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Team Read: Teaching For Justice Through Reading Workshop

The UCLA Teacher Initiated Inquiry Project at Soto Street Elementary School is about teaching and empowering students to select “Just Right Books” at their Independent Reading Levels and helping them become better readers by using Reading Workshop.



Every teacher on Team Read commits to implementing Reading Workshop every day for a set amount of time, which varies according to grade level but ranges from 40 to 70 minutes per day. Reading Workshop is a structure wherein the teacher begins a reading session with a mini-lesson, then students read self-selected books at their independent reading level while the teacher conducts one-on-one conferences and/or small group strategy lessons, and then the class comes together to share key learning of the day. The crucial tenets of Reading Workshop are that students are making their own choices and that teachers are constantly evaluating where students are in order to be able to teach to student needs. In this process, the lead teachers create Units of Study, collect data over two years to monitor students' reading growth using Independent Reading Level assessment, attend nationally-renowned summer institute at Teachers College in New York for professional development, and share, mentor, co-teach, coach, be coached, and lead professional development. It is our belief that choice is a central aspect of being free, and when one has true freedom, one understands that one's choices have power.



Soto Street Elementary School

Soto Street Elementary is a public school on traditional calendar in Boyle Heights. Each grade level establishes its own daily schedule, abiding by district and school mandates (such as: 30 - 45 minutes for English Language Development; one hour for math; two and a half hours for English Language Arts; etc.). All teachers are required to allot for an “Independent Work Time” during which students are meant to receive differentiated instruction and remediation. Soto serves approximately 366 students, 99% of whom are Latino and 1% American Indian-Alaskan. Half of our students are English Learners, and reclassification before elementary graduation is a school-wide focus. 98% of the students receive free breakfast and lunch. Soto is situated in a high-poverty area, and many of our students are affected by its requisite characteristics, such as neighborhood violence, cramped living quarters, and more liquor stores than libraries and cultural venues.



Lead Team Members

Although we are including only three names as Leads, the majority of the teachers at our school (14 of 18) will be benefiting from this work. We have established an action research team (called “Team Read”) that meets at least once a month and is committed to our project. Team Read comprises the lead teachers whose names are listed below, and in addition, 11 other members of the staff who are interested in this inquiry project. The teachers’ grade levels range from Kindergarten to fifth grade, and the entire team includes both general and special education teachers (both Special Ed classroom teachers and a Resource Specialist). Lead teachers, however, commit to establishing “lab classrooms” that serve as hosts for other teachers to observe lessons, in addition to mentoring other members, providing additional support, and participating in extended professional development.


Rodette Doreza has taught for 12 years, first at Main Street and then Soto Street. She has also taught  for 17 years at the college level in the area of marine biology in her home country of the Philippines. She has her master’s in educational administration and marine biology.


Iliana Panduro has taught for 10 years in Boyle Heights at Soto Street School. She has a master’s in Reading and is a Reading Specialist. Iliana is a fellow from the California State University, Los Angeles Writing Project.


Libbi Swanson has taught in Boyle Heights for 13 years at Soto Street Elementary, as both a classroom teacher and a writing coach. In her capacity as the writing coach, Libbi delivered professional development at Soto Street and neighboring schools. Libbi has used Reading Workshop in her classroom. Libbi is National Board Certified.


Click on the following links to view Team Read's project

Professional Development - click here to view pictures, details, and links to opportunities that are available from our learnings

Launching the Reading Workshop Mini-Lessons - click here to download a pdf file of teacher created mini-lessons to help you launch the first 20 days of Reading Workshop

Student Independent Reading Level Assessment Data - click here to view student Independent Reading Assessment trends from a two year study of our implementation

Photos of Reading Workshop in action - click here to see samples of student work, student partnerships, conferring, and more

Videos- click here to view video clips of mini-lessons and other structures of Reading Workshop by the lead team

Bibliography - click here to view a list of professional books our lead team depended on throughout our journey of knowledge into what is Reading Workshop

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