How to Organize Your Structured Literacy Block
Do you ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get done all that you need to accomplish with your students?
Creating a schedule that maximizes time and has sacred periods for instruction, free of interruptions, can be such a challenge. This was one of my biggest stressors in the classroom.
There were two different blocks of time during my day in which I refused to budge, these were my sacred times; my literacy block and my read aloud time.
The gift of time to read aloud with my students will forever be time I cherished the most with them. The opportunity to fall in love with characters, feel an emotional pull with a story, and to connect with each other through the shared experience of a book is priceless to me. My favorite days were the days we just couldn’t bear to tear ourselves away from the story for even a moment, so I would read aloud as we waited outside of the lunch room or the specials class. Again, maximizing every minute.
My lit block was the same way. There was so much to accomplish during this time and each year I tried to find new and more effective ways to squeeze every minute out of that block.
One of the many benefits of adopting a Structured Literacy approach is that it works so nicely for scheduling. Since Structured Literacy lessons consist of specific activities, it’s easy to fit these into a schedule that meets readers needs five days a week.
Over the years, I worked with various reading/phonics programs. They all had one thing in common; my kids’ levels were all over the place. While I am a fierce advocate for differentiated instruction, sometimes this went too far. The result was I felt like I spent my time running from student to student to check in on their sorting or word work, but rarely had time to give them explicit instruction before I had to move onto the next student. This left my kids with gaps and holes in their decoding/encoding skills.
I want to share with you a method that differentiates for varied needs through small group instruction but also has an opportunity for whole group or universal instruction. This is a saving grace. By introducing your whole class to one concept, one phonogram and syllable type at a time, you can keep your instruction systematic and cumulative. Then, within this common concept you can differentiate instruction to meet the needs of each small group.
It is so important to always begin with a whole group mini-lesson. This allows you the opportunity to introduce the target syllable type and phonogram to the class. Together, you can review the target syllable type and phonogram through brainstorming words, making anchor charts, and possibly looking at a text that highlights these targets.
By focusing on one common target, you can devote more time to really digging into this syllable type and phonogram rather than feeling scattered and trying to teach to multiple phonograms.
The meat of the work is done in small group instruction. Through ability grouping, below grade level, on grade level, and above grade level, you can easily differentiate a lesson to meet these varied needs.
Another saving grace of using Structured Literacy lessons is that you can use centers or independent work to set up workshop stations easily. Students can use games and workbook pages to review concepts and cement learning that took place during their small group instruction. These same activities can be used with classroom volunteers.
Finally, while the literacy block often feels like a blur, know that you are delivering valuable, amazing instruction for your students! It’s a sacred time and one that will make all of the difference in the world for your students!
Needing support in getting the most out of your literacy block? Consider joining our Intervention Insiders to have materials you can use all year long!