How I’m Making This Work!

Last weekend, I blogged about my decision to change my Literacy Work Station/Centre rotation format based on a Skype call with Angie Harrison (@techieang). Since that Skype call and writing that blog post of mine, I’ve spent numerous hours trying to make this new system work for me (free choice independent work stations), and more importantly, for my students. There were many things that I had to consider:

  • I like the Daily 5, but I also wanted to add in some more higher level response options. I do a daily Writer’s Workshop in addition to this literacy work station/centre time, so I decided to take out Work on Writing, as basically all of my centre options include writing anyway. I may decide though to change this once the students try out these new centres.
  • I have two students with autism. Changing routines can be hard for them. I wanted to make this change a smooth one, and I wanted to ensure that it does not vary too much from the types of learning activities that they’re used to. That’s why I created the guide sheets of suggestions that I’ve laminated now and will put out for all of the students to see. They don’t need to only use these ideas, but these are suggestions of activities that relate closely to ones that we’ve already done before. This adds the familiarity piece that will help many of my students as they adjust to change. These sheets also provide options for those students that do not know what to do. I’m trying to build in here success for all.
  • I integrate science and social studies into my literacy block. This is incredibly important with a split class, and it is something that I want to continue to do. I decided to do this largely through my Listening to Reading centre. At this centre, I will have different stories — related to our current science or social studies topic — that students can listen to and then respond to. They can choose how they respond, but in this case, I’m going to pick what they have to hear. I may sometimes have a choice of a couple of different stories, but there’s a little less choice at this centre than at my other ones. We’ll see how this goes. I’m also going to put out the Nelson literacy books and poems that relate to our current science or social studies topic at the Read to Self and Read to Someone centres. Then the students can continue their learning in these content areas at the other centres too.
  • Due to a limited number of tools, I knew that I could not have all of my students choose Listening to Reading every day. I decided to use two of my iPod Touches — the ones without the camera — for this centre. With the splitters that I have, this means that I can have four students at this centre during each rotation. I then took some coloured dot stickers and put the number “1” on four bookmark cards and the number “2” on another four bookmark cards. The students that choose “1” will go to this centre first, and the students that choose “2” will go to this centre second. With different texts for Grade 1 and Grade 2 students, I may need to say that only Grade 1 students can choose the “1” cards and only Grade 2 students can choose the “2” cards. I’m still trying to figure this part out.
  • Right now, I have not limited the numbers at Read to Self or Read to Someone. I have enough reading materials for all students to choose this option in either time slot. I plan on doing two rotations a day. Students will have to get creative in terms of where they read in the classroom, but there are many quiet areas to do so, and I think that they can figure this out. If I find though that I need to limit the numbers each time, then I will make this change. It’s definitely a possibility.
  • I want this format to increase the amount of time that I have for guided reading groups. Not only do I want to be able to do two guided reading groups a day, but I also hope to take a few additional students for reading conferences during this time. Many of my students are at the same reading level and working on the same strategies. For my Grade 2 students, the majority of them are working on their written reading comprehension skills, which lines up to the DRA 2 that I administer two to three times a year. For students reading at a Level 28 or above, there’s a large written component as a follow-up to the reading, and this is the most difficult part for them. I spend many guided reading sessions working on these types of comprehension questions with them. Since I will now be pulling students from all groups for guided reading (by placing a guided reading card in their pocket chart), I can take groups of 5 or 6 students if I want, and work on this specific skill. Groups can constantly change as my strategy groupings change too. I currently change my guided reading groupings a bit, but not as much as I think that they should be changed. With the new ability to pull any student whenever I want, I can constantly mix the groups and give all of the students what they need to be successful.
  • I usually use a timer to let my students know that the centre time is over. I don’t want to be quite as restrictive with this new approach, but I want to help the students organize their time too. Based on feedback that I got on my last post, I think that I’ll use a timer to let the students know that they should be thinking about getting ready to rotate, but I won’t insist that they rotate right at that time. Students that need to finish up a centre first can do so, and then move on. Then students still have control over the rotation but with some teacher guidance as well. As students get used to the format and the approximate amount of time at each centre, they may not need the timer anymore. This is definitely something that can change throughout the process.
  • Even though this system is largely based on student choice, I want all students to visit all four choice centres every week. Since they have two rotations a day, they will get to visit many of the centres more than once. Most students will be able to organize their time on their own. Since students will be picking these centres as soon as they come in each morning, I’ll be available to help those that need it. Students will know that they can go to the centres more than once each week, so knowing that this is an option, may help them out if they are less eager to go to certain ones. Hopefully the numerous choices at each activity will appeal to the different learning styles and interests of the different students as well. I want students to be engaged as they’re learning!
  • I need to teach the students this new system, or at least give them a good chance to try it out. I told the students this week that we would be making this change, and I explained to them what this change means. I really want the new system in place for after the March Break. As a result, next week — the week before March Break — we are going to try it. We will go through together how it will work. Students can ask questions about the new system, experiment with it, and then we can make changes as needed. I’m sure that there will be at least some changes to make! I want students to own this system too. That’s why I often included the option of “using a tool of their choice.” I will ask the students to write down on post-it notes what other creative ideas they come up with, and then we can leave their suggestions with the laminated ones that I created. Students can then learn from each other as well as from me.

