What Does a Structured Literacy Block Schedule Look Like?

One of the first things I struggled with when I began my science of reading
journey a few years ago was how to adjust our schedule.

I knew there were parts of our balanced literacy block that were not science
of reading aligned and had to go.  But what should that be replaced
with?  My brain works in schedules.  I truly believe my brain is one
giant Excel spreadsheet, lol.  Spreadsheets are my love language.

Okay, you get it.  But seriously.  Scheduling is how I make sense of
my day to day world.  So, when a big shift happens in how I’m
teaching–hey there, Science of Reading, I go straight to the schedule to
process, and start changing.

Here’s a peek at how my literacy block schedule shifted from balanced literacy
to structured literacy.

Goodbye, Familiar Reading

Hello, morning work!

My day always started with familiar reading.  Kids came into the
classroom, did their morning chores, and then sat down with their book tubs we
called browsing boxes.  It had charts and leveled readers from guided
reading that they would read and reread.

Now, let me be clear.  Rereading has it’s place.  I believe in
it.  We still do it.  But the problem was that part of what kids
could choose to do when they finished early was read from their browsing
boxes.  It was kinda the catch all.  

So our morning time was less quiet reading and more just faking it…or
bopping a friend over the head with an abc chart…

Instead, we did morning tubs or phonics cut and paste activities for a skill
we learned the day before. 
These are my favorite phonics sorts and activities
for morning work.

Goodbye, Calendar

Hello, Phonemic Awareness and Phonics!  

Truth time: Calendar wasn’t completely gone.  When I was in kinder, we
moved the calendar block to our math time.  In first grade, it became a
quick morning meeting so we could take about our day and schedule… because,
YES, my firsties had to endure my obsession with schedules! 🙂

Phonics wasn’t new for me.  I had been doing some phonics work in small
groups and a tad at the beginning of the year whole group.  But my big
shift was making phonics systematic and a consistent block of time for our
whole group.  You can read more about my weekly phonics routine
here
and find the digital curriculum I use
here.

Phonemic awareness was COMPLETELY new to me.  I mean, we learned about it
in college, but I had it in my mind that it was really more prek and
kinder.  Not for first grade–and certainly not second grade!

I use
Heggerty
for my phonemic awareness curriculum.  It’s quick.  We add TPR and
hand motions to make it fun.  It’s systematic.  And most of all, it
WORKS!  So much so, that I’ve been using it with my 3 year olds to help
with their speech and language delays at home.

Welcome Back, Read Alouds!

The one thing I missed so much is read alouds.  Every year, it seemed
like I had less and less time to really read a book to my kids.  Sure, we
read a chapter book together at the end of the day.  And I squeezed in a
book here and there during transition.  

But a read aloud?  A real, genuine, read aloud where we talk about the
book, and work on comprehension together and do some related activies? 
That was missing because there just wasn’t time.

And I told myself it was fine because they were getting some of that in guided
reading.

But y’all, those leveled guided readers were NOT read aloud quality.

With structured literacy, we are focusing on oral comprehension in K-2 and
that means READ ALOUDS!  I love using the same book for several days or
an entire week with a different focus.  One of our focus days was always
Tier 2 vocabulary.  You can read about those routines
here
and find a
free sample of the lessons and activities I use here.

Our writing is now connected with our read aloud and oral comprehension
work.  We write about what we read.  On vocabulary days, we write
about our vocab words.  On retelling days, we write to retell a
story.  

It’s so much more connected to our learning and meaningful for our kids. 
Not to mention, they know EXACTLY what to write about instead of trying to
constantly come up with an idea to write about. 🙂

Goodbye, Guided Reading

This is such a HUGE shift, that it got its own blog post a while back. 
So, if you want all the juicy details from an EX guided reading mega fan, the
read here.

I also, go over in detail what I replaced it with.  Because small groups
aren’t going anywhere in my classroom.  I’m a firm believer in
that.  We just had to work hard to figure out what that was going to look
like.

And it looks more skill based, intervention focused, faster, and wayyyyyy more
flexible.

Yes, I still do centers during small group time. 
This is the bundle of centers
I used for kindergarten.  (There are plenty of free samples linked in
there for you to try out too!) 

I pulled small groups during this time, but also during our morning work
time.  Because the skill groups are so focused and fast, it’s easy to
squeeze in a small group during any part of the day when kids are working
independently.

The Actual Schedule

Here’s a look at how it all comes together and what the differences look
like…
In a spreadsheet, no less! 🙂

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