How is it possible?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by lcr, Aug 2, 2013.

  1. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    Aug 2, 2013

    So I just accepted a teaching job in a higher income community. I was looking over other teachers' daily schedules and I noticed something strange. They have 25-35 minute writing blocks, 50 minute reading blocks, and 60 minute math blocks, with an hour of Enrichment/ELL/Interventions.
    I'm thinking: Guided Reading for ELL/Intervention time, with independent enrichment projects in areas of interest.

    Common Core Close Reading: Whole group during the 50 minute block?

    I have no idea about writing.

    I also wanted to have the kids do Star of the Week and Speeches. I don't know if this is even possible. Any ideas?
     
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  3. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Aug 2, 2013

    Not sure exactly what your asking.
     
  4. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    Aug 2, 2013

    How do I fit in all the curriculum we have to teach in these limited time frames? I guess I am asking people with similar schedules how they do it.
     
  5. hollydoris

    hollydoris Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2013

    Those are about the time frames I have in my classroom. I didn't really have a problem fitting all the curriculum in...quite the opposite actually. I was needing to constantly come up with projects to fill in extra time. I realize my situation it unique (I have a small class (7 students) so we go through things more quickly than other classes might) so you may have more problems with this, but honestly I don't think it sounds that hard to fit everything in to that. You might be rushed some days, but it should be okay. What kind of schedule were you used to before?

    As far as whether or not you do whole group in the 50 minute reading block, it really depends on your curriculum. What is your curriculum designed for? Mine is designed for whole group, so that is what I do. If you haven't been able to see your curriculum yet, you might want to see if you can stop by school to get the teacher's manuals so you can start getting a feel for what and how you need to teach. Once you see the teacher's manuals, you may feel a bit better about your situation.

    Do you have science or social studies?

    For your enrichment/ELL/intervention time, guided reading sounds good--do you have a program for that? Independent projects sound good, too, but you will want to make sure you have plenty of materials for the students to do their own research so they can be somewhat independent. You might also want to look into some games (math or reading).
     
  6. hollydoris

    hollydoris Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2013

    Oh--I will add one more thing about writing. Couple ideas:

    1. Have them do a "warm-up prompt" in their writing journal every day at the start of the writing block. You can find prompts all over the internet, just google it. Perhaps collect their journals weekly to give a grade and feedback on their writing, and to make sure all students are doing the prompt. I recommend giving all students a writing rubric so they know exactly what they are required to do. You might have to explain what a rubric is and exactly how they are supposed to use it because elementary teachers can be hit or miss on whether or they use them, so most of my students come into the year having no idea what they are. It takes practice to effectively use a rubric, so don't give up on it if the students aren't grabbing the concept right away.

    Make sure you model how they should answer a prompt. If you give a prompt like "Describe your favorite meal", you will probably have many kids that write something like, "I like mac and cheese." and think they are done. Make sure your length requirements are clear and show them how to properly answer a prompt (ex: Show them how to rephrase the question in their answer.)

    2. The next thing you could do is have a mini-lesson on something pertaining to writing. For the beginning of the year, the mini-lessons should probably focus on the writing process. Does your school use 6+1 Traits of Writing or a standard 5 step process? Anyway, do mini-lessons on each step, only one step at a time/per day.

    3. Writing activity--have them do an activity pertaining to the mini lesson. For example, if it was your first mini lesson and you did the "Brainstorming" step, have them fill out a graphic organizer coming up with ideas for some sort of prompt that you can provide them with. Each day, you can build on what you did the day before.

    When you finish the writing process, you can work on other things-- like descriptive writing, different purposes for writing, verbs, nouns, prepositions, figurative language, etc.

    Of course, these are all my biased suggestions for what I would do (and actually, what I DO) so it may or may not work for you and your curriculum. :) It's actually very likely that your reading curriculum has a writing component, so you might want to look into that.

    ETA: It is very possible to do Star of the Week and speeches.

    The best advice is to see what your curriculum is. I know you are worried about trying to fit in all the curriculum, but do you know exactly what the curriculum is and how it is laid out? Assuming that your profile is correct and you teach 4th grade, those reading/writing time frames are pretty typical, at least in my experience. Was your prior experience in the primary grades? They usually spend a lot longer on reading because they are just learning how to do it.
     
  7. thirdgradebuzz

    thirdgradebuzz Comrade

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    Aug 3, 2013

    If you can do Guided Reading during enrichment time, then your schedule is about like mine.

    I have 30 mins/daily for writing. We will plan, draft, revise, edit, and publish one piece each week.

    I have an hour for reading. During this time, we go over homework, read the poem of the week for fluency practice, do a mini-lesson and activity on a specific weekly comprehension, and the students spend about 20 minutes on Raz-Kids (computer lab) while I rotate around and do fluency practice 1:1.

    Then I have an additional 30 minutes for Guided Reading. I am lucky to have 2 aides work with me during this time, so each group reads short, leveled chapter books and responds to reading. The groups rotate around each day so that I meet with each group one or two whole periods per week.

    Now, if you have to teach grammar/spelling, I would do that during the second half of your ELL/enrichment time. Or you could work in some grammar in context during writing.
     
  8. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    Aug 3, 2013

    Thank you so much for your detailed replies.

    I am just used to a 90 minute reading block, 45 minute writing block, 70 minute math block and 60 minute science/social studies block. Admittedly, the kids that I worked with previously were part of an at-risk population. So when I saw the time I had, I initially panicked.

    But then I realized that maybe these kids don't need as much time. As far as curriculum goes, I am teaching Common Core with whatever resources I wish. We have a lot of freedom at this school and the expectation seems to be a focus on enrichment.

    I decided I will teach common core for 20 minutes (close and strategy lessons) and do silent reading/journaling/ or reading response activities for 30-40 minutes while I do individual conferences and strategy groups. Writing will be a 10 minute lesson with 20 minutes of writing while I conference with students.

    Good idea about Grammar/Spelling during enrichment. It will be the only way I can fit it in. I still don't see how I'm going to have time for speeches, but we'll see.
    Thanks again for your responses.
     
  9. hollydoris

    hollydoris Rookie

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    Aug 4, 2013

    I think your school sounds like it will be fun to teach at. You're right in that the fact that since you aren't teaching at-risk youth that you will probably not need as much time for things. You will still have kids within a range of abilities, but in my experience teaching in an inner city classroom takes a lot longer to do the same amount of work because there are so many distractions/behavior issues.

    You could possibly have students work on their speeches as part of their independent work and then in their conference with you, you could spend a little time going over it with them and giving them a few things to work on for next time. Just an idea if you really want to do it.
     
  10. lcr

    lcr Companion

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    Aug 4, 2013

    That's a good idea. Their speeches are only 2 minutes long, so if I did a couple a day, it wouldn't take too much time at all. Maybe I will settle in and start them in January.
    I have a feeling it will be fun to work at. I am not used to all of this freedom.:)
     

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