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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

7th Grade Class Set-up

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This year, my school is going to a double-class of English/Reading for my students. So, I will have my students for 2 - 43 minute classes (some will be back-to-back, some will not. I've been teaching 57 minute periods, but using very little of the guided/centers. Our district is pushing for the guided reading and guided math. I'm looking for help from other middle school English and math teachers who teach both English and Reading in the longer blocks to give me any advice/ideas on how to set up a structure/schedule so that the longer time is broken up a bit more. Any advice on what has worked/what hasn't worked for you would be great.
Any resources that may have helped you would be appreciated as well. Thanks!

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Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT's picture
Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT
Middle school English/Digital Media teacher

Hi Sarah! I don't have separate periods for English and Reading, but I do teach in a block schedule, which means I have my students for 90 minutes every other day. That long block of time really allows students to settle into a task without there being a rush to finish.

In an effort to make pleasure reading central to my classroom, I start every class period with free-choice silent reading, followed by a short read-aloud from a different book each day. My goal is to expose them to lots of great books in a short period of time so that it will be easier for us to talk about genres and figure out which books each kid might like. The SSR time is from 10-20 minutes, and the read-aloud is 10-15 -- depending on what else we need to do that day.

What happens next each day really depends on our current project: there might be a mini-lesson on writing literary analysis, and then students practice what they've learned with some assigned reading. Or we might be working on writing a persuasive essay, so there's some instruction and then practice. If they revised a draft for homework, then most of the class the next day might be spent with them writing their final drafts.

It helps to pay attention to how I'm asking them to work each day: do I plan for some partner work? Some solo writing/reading time? Some collaboration with a group? I don't want the whole period to be in groups, but I don't want it all to be solo, either.

Not sure if this is the kind of help you're looking for -- let me know if you need me to find you some more resources!

sarah's picture

yeah, this is the kind of input I'm looking for. I started last year each day with self-choice silent reading.. I really liked it..MOST of the students enjoyed the choice and they all have ipads so those without novels were able to read current events online and they liked that. I like the idea of read aloud form different books too. I may start a search for good books that I could read snippets from every other day or so.. They do still like to be read to and that would be a way to get them in the zone before starting an actual lesson. If there are any books you have read from that the students really liked, I'd like those suggestions..

Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT's picture
Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT
Middle school English/Digital Media teacher

Here's a doc that I share with my students, too, since it has links to author websites -- that's a great way for students to find books/genres/authors they might enjoy: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Wvl5phxDct9Gmc6PD82oSXm2SKUKq9rvrlwR...

Every year I tell myself I'm going to make a note of which pages I read aloud, but then I forget. It's important to plan ahead for that -- sometimes the first chapter is a great read-aloud, but other times I go deeper into the story to find a really compelling scene.

Sometimes students recommend books for me to read from, and occasionally a student will volunteer to do the read-aloud -- but I find that unless they practice a lot, they don't read with enough emotion and meaning to pique the interest of the class. Reading aloud effectively is not easy.

(1)
Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT's picture
Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT
Middle school English/Digital Media teacher

Here's a doc that I share with my students, too, since it has links to author websites -- that's a great way for students to find books/genres/authors they might enjoy: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Wvl5phxDct9Gmc6PD82oSXm2SKUKq9rvrlwR...

Every year I tell myself I'm going to make a note of which pages I read aloud, but then I forget. It's important to plan ahead for that -- sometimes the first chapter is a great read-aloud, but other times I go deeper into the story to find a really compelling scene.

Sometimes students recommend books for me to read from, and occasionally a student will volunteer to do the read-aloud -- but I find that unless they practice a lot, they don't read with enough emotion and meaning to pique the interest of the class. Reading aloud effectively is not easy.

(1)

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