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Friday, January 24, 2014

A Day Our Way: Classroom Schedule Linky Party!

I am WAY late to the party but am finally linking up with my girl, Amelia, at Where the Wild Things Learn for her "A Day Our Way" classroom schedule linky party!
Here is a brief look at my typical daily schedule:
Students Arrive/Morning Work
Students arrive from 7:40-7:55. Since we are departmentalized with three teachers (I teach ELA, one teaches math, and one teaches SS/Science), we split the morning work into ELA and math days. ELA morning work is Tuesday and Friday and math morning work is Monday and Wednesday. On Thursday we have chorus from 8:00-8:30, so we don’t give morning work for Thursday.

For ELA morning work, I give the students a packet of various reading response worksheets and they must complete one of their choice every two weeks based on a book they are reading independently.

ELA Blocks
We divided our day into three 80 minute blocks (block 3 is only 75 minutes which bothers me because this is my “slowest” group). The one downfall of this is that 80 minutes is definitely not enough time for ELA when I incorporate reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, and spelling into this time. My saving grace is that the SS/Science teacher incorporates a ton of reading and writing into these subjects during her block. She also has 80 minutes each day for SS/Science and we have NEVER had that much time for these subjects before. Since we rotate the students, all the blocks had to be the same amount of time. Our NYS module topics for ELA are all SS/Science related and she also incorporates the modules into her SS/Science classes. We are “adapting” the modules and she has selected various parts of the modules to work on. Right now, the students are working on simple machines in science with these kits:
The ELA module she is incorporating right now happens to be simple machines too! While the modules have some valuable activities, I really can’t imagine ONLY using the ELA modules for my ELA instruction. This is the module assessment at the end of the 7-8 week unit on simple machines. I don’t think it has enough “meat” compared to what they will be expected to do on the NYS assessment in April. 

How do I structure my 80 minute ELA block? 
During the first part of class, we complete any spelling or grammar activities. The time spent on this varies from 5 minutes to 20 minutes. 
Spelling: I don’t give a spelling list every week, but they have a list about 75% of the time. There is not much actual class time spent on spelling. On Mondays, students take a pretest and write the words missed 5x each for homework. We use the spelling books from the MacMillan McGraw Hill Treasures series. On Wednesdays, students write their spelling words in sentences using context clues. They can use two spelling words per sentence, their sentences must have AT LEAST seven words, and now they are writing at least two sentences using quotations. There are twenty spelling words, so they will have at least 10 sentences to write. 
Sentence with NO Context Clues: “I will screech when I see a shrimp,” said Jane. 
(Notice how screech can be just about any verb and shrimp can be just about any noun?) 
Sentence with Context Clues: “I can’t believe I tried to eat a shrimp that was still moving!” screeched Jane. 
(With this sentence, I can tell that shrimp is something you eat that is an animal and screech is how someone talks when they are scared). 

On Friday, we have our spelling test and everyone takes the test. The first two sentences are dictation sentences and are graded on proper use of CUPS (capitalization, usage, punctuation, spelling). 
Spelling City is an option during Word Work on the iPads during the week. 

Mentor Sentences: 
I follow the schedule for Jivey’s mentor sentences with the exception of shorter weeks. See my post here for more information about how I use this amazing product in my classroom! I will never go back to teaching grammar the old way again! 

Mini Lessons:
Next, I spend about 20-30 minutes on some mini lesson that usually involves some type of work with our writer’s notebook, partner/group activity, and review of that skill.

Daily 5: I use Daily 4 in my classroom (Listen to Reading is left out). We spend about 25 minutes on Daily 4 centers and this year I do not let the students have the choice of which center they will be at. Although, they do have the choice about what “work on writing” or “word work” activity they will choose and what books they will read at “read to self” and “read to someone”. In the past I have allowed students choice over which Daily 4 choice they would choose but my classes this year haven’t demonstrated overall that they can have that independence. I am thinking about allowing some students who could handle this choice be given a chance with it though.  This is what my SMART board looks like right now for Word Work and Work on Writing choices.  They are changing often:
The colors correspond to the color of the drawer the activity is in.  The black one is not in a drawer.
During this Daily 4 time, a reading specialist pushes in my room and we usually conference with the students. These conferences are so valuable and we keep notes about our conferences for each student on a clipboard. I have found it is easier than having a binder and we can each take a few sheets easily off the clipboard. Then, we move freely around the room with our own clipboards conferencing mostly about writing with students.  
 Sorry, this picture is not updated. 
Yesterday, we gave each student their STAR reading report and conferenced with them about their test results (they have been tested 5x or 1x a month). We showed each student their “goal line” and discussed how they are progressing and why they are there at this point. Most of my students are crushing their goals, but there are a couple students that haven’t showed growth at all since September according to their STAR report. For example, one of my students began the year at a 6.1 GE and his test in January still shows a 6.1 GE. We discussed how all the books he has been reading this year independently are below the 4th grade level (Magic Tree House, Big Nate, etc.). He expressed interest in Rick Riordan last week and I gave him The Lost Hero (4.5 GE). Yesterday, he said he thought it was “too difficult”. It is a much longer book than he is used to, but I had him read two pages to me. He didn’t miss a word and read with no problems. I think this surprised him because he hadn’t really tried reading it at home.

We have a special from 9:26-10:06 on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (library, art, and computer). On Thursday, we have chorus 8:00-8:30 and no special at 9:26-10:06, so I just extend Block 1 on Thursdays until 10:06. On Friday, there is no special 9:26-10:06, so some of my students have an extra pull-out for reading intervention, some students have extra guidance time, and once a month, my whole class goes to guidance. The students who are left in the room on the other three weeks have time to work on late work or work on some extra center activities (this is when I pull out my math centers that I LOVE because I miss teaching math!!).
Every day we have a special 10:09-10:49 (Gym is 3x a week and music 2x a week).

Since our lunch is so late, we have snack time every day. We rotate the students and every student takes a turn bringing in a snack for the class for one week at a time. They will have to do this 2x during the year. No one gives us a problem about the snack that is brought in and it ensures that we have a healthy snack, teachers can monitor the snacks for students with allergies, and every one has a snack every day. I was skeptical at first that the students would be “picky” but we talk about it at the beginning of the year and really have very few problems. If students can’t provide the class with a snack for a week, the teacher will provide it.

We have one “work room” each day for recess for students who owe work and the other two teachers (we rotate days) take the students for recess. We keep track of who owes work on our “Homework Stars” bulletin board in the hallway since we are departmentalized. For recess, we go outside in the warmer months to play on the playground or go for a quick walk. During the long winter months, we go to the gym, go for walks in the school, or stay in the classroom to listen to music, socialize or play some quick games.

Whew! Well, that was probably more than you wanted to know but I was on a roll! :)  Check out Amelia's linky to check out other schedules!


  1. Holly, I LOVE your daily schedule. I'm hoping my school will finally give us the chance to try departmentalizing. It's always talk, but yet to be a reality. I hope your school year is going well. I will be returning to the classroom on Valentine's Day.

    Elementary School Garden

  2. Please check out LIFTPackages.blogspot.com. It is a teacher exchange program in which you meet teachers and send packages. Please feel free to sign up and pass our name along!


  3. You are so organized!!! I try my best to be organized because that is one thing about my classroom that I feel I actually have complete control over, haha. Thanks for sharing the pictures!!

    Cupcakes & Curriculum