Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Let's Talk About...The Literacy Block

In my next few posts, my goal is to talk about the literacy block. My hope is to have dialogue among my colleagues since we don't always the time or energy, during the day, to talk to each other. Many times, we have said how nice it would be to sit down and discuss what we do. But, let's be real...who wants to sit down and talk with a colleague about school after a very busy, exhausting day? I know I don't! So, let's stop being strangers and let's share our ideas with one another. There are wonderful things going on in our classrooms! If we don't have the time during the day, let's chat here. 

O.k., now down to business! I want to start by discussing how the literacy block is set up in your classrooms. In the past few years, I've noticed a change in how reading is to be taught. In the past, our literacy block wasn't really a block. It may have consisted of a lengthy shared reading lesson (centered around a theme), guided reading groups (disconnected from the shared reading lesson), spelling/word work (very disconnected and not differentiated), writing (format varied widely) and read alouds (randomly chosen). There was not a large block of uninterrupted reading, as specials were usually placed in there. Times have changed (thank goodness)!

We now have a large block of uninterrupted reading, and this is now called "Readers Workshop". Although I struggle to make everything flow during this block of time, I like to think I've gotten better at this over the past few years. 

After Morning Meeting/calendar routines, I've been having my students begin their first 15-minutes of Independent Reading. I will post more on that in the future. Then, I begin our shared reading lesson. This is tied to a unit of study that is centered around a specific set of comprehension strategies. I begin by stating/restating the focus of the lesson, choosing a student to pick a familiar book or poem to reread (build fluency and conduct the mini-lesson (focused on a comprehension strategy)/referring to the CAFE Menu (may add a new strategy to menu). We read a piece of text together (a poem or a big book)/focus on the strategy and discuss our responses to the text. The students respond to the text as we flow into guided reading.

Our time allotted for Shared Reading is approximately 10-15 minutes, and although this time is not etched in stone, it can't be too much longer. This is where I struggle! I need to be short and sweet, and get out of the mindset that Shared Reading needs to be this long, drawn-out 45 minute lesson. So, I want to hear from you! What does your Shared Reading look like? What do you do? 


  1. Hi Jen!
    Your classroom sounds a lot like my first grade classroom was before I became a reading specialist. We did Daily Five at the time and now our teachers are beginning to tackle CAFE. I'm reading that book with them as part of a book study. We are meeting after school once a month to discuss one chapter at a time. I'm excited to see how it unfolds in the classroom! I plan to send my questions your way!
    Hope you are having a great year!

    Read with Me ABC

  2. Our shared reading is about 10 mn and is held at one of those "in between" times of the day three times a week. Our daily reading block looks like this (STAR is Stop Think And Read):
    9:15-9:30 Mini-Lesson
    9:30-10:00 Literacy Stations with Partners/Guided Reading
    10-10:15 STAR Time (independent reading) with STAR tub books (these change out every few weeks and contain a range of levels and topics)/Guided Reading
    10:15-10:30 STAR time with Book Box Books and Poetry Notebooks/Guided Reading
    10:30-10:45 Read Aloud
    This is the first year with this particular schedule and so far it's going well! We haven't tackled CAFE in first grade in our district yet...

    1. Hey Lisa! I will definitely follow you. With three little guys at home, I don't post as much as I'd like :)! The STAR tubs you wrote about remind me of reading tubs that we use. They are part of a structured independent reading program by the American Reading Company. I plan to talk more about them on one of my future posts. I have to check out your Pete the Cat Giveway! I LOVE those books!!!