Jun 29, 2014

Literacy Block Organization

Happy Sunday!  This morning I stumbled onto a fun little party over at Where the Magic Happens that apparently has been going on for quite some time and I've been so busy that I've missed the boat. :( I'm jumping on mid-stream to link up!

Literacy Block Organization

Book Talk Time (30-40 minutes)

Each day I begin class with a brief greeting about how much I am enjoying my current novel and why I can’t wait to pick it back up. I may mention a great kid’s novel that I just heard about, or one that I noticed one of them reading.  This is not a lesson, just a conversation with my fellow readers.  Then I tell them that they may begin reading whatever they would like, but I do give them a few reminders about how they should read. Sometimes I use the metaphor of being a zombie.  I suggest that they should crawl out of their bodies and into their books and onto whatever adventure their main character might be experiencing at that point in their story.  This often gives them a visual that they can relate to. Another great visual is to say that they should feel as though they are watching a movie.  If they can't "see" the movie as they read, then the aren't doing what we call "REAL READING!" Some might be reading mythology, some adventure, some even realistic fiction about kids their own ages.  
Next, I meet with each child individually throughout the week to document and talk about what they are reading, their progress, and work on whatever skills they need to successfully grow as readers.  At the end of this time each day, I hear moans and groans because my students do not want to stop!  What more could a reading teacher ask for?

Mini-Lesson, Shared Reading, Read Aloud (20 minutes)

During this time I usually begin my Social Studies integration.  I might read a picture book that models a specific WRITING CRAFT that I want to talk about or maybe there is a specific READING STANDARD or strategy that we will be working on in small groups that I want to introduce.  If you've read my blog before, you are probably already aware that I LOVE picture books for social studies, so maybe, just maybe, I am reading the book to my students simply because I love it!  There is ALWAYS something that can be taught through a good picture book.

Guided Reading, Small Groups, Literacy Stations (60 minutes)

This gets a big complicated, but my kids are trained in my procedures and our workshop runs like a well oiled machine.  :)

During this 60 minutes, we do 3 rotations of approximately 30 minutes each depending on when we get started. (Sometimes our mini-lessons run a bit long or I spend some extra time modeling expectations and we end up with 20 minutes for each rotation. I check the clock; calculate our time; and divide by three before we get started.)  During this time my students follow the chart above.  They simply follow the cards by their names.  Each child will visit SMALL GROUP plus 2 other STATIONS during our workshop each day. I then rotate the cards and they visit the available stations other days so that they have visited each station by the end of the week. Typically they will visit 2 of the following each day.
  •  a WORD WORK station where they work on affixes or roots
  • an AMERICAN HISTORY station where they read and interact with an article that dives a bit deeper into our social studies topic
  • an EDMODO station where they watch and respond to a social studies video 
  • a CURRENT EVENTS station where they might visit NewsELA and read articles and quiz on them, or might watch CNN News
  • a SPECIAL OCCASION station (Who knows what I might throw in there?!)
These are our standards but others like POETRY, WORD GAMES, NONFICTION, MAGAZINES, READING CAMPGROUND, etc. pop up from time to time. :)

Journal/Blog Time (20 minutes)

This is a time when creativity and social butterflies BLOOM!  Although my students visit the writing lab twice a week for writing instruction and we ALWAYS culminate our units with a big writing project and an AUTHOR CELEBRATION, I like to give my students time to write freely and explore topics that interest them.  We journal almost everyday, but at least twice a week I try to allow my students to blog on Kidblog.
Kidblog provides my students with the authentic audience of their peers and their parents.  Students may write about any appropriate topics that they like on their blogs and may comment on each other’s blogs to discuss their topics or simply to compliment the writing of a classmate.  Each student is aware that I must first monitor, assist, and publish their pieces and comments before their writing is visible to their peers.  This allows me the opportunity to work on their writing, spelling, and grammar skills in a real life setting that is important to them and specific to their individual needs, rather than a canned type of activity which would have no meaningful attachment to it.   This also allows me to monitor their interaction with their peers, the community, and the online world while developing many technology and writing skills at the same time.

Not much will be changing but I am adding a few additions!
I attended and loved a conference by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst on their book Notice and Note!
I created these BOOKMARKS,

and these matching POSTERS to go along with what I learned!  

I will definitely be incorporating these into our BOOK TALK Time.

I also attended and loved a conference session by Christopher Lehman on Falling in Love with Close Reading.  Since BOOKMARKS seem to be my thing, I created these.  Feel free to grab them if you like.  :)

Most EVERYTHING will stay the same except I will be adding some new content.  Instead of teaching 2 ELA/SS BLOCKS that are strictly fifth grade, I will be adding fourth grade to the mix which means I will integrating their social studies content as well.  That's right...I will be teaching one 4th grade block and one 5th grade block.  I will be teaching from the LAND BRIDGE THEORY to present day HISTORY IN THE MAKING!

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it...I don't have a TPT store, so what you see is what you get.  I guess you could count my posters and bookmarks that are attached above as my "PRODUCTS" but they are FREE!  Help yourself by CLICKING on them if you are interested ;)

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  1. Oh, my goodness. I sooo wish that I had your literacy block schedule. I teach 5th grade Language Arts and Social Studies as well, but we're only given 50 minutes to teach reading, writing, and grammar during Language Arts and then a separate 50 minute period to teach Social Studies. To top it all, there are a number of pull-out and push-in students that make it rather difficult in terms of planning and execution of new idea. *sigh* We work with what we have. :) At any rate, your blog has inspired me to create integrated/thematic units that might suit our limited time schedule. It's actually been a lot of fun creating text sets of articles, videos, books, short stories, etc., albeit time consuming. But, I'm considering it a labor of love. I've never had a school year completely planned out so that I know-hypothetically, based on the needs of my students-what I'm doing from month to month, so this should be a novel change.
    I'm also thinking about reorganizing the notebooks that I use in my classroom to reflect the units that I'll be teaching. Any advice you have on either of these matters would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Aquita,
      I actually have a post about organizing your notebooks into units from a few months back. I would have emailed you personally with a few suggestions, but you are listed as a "no-reply" blogger so your email address is not shared with me. No problem, but if you are interested in talking further, feel free to use the email link that is located on the top right of my blog and I'll be glad to share what I can with you! Thanks for reading! :)

    2. Oh, crud! LOL! I look at blogs all the time, but I've only just recently started replying to them. I'm afraid my communication with blogs is only one level above incompetence. I probably need to watch a tutorial (adding it to the to-do list). My email address is adibble28@yahoo.com. I'd appreciate any tips or suggestions that you can give. And thank you so, so very much for replying. I look forward to your email.

  2. Hi Brandee! I LOVE your posters and bookmarks...thank you for sharing them :) I teach the same thing that you will be next year...4th and 5th ELA/SS, and I've really struggled with how to set up my literacy block. I like your idea of having the kids read articles for SS during literacy. I'd like to find more ways to integrate the two so that we're getting in more time for writing. Your post has me thinking! If you have more ideas I'd love to hear them!


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