How do you structure a 90-minute Language Arts class?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by firemaple, Nov 18, 2007.

  1. firemaple

    firemaple Companion

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    Nov 18, 2007

    I'm brand new. I mean I haven't even walked in the classroom yet. I'm a career switcher from journalism. The school where I've been hired is on block schedules. Anyone have some ideas on how to structure the class time?

    I get six classes three times a week -- two of the meetings are for 90 minutes and the third meeting is 45 minutes.

    Any direction would be so so so appreciated.
     
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  3. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Nov 18, 2007

    What grade level is this for?
     
  4. firemaple

    firemaple Companion

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    Nov 18, 2007

    Sorry for not including that info. It's a level 6 Department of Juv. Justice facility and each class will contain 9-12 students.

    There are three different books. The director said, "Just teach out of the middle book and hold the students accountable based on their grade level."

    I know this is not an ideal situation for anyone much less a first-year teacher. But I've applied at about 20 schools and this is the only place that is taking a chance on me.

    I'm walking straight from the newsroom into the classroom. HELP............
     
  5. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Nov 18, 2007

    ok, one way to differentiate this for all the kids, and to take up time in your class is to make sure they all have a silent reading book. Make a trip to the library if you have one on one of the first days. Have them do Silent Reading for 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes everyday, whatever you need. I will say that I don't think SR in the classroom is the best use of time, BUT during my first years teaching, I definitely used it to "take up time" but in a somewhat productive way. It also gives you time to just get yourself together, take attendance, etc., and it makes them calm down if they know the expectation is to take out the book and read when the bell rings. Give them a list of projects they can choose from when they complete the book.

    For me, a typical day now looks like this:

    15-30 minutes - The kids come in and immediately write down the daily objective, do the "word of the day" and the warm up activity. Then we review all of these.

    15-30 minutes. - This varies... Sometimes it is lecture, notes. Sometimes it is full class discussion. It depends on what we are doing. If we are reading a novel or short story, we might discuss it and read together for awhile. Or I might give notes on the time period or the literary topic I want them to learn (symbolism, plot, characterization, etc.) If we are working on a paper, we might brainstorm content together, or they might take notes on grammar or technique.

    30-60 minutes - independent or group practice - this might be independent reading or answering questions, writing workshop, conferencing with me about an essay, etc.


    Another technique I use on occasion is "rotation day." If I have a few short activities the kids can do independently, I set up 6 stations, and have the kids work at each one for 15 minutes, and then move on to the next. Usually I make one of the stations a game to play. The kids really like it.

    Always always always OVER PLAN. BUT if you find yourself underplanned, that's when you tell them to take out their independent reading books! Keep some extras and/or magazines in the classroom in case someone forgot.

    Check out the book Teaching in the Block. Someone in your school probably has it.
     
  6. firemaple

    firemaple Companion

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    Nov 19, 2007

    Silverspoon, Thanks so much!! This post is a lifesaver.

    I talked to the assistant principal today and she told me that we are required to write a quote on the board before class starts and have the students write about it for the first few minutes of class, which takes some time. This is the bell work we have to do. Looks like the Juv. detention center I’m going to work at is pretty structured. I mean, I’d like to be able to come up with my own bell work. Maybe I don’t want to write a quote EVERY single day. And besides, that has to get boring to the students if every teacher has to do this. Seven teachers x 3 classes + 21 quotes. But being a new teacher, I don’t want to rock the boat, so I’ll probably just do the quotes for now.

    I love your idea about silent reading as a way to regroup since I’ll be a new teacher. I will have to figure out a good book for them to read. J

    The Word of the Day is great. Do you ever test them on the words? Like a spelling test?

    What are some ideas of a warm up activity? I’m thinking like writing incorrect sentences on the board and having the students correct them?

    Thanks again. This helps a lot. And I’ll look at getting the book. It was kind of expensive. Maybe the library will have it.
     
  7. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Nov 19, 2007

    I have taught 100 minute daily block schedule. This is my rough schedule . . .

    15 minute warm-up daily journal entry--this could be a writing prompt, a "think about" question, review question, intro question, or daily oral language--Usually 10 minutes to do it and 5 to go over it.