Angie, I’m so glad that you shared this video of yours during the Skype call. Seeing your choice board really helped me figure out how I could use one as well. Now there’s just the nervous/excited feeling that comes when I am about to try something new. Here’s to hoping that it works!

How do you organize your literacy block time? How much “student choice” is incorporated into your centre approach? I would love to hear your ideas as well!

Aviva

18 thoughts on “How I’m Making This Work!

  1. Aviva, I like how you’ve put your thinking down on paper. It helps me to better understand you and how you think as an educator. As you are more than likely aware I think quite differently when it comes to literacy learning so this system would not work for me, specifically the integration of science/socials into literacy time.

    To me literacy time is for developing literacy skills and more importantly for helping my students develop a true love for reading and writing. I strongly believe this is achieved by providing them choice when it comes to their learning of words, reading, and writing. Obviously this choice goes hand in hand with good teaching.

    I will not purposely embed my socials and science curriculum into my literacy time. This is not to say that the socials and science topics books are not available during this time, because that’s not the case at all. It is also not to say that my students don’t like to read or write about these topics during their literacy block. But if they chose to explore our socials and science topics during literacy it’s because that is what is of interest to them not because I’m directing them to do so. We specifically learn our science and socials topics at other times during the week.

    I realize you do not teach this way and for you it’s important to integrate socials and science into your literacy time. I’m wondering though is it possible to give them a bookmark choice that clearly says socials/science on it. Perhaps when they focus on that choice they can chose how they will learn this content from the literacy choices you’ve provided. That way they can chose when they will learn their socials/science AND will be able to enjoy literacy learning of their choice at other times? I’d think it would meet your need of them having to utilize their literacy time for learning content but it would also give them a bit more freedom. That complete choice of what helps them develop their true love for reading/writing and ultimately isn’t that what our literacy block should be for?

    • Thanks for your comment, Karen! When I chose to write this blog post, I knew that I was really putting myself out there. That’s a scary feeling. I know that there’s many people out there that disagree with what I do and feel the same way you do. I respect that.

      To give you some background, when I started teaching a 1/2 split last year, I made a choice to integrate science and social studies into my literacy block time. During our structures and mapping unit at the end of the year, I integrate during math instead. With different science and social studies topics for the different grades, this was my best way to approach the differences and really deliver the best possible science and social studies programs to my students. This doesn’t mean that I never teach these subjects in isolation, but I don’t do so a lot. Our school uses Nelson Literacy and the connections to science and social studies makes this delivery model ideal. We are always encouraged to integrate whenever possible as this gives us more literacy time. It’s worked too. Since making this change, I have the highest reading scores and strongest writing abilities that I’ve ever had in this grade. Even though students have come into my class with varying ability levels, almost 100% of them are leaving reaching or surpassing the year-end benchmarks in reading and writing. These scores reaffirm for me that I’m making the right choice for my students.

      I want my students to develop a love of reading and writing, and whenever possible, I give them choices of genre and form to keep them excited about reading and writing. I also want my students to see that reading and writing does not need to be taught in isolation. Integrating science and social studies has helped my students see that they can write about lots of different topics and read about them as well. As in your case, they might choose to do so, but they also might not. I want to ensure that they do!

      Since I want them to see this science and social studies time as literacy time too, I don’t want to create a separate bookmark (at least not for now). I see value in this integration, and truthfully,with the amount of additional time it gives me for developing reading and writing skills, I’d probably run my program the same way even if I didn’t teach a split.

      While we differ on this issue, I hope this reply helps explain my thinking a little bit more. Thanks for inspiring me to write this reply and for continually pushing my thinking. I appreciate it!

