Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • RL:  Reading Standards for Literature K-5
  • 5:  5th Grade
  • 4:  Determine the meaning of words and phrases
    as they are used in a text, including figurative
    language such as metaphors and similes.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • RL:  Reading Standards for Literature K-5
  • 5:  5th Grade
  • 3:  Compare and contrast two or more characters,
    settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing
    on specific details in the text (e.g., how
    characters interact).

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

Rick's Reading Workshop: Mini-Lesson
Lesson Objective: Develop theories of character traits as part of active reading
Grade 5 / Reading / Comprehension
ELA.RL.5.4 | ELA.RL.5.3

Thought starters

  1. How does Rick use a "think aloud" to model this thinking while reading the book?
  2. What strategies does Rick use to engage students in the story?
  3. Notice how Rick justifies the changes in his theory with details from the book.?
I can't believe how powerful this read-aloud is. I'm tearing up and i didn't even get to hear the entire story! They applauded a picture book! Does Rick even need to teach reading after those moments? It seems like they'd all stand up and teach themselves how to read because they WANT to read so badly. So, so good. Can't wait to share this.
Recommended (4)
I wish I could see more of Rick in action! What an amazing lesson this is :)
Recommended (1)
Mary, just in case you haven't seen these! We love Rick too! http://www.teachingchannel.org/videos?utf8=?&q=rick%27s+reading+workshop&commit=Search
Recommended (0)
Do you think this would work with 8th graders reading well below grade level? Also, do you think it would work with very resistent readers who have ESL traits as well?
Recommended (0)
Hi Katherine! I think that the way Rick talks about his reading would work with nearly any grade level. The way he talks about "being present" or "growing a theory" is great language, accessible for all kinds of learners. I think this could be applied to any book that you decide is captivating for your students. I'm a huge fan of picture books at any age and think you'd just have to decide if this is the right one for your kids. We'd love to hear what you decide to do.
Recommended (1)


  • Classroom Close Up: Rick's Reading Workshop:
    Mini-Lesson with Rick Kleine

    Rick: Reader's Workshop has a format of the day

    Classroom Close Up: Rick's Reading Workshop:
    Mini-Lesson with Rick Kleine

    Rick: Reader's Workshop has a format of the day starts with a min-lesson that I teach, that helps kids focus on a certain aspect of reading.

    "Today, we have been talking so much about character traits and feelings, and using more exact words to describe them. And, it made me think about how to do that, you have to stay so present with your reading. And I want to talk to you a little bit about that today and how what readers do, is they create theories about their characters in the moment when they're present like that, and sometimes those theories change. And, to show you that I want to read this book to you. It's call the 'The Wednesday Surprise.' How many of you are already thinking about what it might be like because you read the title? Awesome. 'I like surprises, but the one Grandma and I are planning for dad's birthday is the best surprise of all.' Because I'm staying present right now, I'm already wondering what that surprise might be."

    Today I used the picture book 'The Wednesday Surprise'. As I'm reading 'The Wednesday Surprise' or any book, I'm always trying to model for them exactly what I want them to do later.

    " 'Grandma! I call. Anna! We meet and hug. She tells me how much I've grown since last week.' Somebody grow that much in one week?"

    All: "No."

    Rick: "I think the grandmother's joking. Do you think she's joking?"

    All: "Yes."

    Rick: "I think so too. 'And I tell her how much she's grown too.' Do you think the grandmother's grown?"

    All: "No."

    Rick: "No. So already in my mind, I'm growing a theory. I have a theory that the grandmother and the girl are very close, that they have a really close relationship 'cause they're joking around with each other this way."

    Along the way, as I'm, I do a lot of metacognating out, you know, talking about my thinking as I'm doing it.

    " 'I sit beside her on the couch and she takes the first picture book from the bag.' Hmm..my theory is growing. I'm wondering if the grandmother is teaching her how to read, and if that's gonna be the big surprise for the dad, that she'll read for her father."

    And so this was a perfect book for me to model for them how it's feels like this girl is learning to read, and talking to them about my theory about the book as I'm reading it to them, and then allow it to change as the story unfolds and we find out no, it's not the little girl, it's the grandmother.

    " 'A pebble from my rock collection. I hold it, imagining I can still feel the desert sun hot inside it. How long did it lie there? What kind of rock is it?' Hmm...she seems really smart. She asks all these really important questions. Now, my theory is all over the place now. I thought she was gonna be the one reading but now, she's so smart I can't understand why at seven, she wouldn't be reading. What are you thinking?"

    Student: "Um, I was thinking she's kind of like, um, with her grandma, she's kind of like a social kind of person. She's really good with talking and stuff. So, I'm thinking something like that."

    Rick: "And you're thinking the surprise has something to do with that?"

    Student: "Maybe."

    Rick: "Huh. What are you thinking?"

    Student: "Even though she's smart, like, maybe she has, like, dyslexia or something. So maybe that's what..."

    Rick: "I know lots of people like that."

    And then I ask them to turn and talk to a partner about what their theory is right at the moment.

    " 'It's a special surprise for your birthday, dad, from grandma and me.' OK. Now, I've told you all about my theory, tell your partner what your theory is right now."

    The talking is what is really the most engaging part. I think that's when the kids get to really connect it to their own lives, and to connect the ideas of the Reading Workshop to their own reading that they're doing in their own books. And, it's the teacher's job to go to the talk. Get out of my chair, and go listen to what they're doing. 'Cause instead of asking them afterwards, "OK, tell me what you talked about", what I'm gonna do is report back to them what I heard, so they can hear their ideas in more academic language.

    "So I heard lots of you talk about how.."

    It saves time. More kids are talking. More kids are engaged instead of just sitting there listening to somebody else share their theories.

    " 'I squeezed Grandma's hand and she stands and begins to read.' "

    Student: "Maybe Grandma doesn't know how to read."

    Rick: "What?"

    Student: "Maybe the Grandma can't read."

    Rick: "You think it's the grandmother that couldn't read? And she's the one who's been practicing? How many of you think that too?"

    "Boy, my theory's really changing right now. Is yours? Whoa! I was not expecting that."

    " 'I squeezed Grandma's hand and, and she stands and begins to read. Mom and dad and Sam are all astonished. 'Are you going to read everything in that bag, momma?' dad asks her. He's grinning, but his eyes are brimming with tears.' "

    Student: "He's so happy he's crying."

    Rick: "Tell you partner what that means."

    So, this process of talking and engaging with the text pulls them into their story in a way that captures them like a web, and they, they love it.

    " 'Grandma says 'Maybe I will read everything in the world now that I've started. So, Anna, what do you think? Was it a good surprise?' I run to her and she puts her cheek against mine. 'The best ever." I say.' "

    Reading is fun, something you take pride in, and it feels good. Once they love it, they'll never give it up. For me that's the whole job, i mean, I think if I can get kids excited about reading, the rest'll take care of itself.

School Details

Jefferson Elementary School
1400 Ada Street
Berkeley CA 94702
Population: 392

Data Provided By:



Rick Kleine
English Language Arts Math / 5 / Teacher



All Grades / All Subjects / Tch Tools

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, All Subjects, Class Culture

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, ELA, Class Culture

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Students / Class Culture