Saturday, April 4, 2015

#2getherwearebetter: Schedules

After almost a school year hiatus, my passion has been reignited  through the hearts of two considerate and positive direction leading teachers, Angie from Lucky Little Learners and Ashley from Schroeder Shenanigans in Second

I'm joining them for their new monthly series: #2getherwearebetter and the first monthly linky is all about...

Schedules are the routine we all thrive on to survive and help manage our classroom and they feel like they are always being rushed or adjusted. 

The school I teach in is rather large for our small community. We house about 900 students with 6 to 7 teachers per grade level. Our schedule leaves something to be desired; however, what makes us even better educators? Oh that phrase, you work with what you are given...and you make it work.

Our mornings being with welcoming the students by the front door. This part of the day is highly important to me for setting the tone. Usually the students are greeted with a compliment, joke, or me answering a question I heard them ask in the hallway. After they come in our routine is usually predictable. The students move their lunch sticks, check in their homework with me, and picking up their math morning work. Their favorite days are when morning work is a Roam the Room or cutting out pieces for a crafty! (I love those days, too; mainly because they are so engaged in their work- I like hearing what they have to say.)

Like I said earlier our school is rather large with many classes trying to eat breakfast. This is a part of my schedule I wish we could revise, but with our building I am not sure how. I just see so much potential for instructional time, if our students were able to come in early and eat before school. How does your school manage breakfast?

We come back to our room and start whole group reading instruction. Since we are Title 1 school and in IN we are under the 90 minute reading block. This year my whole group is before my guided reading, which is so much better for their development. This time is dedicated to a phonics warm up (on whatever skill of the week it is) and the focused reading comprehension skill. My favorite way to introduce a reading skill is through literature or non-fiction read alouds. The students just seem to grasp the skill better and have background knowelegde to pull from during small groups.

During this time I meet with 3 differentiated groups. They are divided using DIBELS and NWEA, as well as teacher digression. The times I meet with them differ based upon what they need to be working on. We don't use the Daily 5, which I have always been curious about how it work. Instead, they go to a classroom library center (daily) and then alternate every other day for word center and fluency centers. At each center, their are leveled baskets so the student work on materials suited for their needs.

This year I stepped out on a limb, 
took a dive, 
made the leap, 
freaked out, 
but continued haha! 
High group: I have my students in the upper level group actually split into two and working on individualized skills (makes planning fun!). Their word center is not phonics based so much as figurative language based. 

On-level group: This group is typically is working on what we are doing that particular week. 

Need for support: They have a folder they do first every day and then have a reading program they work though, Read Naturally, at the classroom library center. 

I am fortunate to have a classroom volunteer 3 out of the 5 days. (Three different women for those three days.) Boy, you sure can tell the difference when they are there. 

Guided Reading

I used to do the same kind of activity with each group at guided reading, just with different lexile leveled text, but as the year has progressed, I've moved to working on skills I know they truly need. 

High group: typically gets the phonics and reading skill the first two days, so we work on projects, in-text reading, or chapter book studies. Magic Tree House series has Fact Trackers that are paired with the fiction books and my kids ARE OBSSESSED! 

On level group: is working on the skill of the week and I try to dig deeper once they are catching onto it. We will also start using Non-fiction supplemental matierials by Kristen Smith. Our reading series only has one non-fiction story for the rest of the year (Yeah? What is that?) 

Kristen Smith has an engaging  non-fiction comprehension product that helps students practice and keeps their interest.

Need for support group: is focused heavily on decoding and fluency. We go over sight words, phrase cards, syllable kit. I do have them read the leveled read of the week and discuss it because they have so much to give when we discuss comprehension. I still want them to build their love of reading even if they struggle to actually read the words.

The 24/7 Teachers Leveled Reading Passages is a product I don't know how I lived without during guided reading. Click on the picture to go to her bundled product. She also sells by month.

Since we are a Title 1 school, our students have various RTI classrooms they switch to based upon DIBELS and NWEA testing. I have students who are in what we called the "bubble"  based upon NWEA testing. I follow the Learning Continuum to select skills- and trust me, this is where many supplemental TPT products of yours come into play. 

My favorite time of the day! We start whole group and then either have split centers or rotating centers. I tried to choose one and stick to it every day, but it wasn't addressing my students needs. I am a firm believer in routine, but also in change. So I see how my class is doing as a whole and if most students are picking up the skill, we go into split centers which consist of a game using that skill or task cards, while I work real briefly with my advanced math students and send them to practice a differentiated skill and then focus on my students who need support. 

Rotating centers come into play typically once a unit. The students rotate to 4 centers with 2 tasks within each center. Color coded, can I get an Amen? The students know what color they are for the first day and select from that tub and then switch the next day. This allows me to reinforce/recycle skills we have been working on honing. I am a center, too. So I meet with the groups and we work on leveled tasks.

  "Have a good lunch!" is what I hear. "Go consume food!" is my reply.

We all need this kind of time! I really wish I could use it for read-alouds and hopefully, one day I will get there, but this is when I pass out homework. Then we meet whole group and review the math skill of the week. I am all about playing pretend/acting so we usually have time to "act out" our math or I turn into my alter ego- Betty Sue Who Doesn't Know What to Do. (She is a first grader and needs help from them to solve the math problems!) They roll with laughter!

Art, Music, PE, Science, Writing, Computers---Prep time for me...which is usually completing daily tasks and not exactly prep.

I try to balance this time between teaching grammar (which could always use more time) and getting social studies or science into lessons. This year we work on our units during this time so the students are researching and writing papers. However, the goal in late April is to start a Poetry Unit and hopefully have a poetry cafe. If you have any ideas, send them my way! 

Here are some of our Unit Projects from the year:

Thanks for stepping into a day in our classroom. It has been enlightening reading your blogs about your schedule. I love to hear from you! How the wheels start turning! 


  1. I saw that you use Read Naturally. My school offers it, but I haven't had a chance to try it out. Is it difficult to manage or do your students use it independently?

    The Super Sparkly Teacher

  2. Your students are VERY LUCKY to have you as their teacher! Your day sounds fun and productive! Thank you so much for linking up with us and reaching out as well! ;)
    Mrs. Olson’s Lucky Little Learners