Sunday, June 3, 2012

always be planning

In a story I read once (no idea which one) the character is doing an internship overseas. The title of this post is the most memorable thing her mentor said to her. Always be planning. (You, dear reader, should plan to read a lot of planning if you wish to continue reading this post.)

I finished No More I'm Done today and, in a cross of geeky obsessiveness and perpetual planning, proceeded to try to figure out how to work this into my literacy block next year. This was accompanied by my desire to review Daily 5 and The CAFE Book again. And my wish that it was feasible to have single-grade SpEd classrooms (no, not really.)

I read The Daily 5 before school started last year. And I thought: let's try this. Well, my thinking wasn't really flexible enough and my littles weren't really independent enough to manage it at first. Then, we tried doing it during intervention time for two rotations. Then, we had The Assistant Situation and pretty much gave up even the two rotations. Then we used intervention block for social/emotional/behavioral lessons and did Reading Mastery for actual instruction. (And then, and then, and then . . .)

Using Reading Mastery worked for us. We had three littles in our literacy block. A fourth one joined us, and we adapted. A fifth one was transferred, and we adapted once more. A sixth one was emergency-placed and . . . we winged it.

Please note that this equaled to five different reading groups daily. At 20-40 minutes each. Only one pairing was feasible. During the last six days of school, this digressed into "if you're not being assessed or doing reading group, find something quiet and nondestructive to do." And, amazingly, they were able to. (Except my newest friend, which is to be expected.) While every child got 40-ish minutes of quality individualized instruction out of this, downtime was less productive. I think they are now capable of using a Daily 5-style organization for their non-small-group time.

This kind of organization would allow me specific times to do whole-group mini-lessons instead of the majority of instruction coming from RM. I already do lessons to enhance our existing curriculum, and I think this would hold me accountable for fitting them in daily instead of letting them get pushed back. Here's what I came up with:


(Please excuse my sloppy handwriting. I hadn't used Penultimate since I got my Gumdrop iPad case, and the screen cover is making my stylus not respond consistently. Any advice?)

I've seen a lot of teachers blog and say they do only 3 rounds of D5, or fewer mini-lessons, or whatever. I tentatively decided on 5 rounds in order to give plenty of opportunities for me to pull small/individual groups. At the beginning of the year, I'm going to try to consolidate groups a little. I think I will have four reading groups that I can split between myself and my wingman assistant. I may also have small groups for DI writing, but I'm not sure about this. I also think that the take-home sheets will be for homework this year.

Along with five rotations, I'm currently planning on 4 mini-lessons, a read aloud, and a sharing time. My school is adopting a new core reading series, so I may get my writing and reading lessons from there. (I haven't seen the text yet.) If not, I may pull ideas from CAFE and organize writing around the six traits.

My second mini-lesson will be socio-emotional or behavioral. In case you're new here, these are the interventions that I do. My flexible-setting class is an academic milieu, but we still need explicit instruction in these areas as well. These may be teacher-made lessons. While I asked for Teach Town Social Skills for my class, I'm not going to get my hopes up. (Expensive!) Even if I get it, I might use it at a different time of day.

I'm looking at purchasing another program to use as a guide for this time. While I don't want a book to teach directly from, it would be nice to have a strong resource. I'm planning on integrating Skillstreaming for areas where my kids truly have a skill deficit, and I'm looking at three other ones for purchase. I will probably get $200 to use for my classroom in the fall, so I'm considering I Can Problem Solve, Impulse Control, or Strong Start. If you like any of these or have good advice on another, please let me know!


I have spelling lists for all the grades, so I think I could spend Monday on introducing the words and then have the kids practice them during Work on Words. The other days we would work on handwriting using Handwriting With Tears. I have the second grade materials. I'm also considering dropping the $20 on the online materials so that it's easier to use the SMARTboard to demonstrate.

Finally, I think that including a sharing time would keep the littles accountable for their choices and being able to talk in front of everyone is motivating for them. An Author's Chair time was sorely missing from our writing this year, ad I think it would be a welcome addition.

If you're still here, thank you for reading. If you have any suggestions or things for me to consider, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from someone who's done Daily 5 in a SpEd room . . . or a regular class with 4 grades worth of instructional levels. I promise once I get my MacBook working again, I will try to start making freebies or something to keep you coming back.



  1. Loving your blog. I start my special ed credential program in the fall and hope to get an internship and be in the classroom next year. I look forward to getting ideas and inspiration from you!

    1. Thanks for checking out my blog, and good luck in your program! I wish I had known how many teaching blogs were out there when I started my internships. Hopefully I can post something inspiring or helpful!