Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Day Our Way - See my schedule!

Hi all! Today I'm linking up with my BBB Amelia over at Where the Wild Things Learn for her A Day Our Way linky party. We're sharing our daily schedules! This is something that intrigues me a lot, so I hope a lot of people link up! I find it amazing how different things can be at different schools.

So, check out my schedule here, then I'll get into lots of detail below!

8:30 - 8:50 - This is when the kids are slowly working their way into the room. Kids eat breakfast in the classroom in my school, so during this time some kids are working on unfinished work, a couple are eating breakfast, some are turning in notes or lunch money. That kind of normal routine. The morning announcements come on around 8:45 and by the time they're done we're moving on to...

8:50 - 9:30 - Specials! My kids get a 40 minute special each day of the week. Monday is Computer lab, which is actually a laptop cart that we use in our classroom. Every teacher teaches their own computer class, so that means no planning period on Monday for me. :(  All of the other specials are taught by specialist, so I do end up with a planning period 4 days a week.

9:30 - 9:45 - I start my Writers' Workshop off with Mentor Sentences. This year I'm using Jivey's Mentor Sentences Pack. I have all three packs, amazon primed all the books, and so it's pretty much a year's worth of awesome activities. My kids love the books, and they especially love the revising and imitating days. The sentences they write are just plain amazing. 

My intern this year is doing her inquiry research study on what aspects of mentor sentences are translating to their writing in other areas. I predict she's going to find that all of it is. My kids are recognizing the parts of speech and using all kinds of vivid verbs and powerful adjectives.

9:45 - 10:25 - The rest of writing involves a mini-lesson and then time for kids to write and confer with teachers. Usually the mini-lesson relates to one of the strategies from my VOICES menu. I may do something like read a mentor text read aloud, model some writing, or teach kids how to use a certain graphic organizer. After the mini-lesson I send the kids off to write. While they write my intern and I usually circulate around the room and confer with the kiddos.

10:25 - 11:25 - We switch classes for math. I teach a multi-age 3rd and 4th grade class, but teaching two grades of math at once is REALLY HARD. (I did it for two years before we started switching) So now when we switch I only have 3rd graders. I send all of my 4ths down the hall, and several different teachers send me their 3rds. I teach a group that is made up of only high achieving, fast-paced learners. The trade off for that is that I have 28 math students. 

Teaching the 'high' group isn't all rainbows and ponies though! It definitely comes with its own set of challenges. These kids need constant challenges. A lesson that would usually take 20 minutes with another classes might take 3 or 4 with these kiddos. I pre-assess each unit of study, and often discover that I can skip entire sets of skills because the kids already know them. (I always spiral back to them to make sure.) 

I pretty much always have to have an ongoing project that the kids can work on whenever they finish the day's list of work. My If I had a Million Dollars and Math is Everywhere projects are my most recent!

I started the year off doing a standard Math Centers type rotation, where the students spent 15 minutes at each of four centers. I quickly learned with this group that they functioned better with more independence and less structure. So now we have a "daily list." Basically, I start the day off with a mini-lesson and then the kids have a list of activities they need to do. (Shhh...don't tell them but it's really just the things I would have had them do as centers, just no 15 minute time limit.)

Most often the list involves an independent practice activity (like or a worksheet from their math book), a math game (like Multiplication Kaboom!), their Math Project (currently Math is Everywhere), and right now I also have them doing the Multiplication Monster Math Battles. (The kids LOVE this by the way.)

At any time during their independent work I may call them over to my table to work in small groups. This is great because it allows my groups to be completely flexible. If I need 7 minutes with one group and 20 with another then that's what I do. If I need the group members to be completely different each day then it's fine. 

11:25 - 11:36 - After math and before lunch the kids switch back to their homerooms. I turn the lights off and my kids come right in from math and take a seat on our class carpet in a circle. We spend this time working on centering and mindfulness. Basically, to make it simple, I walk the kids through a meditation. I'll be having a much more detailed post about what this like and what the effects have been later!

11:39 - 12:09 - Lunch! I take the kids to the cafeteria and then I usually go sit and chat in the staff room for about 25 minutes. Sometimes I take some stuff to work on. I usually don't eat lunch. 

