Rooted in Reading: The Breakdown!

Hey y'all!  I'm here to do a little breakdown of my ELA block now that I have Rooted in Reading guiding a large portion of my day.  First of all, there's some things you should know about ME!

1.  Never, in my entire teaching career, have I taught by a textbook.  I have always used author studies, thematic units, novel studies, or something else to guide my week.  So, this isn't taking the place of a textbook for me because I have never used one.   
2.  I only get 60 minutes a day for my ELA block (GASP!).  Now this DOES NOT include guided reading or all of our writing time.  I do those during different parts of the day.  So, my students are reading lots of different books throughout the day... during guided reading, independent reading, etc.   They are reading books that are on their level during those times.  So, when you hear me talk about Rooted in Reading- that is 60 minutes of my day each day.  
3.  I believe whole-heartedly in making learning fun and engaging.  I want my students to walk away from our day and think "Man, that was a really good day in the classroom!"  BUT, I also have a lot of structure and high expectations in my classroom.  I love that Rooted in Reading adds consistency to what we already have goin' on! 

The books that the units are centered around are my MAIN focus for the week.  However, that is not the only book that I read during our time together.  The focus book is what we read, reread, and revisit throughout the week.  We always read it all the way through at least twice.  I also choose other books that compliment our focus book to read.  So, I'll choose other read alouds that have the same theme, author, or comprehension skill.  When we read Spiders by Gail Gibbons we also read other fiction and nonfiction books about spiders.  When we read I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll, I also used other monster books that fit the theme.  BUT, I always go back and connect it with our main text since that's where our vocabulary and deep comprehension practice happens!
These are lessons to accompany a READ ALOUD... which means I read the book out loud to my class.  I don't have a class set or multiple copies of the book.  It's okay that several of the books are higher-level because we are going through it together.  Also, I think it's so important to expose our students to a wide variety of text levels because they are capable of making deep connections (especially with a lot of guidance!).  I'm looking to build my students' vocabulary, enhance their understanding, and give them the tools they need to attack those higher-level books.

Often times I will put the book under my document camera and project it on the board (especially when rereading it to the class).  This allows my students to see the text while we are reading and discussing.  It also helps them see the details in the illustrations (which is where so much of the story is told!)  With the nonfiction reader in November's Rooted in Reading I was able to make copies so that my class could read it in small groups.
While we are reading the book, we are having a lot of discussions.  I keep the questioning cards close by so that I don't even have to think about the questions I need to ask.  I've noticed that my students are even starting to ask higher-level questions because they are getting so used to hearing them now.  Also, they are thinking about the text so much deeper than before... BUT the only way I know that is because we are constantly stopping to talk about it.  It's NOT just all about me reading the book!  I have to model how to stop and check for comprehension.  I have to model how to ask/answer questions without just thinking about the surface of the text.
During our discussion I will also focus on the vocabulary from the book.  We discuss all of the words, but we don't focus on every single one of them.  I integrate our vocabulary into our discussions, so it's not a separate component :)

What I really love about Rooted in Reading is that grammar is included!  We take one grammar skill and focus on it for the week.  Since I don't have just a ton of ELA time, I normally spend the last portion of my time focusing on grammar.  So, here's how I like to break it down:

Read Aloud and Discussion:  15-20 minutes
Vocab Prompt or Comprehension Activity:  20 minutes
Grammar or Writing Activity:  20 minutes
But, somedays I will take longer for our comprehension skill, and sometimes I need a little more time for grammar.  So, I'm very flexible.  Also, when we do the directed drawing or art component (normally towards the end of the week) I allow between 30-40 minutes for that.  I'll normally pair that with the comprehension check or one of the reading passages since those don't take quite as much time.  Our discussions on Monday and Tuesday are normally much longer, but towards Wednesday and after I can spend more time on the comprehension and grammar activities.  So it will look a little more like this towards the end of the week:
Read Aloud/Discussion:  10 minutes
Vocab Writing:  10 minutes
Comprehension:  20 minutes
Grammar:  20 minutes

Obviously with only 60 minutes of Rooted in Reading time each day, I just can't fit it all in.  I just pick and choose the activities that I think will best benefit my students.  This time of the day we are really focusing on deepening our comprehension and vocabulary rather than being able to read the text independently.  I think it's important that you are reading the books TO the students because most students aren't capable of making deep and thoughtful connections without you guiding their conversations.  It's a chance for you to go much deeper than they are used to doing on their own.  Then, that will translate into their independent reading time.  A few more questions answered:

*I don't really do a whole lot of literacy stations anymore.  I just don't have the time like I did a few years ago.  I'll use the stations I have for early finisher activities and during guided reading groups.

