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8:15-8:30 School-wide Morning Meeting
8:30-8:40 Preparing for the Day
8:40-10:20 Daily 5
Students meet me on the carpet where we begin with our Good Morning song. We use Thomas Moore’s song and love the handshakes and smiles we exchange with our friends. Then, we talk about our game plan for the day.
I have a few friends who THRIVE on schedules, so everyday we walk through what our day is going to look like, who will be in our room, and any changes to our normal routine. Within 2-3 minutes, this quickly transitions into our must-know words for the week and our phonics mini-lesson. These are 5-6 sight words that are displayed on the Whiteboard. Each Monday we assign motions to each word, on Tuesdays we practice identifying the words and introduce our phonics skill, on Wednesdays we use Whiteboards to practice writing the words, on Thursdays we practice using the words in a sentence including our phonics skill, and on Fridays we try to combine as many of the words into a mega 1st grade sentence.
By 8:50 we are transitioning into our first Daily 5 choice. This is the time where I meet with my lowest group of readers. I meet with this group for 20 minutes, or so…sometimes longer if we are really jamming with our Daily 5 choices! (See what our Daily 5 choices look like here and snag a free editable rotation chart here.) Our choices include Word Work, Listening to Reading, Read to Self, Work on Writing, and Lexia (an online reading program provided by the District.)
After our first choice (9:10 or so), we meet back on the carpet for a 10 minute comprehension mini-lesson. This mini-lesson follows our comprehension skills for the week and is based on a book we read the previous day during read-aloud. (Read more about how I use Duke on a Bike for making predictions.)
After this mini-lesson, we make our 2nd choices and I meet with my first grade-level group. Students record their choices on this accountability log.
Again, after this group, we will return to the carpet. Many times I will lead a writing or grammar mini-lesson but this is also the most flexible of our transitions. If students are working on something or reading something they want to share with the class, they know to bring it to the carpet. This is their signal to me that they need to share. During this time, we celebrate what is going on during our Daily 5 choices, the goals we are working toward, and give advice/tips for next steps in writing and reading. This is one of my favorite times in the morning because it is so personal to the students and completely student driven. (Below is an email of a friend sharing their book review of a book he/she listened to during Listening to Reading.)
The last two reading groups have changed throughout the year. Although at the beginning of the year, I had 4 guided reading groups that I met with every single day, I am at the point in the year where I will alternate my two highest groups (based on how long our reading block is running). Both of these groups are reading Level J or higher and we work a lot in chapter books. Often times I will meet with one group for 15-20 minutes and then, check in with the other group for 2-3 minutes. Sometimes I will meet with both groups for a shorter amount of time…it really depends on the skills we’re focusing on and the texts we’re reading.
10:20-10:35 Bathroom Break, Snack, & Read Aloud
When choosing read alouds, I try to think ahead to the next day’s reading mini-lesson or a science lesson I’ll be teaching later in the day. I use a later read-aloud time for just-for-fun books, but this 10 minutes I love devoting to texts we will be using later in the week.
10:35-10:50 Number Talk
10:50-11:30 Guided Math Groups
11:30-1:15 Specials, Lunch, Recess
1:15-1:25 Calendar Math
1:25-2:25 RtI Math and Reading
There are 5 1st grade classes and during RtI we split students among all 5 classes. The actual ‘intervention’ classes have 12 students in them (max) and are restricted to Tier 2 and Tier 3 students. These intervention groups are all small-group based. Our RtI Reading Class is blessed with 2 push-in adults, and our RtI Math Class is co-taught by the Primary Special Ed Teacher and myself. With these classes being so small, our other RtI groups are much larger, typically ranging from 24-29 students. While these numbers make it tough, it pays off for our strugglers and we as a team make it work.
For reading, students are grouped by their independent Guided Reading Level. While the reading groups are fluid, the reading groups don’t change as much as the math groups do. To allow for differentiation in spelling tests, we do give Spelling Tests in our RtI Reading classes. For math, we use the District Common Assessments to group students. These groups change every unit (~every 6 weeks) and target the specific skilled assessed in each unit.
Most weeks, this post-RtI time is devoted to writing as our team is really intentional about integrating science and social studies into our guided reading and read-aloud times. Since this afternoon time is more flexible, it’s not uncommon for us to split this 45 minute block between science and writing. Our hands-on science experiences do happen during this time (rather than the morning core). From sound experiments to testing magnets, we use the Next Generation Science Standards to guide our explorations.
In terms of writing, I use a Writer’s Workshop model with loads of mentor texts. The first few minutes of our time together are a mini-lesson (focusing on a very specific skill – adding quotation marks, using commas to separate items in a list, using a hook to grab a reader’s attention). Then, students are given the time to put our mini-lessons into practice while I conference with students. We love listening to Yo, Yo, Ma and since our visit to the orchestra, we’re all about the Vienna Philharmonic. Then, we wrap-up our time with 5-10 minutes of friends sharing their writing.
Each afternoon, our school has a 10-15 minute block of reflection built into our afternoon schedule. As a Leader in Me school, we use Stephen Covey’s terminology of “Plus and Delta” reflection. A Plus is something that went really well or something we are proud of. A Delta is not necessarily a negative, rather it is something we want to change in the future. In 1st grade, we meet on the carpet and as a class brainstorm some pluses/deltas for the day and then students individually record their highs/lows for the day. You can read more about our school-wide reflection time in this blog post.
As soon as I check a student’s reflection sheet, they add it to their green home folder, pack their backpack, put on their coat, and do their classroom job. From straightening crayons in a caddy to sharpening pencils, to organizing our classroom bookshelf, these classroom jobs keep our classroom looking neat. After students finish their job, they meet on the carpet with their friends or they can partner read. If we’ve finished Reflection quickly, I love to sneak in an extra for-fun read aloud.
Friends, you’ve made it – a day in the life of a 1st grader! We have a long but wonderful day. Sometimes it feels like a race, but I am blessed to teach in a school that values instructional time. What questions do you have for me? How does this compare to your schedule? I’d love to hear your ideas, thoughts, and questions. It’s always interesting to see how other classrooms organize their time!