Please help. What does your comprehensive literacy block look like?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Kaley12, Dec 31, 2015.

  1. Kaley12

    Kaley12 Companion

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    Dec 31, 2015

    Hey guys,
    I posted another thread about how you structured your guided reading in the classroom, and got some amazing responses. I'm going to be incorporating the daily 5 so that I can do my guided reading groups while the students do independent daily 5 activities.
    I have my literacy block (90 minutes) at the very start of the day. When the students first come in, they do bell work to help settle/focus them and get them started immediately with language. This consists of independent writing (a journal) and word work. During this time I will input attendance, check agendas, collect forms/money, etc. This will take them about 20-25 minutes. If I then go into the daily 5, it will leave me about an hour, so I figure I can meet with 2 - 3 guided reading groups and have them rotate 2-3 times.

    My question is, would this be what each and everyday looks like? That's my entire literacy block, so it doesn't leave me time to do read alouds or whole class lessons for language or writing. So I was thinking, could I spend maybe a day or two at the start of the week where I do:
    1. bell work
    2. a read aloud/whole group activity (such as retelling)
    3. whole class writing lesson (i.e. persuasive writing)
    4. independent writing based on the whole class lesson)

    Then, while I do daily 5 (about 3x a week, I was thinking), the independent writing could be based on the whole class lesson we had just done the previous day. So whatever students are at work on writing, they will be writing a persuasive topic, for example, since that's what our current expectation is.

    Does this make sense? This is all new to me, as I've never had my own classroom (I previously taught high school geography, and then worked as a resource teacher). Thanks so much!

    Sorry, forgot to mention this is a grade 3 class :)
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    You only have 90 minutes a day for ALL of that?! No way. I don't think it's possible to build an effective literacy program with that little amount of time, especially if you're using almost a third of it for housekeeping tasks. That leaves you only 60-70 minutes per day for teaching reading, writing, spelling, and vocab. You can't be effective with any of those things when trying to cram it all into that small amount of time. Do you really not have any more time in the day to add in more reading or writing? What do you do with the rest of the time?

    Sorry. I'm just shocked. I've never heard of having that little amount of time for ALL literacy activities.

    If you can't add time, then it sounds like your plan is to only teach one whole group reading lesson with a read aloud per week and only teach one writing lesson per week. Is this correct? Then you will use the other three days only for guided reading? That all just goes against so much research...

    Could you do something like this in your 60-70 min block?
    Monday: whole group reading lesson, two GR groups
    Tuesday whole group writing lesson, writing conferences
    Wednesday: whole group reading lesson, two GR groups
    Thursday whole group writing lesson, writing conferences
    Friday: whole group reading or writing lesson (whichever is needed more that week), running record assessments, individual reading conferences

    That's still crazy to me to teach it that way... Where do you fit in spelling/phonics, and how can you effectively teach guided reading when you only meet with the low groups once per week (higher groups will be fine)? Is there any way to start the 90 minutes AFTER the housekeeping tasks are finished? Even that seems like it is still not enough time to me, but it'd be much better. I had 100 minutes for reading, another 60 minutes for writing, and another 15 minutes for spelling every single day last year and I struggled to fit it all in even with that. I just can't imagine only having 60-70 minutes for everything.
     
  4. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Dec 31, 2015

    I have around that amount of time as well. It is hard because I see things that kids need but can't fit it all in. You just have to really prioritize. I will say that the one thing that has been cut is small groups. I do a mix of whole group and independent work, but when kids are working independently, I'm rotating the room to help those who need it. I don't have room for small groups, either (my small room is wall to wall desks), so that helps make that decision for me. About one or two times a week, I have kids practice fluency by reading in pairs. Also, my students get additional reading practice during social studies, which I purposely format to provide a lot of nonfiction reading practice.
     
  5. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Dec 31, 2015

    Also, this is more or less what every day looks like in my class. I'd have a very difficult time adding in Daily 5.
     
  6. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Dec 31, 2015

    Otterpop, I think it's great that you are using your content time (social studies) to further your reading instruction. I should add that all social studies and science content was integrated into the reading and writing blocks that I noted in my previous post. I did not have a separate time of time day for content. We learned reading and writing skills while learning the content required by our social studies and science standards. Kaley12, do you have this option?
     
  7. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    This would be perfect. So, this includes time that would be given to social studies (and science)?
     
  8. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Yep! For example, when we learned about the food groups and healthy eating, I projected a book on the dairy group using the document camera and taught a whole group lesson on identifying facts in text and summarizing the main idea of a section of a book. Reading instruction and health/science instruction combined!! After we read about all of the food groups, the students created an online presentation about the food groups, which served as our writing project for that unit. They worked on it during writing time, while I conferenced with them individually. Writing and health/science combined!!

