Thursday, March 17, 2016

SOL 17: Adjusting the Schedule.

This post is part of the 9th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge.  Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for their hospitality and support!  Join Us!

9th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge Invite

My apologies if this post rambles a bit.  I'll be working out some ideas on readjusting instruction for my Students at school.  All feedback welcome.  I'll be giving the "short story" a lot, with the assumption that I'm working under a workshop framework that is flexible, yet well planned out based on what kids need and what the observations and some data are telling me.  I work hard to honor a scope and sequence, and yet not be completely tied to it if the children need something else.  The short story is:  They have usually needed something else.  There is huge tie to the SEL health of this class and their ability to work in a classroom setting.

At the end of January, this post was written over at Two Writing Teachers.  It also had this link from Kristine Mraz on scheduling as well.

I tucked these away, because I'm always reflecting on what works for kids.  How can that precious time during the school day be used well so kids find the joy in reading and writing?

I'll tell the short story for the sake of the blog:  I'm blessed to be in a working situation this year where my literacy block can be designed to meet the needs of the kids, not a lot of questions asked.  That is both empowering and terrifying at the same time.

As we do, with close observation, and a peek at some data, I realized that some instruction needs to change at this point in the year.  While some skills are in place, and they LOVE reading; our writing progression isn't as fluent.  At all.  As a teacher, it is the space in my day that I'm the least confident about their progress.

What we can do:  (As students)

  • We can write pieces.  
  • We have made strides in working on making our writing readable.  
  • We  want people to be able to read our writing.  (This is a HUGE shift from the beginning of the year.)
  • We have ideas.  
  • We can choose topics, start new stories, stick with some writing for a certain block of time.  


  • We haven't embraced that our word work is important because it makes our writing more accurate.  
  • Even in our writing attempts of unknown words, we aren't attending to sounds consistently.  (Observational data would indicate that it's a behavior related to focus and stamina.  More quantitative data would indicate the skills are in place to do accurate work.)
  • It is important to state here that I have students who are stuck in the "How do you spell..." paralysis.  While I know I want to promote independence here, I have to do so carefully as this can halt the entire process based on emotional needs.  It is a delicate balance of giving the information they want, while encouraging independence, and supporting the emotions that come with trying something that can be challenging.  (We've worked through A Mindset for Learning by Mraz and Hertz, it's helping!)
My First Attempt in Schedule Flow:

Currently, after our Morning Meeting, we go into a Reading workshop setting.  Writer's Workshop/Word Study comes at the end of the block.  I'm considering a "flip-flop" so writing comes first, like this:

  1. Arrival:  A little math writing (2-3 minutes), Books out!  Shop for books, visit with friends, morning "business." (Arrival time is about 15 minutes)
  2. Morning Meeting/Shared Bible Time (Think shared reading).  (20 minutes)
  3. Word Study in Rotations:  Phonics/Spelling, Handwriting, Sight Word practice.  (30-40 minutes)
  4. Read Aloud/Mini Lesson on Writing.  (It works best if we are always connecting our writing to a mentor text.) 
  5. Writer's workshop.  (45 minutes-ish, including the read aloud and mini lesson up above.)
  6. Snack time/Recess.
  7. Specials (45 minutes; Spanish, Art, etc.)
  8. Reader's workshop (45 minutes)
  9. Lunch time!    
Yes, I really do have about a 3 to 3.5 hour-ish morning.  
I'm hopeful that being more intentional about the words and the writing will produce a joyful shift that results in happy writers!  

Phew!  That's enough for today...I'll write a reflection in a couple of weeks on how it is going.  



  1. It sounds like you have a great start.

  2. It is so complicated isn't it? I wish those who aren't teachers could see how much planning occurs, and then reflection, too. Thanks for showing your ideas, Kendra.