Thursday, July 19, 2012

How do you create a Literacy Rich Classroom?

So from what I have read of Daily 5 and Cafe so far, I really want to incorporate them in my classroom this year.  The struggle with any form of Balanced Literacy is that the recommended block of time is like 2.5 hours a day.  I have always only had about 1-1.5 hours a day for my ELA block. It will be the same this year. 

I have also heard in workshops how important is it to create a literacy rich classroom with lots of types of texts.  Those of us who love literature prefer fiction and want to mainly use fiction.  However, for the majority of the world their interaction with texts on a daily basis is non-fiction. Some of the ways I plan on creating a literacy rich environment are:

1) My weekly writing inspiration wall with a different poem, quote, and picture each week.  This will encourage me to incorporate poetry on a weekly basis.

2) For Science and Social Studies I want to incorporate picture books, graphic novels, nonfiction, and historical fiction as they fit into what we are studying.

3) I will probably mainly use picture books for writing mini-lessons.

4)  I would like to use novel read alouds and literature circles with Daily 5.  I have found it difficult to do a whole-group novel read aloud and literature circles at the same time.  So when using a novel for read aloud, I would prefer to use short texts for groups.  Then, when I am doing literature circles I will probably use other types of texts for mini-lessons.

I have heard some people so they do a Daily 3.  Is that Read to Self, Writing, and Word Work?  The hard part is my 1-1.5 hours has to also include my writing workshop and word study.  I am curious how others use Daily 5 when they have a shorter literacy block.  I would like to have a reading mini-lesson each day and allow 10-15 minutes of daily journaling.  I find this to be a great way to practice writing consistently.  I am thinking I will have to alternate writing and word work mini-lessons.

I would like to incorporate some Spelling but probably without tests, find a way to apply grammar to writing, and study roots, prefixes, suffixes, etc.  I would really like to know how some of you who have used Daily 5 structure your week (especially for teaching writing and word study).  Does it make more sense to teach the grammar, spelling, writing skills in small groups based on student needs?  Then focus whole group lessons on Reading skills and word study skills like roots, analogies, etc.?

On a side note, I went to one of the bigger libraries in my town because they have a larger children's section and had more of the books on my list of what I was looking for. I knew I was driving to Houston, so I decided to look for an audio book.  I found a couple that looked okay, and then ventured over to the children's section.  While looking at the graphic novels, I noticed they had a several shelves of jevenile novels on audio. I had never really thought to look.  I grabbed Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins, Twelve by Lauren Myracle, and Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.  All of these plus several others are books I have been wanting to read.

I even saw several other novels I usually use as read aloud.  I decided this year I am going to supplement some of my read alouds with playing the audio book. I think is a great resource I had not really thought to look for. At my last school, we had audio CD's that went with our basil and the students always enjoyed listening to the audio version while following along instead of just reading it as a class.

If you had some CD players, this would also be a great way to allow older students to practice a listening station or listen to reading as part of Daily 5 (or for your strugglers who listen better than they read independently).  I know some of you use iPods, which is great.  The thing is I think a lot of us don't have the budget to buy the audio book when we have already bought lots of actual books. So I think the audio CD from the library is a great potential resource.  I know audio juvenile novels is probably nothing new to most of you; I just had never really thought to look.  The library I normally go to did not really have any.  I knew they could be ordered through interlibrary loan, but I just had never really been that proactive. 


  1. Lots of great thoughts. I haven't read CAFE (it's on my list), but I've been using Daily 5 for several years now. Your comment about spelling grabbed my attention though. I don't do spelling tests. My kids have individualized spelling lists, and their "test" is their daily writing. If they don't spell their particular words correctly in their everyday writing, the words go back on their list again. Oh, and those are the words that they spend most of their time studying during the word work part of Daily 5.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  2. You just made me think that I need to go to our County's largest library to look for children's books. I'm working on a donor's choose for some non fiction books for my library. Last week when I organized and sorted all my books I realized how few non fiction books on their level I had.
    Ms. Kerri and her Krazy Kindergarten

  3. Hi April! I use Daily 5 and Cafe in my class this year and I struggle to fit all 5 rotations in so we usually do daily 3/4. Our literacy session is also only 2 hrs but we also have a morning assembly and when you take out the time for getting ready for learning in the morning it works out to be about 1 hr 45 minutes. To try and fit more in I have had to take out the mini lessons and I set Monday as a whole group learning time to introduce new concepts, spelling rules and grammar. The students then complete activities related to these in Word Work and Work on Writing. Probably not an ideal way to use daily 5 but this is how I have had to use it in my current school. I think if you are engaging your students daily in quality literacy activities and really targeting the students who need support it really doesn't matter how you structure the sessions. The other thing I have been thinking about is how your different cohorts may affect how you structure your sessions, the group I have this year are very settled and I don't really have any behaviour issues (shocking I know),so they can focus for quite a long time. The group I had last year were very different, they needed to move regularly and required alot more challenging activities. I also use alot of audio books online for my Listen to Reading. I think like many other things we use in our classrooms you will tweak it and adapt what works best for you and your group. Good luck with it!
    Mrs Poultney's Ponderings


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