When I first started teaching, I remember thinking, “What am I supposed to do for forty-five minutes?” My toolbox contained only a few tools and the class period seemed so long. Now I find myself in a different situation. I have an overflowing toolbox of strategies and ONLY forty-five minutes to teach.
Practically, I don’t even have forty-five minutes. Take away time for attendance and announcements as well as for summing up and straightening (rarely do my chairs stay in rows), really I only have thirty-five to forty minutes. Into that mix I want to do some type of daily language activity, some type of journaling as well as a lesson or focus each day. Some days will be devoted to reading and other to writing. I also want to incorporate an independent study day where students have a chance to get caught up on what they need to, work on projects or just read or write. This year I plan on doing formal writing conferences rather than just walk around the room during writing time chatting about their work.
I have found that having some type of schedule in the class is effective with both class management and time management. Last year, we wrote on Mondays and read on Fridays. We started each class period with daily language and a reading response. The social studies teacher did journaling with them, but I will be working with a new teacher this year, so will incorporate that in to the start of class instead of reading response.
I think what may work this year instead is to break up the time into two week blocks. We will still have one reading day a week, but every other Monday will be a work day. Students could choose to read or write or they could work on a project or independent research. This day could be when I hold formal writing conferences, still having informal ones while students are on a writing task.
The class could start with a daily language or sentence modeling activity that students would complete quickly followed by a journaling or reading response activity. These might not be incorporated into the day’s lesson, but would be themed or organized to lead into the next writing activity.
Overall, I plan to have a question a month (at minimum) to guide activities. This is something I admittedly need to read a little more about, but I think I know enough to start. I’ll find fiction and non-fiction pieces at varying levels related to that theme and have at least one writing activity related to it. One piece of reading each month will be subject to a Socratic Seminar. Students will add at least one piece of writing to their portfolio each month, but will fill it with some type of rough draft each week.
Breaking everything down like this helps me to see how everything fits together. I know that some teachers are much more flexible and open. But I am not an organized person by nature. If I am to fit it all into the tiny little block of time, I need a plan of action. Right now, this is my plan.
Do you think it will work?