    20 minutes of free reading--we used the Accelerated Reading program then, but I've also used free reading without a program like that.

    55 minutes was a combination of introducing new material, guided group, or independent practice. Sometimes I used writer's workshop.

    10 minutes was always for a read-aloud novel
     
  8. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Nov 19, 2007

    To break it up, try using some really creative quotes. Look in music and movies that they might be interested in, instead of typical Ben Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, Confucious type quotes.

    For SR I would let them do choice reading. There is a lot of research that tells how important it is to engage students in pleasure reading in the classroom - if there is a library in the school, see if you can take the class up one day to pick out books.

    I actually don't test my words of the day. I use a book called The Daily Spark, and the book provides a word and little activities but does not provide a definition. They have to use clues to figure out the word. I am more interested that they are practicing those skills every day than that they memorize the word.

    Our warm-ups are district mandated review units for the state test. They review a concept for 9 days, then there is a mini quiz on the 10th day. Some of the units are Sentences, Main Idea, Inferences and Conclusions, Poetic Devices, and Figurative Language.

    You have a lot of "starter" ideas too. You can always do these as mid-point activities. Something to take a break from what you are doing and refocus.

    Teaching in the Block should be in the library. Ask your principal too.
     
  9. firemaple

    firemaple Companion

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    Nov 22, 2007

    Thanks a lot. You all were a great help. I'm hope everyone doesn't get tired of me. I suspect I'll be leaning on this forum pretty heavily for the next few weeks and months.
     
  10. E Bunni 99

    E Bunni 99 Rookie

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    Nov 23, 2007

    I teach 7th grade Language Arts and have had the joy of teaching a 90 minute LA block. It was awesome! Unfortunatley, my school is back to only have a 55 minute period of LA. How I conducted the time though is as follows:

    15 Minutes on a Writing Prompt Daily
    10 Minutes on Vocabulary Word of the Day
    15 Minutes on Silent Reading or Read Aloud
    15 Minutes on Kansas Sentence Writing Strategies
    30 Minutes on Lesson of Day (Setting, Character, Plot, Etc.)
    5 Minutes on Agenda Signing for HW and Organization
     
  11. firemaple

    firemaple Companion

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    Nov 24, 2007

    Thanks Bunni. Wow. Sounds like you really prefer the 90-min. block. Why is that? Or why do you dislike the 55-min. periods.

    My teacher friend is dead set against the 90 minute blocks.

    I don't have an opinion myself. I have read that students in the 90 minute block test better than students in the 55-minutes blocks.
     
  12. firemaple

    firemaple Companion

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    Nov 24, 2007

    Silverspoon, I just went on Amazon and purchased five different daily sparks: Poetry, Spelling & Grammar, Vocabulary, Critical thinking and Writing.

    Can't wait to gettem. They were all pretty cheap. I think the most expensive one was $4.
     
  13. wig

    wig Devotee

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    Nov 24, 2007

    I teach middle school an I would rather have one 90 minute block to two 45 minute periods. I have had to tweak my schedule as the year went on based on the class I have this year and I have finally settled on a workable schedule.

    M/W
    20 min. - Grammar w/a Giggle/mini Grammar Lesson
    40 min - Lit skills and vocabulary
    20 min - writing skills
    10 min - Read aloud

    T/Th
    10 min. - Grammar w/a Giggle/
    40 min - Writing Workshop
    30 min - Self-Selected reading/review assignment of reading skill based on SSR
    10 min - Read aloud

    F
    20-30 min - Grammar/Vocab/Lit Quiz
    20 min - Readers Response on Self-Selected Reading
    30-40 min - Reading Theater/Vocab Scrabble/Type final copy of a writing assignment or catch up from the week
    10 min - Read aloud

    I actually keep a timer, because I forget to watch the clock if I don't.
     
  14. firemaple

    firemaple Companion

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    Nov 25, 2007

    I just looked up Kansas Sentence Writing Strategies. Looks like I can't get that without going through their training.

    Is there something similiar available? It sounds like the perfect thing.
     

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