March 23, 2012
Last week we had a school assembly scheduled in the middle of our reading block. Performers acted out poetry, engaging students and staff in a fun, interactive show. The children were eager to be a part of this exciting and educational experience. Upon returning to the classroom, we discussed the assembly then continued on with our daily routine. Towards the end of our literacy block, I rang the chimes and told the children that, unfortunately, we would not have time to share because it was lunch time. The children were disappointed, but they understood.
Then, a few days later, we were busy working during our literacy block and the time got away. Once again, I had to ring the chimes and apologize for there was not enough time left to share. With a sad look on their faces, my students put their things away and reluctantly lined up for lunch. After this occurred once again, I finally had to sit back and re-evaluate my priorities.
Inevitably this is the time of year when I look at my curriculum guide, count the number of days remaining, evaluate student progress, and question my ability to get everything in. This is also during the time crunch where we select the most essential skills and strategies students must experience before moving on to the next grade.
As a result, the sharing component of Daily Five was being eliminated and replaced with other priorities. I had forgotten how beneficial collaboration is to the learning process. Think about it from our point of view. When we go to a teaching workshop and learn something new, we often like to come back and share our experiences with our colleagues. Great things can happen when we bounce ideas back and forth. This is no different with our students. They need time to collaborate as they grow into better readers and writers.
It is crucial that we still take time to celebrate the learning which occurs daily. If you find that sharing is often the first thing cut from your literacy block when time gets tight, re-evaluate your priorities and try some of the following tips to re-capture your sharing time back:
- Cut 1 - 2 minutes off of each round of Daily Five. This will easily add five minutes at the end for students to share.
- If you don't have time for a whole group share, give the kids a minute at the end of Daily Five to listen and talk to an elbow buddy about something they did during Daily Five. This will at least give them an opportunity to share with one other person.
- Work on transition times. Transitions can easily eat up important instructional time if they are not monitored and kept to a minimum. If need be, create an I-chart for what a transition should look like and feel like, practice transitioning, and aim to lower that transition time!
- Look at your focus lessons. Are they focused? Remember a child's age is equal to the amount of time they can concentrate and we want to optimize that time!