    The only other time on top of what I already mentioned was 110 minutes for math, 15 minutes for morning housekeeping tasks/announcements, and 15 minutes for dismissal tasks. The students were at specials, lunch, and recess for another hour and 45 minutes.
     
  9. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Dec 31, 2015

    I have 80 minutes (really more like 75). I'm in 5th. I don't love it, but it can be done. Maybe it's not ideal, but it is possible. I follow more of a middle school approach - our middle school has 45 minute periods for ELA. Based on this and what Donalyn Miller outlines in Reading in the Wild, I alternate reading and writing units, and do a very modified Daily 5. I actually call it workshop, not Daily 5. I don't think I would alternate reading and writing units below 4th, though.

    Our chapter book read aloud is done during a completely separate time. I find it doesn't need to be connected to the ELA block at all. Read alouds I do during the ELA block as mentor texts would take place during the mini lesson portion. Often I teach mini lessons based on the chapter book read aloud.

    Here's my schedule:
    - two 25 min workshop rotations (read to self, work on writing, or respond to reading..possibly adding word work for some students in the new year) - I think in third you would want these to be shorter. With my big kids, I've found that longer rotations work best.
    - one 30 ish minute mini lesson. The lesson is last because we have intervention pull out during my first rotation, so I can't teach my whole class lesson during that time.

    On Thursdays, I have some extra time in the morning (about 30 min) that I use for share time - book commercials and kids sharing their writing. I've found that time to be very important. One day a week, I don't teach a mini lesson, and the kids meet in their book club groups during that time. I float around and listen in/ask questions/make comments/take some notes during that time.

    During the workshop rotations, I'm very busy. I confer with individual students and pull small groups. I have Google docs that I've set up and I take notes on my iPad through the Google docs app. I have 28 students, and my goal is to meet with them all individually once a week, so I do 5-6 conferences a day. In a perfect world - it doesn't always turn out that way, of course.

    Our third grade teachers use Words their Way very successfully for spelling/word work. I'm not sure what time block they have for that, but I think it could be done in 20-30 min a day.

    Do you need bell work? That's taking up a third of your ELA time. Why not have them come in and immediately go into a Daily 5 rotation? I've actually never done morning work. We don't have agendas to check, though. They correct their homework (we only have math; I display the answers) and turn it in. I've streamlined attendance and lunch count by having magnets with their student numbers that they move to "brought lunch" or "buying lunch" or keep in "not here." After they move the magnets, it takes me about a minute to do attendance.

    I think a lot of your problems can be solved by getting rid of bell work, or shrinking it considerably to 10 minutes. Also, maybe I'm reading this wrong, but I'm not sure about having the read aloud followed by a writing lesson. Even in 5th, that would be lot of lesson at once for my kids. I like to break things up with practice between lessons. If you've read the D5 book, they actually talk about doing something like this:

    Mini lesson (reading)
    D5 rotation
    Mini lesson (writing)
    D5 rotation
    Mini lesson (word work - phonics, spelling, whatever)
    D5 rotation
    etc.

    This kind of thing could really work for you. If I had more time, I would use a format like that. You can probably fit it in because I don't think you'll need 25 minute rotations in 3rd grade like I have in 5th. In 1st, I had 15 min rotations. I would guess 15-20 min would be appropriate in 3rd.
     
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  10. Kaley12

    Kaley12 Companion

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    Jan 1, 2016

    Thank you everyone for the replies!
    I know 90 minutes isn't an ideal amount of time, and is likely why I'm struggling to fit everything in. I'm taking over a class mid-year, and trying to keep things consistent with how the teacher had set up the block. I agree that the bell work takes up a lot of time. I do need to have something in place for the first 10 minutes or so, in order to do the house keeping (attendance, forms, etc have to be sent to the office by a certain time in the morning, so I have to take care of it ASAP). But could perhaps trim a bit off? However, it is still literacy because they do word work (with spelling words) and then independent writing based on a journal topic.

    How much time in total would you say you spend on Daily 5? If I were to start each literacy block with a whole class lesson (for example on procedural writing), would I then give the entire class time to practice this skill before moving into daily 5? Or would procedural writing be used as one of the daily 5 rotations? Because what if I structured the day like this...
    1) Bell work (10 minutes)
    2) Whole class lesson (15 minutes)
    3) Writing task based on class lesson (20 minutes)
    4) Daily 5 (~45 mintues and 2 rotations)

    As for the structure of the rest of my day, I have 80 minutes for math, which takes us to lunch. Then I have prep while the specials teacher does health and the arts. The rest of the day is a social studies period, and then a religion period (it's a Catholic school).

    Thanks again for the help and advice. I'm really stressing trying to figure this all out.
     