      Aviva

  2. Thanks for further explaining your thinking Aviva. As you know I highly admire you as an educator and I truly respect what you do with and for your students. But we will see this with two different pairs of glasses and that’s okay.

    I agree 100% that we should be integrating literacy into all areas of our curriculum. I try my best to do it all the time across ALL curriculum areas. For me though as a teacher of young developing readers and writers I feel this IS the time to instill that love of life long reading and writing and by providing choice I am allowing my students to find their true love in reading and writing. As you can tell this is something I’m really passionate about. Like you I am seeing incredible results with my change in thinking too, particularly with my struggling readers and writers. By providing them choice they are extremely motivated to work as hard as they can to learn to become stronger readers and writers. They truly are amazing me this year and the gains they have been making have been incredible. For my stronger students they continue to push their boundaries as well but for them the reading and writing comes easier for them naturally. Providing them choice allows them to further explore what they are passionate about.

    I do believe that however you chose to educate your students you will do it to the best of your ability. That’s what I love about you. You are always pushing your thinking, and constantly evaluating why you are doing what you are doing. In that way, you and I are much more alike then different. Even when we don’t agree I continue to learn and grow with you. I thank you for that.

    Karen

    • Thanks for your reply, Karen! I absolutely love what you do with your students, and you continue to inspire me to try new things with my class as well. Even though I do incorporate science and social studies with literacy, I’ve always provided a lot of choice within the centres themselves. I think where we’re similar here is that we see the value in giving students this choice. We realize that there’s many different ways that students can share their thinking and learning with us.

      I want children to be excited about reading and writing as well, and that’s why I always attempt to provide choice and student control, as I think this makes students more eager to learn. I decided to make this change to my classroom routine to give students even more control over their learning. I hope that it works out well, and I’m sure that I’ll need to continue to tweak it over time.

      Thanks for the encouragement to make this change!
      Aviva

  3. Aviva
    It has been a whole since we have interacted, what a busy family and work time I have been having here in Australia! I feel a little like an itinerant, as I move from place to place and family to family visiting my relations and friends and working back in Australian schools. It is a time of reconnection all around for me.
    So I am thrilled to have a chance to catch up with your new learning via the latest blog post.
    Once again you are interacting with colleagues and keeping an open mind and reflecting, challenging and sometimes changing. Congratulations my friend, what an example you are to us all.
    I am enjoying your interactions with Karen and I am reflecting on both sides of this discussionre ‘choice’ and ‘ integration’. I cannot help but add my twopence worth!
    Back ithe mid 1990’s when I introduced the notion of a Literacy Block to the Australian context through the Government research Project :ELRP, I purposefully did this to isolate the time to teach the literacy skills necessary to be a critical and analytical reader and writer. We had been immersed in the Intergrated Curriculum approach for some years but actually found that much of what we thought was integrated studies time was actually spent on skilling our students in the fundamentals of literacy ( e.g. Note taking, summarizing, finding the main idea, skimming and scanning for information etc.).
    The introduction of the Literacy Block was to ensure that all students were matched to their level of learning at any given point of time. There was never any direction that integrating across the curriculum was to be banned or ignored. This was now the time for teachers to look at the literacy levels of their students in Reading, Writing and now we better understand, Oral Language as a way to empower them to make choices and to enter into the world of self discovery and learning.
    My belief is that the key thing to always remember is that it is a LITERACY BLOCK and therefore the critical thing that must take precedence over all another aspects is the LITERACY FOCUS. What is it that these students need to learn more about as readers and writers and speakers and listeners today?
    This is the critical question. Everything else then becomes a VEHICLE for this to occur (e.g integrated studies and technologies are merely vehicles for the literacy learning).
    When I keep this clear in my mind I can ensure that the literacy learning remains my priority. If I do not keep this clear then the lines become smudged very quickly and it is very hard to find the progression in their literacy foci as compared to the other areas of the curriculum that tend to take over the teachers’ attention.
    Thank you again for being such an open and reflective practitioner.
    Please forgive any typos as once again I am responding via my iPad on the run and it will not allow me to go back and re read my comments!!
    Regards
    Carmel

    • Carmel, thank you so much for adding to this discussion! I really appreciate your insights and tremendous knowledge in this area of literacy learning. As I’ve said before, you’ve helped me look at things in different ways and make more conscious choices about what I choose to do in the classroom to best meet the learning needs of my students. I really appreciate this!

