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This year, I formatted my language arts class based on a modified Four Blocks Literacy Model in attempts to create a balanced literacy program that meets the diverse needs of all my students. Although the true four blocks model takes place in a single block class session, I am forced to teach my blocks throughout the week within 52 minute class periods. In a typical week April-26-30.pdf , we study these four basic areas of language arts: guided reading (Monday and Tuesdays), writing/grammar (Wednesdays and Thursdays), self-selected reading (Fridays), and working with words (Daily).
In the Guided Reading block, I choose material for my students to read, designate a purpose for the reading, and then guide them to use reading strategies needed for reading the text with the assigned purpose. I provide guidance focused primarily on reading comprehension strategies in a variety of whole class, small group, and partner formats.
In the Grammar/Writing block, I teach grammar or writing mini-lesson that provide the students with a model of what good writers do. My students engage in various writing activities from starting a new piece, finishing a piece, revising, editing, or illustrating. Another component includes weekly conferences that lead to a final published piece. In the Author's Chair, students have the opportunity to share their writing and respond to each other's writing at various stages in its development.
In the Self-Selected Reading block, students have silent reading time each Friday to read a book of their choice at their own independent reading level. Students participate in the Accelerated Reader program in the 8th grade at our school, but do not require that their book of choice be an Accelerated Reader book. I also conduct daily teacher read-alouds.
In the Working With Words block, students conduct a spiral study of Greek and Latin roots, as well as high frequency words we encounter as we read different texts. I chose the roots study to help my students better understand English vocabulary since more than 70 percent of English (and 95 percent of upper vocabulary) comes from Latin and Greek word origins.
In retrospect, this has been a great way to fit everything in that we language arts teachers must teach in the confines of a single school year, but at times I felt like the subject matter was disjointed.