  11. Kaley12

    Kaley12 Companion

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    This is how I was envisioning doing things, but like you said, it's still hard to fit in everything. When you put "two GR groups" above, would that be when you incorporate the daily 5 to meet with these groups? I'm really struggling with how to incorporate everything I need to in this time frame.
     
  12. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Yes, I would do Daily 5 while you are meeting with your guided reading groups. In my classroom last year, I spent a full hour on Daily 5/Guided Reading, with three transitions during that hour (so it was really only Daily 3, I guess... but I let them choose from all five tasks).

    How much time do you spend on social studies and religion? Is there any way to integrate whole group reading comprehension, read alouds, or writing during that time? Then you really free yourself up to do more small groups and individual conferences (along with Daily 5) in the morning.

    Also, I wouldn't worry too much about keeping the schedule the same as the last teacher. Kids are resilient, and they generally do well with change, especially if they experience it all at once (new teacher and new schedule at the same time). Just decide what changes you intend to make and be consistent once you make them. The students will be fine.
     
  13. Kaley12

    Kaley12 Companion

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    Thank you again for your feedback bella84, it's helping me tremendously! I have religion for half an hour each day and social studies for 40 minutes 4x a week. Religion is very flexible since we don't formally assess it, so I think I will try to incorporate read alouds frequently during that period (connecting to unit) and focus on things like inferencing, retelling, etc.
    As for social studies, I think that could be a good opportunity for whole class reading and comprehension. I could also really try to connect writing tasks to that unit as well.

    I think my biggest struggle right now, is how to incorporate whole class literacy lessons (for example on procedural writing) as well as the daily 5. Should I start each day with a whole class lesson and time for practice of that skill (writing), and then use the rest of the block for daily 5? Then in the afternoon I could integrate read alouds into religion and whole class reading and comprehension into social studies?

    I'm sorry if these questions are silly or obvious. This is just brand new to me and out of my experiences thus far as a teacher. I've only known about this job for about a week and a half and have been scrambling to gather resources and make plans on top of the holiday madness! I really appreciate everyone's support here.

    (I should have mentioned, but the reason I don't want to rearrange the old teacher's schedule too much is because I will only be with this class for 10 weeks. The teacher I'm replacing is moving to another district. The problem is, she was hired to this job to cover for a teacher on a leave until March, so I was asked to finish the last 10 weeks until the 'regular teacher' comes back. So that means this group will have 3 teachers altogether this year, so I don't want to make the transitions too difficult, or spend a few weeks establishing new routines and schedules, just to leave shortly after and have them potentially learn a whole new set of routines all over for the third time.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2016
  14. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Ah, got it (regarding the schedule change). Makes sense. In that case, I'd stick as close as possible to the schedule that's in place. Do you know how the "regular" teacher structured the literacy block? If not, I would still recommend integrating reading comprehension, read alouds, and writing in with your social studies and religion. Depending on what type of writing you are teaching, you could get away with only teaching writing at that time instead of the morning, but I understand that not all types of writing will lend themselves to that content. During your morning block, I would probably make your guided reading groups the main focus of that time, along with a mini-lesson of some sort. Do you have a time for spelling/phonics and grammar, or do you integrate that into other areas? If it's not integrated, the morning might be a good time to work on that.
     
  15. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    These are not silly or obvious questions. This is stuff reflective teachers constantly try to tweak and perfect. I've changed my literacy block about 4 times this year trying to find the right fit - as Bella said, kids are resilient. Even if you try out a schedule and don't like it, that doesn't mean you are married to that schedule for the rest of the year! You can adjust as needed. I am very honest with my kids - "This is not working, and I want more time for ___, so we are going to try ____." I actually think it's great for them to see the process as I work to adjust things for their learning.

    Quick question first - when do you teach science? We alternate social studies and science units, so maybe you are doing something like that? I agree with Bella about integrating ELA into content areas. I'm trying to really get better at that this year. For our human body unit, My kids wrote informational pieces about parts of the body that I'm compiling into a Google site. For our American Revolution unit, they will be writing opinion pieces from the patriot or loyalist perspective about whether or not they should go to war against England. I tend to have that overlapping into the ELA mini lesson, though. I am trying to hit a lot more of my nonfiction reading standards during social studies and science.

    The great thing about Daily 5 is that you spend however much time you have on it. Daily 5 and guided reading are connected. The purpose of Daily 5 is to give the kids a productive structure so that you can meet with small groups. They are still learning independently and you are freed up to meet with your groups. That's why Daily 5 is so important. It fosters independence, gives additional practice opportunities as students do authentic reading and writing work, and it allows for small group instruction, which is so important in ELA.

