Diggin' Into Next Year: Literacy Block

I have been loving the opportunity to reflect on so many things in my classroom! If you have missed any of this series, you can click HERE to catch up.

...organize my literacy block.

I have blogged about this topic before. But it is my absolute favorite part of the day and so I don't mind sharing about literacy centers again! I will also attempt to answer some of the common questions that I receive.

I run my literacy block very similar to the way that I run my math workshop. I have four groups, but I only meet with two groups per day. This means that I get to meet with each group for 30 minutes. It allows us to go deeper into the text and eliminates some transition time. I LOVE the schedule.

Here is my small group display.

I might use sticky notes next year so that it is easier to switch student grouping when needed. Last year, I just reprinted the page when I changed a group.

Here is a closer look at the three centers that my students complete independently:

Read to Self: 
This center is all about student choice and reading something that they love! Students get to select a book from our class library, the school library or bring a book from home. They get to take one of my pillows and find a comfy place anywhere in the classroom. Some choose their desk and others choose the floor.

Even my lowest level third graders have the endurance to read for 20 minutes if thy are reading something they enjoy. The little guy pictures above started the year reading simple picture books and was reading chapter books by the end of the year. All on his own! 

I want to hold my students accountable for their reading. I want to be sure they are thinking critically about the text and not just staring at it. After each chapter, students must choose an appetizer, entrée or dessert reading response question from their reading menu. So after chapter 1, the student will complete an appetizer question. After chapter 2, the student will choose an entree question. And so on and so on. I think there are 10 questions for every course, so the students get plenty of choice and variety.

In order for this center to be very effective, it is important to teach students how to respond to reading. At the start of the year, I would read a chapter from a class read aloud. Then I would choose a question and think aloud as I responded. I was careful to point out things like writing the date, complete sentences and using text evidence. After modeling it a few times, I starting asking students to help me respond. And finally, I had small groups of students respond together. It took a couple weeks, before I felt they could be successful this this independently.

My goal this year will be to write back to each student once per month. That means I need to write back to one reading group per week. I THINK that will be doable. I want them to know that I care about their thoughts and about what they are reading.

Language Centers:
I just don't have nearly enough time in the day to teach language the way my students need it taught. So I devote one of their reading centers to language skills. I noticed a HUGE improvement in my students' work last year when I used these literacy centers!

Each month they have sorts for the following skills: nouns, plurals, verbs, antonyms, synonyms, prefixes, suffixes, adjectives, ABC order, compound words, contractions and syllables. The skills don't change each month, but the words that they sort do. They have a booklet that they use all month. This means that I only prep once per month!

As students complete the centers, the punch a hole in the back cover. They love this! If students complete before the end of the month (this starts to happen a lot at the end of the year), they can play a language game with a partner. I teach a few language games to my students during guided reading groups. Then I leave them in an accessible location. I like to use prefix and suffix games and vocabulary rich games. These are skills that all of my students need help with.

This year, I sent the booklets home with a parent volunteer to be graded. Next year, my students will be using their data tracking charts to track their scores each month. I hope this encourages them to do their best!

If you would like to have your students track their monthly language center scores, you can download both graphs for FREE by clicking HERE. You can see my entire second grade data tracking binder HERE and my third grade binder HERE.

I am blessed to have eight chromebooks in my classroom. During literacy centers, students use the chromebooks to log into their i-Ready account. This is a problem that our school has purchased for us. Each student takes a diagnostic test and then reading, phonics and language lessons are prescribed to the student based on the scores. Students complete lessons and quizzes within their unique lesson plan. I can log in and see their scores and assign specific lessons if I choose. The lessons are very kid friendly and most of my students enjoy this center.

I do have word work centers. However, I have enough centers that all of my students can complete word work at the same time. Last year, students completed it right about their morning bell work.

What do you love about your literacy block? What will you be changing next year?

Don't forget that I am giving my products away! I have already given away $150 worth of products during the last 2 days! Click on the picture below to read about how you can clear your wish list!

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