Does Your School Use A Reading Curriculum?
Lately my district has been moving away from using a literacy curriculum. In fact, we are discouraged from using a reading basal in our classrooms. As a general education teacher, this freaked me out at first. Without a daily curriculum to follow, what was I going to do for my daily 2nd grade reading lesson? To be honest, I’m still not 100% sold on not having a reading curriculum. That being said, here is how I am managing my daily teaching without one.
Daily Reading Mini lesson
I have always begun my literacy lessons with a minilesson. When my school used basal textbooks, I would get my mini lesson from the basal. About two years ago, my district did away with our reading text books. In fact, our district did away with most of our text books. All of our textbooks were loaded into this dumpster.
How my days changed
I began spending a lot of time coming up with my daily reading mini lessons, once all of our textbooks were gone. I found it very stressful. Then I came up with a formula which made my lessons better. The common core standards became my new guide, and each week’s lessons were guided by them. I began creating engaging PowerPoint lessons around each standard, which my students adore. We spend about a week on each standard before going to the next one. To add accountability, I created exit slips and assessments which coordinate with the week’s mini lessons. Here is an example of a week’s worth of lessons in my classroom now. If you’d like to save some time in your own classroom, you can view all of my complete PowerPoints with accountability pieces here.
How do I differentiate?
Once my daily mini lesson was complete, I still needed a way to differentiate the learning for all of the ability levels in my classroom. So, each day when my mini lesson is over my students complete literacy centers. My literacy centers require little prep, are easily differentiated, and are highly accountable. For example, one daily literacy center allows students to use their independent reading (at their own level) to complete the daily exit slip.
Another daily center is guided reading with me. Finally, my students use a differentiated online app on their tablets to strengthen their phonemic skills. Another favorite center for my students is buddy reading, where each student has a chance to read to one another. Once again students select books at their reading levels for buddy reading. Each center allows me to see what my students have accomplished each day. Each student’s reading level is met in their differentiated centers.
What my literacy block looks like
I begin each lesson with my PowerPoint. I then begin literacy centers. My students rotate through their centers, and each student is accountable to complete the daily exit ticket in one of their centers. My mini lesson usually takes around 20 minutes, and we generally spend about an hour in literacy centers. This is our daily literacy for the morning. In the afternoons, we either have writers’ workshop or independent reading time. Afternoon independent reading time is different from independent reading in the morning because everyone in the room is reading (including me). Students also do not need to complete an exit slip connecting their reading to the day’s lesson. It is actually a very pleasant time for my students (and I).
I hope that you find these tips useful. For more suggestions on improving literacy in your classroom, you can read about how I conduct my guided reading lessons. I do enjoy the flexibility of using my own curriculum in my room, but I’m still not 100% sold on not having an official reading curriculum as a fall back.
Looking for more fun teaching ideas this month? Check out these blog posts below.