Building Relationships…Through Literacy??

The goal of my school this year is building relationships with students, parents, and the community.  Personally, I think it’s a great and much needed goal.  The problem is that in addition to these goals we are also held reliable for students’ scores on the math and reading EOG.  We have SIP goals in science and social studies this year.  We are mandated to have 30 minutes of recess and 45 minutes of specials.  We are responsible for progress monitoring all of our low students (which is 13 in my room).  Teachers need guided reading groups and differentiated math groups.  We have to eat lunch, attend meetings, and maybe even use the bathroom every once in a while (if we’re lucky!).

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So after cramming all of that into a quick 7 hour day, where in the world is the building relationship piece?!  How can we possibly add that to our long to-do lists each day?  Enter: literacy block.

This year I have gone about literacy with a new approach.  We do a whole class novel for about twenty minutes, we have a thirty minute writing block, and then we do a mini-lesson on a particular reading skill, and students then begin stamina reading/guided reading groups.  I have built my guided reading group schedule a little differently.  My intensive groups includes 6 students who are significantly below grade level.  My schedule runs as follows:

  • Monday:
    • Intensive group 2:45-3:00
    • Strategic group 3:00-3:15
    • (Intensive group goes to intervention teacher 3:00-3:30)
    • Conferences 3:15-3:30
  • Tuesday:
    • Intensive group 2:45-3:00
    • Core group on grade level 3:00-3:15
    • Core group enrichment 3:15-3:30
    • (Intensive group goes to intervention teacher 3:00-3:30)
  • Wednesday:
    • Intensive group 2:45-3:00
    • Strategic group 3:00-3:15
    • (Intensive group goes to intervention teacher 3:00-3:30)
    • Conferences 3:15-3:30
  • Thursday:
    • Intensive group 2:45-3:00
    • Core group on grade level 3:00-3:15
    • Core group enrichment 3:15-3:30
    • (Intensive group goes to intervention teacher 3:00-3:30)
  • Friday:
    • Intensive group 2:45-3:00
    • Conferences 3:00-3:30

The intensive students meet with me for 15 minutes each day at 2:45 pm to read and do fluency type drills.  Then at 3:00 pm a literacy intervention teacher pushes in to my classroom.  She works with three students, and my other intensive students get pulled out to a different classroom.  My strategic group is the group on the cusp of grade level, but still slightly below.  These students meet with me Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 3:00-3:15.  I have two core groups, one that is on grade level and one slightly above.  The on grade level group meets with me Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00-3:15 and the above grade level group meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:15-3:30.

The part to notice here is the conference block.  Three days a week I have a time slot named “conferences.” Each time there is a conference slot I meet with individual students and progress monitor.  Before I progress monitor though, I have a conversation with the individual student.

We talk about the book they’re reading during stamina reading time and how it’s going.  The kids love to tell me about the book they chose to read and what’s going on in it.  They also pull in connections from the book to their own lives.

Last week when meeting with one girl in particular, she told me that the characters in the book reminded her of her and her brother.  She said they fight all the time and play pranks on each other, which mirrored behavior at home with her brother.

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I love meeting with students individually and just talking about what they’re reading – and it appears that they enjoy it too!  A small amount of time to just talk without quizzes or assessments (although I do jot down notes so that I remember what they’re reading the next time we meet) is amazing and goes a long way.

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2 thoughts on “Building Relationships…Through Literacy??

  1. susanedu450 October 27, 2016 / 7:12 pm

    That is an awesome way to build a relationship with your students and also, hopefully instill a love of reading. I love books and haven’t had the time during my busy semester to sit down and finish up a book that I started this summer 🙂 and have two more on the list of books to read. big kudos to you and the students you inspire to read.

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  2. leighahall October 29, 2016 / 12:40 pm

    I’m curious as to what you think about this schedule for literacy. It looks like students are always getting moved into something every 15 minutes. I see that you have one group that gets pulled out for 30. I’d be interested in knowing what happens during that time. Historically, pull out “intervention” groups get low quality instruction. They typically get skills-based instruction, fill out worksheets, and get little (if any) time to read and discuss books beyond a literal comprehension level. I’m not saying this is the case with your context. I’m just saying historically these things have a poor track record. The kids that get into these intervention/pull out groups rarely make it out of them. I’d like to hear more about their experience.

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