I’ve tried for years to find a scope and sequence that works well for reading and writing. Unlike math, which can be taught in a linear fashion, reading and writing skills don’t necessarily have to be taught in any order. That is a benefit, but it can also be tricky for setting up a scope and sequence for the year. After five years of teaching an ELA block, I think I might have found something that will work well with my teaching style.
This will be the first year using this scope and sequence, but I have high hopes. It is designed in a way that makes it “flexible”. (That seems to be my buzz word this year, since I’ve also started flexible seating.) There are so many changes from year to year, student to student, that I was constantly revamping my system. This design allows for adaptability to the ever-changing initiatives, standards, students, curriculum, and more.
So let me explain what I like to call my “Learning Lab”. Essentially it is an online database of my lessons for the whole year. It is generic enough to be used with any texts and topics (since those seem to change frequently). Here’s how it works.
This is the home page. Think of it kind of like a dashboard. Every lesson and practice activity can be accessed from here. Let me give a brief overview of each button.
- Introduction: Beginning of the year lessons such as expectations, routines, and getting-to-know-you activities.
- Prepare: Pre-reading STEM activities organized by theme.
- Read 1: Procedures for reading any given text the first time through.
- Read 2: Procedures for reading the text a second time, editable close-read questions, and a schedule for small-group, differentiated instruction.
- Discuss: Lead a Socratic Seminar, Town Hall Debate, or Literature Circle for the given text. Mini-lessons included for a variety of speaking and listening skills.
- Practice Literature: A compilation of instant feedback / self-checking practice activities for every literature skill (on and off-line). Practice can be personalized and assigned based on individual student needs. Each skill also has a quick assessment students can take when they are ready to prove they can do the skill.
- Create: Lessons for a year-long STEM passion project that is trans-disciplinary. Students follow the design process to brainstorm and research real-world problems, create and implement a plan for a community-service project, collect and analyze data, and finally present their impact and reflections during a big end-of-the-year celebration. Each step of the project includes a writing component students do individually first, and then come to a team consensus. I like to call this project #AgentsOfChange.
- Practice Language: A compilation of instant feedback / self-checking practice activities for every language skill (on and off-line). Practice can be personalized and assigned based on individual student needs. To prove they have mastered the skill, students apply it to a current piece of writing (from their passion project).
- Collaborate: During what I like to call our “Collaboratory”, students get together with their team to share their independently written ideas. The team discusses and then comes to a consensus. Time is given for students to actually send, create, and do the next step of their passion project. For example, sending the final email, making a phone call, or recording an advertisement.
- Write: Since all the writing so far up to this point has been for authentic, real-world audiences, this writing time is just for fun. Students engage in creative writing prompts. Currently for this part, we are using the Gateway Writing and Lucy Calkins programs.
- Choose: In order for students to understand the importance of reading and writing, I think it is imperative we give them ample time to actually read and write. During this pseudo “workshop” students can choose to read, write, catch up, or select another appropriate option.
- Listen: Every year I try to weave in time for a read-aloud. If there are ever days where we finish early, I select this button and choose a listening activity for students to do while I read to them.
- Take a Break: Our brains need a break every ten or fifteen minutes. These activities include a variety of Kagan cooperative learning structures, brain breaks, team builders, class builders, and more. These structures can be used in conjunction with any content or can be used just for fun.
As you can see, the Learning Lab is flexible. My goal is to work through the cycle in a two-week time period. Any advice, thoughts, or suggestions? Soon, I’ll be writing more detailed posts about each button. Stay tuned!