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Trying to do Reader's Wkshp with mandated curriculum
Old 07-31-2017, 04:27 PM
 
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I am back posting on PT after a long absence. I am looking through the posts and getting interested again...I see so many familiar names that are still on PT! I need some anonymity right now so I can't post on FB and ask this or I could get in trouble at school. I missed PT.

I have a dilemma. I am a HUGE fan of true authentic RW and WW. The problem is my district has us doing extremely long units. These units have one novel that the kids work on for a whole term. It's awful. There are some supplemental texts but mostly we work on a novel for a whole term. We are mandated to do these novels and to use the curriculum that the made us write ourselves. Our curriculum isn't research based and we weren't trained in curriculum writing. We have pretty decent lessons I feel for what we could do in the time they gave us...which wasn't a lot of time, mind you. Close reading everything to death is BRUTAL on the kids and me.

I SO BADLY want to give my students choice reading time in a workshop style setting. I used to teach this way before we went to these modules. I love Book Whisperer, F&P, Nancie Atwell, Beers&Probst, Jennifer Serravallo and more.... have tons of these professioanl books collecting dust because I can't use the philosophies.These are all research based and have proven to be best practices.

My question is: Does anyone have advice for what I could do? My initial thought was to just go rogue, but we are closely monitored by admin. We can get docked on our eval if we don't do what's mandated. I am also asking myself if I care at this point..I have been teaching for 20 yrs! I think I can be trusted to do what is best for students.

I am toying with the idea of Shortening the modules and then letting kids have 5 weeks of choice reading ( i could risk getting in trouble wit a walkthru)...or using Mon and Fri as choice reading days (we hardly ever have walk-thrus on M or F...) I am also thinking I could justify what I am doing if ever they did ask me what I am doing and why..

Ideas....please and thanks! Sorry this is so long...I have missed being able to express myself!



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Old 07-31-2017, 05:14 PM
 
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How long do you have for ela? I am doing kind if a mash up of book whisperer type thing. I have allotted minutes for self selected and mini lessons and "shared reading" which will be my basal/curriculum. I have 120 minutes.

This is a new approach for me, so I don't know how it's going to work yet.
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Old 07-31-2017, 05:19 PM
 
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I have 120 min too.
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Old 07-31-2017, 05:22 PM
 
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How do you currently break down your 120 mins?
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Old 08-01-2017, 02:31 PM
 
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I'm the reading specialist and literacy coach at a school where our principal is very anti-independent reading because our district elementary superintendent type person is anti-independent reading. We are also required to follow adopted curriculum 'with fidelity'. I have similar concerns to yours - especially because our school population is very unique and a mass market curriculum does not really meet our needs. I'm in a K-5 elementary and I don't know what grade you teach but since you said you are doing novel units, I'm going to answer based on our upper elementary classes. Here are two things I have been able to do/get away with to help my teachers:

* If you are teaching a reading skill or strategy as part of our novel study/unit, can you allow students to read independently each day to practice that skill or strategy? I have teachers that have successfully worked in choice/independent reading that way. My principal's stipulation was if he walks in the room he should be able to walk up to a student and ask what they are doing and they should have an answer beyond 'reading'. So the teachers reinforce with the kids very specifically - "today during independent reading you are looking for details about the main character" and kids will have a post it note to write details down. The big concern (misconception) is that teachers will have kids read but not be conferencing or working with struggling students and will basically sit at their desks doing nothing or lesson planning or whatever. So this was the solution for that. Our classes still don't get enough independent reading time, but I'm aiming for baby steps.

* Could you, or someone else, hold a before school, after school, or lunch time book club? I have held lunch time book clubs for students where they basically come and read (whatever they want) and then we do a quick share out of what they read, liked, had a question about. They bring their lunches and whatever book they are reading. The kids really like it. Obviously the down side is it's during lunch time, but I feel like in my situation it's worth it to have a club once or twice a week for a couple months at a time.


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Old 08-01-2017, 05:32 PM
 
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Wow. They have to tell him they are doing something besides reading. How do they become better readers if they can't practice READING?? That blows me away.
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Breakdown of my 120 min
Old 08-01-2017, 07:09 PM
 
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Reading

Mini lesson-10 min
Independent work/group work/any task work- 30 min
Wrap up- 10 min

Writing
Mini lesson- 10min
Writing work time- 30 min
Wrap up- 10 min

Word Study- 15 min
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Old 08-01-2017, 07:12 PM
 
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Thank you so much for your thorough response. I teach 4th.

I've held after school book clubs which the kids and I love but many students don't come due to other commitments. We've had awesome book chats.

I would definitely have then read to practice a skill or strategy. I am toying with the idea of doing that with choice books twice a week instead of out mandated novels.
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Old 08-01-2017, 08:30 PM
 
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Yikes! I am so sorry that you're in that position. Trying to put myself in your shoes- balancing what I know is right versus the fear of getting in trouble. Some questions for you: I wonder what the "non-negotiables" are for your curriculum? Is it expected that you will follow a scripted lesson every day? How often does your P or AP walk through? What kind of relationship do you have with your P? Has independent choice reading been explicitly banned?? Here are some ideas:

- as PP suggested, use the whole-class novel as "Shared Reading." Schedule this for 15 min a day and touch upon the lesson's teaching points during this time. Then, have a separate RW block when you teach a mini lesson, confer, share, etc.

- Use the class novel as a read aloud and tie the lesson's objectives into your questioning and accountable talk prompts. Then, have a separate RW block.

- Go to your principal with your heart on your sleeve. Bring him all these books. Bring in Allington's studies on independent reading. Share your concerns and your hopes. Present a sample schedule of a reading block and ask him/her if you could pilot a new structure. Be sure to have a sample unit plan for the first unit or 2 which explains your learning objectives, CCSS, and means of assessment. This will show that you're not just going to be grabbing stuff out of thin air. Then, invite him/her into your classroom once it's up and running and ask for feedback. Be knowledgeable, transparent and honest. I honestly believe that we all want the same thing for our students- for them to be passionate, thoughtful, and critical readers. Maybe your principal will be inspired by YOUR passionate, thoughtful, and critical thinking and surprise you with a YES!



If none of these are viable options, then I guess starting with M/F RW is the only thing you could do.
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