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  • Writer's pictureMegan Mariano

My Schedule in Middle School ELA & What my 60 Minute Blocks Look Like

Time. This is what all teachers want. Time to teach. Time to plan. Time to collaborate. Time for (useful) professional development.

Across the nation, schedules for teachers are inconsistent. Some districts give ELA teachers 40 minutes a day, others give 2 hours. Some teachers give loads of planning time, and others force teachers to cover classes during their only free time. This inconsistency is what leads to the students getting so many different types of education, some more valuable than others.

This post is to explain what is going on for me and what works and also doesn't work.

My Daily Schedule

So, each day is not EXACTLY the same, but my main ELA classes are the same time everyday. So, I teach 3 sections of ELA a day, each section is 1 hour long. I have a section of 7th and 2 sections of 6th.

3 days a week I teach a 41 minute class called Language Workshop. I get each class once a week for that (well, all 6th grades, so one class is with a group of students I do NOT have for regular ELA). This class was added due to them shortening my ELA time. In the past, I had 82 minute blocks everyday. They brought it down to 1 hour because they wanted to give Math more time so my time was sacrificed.

Due to this change from 82 minutes to 60 minutes, I now teach grammar and vocabulary (explicit and direct instruction) once a week in that 41 minute Workshop period. I do not teach it during my 60 minute blocks. Here are some things I do during that time.

Truthfully, this has evolved a lot since this blog post. I still use these on occassion, but I've also been using Patterns of Power and this fun Doodle Vocabulary.

Besides my 3x a week Workshop class and my daily 60 minute ELA classes, 3x a week I teach an RTI class to my struggling 6th graders. I also have a lunch duty once a week (yuck).

To save you the math, most days I will get an hour of prep time. Some days I get more, if I am lucky. I have a special assignment period twice a week that's 41 minutes in which I will be asked to cover classes. If they don't need me, it's more prep.

Do I Like My Schedule?

Short answer is...yes! At first, I was super grumpy about losing my 82 minute ELA class time. It's still a struggle getting it all done. I find many days, students just have to finish things at home and if they're focused the whole period, it's not much to finish.

However, this has given me more planning time! This is so necessary and I have been able to take less work home since the change. Honestly, I am still teaching the same amount I did before my class time was shortened.

What my ELA Block Looks Like

Background: I teach using my version of reading and writing workshop. It doesn't strictly follow it, but the basic structure follows it. Also, for reading, choice reading drives my instruction. I teach in units and alternate between reading and writing. So, I will do a month of reading, then a month of writing and so on.

  • 10 minutes: Students come and read. Every single day. Non-negotiable. Even if we are doing a writing unit.

  • 10-15 minutes: My read aloud is always geared toward a skill. I read chapter books, but a lot of times read excerpts as it can be difficult to read through the entire book. I only do a read aloud for a reading unit. If it's a writing, unit, I dedicate more time to students having writing time.

  • 10 minutes: Mini-lesson. If I am reading aloud prior, they get a minute or two to walk around and stretch. Otherwise, I go right into the main lesson, which is focused on a specific skill showing that skill with my read aloud or with my own writing piece written by me.

  • 5-15 minutes: This is partner work. This varies day to day, but they are often in physical notebooks here making lists, t-charts, etc. about either the read aloud or a shared text. I prompt them with something that will segway to their independent work.

  • 20-30 minutes: Independent work time is usually a bit longer for writing. I try to keep my direct instruction very short and allow them time to work. They do their work, based on my mini-lesson, with their own individually chosen books or writing topics.

  • 5 minutes or less: In the workshop model, closure is a huge deal and I remember having to write such a long one in my college lesson plans. Yea, it's not like that. I just tie up the lesson and that's it.

I get it all done in this time. I do not assign homework. Their only homework is to finish what they don't in class. I do assign some ongoing grammar work (No Red Ink or IXL) early in the week, but they have an advisory class to do that.

While I have a strict routine, I give students artsy activities to do after a unit.

Bottom Line

I am sorry for those of you that have less than an hour; I often feel pressed for time in an hour! But for those of you who are looking for structure, I hope this helps.

Read more about my day-to-day in the posts below:

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1 Comment

Adam Brody
Adam Brody
6 hours ago

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