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Part 2: Step by Step Guide to Organizing Literacy Curriculum for the Year--Getting the Big Picture

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Check out the tips for setting up your plan for the year (or the month or the grading period or the semester).

Remember, your plan is not set in stone.

It's an outline that can--NO--will change based on your student needs.

If you're looking for a template as shown below, you can grab one right here.

Creating the Big Picture

Step by Step

1st Plan out a few Read Alouds

Start with favorite read alouds. However, be cognizant of what students will like and enjoy. Fill those in throughout the year. I always try to put a few read alouds in the beginning of the year because the rest of the year will probably be filled in by student requests, new releases and classroom needs. However, if you have a favorite that you want to share with students but it might not be appropriate for the beginning of the year, place it where you would like to share it to hold that place and not forget about it.

2nd Shared Reading

Okay, on the year planning template, I have included the Shared Reading sequence previously discussed here.

Remember Shared Reading texts should be short texts that can be revisited each day over a few days, typically a week.

Also remember, Shared Reading is a place where you can expose students to different genres, structures and complex texts.

Be cognizant NOT to use shared reading within one subject area all year long. Spiral genres and text structures throughout the year.

Decide on your Shared Reading rotation and place that in your year plan chart. If you have titles of texts, then start putting those in over the course of the year.

3rd Reading and Writing Workshop

Now onto Reading and Writing Workshop.

This is where my team and I always slowed down our thinking while planning.

We had many passionate discussions about what we should focus on and where it should occur throughout the year. These discussions were always based on the professional reading we had done over the summer.

One thing that was always a given was the launching of the reader’s workshop and launching writer’s workshop during the first couple of weeks of the school year.

Then we would center our units of study around the proficient reader strategies throughout the rest of the school year.

Check out the Launching Reader's Workshop and Launching Writer's Workshop units in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, as well as other units for readers to guide you throughout the year.

4th Word Study

Don’t forget to set up and launch word study in your classroom. It’s important to set up guidelines for the notebook or vessel in which word study activities will be housed.

Also, plan out a sequence of word features and word parts that you know you will have to start with because it has been a common trend over the past several years.

You know in your grade level those high frequency words that students come to you NOT knowing how to spell. Place those in the word study/word wall section of your chart.

5th Focus Poetry

Focus Poetry is an excellent way to teach and practice word features, phonemes, word families, word parts, etc.

Focus Poetry can be easily incorporated into your word study part of the day.

Math/Science teachers, don’t pass over Focus Poetry because you think it’s for the Literacy teachers. Think about the vocabulary you can find in poems about scientific topics you teach.

When you revisit a poem every day for about 5 minutes throughout the week, students will develop their fluency and gain a richer vocabulary!

6th Social Studies Can Be An Extension of Literacy Instruction

Social Studies is another area where literacy instruction can flourish. Whether your district stays with traditional Social Studies instruction or you implement an Inquiry Workshop, this part of your instructional day provides great opportunities to use literacy strategies while learning content.

Check out the literacy schedules I put together as a free product in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

  • First, think about the content for which your grade level is responsible. Then, think about the sequence of the content throughout the year.

  • Next, lay out broad, general topics on the year planner you created.

  • Decide about how long you should spend on each topic throughout the year.

  • If you have particular resources or activities that you want to use for a specific topic write it on the chart. For example, when we were learning about the Native American tribes that lived in Texas long before settlers moved in, we knew that we wanted to have our 4th graders write short reports on each of the four major tribes and each class would create a mural for one of the tribes. So we wrote that in and decided on a time frame.

7th Math—Developing Problem Solvers

Math teachers must look at how the district-mandated curriculum sets up the standards to be taught. I ran my math block as a workshop following the same structure as reading and writing.

My school district provided us with a Year at a Glance with broad mathematics topics set up throughout the year and which standards supported each topic. My team would lay out the district’s Year at a Glance on our spreadsheet/chart and then begin filling in activities that would be necessary to teach each concept.

It was not comprehensive and complete but it was a start and provided a good picture of our math instruction across the year.

We would look at the topics and decide which manipulatives we would need to complete the investigations or discoveries.

We would write down particular strategies and activities we would want to use for topics and areas of content that was required for our grade level.

8th Science—Creating Scientific Minds

We approached Science the same way as we did Math.

Our workshop model of teaching looked very similar.

The lessons we planned followed the scientific process and our year always began with safety in science.

Again, the district provided a Year at a Glance with general topics and concepts supported by a list of standards for each concept.

We mapped out this Year at a Glance on our chart and started placing activities, lab experiments and investigations that would be essential to teach each topic and concept.

Ready, Set, Go!!

You now have a starting point and an outline! Your plan is not complete and comprehensive, but it's a beginning outline to keep you and your students on track.

As you find new information, strategies and activities for teaching different topics and concepts add to your plan.

Your curriculum calendar will keep you focused and on track throughout the school year eliminating that feeling of just "spinning your wheels"!

Happy planning...

Until next time...

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