Part of being an active reader, is having conversations about our reading with others and writing about our reading to prepare for conversations. To ensure we make time for these important conversations, we dedicate the last 10 minutes of reading workshop to partner conversations on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On Tuesday and Thursdays, we write in our reader's notebook for the last 10 minutes of reading workshop. This schedule not only ensures that students are given time to do this important work as readers, but also makes sure there is a balance between talking and writing about reading.
Before students wrote down three possible classmates on an index card they thought would be a good reading partner for them, we talked about the purpose of a reading partner and identified qualities of a good reading partner.
I work hard to always make the purpose clear to students about what I am asking them to do as learners so they understand the "why?" behind everything we do in our classroom. I also think it is important for students to see the connection between their writing about reading and their partner conversations. When students gather for a partner conversation, it is expected they will refer to their book and reader's notebook during the conversation and use them as tools to help them have a thoughtful conversation.
I am a firm believer that students need to be explicitly taught how to have successful partner conversations, need to have conversations modeled for them, and need opportunities to share what they noticed about the conversations they watched. In my classroom, we refer to these modeled conversations as "fishbowl conversations". The partnership modeling the conversation sits in the middle of the circle on the rug and the rest of us actively observe by watching and listening in to the conversation by making a large circle around them. I let students know that I will be asking them, "What did you notice?" when I pause the conversation, so they need to be ready to respond and share their noticings. This is also a great way for them to learn from one another and also honor their hard work as learners.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas about reading partnerships and ways you model conversations with your students.