      Late last night when I read your comment, my head started to spin, and all night long, I was really thinking about your words. While I do integrate science and social studies into literacy, my main focus during the literacy block time is on literacy. Students may be listening to a story on a science topic, but what I’m assessing and evaluating is their response to this story. I may be looking at their writing skills, their use of a specific writing form, their voice in their writing, their oral response in terms of organizing ideas and presenting information, or their ability to listen, reflect, and share information orally. I’m looking at how they can listen to a text and comprehend that text as they ask questions, make connections, and make inferences throughout the listening process. This text may be a non-fiction one, but it is a text just the same.

      Yes, I have found that integrating science and social studies into my literacy block gives me a much longer block of time to focus on developing literacy skills each day. Since doing this for the past two years, I’ve had stronger readers, writers, listeners, and speakers than I’ve ever had before. The benefit to students is why I continue to do what I do.

      All that being said, if my focus is more on the content areas and not on literacy (e.g., if I really want students to understand the properties of liquids and solids, and I want them to experiment with these properties), then this is an activity that I would do outside of my literacy block time. I may incorporate reading, writing, or oral language skills as students research, experiment, and respond to what they’ve done, but the focus of this activity is on the science and not on the literacy. I don’t know how clear I was on this in my blog post, and I appreciate you asking the questions that you did and sharing the comments that you did, to help me really explain my philosophy.

      Thanks again for helping me clarify what I do and really think through why I do what I do. I know that as my students complete various literacy centre activities, I will continue to think in terms of what specific Language expectations are being met by what they do. Just as I do now, I’ll be thinking about what you would say and what you would suggest as I make choices for my literacy block time. Thanks for continuing to motivate and inspire me!

      Aviva

  4. Carmel, Aviva and I have continued our discussion in the back channels of Twitter. I much prefer to keep my literacy block for literacy only and integrate literacy as often as I can into my other teaching areas. Aviva and I both agree that choice is key. Where we differ is she chooses to integrate science/socials into her literacy block while I choose to integrate literacy into my socials/sciences blocks. Her way is working well for her, and my way is working well for me. So her and I agree at this time we are both doing what’s best for our students which ultimately is what matters most.

    • Ladies,
      Can I just start by giving you a compliment? It is so refreshing to witness positive dialogue occuring around a difference of opinion/perspective. What I notice right away when I read the reflective words shared in this conversation is that both of you start with the students. You care deeply about them, clearly understand their individual needs, and have found a way to address their learning that allows them to make extrodinary growth. Meeting the kids where they are and incorporating choice to meet the academic (as well as social/emotional) needs is the magic key for success.

      I feel as though I am falling snuggily in between both perspectives. I taught many years as a second grade teacher, religiously following the Daily 5, as well as Lucy Caulkin’s Workshop model. My Literacy Block was sacred to reading and writing skills. Science and Social Studies occured less often at a later time. Then last year I became a multiage age teacher (2/3) and had to find a new approach, as I was faced with double the content expectations (as Aviva had mentioned). My only option was to integrate Science and Social Studies into the Literacy and Math time blocks. Now, this year teaching a 3/4/5 with Ann, we have found a happy medium. We do honor a Literacy Block and a Math Block (just a smaller chunk of time than I used to block out)- total minutes taking up half of our day. The other half of the day is used for integration and real-world exploration.

      We find it necessary to block portions of our day to focus on skill building, review of strategies, and rehersal. In our classroom our students self assess their “got it” standards/targets and “need it” standards/targets. This personal awareness allows for honest and genuine conversations with teachers and peers regarding their academic strengths & challenges through a social experience. Students can choose the order of completeing their tasks, based on their personal goals. They also choose the resources they will need, the process that will occur for their goals to be met, and the product in which will display their understanding and growth. Ann and I meet with them frequently through small groups and conferencing to monitor their progress over time. (We are also currently in the process of revamping our structure, which is why the conversation caught my immediate attention yesterday!)

      Students then transfer these literacy and mathematics skills into the content area units of study, which begin with essential questions and follow a Project-Based Learning model.

      Each week we adust our schedule depending our where our students are in the PBL process. We are not stuck in a routine, as we are always more concerned about what our students needs are from moment to moment. Sometimes we have extended our “Blocks” and other times we have shortened them to allow for more collaborative time tied to the PBL projects. Most often this decision is made through a discussion with our students.

