Saturday, July 6, 2013

ELA (English Language Arts)

Teaching children to read, comprehend, write, and spell is not an easy task.

Phonemic awareness. Alphabetic principle. Fluency with text. Vocabulary. Comprehension. (And Phonics.)

90 minute uninterrupted ELA block.

Common Core State Standards.


In an effort to keep all the elementary schools and teachers (in my district) on the same track, our ELA team has adopted The Four Blocks Literacy Model.

In March/April I read/skimmed through the overview book and liked the framework of the Four Blocks. Summer reading must include reading about each block.

Yesterday I read through the Writing Block book (at least the parts that gave me the overview, and specifically how to start the year).

What I liked most about reading is that this block fits right in with the writer's workshop unit I got last year. Deanna Jump's Writing Through the Year (units 1-4) hits it right on the head. 

Today I read through another block. Self-Selected Reading. I see so many connections with the Daily 5. In the way that independence is taught. How books are handled.

What I liked about today's reading is the direction that is given for the read-alouds at the beginning of SSR (not sustained silent reading). Depending on when I am in the school year (more read-aloud in the beginning, more student reading later on) I could read a portion of a chapter book, a non-fiction book, and a predictable book. And one day a week or two I could spend the time "blessing" a whole bag full of wonderful books in a variety of genres.

Both books gave wonderful information about conferencing with individual students (once the class has developed stamina to work independently for 12-15 minutes). So, 4-6 weeks will be spent teaching expectations and practicing, so that for the rest of the year I can meet with individuals or small groups. That is the hardest part for me. I want to get to it right away.

But I will remember the words of my sons' piano teacher... "Practice slowly in order to really learn the piece."

I am so excited to incorporate these ideas into my lesson plans, and to read the other two block books (as soon as I get them).
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  1. Oh, man, I'm such the person to want to get things going in my class. Waiting until they learn procedures, build stamina, etc., - yikes, just as hard for me!

  2. We started Common Core and Balanced Literacy the past school year. Teachers were quite frustrated with having a 4-6 week period where you primarily practiced procedures. After having a year under their belt, they understood the importance of building those strong workshop procedures and stamina.
    I really enjoy the Common Cores standards and I hope you do to. I love how they challenge students at a higher level and the emphasis put on reading closely and text complexity.
    Good luck with your new program!
    Antoinette :)

  3. That is great that you are liking the new model! I love it when things fit together!

    Head on over to my blog. I just nominated you for the Liebster Award :)

    The Frizz

    The Frizz in First Grade


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