*Also, I don't have a time set apart for Daily Five anymore either.  Unfortunately, starting last  year, I just couldn't give up anymore of my 60 minute ELA block.  However, my students do components of the Daily Five in the morning and when they are finished working.

*My guided reading time is completely set apart from Rooted in Reading.  We work on specific skills that those students need during that time.  This ensures that my students are reading on THEIR level each week.  

*If you have to follow the textbook per district or campus guidelines, I'm not 100% sure how Rooted in Reading would work for you because I don't know how much/little you have to do with your reading adoption.  It also depends on how much ELA time you have each day.  I'm sure you have more than 60 minutes unless you are a dual language teacher like me :)

*I don't send any portion of Rooted in Reading for homework.

*I normally take a grade on the comprehension OR vocabulary check, a reading passage, and a grammar activity each week.  I don't grade their vocabulary quick writes or their comprehension flap-ups.  I do check those, but do not assign a numerical grade to those!

Do you have any other questions?  I'll continue adding to this post as things come up :)

23 comments:

Alyssa West said...

I love these units. I wish there was a first grade version. We are now departmentalized in first grade, these units would go perfectly with our set up. I will admire them from a far.

Kate Kwiatkowski said...

I teach a multi-age 1st and 2nd grade class. I have looked at first grade units from other sellers and feel they are too easy for my second graders, which makes TONS of extra work for me. Do you feel that this unit would benefit first graders also? I would rather teach to a higher standards, than to lower my standards for the second graders.

Michelle said...

Any ideas on how to fit this into a 90 minute block that includes 60 minutes of guided reading groups?

Courtney Anderson said...

What does your guided reading time look like and how long do you get? Do you also teach a separate writing lesson? I am rethinking my schedule and trying to figure out how to fit it all in. Thanks!

Maria Valdez said...
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Maria Valdez said...
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Cathy Rucker said...

I am a 3rd year teacher and also a first year second grade dual language teacher and I'm struggling with scheduling and feeling like I'm rushed. Do you have any tips you can share? Our DL program involves myself and another teacher (Spanish). How often do you plan together? I love all your projects and even joke with my co-workers that are familiar with your blog and say "I want to be like Mrs. Lemon's when I grow up!" Any words of wisdom you can share would be great appreciated!

Keep up the great work!

Karen F. said...

I have a 120 minute block for ELA and I usually spend around 30-45 min on the book of the week and go over any activity ie: comprehension, grammar,writing. Then I usually break into my guided reading time in which I give the comprehension/grammar, writing as part of my Daily 5 rotations the last 30 minutes we spend doing writing together and independently. So far its been working great!! I LOVE how all the components are being used and my kiddos are able to transfer what they are learning into different stories!!!
Karen F.

phoebe said...

I called the bookstore to get the "Turk" book. They said it's out of print!

paula dove said...

Hi I am year one teacher in Australia and I am using these with my grade one class. We have done the Stellaluna unit and I love the way I can just pull out activities that suit what I am doing in my other long term and short term planning. I especially like the fact that there are grammar activities which is sometimes so hard to find time to fit in and they are more relevant because the link to what we are reading in class. My kids have enjoyed each activity I have picked so far and I can not wait for another unit to go up. Thanks for all your hard work and the effort you put into thinking about making activities meaningful for the kids and fun which is so important. Paula

Niki Edwards said...

I've enjoyed you Rooted in Reeding series so much! I'm getting the hang of using it with my schedule. I would love for you to share your whole reading/writing schedule since you don't do literacy centers. Would love to hear how you run things. Thanks!

