The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 2 - Page 44


of questions. Remaining attuned to readers’ transaction with text lessens the potential for shame because we focus less on right and wrong and more the reader’s perception and perspective.

Comprehension is anamorphic, just like shame. That is, comprehension is always changing, different from person to person, and contextually or perceptually sensitive. As mentioned earlier, how and what one student responds to during or after reading typically defines comprehension. The ultimate goal of my reading workshop is to provide pathways for students to enter reading for their own defined purposes. This means, even if I offer readers a text, they will determine how to make reading the text beneficial for their learning and overall being. If taken literally, “choice reading” could include the choice not to read, but students begin to understand that reading must be done and they can choose how to make reading meaningful to them. Additionally, a shame resistant workshop is based in humanities, primarily in terms of human transaction and prevailing themes (i.e, fortitude, forgiveness, compassion, etc.)

Building the Shame-Resistant Reading Workshop

Nancie Atwell writes, “Reading workshop is a deliberate environment, one that supports immersion in stories, characters, themes, and writing.” With such sentiment in mind, we have to be aware of how students interact with text in our workshop. Have we created an environment that challenges readers to interact with text rather than passively engage? State testing doesn’t provide us information that reveals a students’ immersion with text. In fact, astute students may be artful test takers, score proficient, and yet possess little skill in the art of reading. A perfect shame storm existed and I had an obligation to my students to help them find safety in reading for the development of the child, not the appeasement of policy.

Ccomponents of the Shame-Resistant Workshop

Seven components comprise my balanced literacy workshop. The mini-lesson is typically embedded in the read aloud or shared reading experience. I always have an instructional focus and make it clear to students. The read aloud, word study, and independent reading are daily features. Depending on the lesson, time, and the depth of learning, shared reading, assisted reading, writing about reading and assessment vary from day to day. I briefly state each the function of each here, including how shame might be transferred, and how we can help readers develop a sense of resiliency.

The Read-Aloud: Leading off the workshop with a read-aloud provides a means to introduce different genres, model reading strategies, and explore interpersonal transaction between characters, including real-life connections between the reader and the text. In my classroom, the idea behind the read aloud is to unite the class with a shared affinity for a book. My goal is for the experience to serve as a springboard, so to speak, for students’ independent reading during and beyond the workshop by exploring the emotional connection between reader and text. And I am not just talking about the emotional response to what the author has written, but also about the affective response, how one responds to the act of reading. The problem is, however, seldom does every student fall in love with the same elements of a book: the characters, the plot, the realism. At times, students feel they are obligated to share in the common enjoyment of a read aloud, even if they are not engaged with the story, for the sake of maintaining a perception of favor. In the world of shame, we can equate this with the findings of Jane Middleton-Moz (1990): “If I spend my life pleasing others, it is only my pleasing self that I believe I can be loved” (p. 34). However, if we approach the read aloud in a way that allows students to respond to text and express their perspective, we can minimize the emergence of shame.

Shared Reading: Having the entire class participate in reading, interpreting, and analyzing a common text is important because it allows you to determine how students are interacting with text in their unique capacity. Using a common text gives students equal access to a grade-level or slightly higher text, thereby eliminating the stigma of reading level, which is necessary since shared reading