Friday, February 10, 2012

Literacy Block Facelift

Ok, so in my last post I mentioned being inspired to give my literacy block a little facelift.  A week and a half ago I went to another school in my district to visit a T1 classroom.  When these kids came into this classroom they were about 5 months behind where a first grader should be.  This wonderful teacher has obviously worked extremely hard because her students seem to be right where they need to be now.  She has the amazing blessing of having 3 adults in her room-- teacher, assistant, and tutor.  Clearly, this allows her to do a rotation of 3 intensive small groups daily.  Call me crazy, but I felt determined to take this idea back to my classroom and make it work.... even if I do have 4 more kids and 1 less adult.

So, here's what I came up...
I have 3 groups of 8 {leveled homogeneously}.  I gave each group an animal name-- Lovely Lions, Marvelous Monkeys, Happy Hippos.  The students never know this, but I named my groups to match their levels {low, medium, high}.  It helps me keep it all straight in my head.  I do 4 rotations of 20 minutes each.  During this time, I see my lowest students twice and my medium and high students once each.  My assistant sees my medium students twice and my lowest and high students once each.  When a group isn't with my IA or myself they are doing independent work.  Want to know the secret to successful independent time?  I gave them a notebook to do their work in!  They think those notebooks are the best thing since sliced bread!  Not a peep from those indpendent workers!


{These are all of the sheets I am using to make
my groups and plan activities.}


In my IA's group, she does the phonemic awareness tasks from our reading basil, leads games and word sorts, and other review reading and word study activities.  All of this is led by an adult so students are on-task and corrected when not understanding.

In my group, I also do a variety of reading and word study activities with a focus on reading fluency.  We spell words on whiteboards, read leveled books, reread previous books, put together cut apart sentences, and much more.  I try to keep it really fast moving to keep interest and minimize behaviors.

My independent workers go to the tub and find their group's folder.  They are to first open the folder to look for any practice sheets or assignments I've put in the folder.  If they finish that task or there is nothing there, they move on to work in their notebooks.  On the front of the folder I have a sheet with their tasks.  Each group is similar, but slightly different based on their level.  First, create a Circle Map and write the room for ___________ {insert various tasks such as beginning and ending letter, long vowel patterns, etc}.  Next, write me a letter.  {I'll respond to their letter each day!}  When all of the other tasks are complete, they are to read quietly until it's time to change.

So far, so good.  I'm really excited that my lowest students are getting 40 minutes of direct instruction each morning.... compared to my old way of doing stations with 24 kids randomly scattered around the room getting louder and more off task as the minutes passed, making it very difficult for me to pull my reading groups.  I only have 8 kids unattended at a given time which is wonderful.  I'll keep you all posted on how it's going or any speed bumps I hit along the way.  Thanks for visiting me!  :)

--Mrs. Pollard

14 comments:

  1. I love the independent tasks ideas! I've been looking for a way to revamp my literacy block and there are some wonderful ideas you mentioned that I would love to incorporate. I love minimizing the number of unattended students, it makes me less stressed just thinking about it. Thank you for sharing :)

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  2. Have you ever looked into doing daily 5 and literacy cafe? It's very similar to what you're doing and would have the kids reading independently when they're not with you, rather than you having to come up with activities for them. We started it this year and I LOVE it. I also do a similar version of it for math and group students homogeneously (Anteaters-Above, Owls-On Level, Bears-Below) :)

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  3. Your post is just what I needed to read! I am going to do some deep thinking this weekend and make changes on Monday. I, too, have struggled with this!

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  4. Can you post your sheets so I can take a closer look at them? Or..are they on TPT?

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  5. I absolutely love the names of your groups! Perfect! Thank you for sharing ~ I love to read what others are doing in their classroom!
    First Grade Delight
    imgoingfirst@gmail.com

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  6. Thanks, ladies, for your interest! I'm so glad that this can be an inspiration to your classroom. The bloggy world is so cool! :)

    I've just uploaded my planning sheets as a freebie on TPT. You can click on the image above or just click this link: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Literacy-Block-Planning-Guide-Freebie

    *Mrs. Pollard*

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    Replies
    1. I loved reading this post. I've gotta make some changes to my group time.

      When I went to get your planning sheets... they were not listed. Did you post them somewhere else?

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    2. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly! You ROCK!!!

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  7. Thanks for sharing your ideas and forms. Wish you could share your instructional assistant too;-)

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  8. I loved reading about how you revamped your literacy block! I feel like I am always trying to make little tweaks to mine to make it more effective! Hope it's working out well for you! And I am a new follower! Yay! :)

    Molly
    Lessons with Laughter

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  9. I could not download the forms. Did you take them away?

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  10. I am a fairly new teacher and I enjoyed reading your post! I clinked the link to go to your literacy block unit and was unable to find it. I would love to have it for my first year in 1st grade :) Thanks for sharing your ideas!

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