Saturday, February 8, 2014

120 minutes Feels Different than Two Hours

Students reading articles for our persuasive writing unit.

One of the best principals that I ever had always said January through March is crunch time.  He use to call it that because it was the time before spring break. Now with state testing, I still see this time frame as crunch time.  My focus is always on how to build a stronger and more consistent literacy workshop block of time.  My first shift is thinking differently about my literacy block NOT three isolated blocks (reading, writing, word study) but as a two-hour block of time with mandatory components. I know I have fallen into the trenches of seeing two hours in thirds not as one large block of time.  I really need to shift my thinking about time, and I plan on implementing three mandatory components.

1)  The first 15 minutes are spent finishing our current read aloud:  How to Steal A Dog, which is one of my all time favorite teams. Thank you Barbara O’Connor for this beautiful story and connecting with our class through our twitter account @bes228

2)  Word study:  I firmly believe building strong instruction around vocabulary is crucial to be a strong reader and writer.  I am going to continue to focus on integration of word work throughout reading and writing workshop.  There is more power to the punch when the lesson is based on a need that I observe during writing.  Yesterday, I worked with a few students about forming past tense verbs and the rules of af add "ed."  Relevant and real time is my new motto.

    3) Thinking as a Reader/Writer weaving these areas into more of a fluid time in workshop. With time always being an issue, I have been thinking about how to link reading with writing more than I have been in the past.  We are currently working on our persuasive writing, and the students are reading several articles that I have collected. For example: Should Cereals Contain Toys?  Should Students Be Paid for Their Grades?  After we discuss the article, we then locate the persuasive strategies and the students write their ideas into their writer's notebook for their PW.

I am excited to make these changes especially with thinking about my time in my Language Arts block differently. Instead of thinking of my two-hour block of time in thirds, I am thinking it as a whole 120 minutes with the continued focus on stronger reading, writing and word study integration.


  1. Thanks for this post! I was just talking with my literacy coach yesterday about the constant struggles I have with my literacy block. So many components--read aloud, minilesson, guided reading, indiv conferences, word study, etc. So hard to fit that into the time I have allotted. Some great ideas here!!

  2. A visual that Vicki Vinton showed in a session once really stuck with me. If a unit of study is a rectangular box with reading on the left and writing on the right, the there's a line drawn diagonally from top left to bottom right. This shows that the unit will begin heavy on reading and end heavy on writing. But it's a blend, or a continuum, not compartmentalized.

    1. Thank you I love that analogy. So often I got caught up with just getting everything in - quality is so much more important.

  3. Interesting how our thinking evolves...I especially like the analogy Mary Lee shared, and the idea of thinking about our units as a continuum. Both teacher and students benefit from this type of learning environment, I think.