Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Day Our Way - An Adventure in Fourth Grade

I think this might be a record for me...3 posts in one week since school started in August!  I really am trying to keep to my blogging resolution so far so good. (I've actually done even better than I thought hehe)

Well anyway as I was reading through my blog feed tonight I came across this awesome linky being held over at Where the Wild Things Learn and I just had to take part!  What's so great about it?  Its all about SCHEDULES!
Yeah! Ok I know not everyone gets as thrilled about working out their daily schedule as I do, but I love when things flow nicely from one subject to another ---all is then right with the world.  (At least until someone comes along and asks to change it or deviate from it for the day, or Mother Natures whips up some wind to cause drifting and blowing so school lets out an hour early.......grrrr.  But flexibility is one of the teacher bylaws right? Seriously, I'm not that obsessed with my schedule {Wellllll maybe a little}
Anyway here is a peek at a typical day in our classroom followed by a bit of explanation.
8:15 - 8:30 - Students are allowed into the classrooms.  I post a morning message with the tasks that students need to work on before the bell rings at 8:30.  I feel pretty fortunate that most of my students are in the room right at 8:15 so they can get settled and are prepared to hit the ground running when the bell rings.  My bell work usually consists of turning in homework, getting reading materials ready, sharpening pencils, silent reading or starting on the day's daily language or vocabulary assignment.
8:30 - 8:45 The leader starts the class with the pledge.  I do a visual for attendance while they are doing that.  We have morning announcements which is a positive message dealing with Character Counts.  I expect students to give those announcements their full attention-it's amazing how those announcements can sometimes lead to some teachable moment later in the day.  Following those, we do a Status of the Class.  The students have to tell me the title of the book they are reading along with the page they are on.  It is a great accountability piece plus kids hear TONS of great titles through the year that peak their interests. 
8:45 - 10:20 Literacy Block/Daily 4.  I usually start with a mini-lesson.  Lessons might be reading or writing oriented depending on what we are working on.  After the lesson we break into our Daily 4 rotations.  Each rotation is 15 to 20 minutes long depending on how long our mini-lesson was.  Last year I gave the kids free choice. They were able to pick what they wanted to do each rotation as long as they got all 4 things done.  This year I set the rotations because I have a large group who leaves me at 9:30 to go to the resource room and it just didn't work as well.  I am fortunate enough to have two paraprofessionals come in at this time to help out also. (A third of my students have IEPs)

Word Work- Students work on spelling and vocabulary activities.  Some use our classroom computers to get on SpellingCity while others work on activities at their seat or with a partner.  On Friday they all take their spelling test on Spelling City.  I love this feature.  The computer grades it instantly and I don't have to!  At the end of the day I can pull it up and record the scores in my grade book.  No piles of paper, no fuss=bonus Friday time for me!
Work on Writing- I usually put up a list of things students need to be working on during this round.  They do a daily grammar practice and a daily geography (if we are doing Social Studies) I include the geography here because I expect the students to write their answers in complete sentences.  We take time each Monday to highlight key words from the question that should be in their answers.  They also have some type of writing project or writing Bingo they work on.
Read to Self- that one seems pretty self-explanatory doesn't it. :-)
Meet with the Teacher-  This one of the four rotations varies the most.  Sometimes I am meeting with groups for guided reading but other times I am doing individual conferences.  I wish I could say there was some method to how it all shakes out, but it really depends on the kids and what we are working on.  I have to admit I like the individual conferencing better than small groups because I get a better fit with the students.  We set goals for our reading, work on reading strategies or writing things.  Some days I just float so I am available for whatever this kids might need.
10:20 - 10:35 Recess.  A blessed break to get ready for science/social studies or I use it for reteaching time for those who are struggling.
10:40 -11:32 Science/Social Studies.  I alternate between these two subjects by unit.  I try to make it work out about every 4-6 weeks.  So far so good this year.  All of my teammates do both science and social studies at the same time, but I don't feel like I give each subject the importance it should get with a shorter time period.  We just switched back to Social Studies after the break and my kids are chomping at the bit for our next historical simulation.  By the time we are done with this unit they'll be rearing to go for some science experiments again. :-)
11:36-12:15 Lunch/Recess.  This is prep time for me.  Sometimes I invite the students to eat lunch in the classroom for a little time to connect in a different way.  Many days its a chance to sit down, breathe deep and regroup for the afternoon.  Thankfully this is duty free time for us.
12:20 - 12:50 Math or Reading intervention time (Wednesdays-Art).  Monday and Tuesday we have math intervention.  Some of the students go to other teachers for intensive work on math while the majority of the class stays and works on extra math with me.  During this math group time, students work on Accelerated Math or problem solving. A para and myself work one-on-one with students or in small groups.  Every other Wednesday we have an early dismissal for professional development, so the Wednesday that we don't get out early we do an art activity.  Unfortunately we do not have an art teacher, so it is up to me to come up with an art lesson... I should probably tell you I struggle to draw stick people most days. This is a tough one for me!  All I can say is thank heavens for all of my blogging friends who are artistic and willing to share lessons even a challenged artist like me can follow!  Thursday and Friday we have reading intervention which works the same way as math.  We had to implement this a few years ago because we were on the Watch List and SINA for reading and math.  Thankfully our interventions paid off and we are no longer on the list but we continue to maintain these arrangements because it is effective with our students.
12:50 - 2:00 Math.  We start our math time by discussing the nightly mini-math homework.  I use Evan-Moore's Daily Math and Problem Solvers.  We have some great discussions about the different ways students go about solving some of the tougher problems.  I think it's important that they learn there is more than one way to solve problems.  After the mini-math we do a whole group lesson then students work independently or in small groups with the resource teacher and I. (She comes in to support/co-teacher during math).  I am hoping the switch to a Daily 4 model for math next week to allow for some more differentiation. (I'll have to write a separate post to let you know how that goes.)
2:00 -2:15 Writer's Workshop/Study period/Read Aloud.  This 15 minutes is the jack of all things in our day.  If we have more we need to do for a writing lesson it is Writer's Workshop time.  If our day was interrupted somehow or I know I have students who need additional time on an assignment it becomes a study period.  If everything is peachy than it is read aloud time.
2:20  3:00 Specials.  We run on a six day cycle, so the students go to P.E. Music or Guidance at this time. (On day 3 Media is at 1:40 so that all the fourth grade teachers can have a common planning time.)  This is prep time for me.  Some days it is used to meet with the resource teacher to discuss students or future plans, but most days it's my time to plan or check papers.
3:00 - 3:15 Prepare for Dismissal.  Students fill out their Mustangs (agenda/homework binders) and straighten their seating areas.  We finish up the day with our read aloud before dismissing at 3:15.  After the kids are gone (last ones are out the door at 3:25) it is more prep time for me.

One additional part of our day on Fridays is Walking for Wellness.  Each week we take all the fourth graders out to walk on the track for 15 minutes before the first recess.  Unfortunately Iowa weather makes it a bit difficult to do that come winter, so we have to get out and walk when the weather permits.

Well, that's a day in my classroom.  What does your's look like?  Be sure to visit Where the Wild Things Learn to check our how other people spend their days.


  1. I do Status of the Class too! It's a wonderful way to keep track and hold your students accountable-love it! I think everyone in the world has recess built in their day except for my county! They need a brain break, especially right before tackling social studies and science!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  2. I love your "status of the class!" So meaningful and important. I love that you have recess built into your day! We only get 30 minutes total for lunch and recess and it isn't enough!

    Thanks for linking up :)