Environment: Time

Spending time on literacy instruction is critical to the growth and development of your readers and writers.

Your literacy block should include large group, small group, and individual instruction, incorporating the gradual release of responsibility model of teaching and learning. In this model, familiarly known as “I do, we do, you do,” instruction moves from teacher modeling to guided practice to independent practice by the children. Ample time and varied opportunities to read and write allow children to grow their skills. In order to maximize the use of your time, be thoughtful in how you use it. Establish a purpose for every lesson, reflect on student engagement, make connections across concepts and practices, and increase time spent on instructional (vs. non-instructional) tasks. In an environment where time is well managed, teacher and students value the opportunities they have to learn.

Checklist for Maximizing Instructional Time

We all wish there were more hours in the day to get things done. Struggling with trying to “fit it all in” can be stressful. One way you can maximize instructional time is to make sure your children understand your procedures and that they run smoothly. Review the following list of strategies for maximizing time. Use a “check mark” if this is happening in your room. Use a “star” if you need to revisit this procedure.

__ The children follow an efficient and purposeful procedure at arrival (e.g., hang up coat, unpack, take out a book and read).

__ Children have responsibilities for things like sharpening pencils, getting materials ready for the day, and turning in lunch count.

__ Children use signals for tissues, the water fountain, and the bathroom.

__ Children have classroom jobs that help to minimize distractions such as paper passer, materials manager, and phone answerer.

__ Children have rehearsed and understand all transitions (e.g., how to line up, come to the rug, etc.).

__ Anchor charts are available for all relevant procedures and transitions.

__ Children know how to use anchor charts to support their independent work (e.g., What to Do When You’re Done, Strategies for Spelling Unfamiliar Words).

__ Children follow an efficient and purposeful procedure at dismissal (e.g., pack up, stack chair, come to the rug for poetry readings and good-bye songs).

Instructional Practices within a Literacy Block

Your literacy block should allow for a gradual release of responsibility in which students observe demonstrations, take part in opportunities for guided practice, and independently apply what they have learned. Instructional practices to include in your literacy block are:

Reading Aloud

The teacher reads aloud a text to the students, modeling appropriate fluency and pacing. This practice is considered “intentional” when it is purposefully planned to teach a literacy skill or strategy.

Shared Reading

Teacher and students are reading a text together. The students try to match the teacher’s pacing and expression so they can practice fluent reading.

Guided Reading

The teacher scaffolds the reading of an instructional level text during small group instruction. Students are grouped together by similar reading levels, needs, and interests.

Independent Reading

Students read self-selected text at their own independent levels. They are applying the skills and strategies of effective readers (modeled by the teacher in mini-lessons).

Modeled Writing

The teacher demonstrates one or more of the steps in the writing process while writing in front of the students.

Shared Writing

The teacher and students share in planning, composing, revising, and/or editing a piece of writing. The teacher models the actual composition.

Interactive Writing

The teacher and students share in planning, composing, revising, and/or editing a piece of writing. Also referred to as “sharing the pen,” as the students will actually do some or most of the writing in front of the group.

Independent Writing

Students write on self-selected topics. They are applying the skills and strategies of effective writers (modeled by the teacher in mini-lessons).

Guided Writing

The teacher scaffolds the writing of a text with a small group of students. Students are grouped together by similar writing levels, needs, and interests.

Word Study

Students use hands on activities to build their understanding of letters, sounds, and spelling patterns.

Literacy Block Samples

The literacy block is a special time of day. During a balanced and comprehensive literacy block, children will have time to see you model reading and writing skills and strategies, receive guided practice in using these skills and also have time to independently apply them. They will have time to work alone, in partnerships, and with the entire classroom community.

The following suggested literacy blocks take into account children’s age and developmental needs; shorter blocks of time are set aside for younger children but grow through the grade levels. Use these sample literacy blocks to guide the creation of your own, taking into account the needs of your children and your district requirements.

Kindergarten Literacy Block

Daily Time Daily Instructional Component
15 minutes Intentional Read Aloud
15 minutes Modeled Writing/Shared Reading/MTP
35-50 minutes Literacy Centers/Guided Reading
10 minutes Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study
30 minutes Reading Workshop
30 minutes Writing Workshop

Kindergarten Weekly Sample Schedule

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Intentional Read Aloud (15)

Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (50)

Message Time Plus (15)

Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study (10)

Reading Workshop (30)

Intentional Read Aloud (15)

Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (45)

Reading Workshop (30)

Writing Workshop (30)

Intentional Read Aloud (15)

Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (50)

Message Time Plus (15)

Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study (10)

Writing Workshop (30)

Intentional Read Aloud (15)

Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (50)

Reading Workshop (30)

Writing Workshop (30)

Intentional Read Aloud (15)

Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (45)

Message Time Plus (15)

Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study (10)

RW or Writing Workshop (30)

1st Grade Literacy Block

Daily Time Daily Instructional Component
15 minutes Intentional Read Aloud
15 minutes Modeled Writing/Shared Reading/MTP
35 - 40 minutes Literacy Centers/Guided Reading
15 minutes Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study
35 minutes Reading Workshop
35 minutes Writing Workshop

1st Grade Weekly Sample Schedule

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Intentional Read Aloud (15)

Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (40)

Message Time Plus (15)

Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study (15)

Reading Workshop (35)

Intentional Read Aloud (15)

Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (35)

Reading Workshop (35)

Writing Workshop (35)

Intentional Read Aloud (15)

Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (40)

Message Time Plus (15)

Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study (15)

Writing Workshop (35)

Intentional Read Aloud (15)

Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (35)

Reading Workshop (35)

Writing Workshop (35)

Intentional Read Aloud (15)

Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (35)

Message Time Plus (15)

Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study (15)

Writing Workshop (35)

2nd Grade Literacy Block

Daily Time Daily Instructional Component
20 minutes Intentional Read Aloud
20 minutes Modeled Writing/Shared Reading/MTP
40-60 minutes Reading Workshop (RW)/Literacy Centers/Guided Reading
20 minutes Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study
40 minutes Writing Workshop

2nd Grade Sample Weekly Schedule

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Intentional Read Aloud (20)

RW/Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (60)

Message Time Plus (20)

Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study (20)

Intentional Read Aloud (20)

RW/Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (60)

Writing Workshop (40)

Intentional Read Aloud (20)

RW/Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (60)

Message Time Plus (20)

Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study (20)

Intentional Read Aloud (20)

RW/Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (60)

Writing Workshop (40)

Intentional Read Aloud (20)

RW/Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (40)

Message Time Plus or Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study (20)

Writing Workshop (40)

3rd Grade Literacy Block

Daily Time Daily Instructional Component
20 minutes Intentional Read Aloud
20 minutes Modeled Writing/Shared Reading/MTP
40-60 minutes Reading Workshop (RW)/Literacy Centers/Guided Reading
20 minutes Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study
40 minutes Writing Workshop

3rd Grade Sample Weekly Schedule

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

Intentional Read Aloud (20)

RW/Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (60)

Message Time Plus (20)

Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study (20)

Intentional Read Aloud (20)

RW/Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (60)

Writing Workshop (40)

Intentional Read Aloud (20)

RW/Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (60)

Message Time Plus (20)

Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study (20)

Intentional Read Aloud (20)

RW/Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (60)

Writing Workshop (40)

Intentional Read Aloud (20)

RW/Literacy Centers/Guided Reading (40)

Message Time Plus or Phonemic Awareness/Phonics/Word Study (20)

Writing Workshop (40)

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