      I do agree (especially as a primary teacher for 9 years) that students need to work diligently to build a solid foundation, so some of their learning time needs to be skill-based and specific for them as a learner. But what I also have learned is that many students struggle with learning some skills because they have no anchor or real-world connection to attach a purpose for a skill. As multiage teachers, truly attempting to meet students where they are based on their learning needs/interests and not their age or grade level, the most powerful thing Ann and I have discovered is to utilize the best of both worlds.

      Aviva, I appreciated this post because it allowed me to process a few ways I could work to organize our classroom and routines to enhance our learning experiences. Karen, I appreciated your perspective as it allowed for a thoughtful conversation among creative, innovative teachers. I appreciate the bravery and compassion you both exibited. This is the honesty, trust, and respect that is missing from many PLCs. Thank you for displaying a model conversation for others to learn by. You ladies are amazing. So glad to have connected with the both of you!
      ~Celina

      • Celina, thank you so much for adding to this conversation! As I said to Karen yesterday, sometimes when you’re on Twitter, blog posts and tweets can almost become an “echo chamber” (as Danika Barker) likes to say. It’s nice to hear various view points, and to have a meaningful discussion about why we do what we do.

        I also love that this discussion really has focused on the students. The children and their needs should be at the forefront of all that we do, and it’s great to see that even with differing views, we both have the students and their needs at the heart of the discussion.

        It was very interesting to read about how you structure your day. You really got me thinking. In fact, this morning, I tried playing with numbers to see what I could do. In Ontario, we have to have 100-120 minutes of literacy time each day and 60-75 minutes of math time. With a 45-50 minute prep each day, there is only about another 40 minutes of unaccounted for time. I don’t know if this would be enough to run the type of exploration/PBL program that you do. You’ve really intrigued me though. This would be a great way to integrate science, social studies, literacy, and even possibly, math and the arts, while giving students choice and control over their learning while guiding them as well. When I read about your program model, it actually seems very similar to the emergent curriculum in the Full Day, Early Learning Kindergarten classes in our Board right now. I’ve tried to adopt part of this model in my Grade 1/2 class too, so you’ve definitely got my thinking here. Are you mandated to have specific amounts of time designated for literacy and math? How much time do you have in your literacy and math blocks currently? I’d love to find out more about what you’re doing.

        Thank you again for sharing here and continuing to have me think and reflect as I make changes to my program!

        Aviva

        • I have to agree again how much I love that fact that the conversation has been driven by the needs of our students…

          Right now Ann and I are in a unique position with the expectations of a literacy block/math block time frame, prep schedule, numbers of students in our class, and curriculum maps. We are literally creating as we go through this process. As we are in the first year of developing our 3/4/5 Multiage Program we have been trusted to meet the needs of our learners, integrate the content areas, meet the state expectations, and utilize our district’s adopted curriculum and assessments. We are now in the information stage… as we are beginning to share specific information regarding our program logistics, instructional practices, and philosophy. So your questions are very relevant and will help me in processing as Ann and I move forward with our future discussions.

          We attempt to keep to a 90min literacy block, and a 70 minute math block. 2 days a week we have a 70 min prep. And the other days we do not (One or both of us will often choose to spend our 45 min prep on another day with our students). So essentially 3 days a week we have an additional 45 min, and on the other 2 days with have 115 minutes. The days we have no prep are the days we allow for the PBL experiences. We love this schedule. On the days we have a prep we get a lot done during our lengthy planning time. Does amount to exhausting days, but thankfully they usually end up being the most rewarding!

          I would say that the PBL model could be used with any time block. It’s all about the experience itself, and could easily be used during smaller chunks, but parts could also be integrated into your literacy choice format. We sometimes take half of our literacy block to allow students to work on the Process (research/discovery) portion of their project, or the Product (creation/publishing) portion of their project. They can make a lot of progress in a 40-50 minute time frame.

          It is ironic that you mentioned your Early Learning Kinder Program. As we developed our program structure/foundation we did a ton of research regarding the brain, retention, engagement, multiage philosophy, social/emotional, and gifted. All the research, in one way, shape or form eluded strategies that continually reminded us of the instuctional practices utilized by our amazing kindergarten teachers. Our classroom is very busy and collaborative, and students all work on personal goals at their level and have frequent choice. We have tables, comfy seats, bean bags, balance boards, etc for students to work comfortably throughout the day. Paper is minimal, but resources and manipulatives are of surplus. We dress in costume, use music & movement often, practice breathing techniques for calm down, provide snack sometimes, and integrate art into our daily routine.