Jenny T said...

I love the idea of this so much! I struggle with fitting something like this in with teaching my science and social studies work also.

Courtney B said...

Great post, Amy! I love your Rooted in Reading. I've not used the reading textbook in years but it seems like we are being encouraged to go back to it. I feel like my students get so much more out of reading lessons like yours. I appreciate your ideas. I wish I had 60 minutes for reading instruction each day! I only have 20-30 minutes but I make your units work.

Barb said...


This is a wonderful way to open children's minds to deeper reading and connection to the text! As they go on through their elementary years, it's equally important to teach them to love to read. We see so many young readers get to the end of third grade and decide, "Well, I've figured out this reading thing. I know how to read these words. I'm done! Don't need to read anymore and don't want to read anymore."

Trouble is...they begin to associate reading with all of the tasks we give them... close reading, writing sentences, finding the main idea...and somewhere along the way they lose the idea we take for granted. That idea is that reading is amazing and fun!

It's so important to let children simply read a story that they choose. No sentences. No discussion. Just read it because it's fun. Then, hopefully they'll hold onto the idea that reading is not just a subject at school. Reading is something they ARE...they are READERS.

Sometimes I think we get so deeply invested in teaching the HOW to read that we lose the JOY of reading.

Thank you for all you do to create readers...to give them a love of reading....to teach them to read well...these are great roots..they need some reading wings as well!

Barb Langridge, Children's Librarian and founder of abookandahug.com (because every child deserves a book and a hug)

PS We also have a Reader Preference Assessment Tool..it's called Which Reading Superhero Are You that is geared to grades 2-4. (There is a tool on abookandahug.com that is geared to grades 5 and up) If you would like to see it...it helps children discover what type of books THEY like..who they are as readers..I would be happy to share it with you. You can email me at bookandahug@gmail.com and I'll send it to you as an attachment if you are interested. It's free.

Robin Campbell said...

Your units make teaching fun again for both the students and the teachers! I'd love to hear more about how you run your guided reading groups.

Jennifer Blanchard said...

I've enjoyed watching this product come together! I've never been a textbook user either. My team (1st grade) and I have been working on something similar this year...it's just not all "put together" yet. I'm excited to streamline it this summer for next year. Congrats to both of you on your success! I'm excited to see so many teachers interested in teaching reading this way...fun, but rigorous, and accessible to all students! Great work!
Jennifer ~ Practical Primary Teacher

Amanda Olford said...

My students are loving these units! I have never liked to teach from textbook but have been required to. This year I asked my principal if I could do something different and she said as long as my students could pass the required weekly test she didn't care. I used your October and November units and just add the skills the reading series was teaching that week too. Will you being doing units for the rest of the year? I hope so, I can't wait to purchase and use them. Thanks helping me love to teach reading again!

Amanda Olford

Tricia said...

I am going to try December! So excited love you and Katie King! You guys are developing these on your own? Can't wait to try these!

Julia said...

I have a 90 minute block for reading. I only teach reading and have three classes of second graders a day. Do you allow for any time during the day to do word work? Do you do phonics? Do you do a fluency read? How long do you allot for guided reading and what does the rest of the class do when you are doing guided reading?

Maria Yassick said...

I would also love to hear about your guided reading groups! I am also curious how you structure discussions. Do you call on students to share who raise their hand? Do you do more of a think/pair/share? How do you make sure all students are engaged during the discussion time? Thanks!

Cassondra Kelly said...

3 more questions/comments: Can you explain your seperate guided reading time? Since you do this for an hour, how long do you do Guided Reading, what does that look like? What are the other children doing during guided reading?

2. I love these units and have purchased all so far. I see that you make connections with other texts. I would love to have a list of the other texts you make connections with.

3. Do you do one story a week, do you just finish up one (however long it takes) and then start a new one?

Cassondra

Liza Brown said...

Is 60 minutes all you have for reading or do you also have a time where you can meet with students in small groups or do individual reading conferences? Thanks!

Meredith said...

Do you think you'll do a third grade version? I loved it as a 2nd grade teacher and but am now a third grade teacher.