Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Literacy Block

Since I have no idea which position I will end up in of the ones I requested transfer on, it's kind of a bit of a waiting game. This means I can't start doing too much thinking ahead to the new school year because there is such a variety of grade levels that I bid on, everything from 2nd through 5th grade. Probability would indicate that since 6 of the 10 positions I bid on are in the same building, I will end up there in some capacity. Probability would also indicate that since a full 50% of the positions I bid on are in 2nd grade, I'll be teaching 2nd grade. But there are never any guarantees until things are in writing so I am refraining from making any grade-specific sorts of plans until I know for certain where and what I will be teaching.

That said, I have been reading Day-to-Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop. I have also read the Daily 5 and the CAFE book. While these books are different -- Daily 5/CAFE can be used with all grades K-5 but seems like it may work better with the K-3 crowd and Day-to-Day is geared for 3rd-6th grade -- the big idea behind them is the same: fostering independence in literacy to enable children to really develop themselves into readers.

I have taught 2nd, 4th and 5th grade in my own classrooms but have worked in all grades from K-12 when I was subbing. I know that my 4th graders were vastly different thinkers and learners than my 2nd graders were. Not because they were superior but because they had more experience in school and with reading. It has often boggled my mind, however, how many children come to 4th or 5th grade absolutely hating to read. This breaks my heart as someone whose idea of a fun Friday night is curling up with a few good books to read with my girls (or even to myself! The Husband chuckles at how I've been home on leave for 2 1/2 months and have maybe watched 5-6 hours of TV total in all those hours I've been home alone). When I was a kid I got grounded from my books [never for longer than a day] when I was bad because I loved reading so much and my parents knew this was the only way to get their point across to me. Grounding me from the TV I barely watched or the video games I barely played just wasn't going to cut it.

In reading these books about literacy, I have really found a renewed sense of the spark I've always had for teaching literacy. I was a language arts major in undergrad and of course just finished my master's in TESOL which enabled me to know more about the English language than I probably care to! My friends and I would joke during undergrad about what a language arts nerd I was: I love getting new ideas and implementing them in my classroom to foster a love of reading in children.

The school where I requested the majority of my transfers (the positions being 3 - 2nd grades and 1 each of 3rd, 4th and 5th) is the school where I taught  my first contract year with my district. I've heard about some of the things they've put into place since I left in order to provide more Tier 1 intervention due to the RtI model. My only concern with that is that after finishing my entire master's project on why basal texts are huge no-nos for ELLs, I have a huge aversion to the basal which they rely on (really all of the schools rely on it, this particular school just took it a step farther). I have been thinking to myself over the last day or so how I could implement both a Daily CAFE (if I get 2nd grade) or a true Reader's Workshop (if I get 3rd-5th) and still utilize at least some of the basal series.

Earlier this morning I had an epiphany about it. Awhile back I found these tri-fold documents created by a super fabulous group of teachers that are like little pamphlets that you use for strategy work while reading. They have created some for the basal series they use. I thought how awesome would it be to create some to go with our basal stories to allow us to a) still use the district mandated material b) provide a level of scaffolding for struggling readers and c) give the children a concrete tool to make sense of what they are reading instead of using the worthless worksheets that come with the series.

Most of our elementary schools now require 90-120 minutes of uninterrupted literacy and I figured that would still give me time to either use the Daily 5 rotation or the Reading Workshop model and still use the basal. (I NEVER include writing in my literacy block, ever. Yes they go together but I like to dedicate 40-50 minutes for writing so I keep it separate.)
30 minutes basal reader/partner reading/trifolds
30 minutes read aloud strategies with notebooks
20-30 minutes word study
30-40 minutes independent reading/conferences

I am going to put this idea into the back of my brain so I can think on it subconsciously while I wait to see where I end up. I think this model might revolutionize my literacy time.


  1. Love the name of your blog! I use Trifolds in my class. I love them. They do start to elicit a collective groan from my 3rd graders as the year goes on. Thank you for that link. There were a lot on there that I hadn't seen. I'll be following your blog. It's great!

    :) JD

  2. Thanks, I'm glad it was useful. I felt like I hit the jackpot when I came across the tri-folds, they are pretty cool.

  3. You have posted a very interesting article. Keep it up!

    Good Books To Read.