12:15 - 12:30 - Right after lunch the kids come in and we begin our reading block. I start off by doing a focus strategy lesson from my "upgraded" CAFE menu. Most of the time I use our class chapter book as the vehicle for modeling the strategy. My kids love listening to read-alouds, and I love reading them. My favorite part of the day is probably reading from our current chapter book. 

12:30 - 1:30 - During this time students do the Daily 5 reading activities. We have three rotations a day. My kids do Read to Self and Word Work every day. I use Words their Way as my word work. I've talked before about what that looks like in my room. So if you're interested, go check it out! The third rotation changes throughout the week. Depending on the day of the week it is either reading response journals, listen to reading, or read to someone.

While the kids rotate through the daily 5 centers I will pull kids for small group strategy lessons or one-on-one conferences. 

1:30 - 2:00 - Recess! In my school all 7 intermediate (3rd and 4th) classes go out to recess at the same time. We have a large playground, but it still stresses me out keeping up with that many kids at once! Teachers in my school have recess duty daily, so we always go out with our own kids. Of course, if the temperature drops below 20 degrees we aren't allowed to go out, and have to have the dreaded indoor recess! Of course, my Book of Awesome Tasks helps out with that a lot!

2:00 - 2:45 - On Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays we have either Science or Social Studies. Our science and social studies units of study rotate each year between two sets of units. So what I teach this year in those subjects, I won't teach next year, but then I will teach the year after that. Right now we're studying Air and Weather in science, and Japan in social studies. To go along with our study of Japan I read the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. While I was at it I wrote this cool novel unit for it! At $4 it's a steal!

Tuesdays are a little different. Three Tuesdays a month we have something called All School Gathering. This is where the entire school convenes in our gym and watches a presentation that is prepared and put on by the school's fifth graders. Other classes in the school prepare skits and presentations as part of the ASG. The fifth graders and other presenters get the experience of public speaking, and the messages they're giving to the students are usually related to citizenship skills. Sometimes it can get a little tough for the kids to sit for 40 minutes though...

The other Tuesday each month we meet with our Small School Gatherings. This is where my kids all go out to other teachers and a group of kids from around the school come to me. Each group is made up of 2-3 kids from each grade level from Kindergarten to 5th grade. Every teacher spends this time differently. Teaching a group that has every age in it can be a real challenge. Finding activities that are developmentally appropriate for that range of ages is tough. This is why I usually have my kids participate in some type of service learning project. Whether it's terracycling, pulling weeds in the school garden, making valentines to send to troops overseas, or writing thank you notes for something donated to the school, I try to make good use of this time. 

2:45 - 2:50 - We do a Status of the Class. This is when we might do a check-in for the Great Pencil Challenge (from Ladybug's Teaching Files) or do our class jobs before getting packed up. 

2:50 - Students are dismissed to their buses. We don't call the buses one at a time or anything. They pretty much just release the downstairs hallways first, and then the upstairs hallway. Every day after the mad rush of students, all of the teachers line up outside and wave goodbye to all of the buses.

3:00 - Meetings, planning, prepping, etc. usually ensues until at least 4:00, but more likely 5:00. Thats when I pack up my bag and go home to do the other 2 hours of work I have to do! Sheesh, it feels like it never ends sometimes! 

But it's worth it!

How is your schedule different? Check out the linky to see some other people's days!

I also wanted to share that Erin, who happens to run the budding blog Learning to be Awesome, is the winner of my recent Pin it to Win it contest! Congrats! I hope you like my Mandala Math Facts product!


  1. Where I live, it has to go below -24 C or -11 F to have indoor recess. Then, we too use your Awesome Book of Tasks. :)
    Grade 4 Buzz

  2. I absolutely loved taking a glimpse at your day! I love hearing how other schools structure their day. I can't believe you don't get planning on one day a week. I know I'm lucky to get 40 minutes every day. You don't eat lunch?! Haha you are crazy! I am usually STARVING by lunch time! Thanks for linking up :)


  3. When I grow up, I want my literacy block to look like yours. I bought "The Daily Five" this summer and read 95% of it. I even set up my Literacy Cafe bulletin board started using "Making Big Words " for word work, but that's as far as I've gotten. The "upgraded" cafe menu link you posted has got my wheels spinning. Thanks for sharing, Stacy

  4. Ok, granted, I eat "breakfast" for the time we eat lunch, but how can you not eat?!?! You're nuts!! Thanks for the mentor sentence shout-out! I can always count on you for a good shout-out. You rock!


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