Saturday, September 8, 2012

Scheduling Update

A little bit before the school year started, I posted about some changes in scheduling for this year. Now that we are two weeks and two days into the school year, I thought that I would give an update on how the shift to a common reading time for our 6th-8th grade classes (just one class/grade level) has been going.

We started school on a Thursday, but we did not begin our independent reading time slot until Monday. In some ways, my first two days of school felt rushed. Thursday was busy with First Day activity, and Friday I knew that I needed to make sure that every student checked out a book and was ready for Monday. I also needed to explain the new reading log to them that they will be using to log both their at school and at home reading requirements.

Monday mid-morning rolled around and each of the classes were reading - the building was silent. My push-in colleague and I quietly moved through the three classrooms to observe for signs of student engagement. We were able to have quick hallway asides about what we noticed as we were in the classrooms at different times. We began to formulate lists of students who we might be most concerned about, students who we would want to focus on in order to connect them with books in contrast to student who have already established a sense of the joy of reading. We continued doing so on the second day.

Those first days the reading block was actually longer than typical because of a 4th-8th grade common language development time that had not yet started. Teachers decided to use the time to facilitate talk about books. Each teacher did it differently with a mixture of talking about the books they were reading, whole class student sharing, partner sharing, and small group sharing. As I rotated between classes, it felt odd to be on the periphery of these interactions. Teachers had already set the stage for the conversations, so instead, I sat back and observed, taking notes on my iPad, highlighting what each teacher was bringing to the table to enrich the literate lives of our students. I thought about how seeing glimpses into each classroom would allow for common conversations of what seemed to be working really well.

By the end of the second day, we felt like for the most part, the various classes had settled in. We had checked in with some students about making sure that they were reading books that were a good fit for their interests and where they are at right now as readers. We were ready to move into a different phase, in order to get into a more active role, rather than observing and scaffolding the first days.

Tomorrow I will be posting about how we shifted to considering data and mapping out a plan on the third day.

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