-07-2010 at 01:28 PM by BookMuncher BookMuncher is offline
  3. Old Comment
    BookMuncher's Avatar

    Mz. L.

    I think you raise a really good (and scary) point. Actually, it would be a good new blog topic! With all my heart I believe that the workshop model is the most inclusive, dynamic, authentic way to teach reading and writing.

    But it's "the thing" right now, and I pray that it's not already going out of style or on its way out. I hope the cooling you are observing is more of a settling in. Settling in can be bad if we get too comfortable. But after four years of reading everything I could read and listening to speaker after speaker, I just find myself with less questions. And I don't like that. I want to always be challenging the status quo- but I DON'T want to do it at the expense of the workshop model.

    In other words, while many of us who have done workshop for a while may be cooling a bit, I hope it doesn't drive people to look for the "next big thing."
    Posted 04-07-2010 at 01:32 PM by BookMuncher BookMuncher is offline
  4. Old Comment
    BookMuncher's Avatar

    Holding my breath

    Originally Posted by liketeaching1 View Comment
    I was so afraid that this WAS the end of your blog.
    Hee hee... I just re-read that today and realized that I really did kind of save it for the end and the rest of it seems like a farewell blog. Sorry! Didn't mean to scare you!!
    Posted 04-07-2010 at 01:38 PM by BookMuncher BookMuncher is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Carolynn's Avatar


    I would love to be able to stop the swirling of thoughts in my head and search out different things. I'd love to discover drawing or pottery or other things. However, the thoughts of school still swirl. I think they do because I keep being moved to different grade levels. With each new grade level, there is change. The change brings new challenges and new thoughts. Maybe someday I'll get to be like you BookMuncher and stop the 'swirling' and get to enjoy change that doesn't involve school. Until then I will have to read your blog and see what you get to discover! I can't wait!!
    Posted 04-07-2010 at 01:38 PM by Carolynn Carolynn is offline
  6. Old Comment
    liketeaching1's Avatar


    is the operative word I hear several times in your blog. What will continue to be the base of your growing is the fact that indeed you are young and will continue to meet and greet new ideas and interests--whether it be professional or personal.

    For those of us you are nearing retirement we can leave knowing that reading became indeed greater for having read your blog.
    Posted 04-07-2010 at 02:32 PM by liketeaching1 liketeaching1 is offline
  7. Old Comment
    MissMom6's Avatar

    Thanks For Sharing!

    Just to say how much I've enjoyed reading your blog! You have wonderful way with words that is sweet and full of whimsy. I believe your students probably write the same ....don't they!

    We DO grow and change, but I imagine you'll find new loves and passions to blog about ~ hopefully we will be able to enjoy those, too!
    Posted 04-07-2010 at 04:02 PM by MissMom6 MissMom6 is offline
  8. Old Comment

    children's software

    need software
    Posted 04-20-2010 at 04:42 AM by dougscott
  9. Old Comment
    IloveK's Avatar



    Your quote was inspiring and your blog was so magical that it brought me to tears. I have been following your blog for years and it was you who inspired me to start Reader's Workshop. I feel as if I know you, though we have never met. I think that you must be the most incredible teacher and your students are so blessed to have had you. I think the best teachers are those who continue to challenge themselves to be better in a variety of areas. You have learned and in turn taught us so much about reading and writing in a primary classroom. I congratulate you on your journey thus far....and I look forward to more collaboration on art, music, math, science, or where ever the path takes us. Enjoy the journey! :-)
    Posted 05-15-2010 at 02:30 PM by IloveK IloveK is offline
  10. Old Comment


    Thanks a lot for your great job.
    Posted 06-13-2010 at 09:57 PM by Baby Bedding

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