Saturday, January 26, 2013

OLW January: Move

After a week of inside recesses, it's clear that my one little word is buzzing in my students' heads. MOVE! They are desperate for some activity, and it's always a struggle to keep busy bodies in control when you can't get outside and run.  The ironic thing has the opposite effect on me.  Being stuck inside only makes me want to cuddle up with a book under a blanket and stay put for hours.  So it's against my natural instincts to buzz about this time of year.  This conflict of interests is a constant give and take in my classroom, and especially this year, I've had to adjust my literacy block to accomodate my students' needs.  Here's how I would love my literacy block to go: everyone dives deeply into their books, getting comfortable and settling in for a long reader's journey into another book world, breaking every so often to share thoughts with one another.  Eventually, we would meet and discuss what we're reading, and I'd weave the teaching points for the day into the conversation, giving them real context by applying them to their current reading, and then we'd go off to our book worlds again to apply and get lost once more.  Sound like paradise?  Well, fantasies are supposed to be good.  Here's how my students want it to go: read some comic book for 5 minutes, then draw the characters from the book doing funny things while talking to my friends for the rest of the time.  Hmmmm.. not quite what I'd pictured!  Well, to be fair, I think I have a couple of students who'd prefer my lit block, but they are far outnumbered.  To strike a balance somewhere in the middle, I've had to carve out 20 minute chunks for my literacy block, and we stick to our schedules religiously.  Each reading group, or in certain cases- individual student, has their own plan that moves them from activity to activity in 20 minute rotations.  It's designed to help them get physical movement in the long stretch of literacy block, and keep things fresh. Schedules include silent reading time, whole group lesson, iPod listening, Tumblebooks, comprehension activities, and more.  I've tried to make each piece meaningful while also independently sustainable so I can teach reading groups at the same time.  While all this movement has been good for them, it's a real struggle for me!  But in the light of my one little word, I'm moving forward with this plan.  I'd love any suggestions on how others handle their literacy blocks, I'm always looking to adjust this. Thanks for stopping by...


  1. Thanks for giving your readers an honest post! Sometimes we read, hear, discuss...and it sounds good and it is what we want but we also know we need to be responsive to our group of students each year! Changing every year to adjust makes our job challenging but definitely not boring! :)

    Here was my block from last year...

    12:40 Status of the Class
    12:45-1:05 Independent reading/Individual conferences
    1:05-1:20 Mini-lesson
    1:20-2:00 Small groups/Practicing mini-lesson in independent books
    2:00-2:10 Share

    Can't wait to see what others post! :)

  2. I can tell we would be great friends! I am still searching for that job that pays me to read books. :) I teach 5th grade and upon coming back from break, we had to build our stamina back up in independent reading. Fortunately, I have a group that naturally loves to read, but every year I struggle to get a group of students to buy into the readers notebooks. They just want to read and be finished.

    1. Hi Raeann! If you ever find that job, please let me know! I'll take it in a heartbeat! I've always struggled with reader's notebooks as well. On a positive note, it sounds like they are reading at least! That's half the battle in my opinion...keep up the good work and stop back to visit. Thanks! Erin

  3. Thanks for your post! I know that many, including me, can relate to this feeling about our literacy block, especially this time of year. I would love to hear even more specifics about what an average day looks like for a student during your rotations that you spoke of. Where do they start? Do they have choice? Do you feel like it's a lot of extra planning for you?

    I teach third grade and our teaching team is following the Lucy Calkins reading and writing curriculum plan pretty closely. My reading block schedule had to sort of be determined upon when I had all my students in the room and not out with other teachers, so it currently looks like this:

    1:15-1:45--"Mini" lesson...I'm not good at keeping things "mini!"
    1:45-1:50--Status of the class (Hearing the students' plan for the day)
    1:50-2:30--Independent reading/conferences/groups
    2:30-2:45--Sharing Circle

    I understand the feeling also Raeann about trying to get students to buy into the reader's notebook. We do a lot of jotting and it's the same...some students with post-its coming of every page in their books and others who just want to read and go. Always looking for new ways to keep them motivated to think and share their reading.

    Thanks for writing!

    1. Hi Kileen! My literacy block goes a little something like this:
      12:40- 1:00 Most kids silent reading, some out to special groups, status for me
      1:00- 1:20 Mini-lesson
      1:20- 1:40, 1:40- 2:00, 2:00- 2:20 I'm doing reading groups while the kids are moving to different stations.
      I haven't been able to give this particular class choices in where they go; they need a rigid structure and we have to stick exactly to the 20 minute rotation (which I hate!) but it's necessary to keep the kids focused and on task. I'll put up the full schedules here soon so you can see what I give out to the kids. As far as extra planning and work, in the beginning, it was A LOT to create the schedules and balance out where each group would be going so no one overlapped and I could accomodate all the times kids go out for special groups and support. But, once the structure was in place, the weekly maintenance isn't so much more than what I've done in the past. WIth no choice involved here, I just had to make sure that everyone was in their right spot at the right time! I'll post schedules here soon for you to see. Thanks!