It is so exciting when pieces of the puzzle begin to fit nicely. This has happened for me this year. After spending the summer, thinking, learning and reflecting on how to build stronger readers and writers, I have found the missing piece for me. First of all my schedule totally changed this year, our language arts block is the last two hours of the day. I never thought I would like that slot of time, but I have really enjoyed it for several reasons. The most important one is that I have totally linked my reading, writing and word study together. I am not quite sure why I haven't seen this as a block of two hours. Perhaps because my lesson plans are set up with 3 isolated blocked plans: reading, writing, word study. I felt the pressure the first several weeks to make it to our writing time. When I shifted my thinking to a large block of language arts time, I didn't feel the urgency as the minutes clicked away. I wonder how many teachers look at these three areas as three separate parts or one whole? It sure changed my perspective when it was one large chunk of time.
The second shift is thanks to my friend, Bill Prosser @ Literate Lives. He taught me several years ago sometimes it is just fun to read a book for the great story!! While the wall is open, Sarah and I share the same read aloud Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library which we will finish tomorrow. Everyday our students are listening to our read aloud, having fun solving the puzzles, discussing how the characters are going to escape, and enjoying an excellent book. Enthusiasm for reading is the goal and we are achieving it.
Finally the last shift is with my thinking. I am helping my students "think as a reader but also think as a writer." When you connect those ideas, the flow of the lessons are amazing. All of a sudden our mini lesson on the influence of setting in RW is carried into our writer's notebook for our narratives. All three together in sync create an amazing two hours of literacy learning in room 228.
On a side note, as I reflect on the start of my year, I often find myself wondering: Why does it take so long to figure something out that makes my teaching stronger? Finally I have realized that all my summer learning is like a file cabinet that is full of ideas, but until I meet my students and learn about their needs I cant access those files. The answer is not in the why but in the when. When I know my new students as a class of readers/writers, I finally can pull that file out that makes all the difference for me as well as them. It sure is a great feeling when the pieces of the puzzle all fit together nicely. (I have no idea why I have so many font changes-oh well letting go trying to
fix them :)