Reading Workshop: A Slice of Six Word Sentences 2/31 #sol23

“I’ll come back when you’re teaching.”
Believe me, this is definitely teaching.
I confer, ask questions, offer stacks.
I make recommendations; I take notes.
I celebrate, diagnose, coach, encourage, redirect.
Most of all, I listen carefully.
“I don’t know what I like.”
“I hate reading; that won’t change.”
“I’ve never read a book before.”

I give permission. Wimpy Kid? Yes!
Graphic novels the whole year? SAME!
Reading on your Kindle? Of course!
Rereading a childhood favorite? Great choice!
Listening to audiobooks? That’s reading too!
“I didn’t know I liked reading!”
“Do you have more like this?”
“Finished! I need a new book!”

No, I haven’t read every book.
But I know every single reader.
I can detail ninety-eight reading histories,
Ninety-eight current reads, ninety-eight plans.
Why they used to hate reading,
Why it’s sometimes ok this year.
If you ask, I’ll tell you.

It’s far from perfect this year.
Too often, not even that great.
Some kids still haven’t finished anything.
Some kids abandon book after book.
Some kids are on their phones.
Some kids fall asleep, even snore.
Some kids whisper to their friends.
Some kids talk really loudly, nonstop.

But most days, there is quiet.
Everyone has a book they’ve chosen,
A book chosen just for them.
Some even start before the timer.
Already absorbed in story, eagerly reading.
I distribute the latest book arrivals.
Then I start my daily rounds.
I consult, validate, empathize, cheerlead, model.
I assess both comprehension and enjoyment.
This is what teaching looks like.


Once again, my theme for the March 2023 Slicing Challenge is finding inspiration in the words, ideas, and forms of others. Each day I will write in community and conversation with another slicer and link to the post that inspired me. Although I did define sentence a little loosely here, I was inspired by Kristasjots’s topic and format in “A Slice of Six Word Sentences” at Teachers Write.






24 responses to “Reading Workshop: A Slice of Six Word Sentences 2/31 #sol23”

  1. evarkaplan Avatar

    Everyday we have 30 minutes of independent reading time. It takes months to get 100 percent of real reading…but when it happens and the room is quiet and you watch kids engaged with their books there is nothing like it!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Don’t you love that special quiet that comes with reading engagement? It really does take months to get there, but it’s so worth it.

  2. Suzanne Avatar

    Your slice is a beautiful homage to Reading Workshop. Learning to read is an ongoing process, I’m still learning! Now I learn in a book club! When my school switched from a reading program to workshop it was almost instantaneous, “Time for reading,” said the teacher. “Yay!” said the class.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      YES! I wish more teachers and schools understood the power of switching from programs to workshop. My students get really irritated when other curricular demands cut into our reading time!

  3. aggiekesler Avatar

    You remind me of the Book Whisperer! You are doing great work with your students. Developing a love of reading is vital. 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      What a wonderful compliment! Thank you! Her work influences me so much.

  4. Patricia J Holloway Avatar

    Great work, here. Six word sentences abound to tell the story of young readers. It’s lovely.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thank you! So glad I found such a strong mentor text to inspire my writing!

  5. Trish Avatar

    “This is what teaching looks like.” Oh, if only there were more classrooms with your approach.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I don’t know how we’re supposed to grow readers and writers without a workshop approach to teaching literacy!

  6. Trina Avatar

    I would love to be a reader in your classroom! It sounds like a lovely place, Elisabeth! My classes have come a long way this year, but I am happy that we have made progress

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Sometimes I do feel a little discouraged because it doesn’t look like what I think it *could* and maybe *should* look like, but we’ve made so much progress, and so many kids wrote on their first semester reflection, “I didn’t know I liked reading but I actually do!” or “I’m proudest of the reading I’ve done!” or “I finished the first book I’ve ever read in my whole life this year!” I WILL TAKE IT!

      1. Trina Avatar

        I totally understand. Sometimes you just need to take the little wins when you can!

  7. arjeha Avatar

    Yes, this is what reading should look like but often doesn’t. Students are more apt to read if they make the book choice. That doesn’t mean that suggestions can’t made for new authors or different genres.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes, I find that many of my students are eager for suggestions. They haven’t been avid readers in many years, if ever, and they’re not always sure what they want to read. I really like seeing some of them start to get opinionated about what they like and don’t like! They’re developing the habits of readers, because readers most definitely have preferences!

  8. Ramona Avatar

    “I consult, validate, empathize, cheerlead, model.
    I assess both comprehension and enjoyment.
    This is what teaching looks like.”
    I wish I could give this to every administrator who thinks that a teacher in a classroom with students reading silently is not teaching!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s taken the whole year to get to the point where every single kid HAS a book and almost every single kid will actually READ IT during reading time!! It’s WORK! Thank you for understanding and validating that!!

  9. Susan Kennedy Avatar

    100% true and also the format is such an interesting idea! Definitely going in my possibly-try bank.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Glad you found some inspiration for later in the month!

  10. humbleswede Avatar

    Very cool format, and I’m embarrassed that I didn’t notice the form. I have heard that first line from an administrator before…I wish I had this poem to toss at them…not that I was doing as much as you seem to be doing. There’s so much technique involved in matching, coaxing, encouraging, observing, hearing. There’s the people side, but there’s also the fact that you have to be a reader who can imagine other people’s reactions and guess who will be captured, inspired, moved, by a particular text. I love your approach to these slices. It really captures the spirit of writing and responding.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Well, some days I don’t do this much either LOL. But we all know there is a lot of hard work that goes into a classroom full of teenagers quietly reading! Lovely point about the reading side and the people side of reading and working with readers!

  11. karpenglish Avatar

    I am always a sucker for a poem made from a long series of short prompts. (I once wrote a long poem about falling out of a bus with all the stanzas written as haiku.) Your format is clever, and the the incredibly hard work you are doing is so well revealed in your details.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I really like writing poetry this way. I find it hard to write, so I often need an extra layer of constraint to help me! Now I want to try a poem with all the stanzas written as haiku!

      1. karpenglish Avatar

        It is really fun for those times when you have something to say, and 17 syllables just won’t cut it!

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