    I think the schedule that you've laid out could work. 45 minutes is good for 2 rotations since you do need to have transition time built in. Will your mini lessons always be writing lessons?
    You could also do something like this if you wanted to have both reading and writing mini lessons every day (I had to shave some time off to try to fit in both mini lessons):
    Writing mini lesson (15 min)
    Writing practice (15 min)
    Reading mini lesson (10 min)
    Daily 5 - two 20 min rotations in 40 min
    =80 min

    My kids do writing assignments within their workshop rotations, but I don't pull guided reading groups, so I'm able to do writing conferences with them during that time. I also pull writing groups.

    For example, in a 25 min rotation, I might do this:
    15 min - meet with a group
    10 min - individual conferences (about 4 or 5)

    I did this because I just could not fit in a true writing workshop block in my schedule, but I wanted the kids reading and writing every day. I am not sure I would do this in a younger grade. It works with my almost middle schoolers.

    If you pull out some of your writing into social studies, that would free you up a lot more during ELA time. Hmmm...what if you did something like this:

    ELA Block (writing focus)
    Writing mini lesson (15 min)
    Writing practice (20 min)
    Daily 5 (45 min two rotations)

    Social Studies Block (reading focus)
    Reading mini lesson USING a social studies text (20 min)
    Guided practice - kids partner reading, or answering questions, or doing a jigsaw...?? (20 min)

    Then you could switch and do a reading focus during the ELA block and a writing focus during social studies. You could switch every...however often is needed. Probably however often you need to in order to produce finished pieces of writing.

    That might really work for you. You could even teach literature during social studies if you used historical fiction.

    Sorry for my long post and random train of thought. I actually really like figuring out tricky schedules - weird, I know.
     
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  16. Kaley12

    Kaley12 Companion

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    I agree about making the guided reading groups the main focus of that time. I will examine my social studies unit to try and map out some literacy focused lessons - mainly for whole class reading and writing.

    As for spelling, the class does spelling word work for their bell work each morning. And then on Friday's they have a quick spelling quiz on their weekly words. But I could do grammar as mini lessons. Thanks for the ideas :)
     
  17. Kaley12

    Kaley12 Companion

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    Thank you so much for this reply! It's very helpful to read how you have everything laid out!
    To answer a few questions, we also alternate science and social studies, so I will be starting their social studies block on Monday. I like the way you incorporated literacy into your units, and will definitely map out some ways I can do the same.

    I LOVE your suggestions for how to structure a mini lesson/activity with the daily 5! I think I will try something like that out. And like you said, I may have to make some adjustments to get it right. I just really want to structure the period in a way that will be most effective for the kids. If I can incorporate a lot of whole class reading and writing tasks into my social studies unit, then I think that will free up some time to really focus in on guided reading/daily 5 and specific writing tasks (i.e. grammar, punctuation, etc) for my mini lessons.
    Thanks again yellowdaisies :)
     
  18. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Glad I could help a little. :) I am excited for you! It's obvious that you are putting a lot of thought into this, and with that kind of attitude and focus on what's best for the kids, you will be an amazing teacher for these kids!

    Do you start with them on Monday?
     
  19. Kaley12

    Kaley12 Companion

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    Yes, I start on Monday! I am both nervous and excited. I love this age group, but it is a bit out of my comfort zone since it's new territory. I think once I spend a bit of time with them and get a better feel for things, everything will start to fall into place. Thank you for your kind words, I really needed that :)
     
  20. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    That's so exciting! Once you've met the kids, everything will change. When I went from 1st to 5th, I was terrified of the new age and teaching the "big kids." After the first day when I met the kids, everything got better. Have a GREAT day Monday, and let us know how it goes!
     
  21. themilocat

    themilocat Rookie

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    Jan 12, 2016

    My reading block is the same amount of time each year, but I always have to change it up based on what each group needs.

    I teach only reading and writing to our fifth graders. I have 80 minutes for reading, and 80 minutes of writing (every other day). I can't imagine having writing and reading mixed together!

    Last year, my reading block ended up looking like this:
    --15 minutes of read aloud and discussion
    --35 minutes of lesson and work time
    --30 minutes of reading quiz and free read (15 minutes for each, so two groups of students)
    On Wednesdays and Fridays, we didn't do a lesson, but students participated in book clubs, instead. On Mondays and Fridays, students did not do the reading quiz or free read, but instead did a vocabulary program I bought off of TPT called Reading Olympians.

    Last year's group was able to work with a changing, busy schedule, but this year's group CANNOT. They absolutely need a solid plan and find it very hard to deviate from said plan.

    This year, my block looks like this:
    --15 minutes of read aloud and discussion
    --45 minutes of lesson and work time
    --20 minutes of MobyMax and free read (10 minutes for each, so two groups of students)
    I also try to ignore the clock, and keep my group of kids a few minutes longer each day, so they get more free read and MobyMax time.

    I hate reading stations, and while I know many teachers who swear by them, I do not use them in my classroom. I found that my fifth graders messed around and accomplished nothing during that valuable class time.
     

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