Welcome to my first post in a 5-part series A Peek Inside My Classroom! During these posts, I will dissect my classroom and detail each part to share what has worked well in our room.
Part 1: Reader’s Workshop Time
Part 2: Classroom Organization
Part 3: Routines Routines Routines!
Part 4: Classroom Economy
Part 5: Math Centers
Part 1: Reader’s Workshop Time!
I have found Language Arts to be one of the most challenging subjects to feel completely comfortable teaching because of the constant changes to our curriculum and pacing, despite the fact that Reading is probably my favorite subject! Guided reading is very unregulated and every administrator and Reading Specialist expects something different from this time.
While I am still working to find a perfect balance, I finally have put together a reading block that I like and allows for lots of meaningful work.
Every Reading block should begin with a read-aloud and mini-lesson that introduces or reinforces the specific skill being taught that week.
Shhhh… don’t tell anyone, but I also read the class a…NOVEL! ~ Crazy, I know, since we barely have time to fit all of this in, but I refuse to give this up. My kids love just listening to reading without any sort of “work” attached to it, and it allows them to be exposed to fluent reading and self-monitoring strategies. (You’d be surprised, but many kids don’t get this at home!)
After a read aloud and mini lesson,I meet with small groups for 45 minutes- 1 hour, depending on the day. During this time the students who are not with me have independent work. This is where things can get murky when you have a wide range of abilities.
It is hard to manage everyone, but this setup allows for fluidity in center work completion time while also providing a structured daily routine.
Here is a breakdown of my reader’s workshop time!
Get this poster here!
I display this poster on my Reading Bulletin Board, and under it there is a clear plastic sleeve with an insert that describes the directions for each part.
Let’s Break It Down!
Depending on how much time you have in your reading block, you could adjust the independent silent reading time. I typically start with 15 minutes and then move up from there as the kids develop more stamina and become more efficient at completing the centers .
~Respond to Reading~
I am a big proponent of students responding to reading. Sometimes we get caught up in the cutesie activities and lose some of that pure “read and respond” synthesis time that is necessary for good reading comprehension.
With this formula, students read and place their “Think Notes” in the text as they read. (This is from the Close Reading program and I love the idea!) check out the anchor chart !
Once they have read, the students write a short paragraph about where they placed their Think Notes and why. This makes them go back into the text and slow down a bit to explain their thinking. I give them a template at the beginning of the year to help scaffold until they become stronger writers and get used to the process. This should only take about 10 minutes.
We talk about what evidence based terms are, and I require my students to answer ANY question using evidence based terms (orally or in writing).
Once students complete their response, they begin…
The students spend about 15 minutes working on their centers. They are fluid, so if they finish one early they can start the next one, and if they don’t finish, they have time the next day. All centers are due by Friday or they cannot participate in Fun Friday. Here is a breakdown of each center:
Squiggles are amazing! They are a wonderful way to jump-start the kids’ writing as well as give them a creative outlet. My kiddos this year are super crafty, so this has been a big hit.
To make a squiggle, you simply draw a squiggly line with a sharpie on blank paper, copy, and distribute to the class with a topic. The topic of the drawing will also be the topic of their writing for the week (see Paragraph of the Week, below) I like to connect this to a science or history topic that we are covering, in order to reinforce those objectives as well. I have asked them to illustrate (and subsequently write about) the hardships the settlers faced upon arrival at Jamestown, the reasons for moving the capital from Williamsburg to Richmond, and the steps in the scientific method. The things these kids can think of to turn that squiggle into an image is astounding! I love grading these 🙂 I will also extend our class novel into this. Last week, I asked the class to illustrate Mr. Browne’s September Precept from the book Wonder, “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.”
Here are a few of the results:
(Do you see the original squiggle in each??)
When students complete a passage in my class, they are required to do 3 things: Separate the paragraphs, write the main idea for each section/paragraph, and highlight the evidence in the text that supports their answers to the corresponding questions. Again, this is a strategy to make them slow down a bit, and use my favorite word “EVIDENCE!” If you can’t prove it from the text, you don’t have the answer!
Get this poster here!
This is our Word of the Week! The Poster is displayed in our Reading Area of the room, and students come and sit in the class library whenever they get to this center and use a dictionary and thesaurus to complete in their reading journals. I also try to go cross-curricular here as well and use words from Science and History. Our last few words were investigation, observation, arithmetic, and distinct. I also try to pick words with a more obvious prefix or suffix at first to get them used to the skill.
“Because I’m the teacher, that’s why!” Kidding. I like this center because I can add an additional practice item when needed, but I don’t use it every week. This week we focused on sequencing, so I pulled some task cards and let the kids work in small groups. This was a 2 week center this time, so they will continue to do this next week as well.
Thus concludes the breakdown of our weekly centers. Which brings us to…..
~Paragraph of the Week!~
A teacher buddy at work shared this with me after I lamented my lack of writing time. This has been a lifesaver! As I mentioned before, I connect it to the squiggle, so their picture jump-starts them.
With this arrangement, the kids brainstorm on Monday, write a First Draft on Tuesday, Revise and Edit on Wednesday, and complete a Final Draft on Thursday/Friday. I provide editing and revising checklists and other reference pages for them to keep in their folder, and they often peer edit during this time. In this manner, the students are exposed to the entire writing process each week, and we can build up to 5 paragraph essays!
This portion of Reader’s Workshop should take about 15 minutes.
The reading block starts to run itself after a few weeks as the kids get used to the routine. Each day, they read, respond, complete a center, and complete a portion of the writing process. During this time, I am pulling my small groups.
Hopefully this has given you some ideas to jump start your own Reader’s Workshop block! If you like any of these posters, please visit my Teacher’s Pay Teacher’s store via the button on my sidebar. 🙂