Teaching with innovation and intent.

Unlocking Your Literacy Block

The following is an outline of my literacy block for this year.  Key word is “outline”.  My students and I want the security of routine, so I try to stick to it – but things happen.  Also notice my use of  “or” within this plan because some instructional strategies will work better than others depending on my students, because some strategies progress from one to the next, and because variety is differentiation.  Most of my units (based around a text form and a Science or Social Studies strand) will have 3 reading weeks and 3 writing weeks.

If you are new at this, use the KISS principle and go easy when it comes to Literacy Centres and differentiated word work.  It has taken me years to develop my resources and I still have a lot to learn.  Just be prepared for a wide variance in abilities.  It’s not enough to go to the Grade 1 version of the Grade 3 resource you were planning on photocopying.

I am attempting to grow out of the Gradual Release model which does not sit well with my goals for 21st Century learning.  I have placed the collaborative learning before my modelled and shared reading “lessons” (which I may try posting online) quite intentionally.  This is still in an experimental stage.

Daily Literacy Block: Reading Weeks

1.  Word World (15 mins)        

  Progress Term 1 Term 2
Red Sight Words Sight Words Brand Name Phonics
Yellow Sight Words Brand Name Phonics Looks Right
Green Looks Right Context Clues Frayer Vocab
Blue Context Clues Frayer Vocab Frayer Vocab


2.  Guided Reading (30 mins)

Conferring with Teacher Learning Centres Independent Reading
Red   decodingsemantics

syntax cues



Word Sorts

Sentence Scrambles

Writing Prompt


Sticky note picture
Yellow   Sticky note sentence
Green     comprehension strategiescoding symbols

pair share

inner voice

stop and think

jot notes




fix up strategies


In Pairs:Writer’s Craft/Cursive


Critical Thinking


Speaking and Listening


Word Study (Spelling)




Strategy Book Mark
Blue Strategy Notepad
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
Red Ms. Kerr I.R. Buddy Green Computer L.C. Buddy Yellow
Yellow Computer Ms. Kerr Independ. Reading Learning Centres
Green Learning Centres Buddy Red Ms. Kerr Indep. Reading
Blue Indep. Reading Learning Centres Buddy Yellow Ms. Kerr

2.  Class Meeting (15 mins)

  •  Management Team Collaboration and Presentation
  •  Character Ed. Resolutions
  •  Accountable Talk and Group/Pair discussion on Learning Skills
  • Review and Set Learning Goals

3.  Collaborative Reading/Reflection (45 mins)

Students read in pairs and groups while teacher supports groups.  Discuss strategies, challenges, did well/work on.  Alter learning goals, success criteria, and/or anchor chart.

  • discussion
  • response journal
  • practice with frameworks and comprehension strategies
  • cloze passage, reading questions, vocabulary
  • metacognition & goal setting
  • Literature Circles
  • Research/Inquiry

 4.  Consolidation: Modelled and Shared Reading (online?), Journaling (15 mins)

Comprehension Strat Text Level Sentence Level Word Level
Anchor Schema/Making Connections, Visualizing, Questioning, Inferring, Determining Importance/Main Idea, Synthesis/Main Idea, Evaluating/ AnalyzingPoint of view Text Forms -Purpose & Audience,OrganizationText Patterns

Text Features


Literary Devices

Elements of Style




context cues

stylistic elements


sentence types



decodingspelling rules

word types

subject vocabulary

strong word choices

sight words


word families

Think Aloud What did you notice?  How does this strategy help us construct meaning? What do good readers do?How do you choose a book?

How do you know this is a ___ text?Picture walk

Why did the author…?

What is the text trying to do to you? Does it make sense?  Who is/who isn’t represented?


Does it sound right?Guess the covered word

Read ahead and reread

Using knowledge

Who/what is the author referring to?


Does it sound right?Does it look right?

5.  Independent Reading and/or Read Aloud (20 mins)

  • bookmark, sticky, and framework responses
  • book clubs
  • running records

Daily Literacy Block: Writing Weeks

1.  Word World (15 mins)


2.  Class Meeting (15 mins)

3.   Guided & Collaborative Writing (45 mins)

Students write in pairs and groups while teacher supports one group.  Discuss strategies, challenges, did well/work on.  Alter learning goals, success criteria, anchor chart.

  • placemats
  • peer editing
  • co-construction
  • revision strategies (see list)
  • editing strategies
  • writing on demand
  • graphic organizers
  • jot notes
  • Cut and Paste
  • Super Sentences


Independent Writing

Practice 6+1 Writing Traits & Revising Strategies (Shared, Interactive)

Writing on Demand


Writing Workshop

Plan, Draft, Revise, Edit, Publish

(Peer & Teacher Conferencing)

Author’s Chair

4.  Consolidation: Modelled and Shared Writing/Reflection (15 mins)

  Writing Traits Text Level Sentence Level Word Level
Anchor IdeasOrganization


Sentence Fluency

Word Choice


Writing Process


same as reading same as reading same as reading
Think Aloud Why are we writing? Who are/aren’t we writing for? How can you use this strategy to construct meaning for your reader/audience?How do authors create complex characters and plots?  What tools and classroom supports can we use as writers? Does it make sense?  What do you want your reader to get from your text?  What/who have you written for?  How do know when you are ready to move to the next step in the writing process?  What make your text a (form)? OutliningParagraphing

Peer Conferencing

Reading Aloud


Dictionary/ThesaurusEditing Marks


5.  Media/Oral Language (30 mins)


6.  Independent Reading and/or Read Aloud (20 mins)


Weekly Literacy: 

Computer Lab

  • Media/Inquiry Projects
  • Performance Tasks
  • Reading and Writing Text Forms
  • Audacity, Voicethread, Wiki, Glogster, Animation, Bitstrips, Point of View, NFB, other Web 2.0 Applications (internet linked)
  • Typing

Independent Reading Response

Students read a passage and complete full written answers to 1-3 questions. Main idea, Summary, Text Form, Text Pattern, Making Connections, Inferring, Point of View.  Take up and bump up responses +set goals and adjust success criteria.

EQAO Skills and Concepts Review


School Library Book Exchange


3 comments on “Unlocking Your Literacy Block

  1. Pingback: September Set-up for Success « andCreative

  2. Wow! There is an incredible amount of detail here. I will be very curious to see what kind of success you have with your students. Do you anticipate any management problems with your system?

    ~ Michael<
    The Color of Sound

    • Andrea Kerr
      September 19, 2012

      It grows. This year our morning Literacy Block is 120 minutes, so we are already able to manage whole class Word Work, a Class Meeting, Collaborative Reading and Writing, and some Shared discussion. It may seem like a lot to do, but my students prefer shorter work times and a variety of activities. Most of our Class Meetings have been about self-regulation and working in groups. I will be adding differentiated Word Work and Guided Reading groups starting next week. I do anticipate some difficulties with students not having direct supervision during Guided Reading, so I have paired them with a more responsible student. It will take some practice and more Class Meeting discussions to get that routine down. I will let you know how it goes!
      Thank you for your comment.

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This entry was posted on August 23, 2012 by in Planning and tagged , , , , , , , .

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