          Taking on 3 grade levels allowed us to “let-go” of some of our past routine practices, view things through a different lens, and accept that we needed to adjust learning on a daily basis. Our students have a LARGE voice in our student-learning environment, as we have allowed them to play an intregal role in creating this program. Best choice we ever made 🙂 They are so thoughtful, insightful, and brilliant!!

          Thank you for asking me these questions. This is just the processing I needed! It has helped me clear my head and get focused with refining our message- I can’t wait to process further with Ann… Your collaboration is always appreciated!
          ~Celina

          • Celina, thank you so much for all of the information! It really helps me gain a better understanding of what you do and why you do it. I’m incredibly intrigued by the PBL model, and it’s one that I’d like to adopt more. Hearing how this could be done in a shorter time frame really helps. Trying to overhaul my complete program might be difficult at this point in the year, especially for my students with autism that find changes in routine to be especially hard. I’m wondering if I could put pieces of this into place though, and maybe even try it out on a larger scale in May and June, when I’m often already done the science and social studies units for the year, so have a little more flexibility in my schedule. This would be a great way to continue to review the science and social studies topics learned throughout the year, but with a real student-centred approach. You’ve given me lots to think about. I’ll likely have some more questions soon. 🙂

            Aviva

    • Thanks again, Karen, for starting and continuing to add to this discussion. Yes, I think that we have overlapping thoughts when it comes to providing student choice. As you can see in my comment to Carmel, sometimes I do integrate literacy into science and social studies, but most of the time, I do the opposite. It really does depend what I’m trying to assess. I think that this discussion between you and Carmel really helped me clarify my thoughts, and I appreciate that so much!

      Aviva

  5. I really enjoyed reading your post, Aviva. I have also reworked my “center” time this year. I give choices, but work mainly with writer’s workshop and read to self and read to someone. Again…based on Daily 5 but I put my own spin on it. Would love to talk more about how it’s going for you!

    • Thanks for your comment, Christine! I’d love to hear more about how you structure your centre time too. I’ll definitely share how mine goes. Thanks for the support!

      Aviva

  6. I love the idea around thinking that something might work in a more fluid way if you gave it a little tweak. We never want to stick with something that doesn’t meet the need of our learners just because it’s a nuisance to change. Mixing things up is the mark of a truly reflective practitioner.

    • Thanks Colin! If we really are doing what’s best for our students then we need to be willing to make changes even if change is hard. These changes excite me, and I can’t wait to give them a try! I’m sure that I’ll be tweaking things again soon enough. 🙂

      Aviva

  7. Hi Aviva. First I have to say what impresses me the most about this blog is all the feedback you get about what works for this teacher and what does not. I like getting the opportunity to hear from so many different viewpoints. Since I will be teaching in the US, some of the things that are mentioned are Greek to me! However, the crust of the problem is the same everywhere. I have to admit I am leaning toward your way of integration. I moved around a lot being a military brat, and every school would be different in their approach to structuring our day. Even back in the pre-Internet days (yes I am dating myself here), we used work stations. That way the teacher could let the more “gifted” move at a faster pace and be free to help the more “needful” students get up to speed. My teachers always integrated, although I doubt that was the word they used. When I went to college to learn to be a teacher, that was a major issue. Should children be taught subjects in isolation or not? The answer came to me one day when I got back a history essay. The professor had graded my content as excellent, my grammar as adequate and my spelling as horrible. It occurred to me right then, if we are going to be graded on all aspects of our papers no matter the subject, then teaching them in unison would better prepare us for post grade school work. It is admittedly a fine line, but a necessary one. I cannot conceive of any history teacher giving a student an “A,” if the accompanying grammar and spelling were not up to par with the content. You can bet I straightened up my essay writing. The point I am belaboring to make here is that you really cannot separate out subjects to give students a baseline for educational development. History is a part of science which is a part of math which is a part of literature. I believe we do a disservice for any student when we make them so separate from each other. That is my take on it at any rate. I will continue to come back to your blog. Please let me know how it goes. I especially loved the fact that you incorporated how-tos for your students with autism. They count too.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Terri, and for sharing your thoughts on this as well. I think that as we make any changes to our program, we need to consider the needs of ALL of our students, and for me, this includes two students with autism. This doesn’t mean that I won’t tweak my program because change can be hard for them, but it does mean that I will put certain things in place to ensure that they are both successful with this change (e.g., helping them set their daily schedule of literacy centres). I’ll definitely be sharing more here as I give this new set-up a try.

      Aviva

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