As teachers, we only have so many hours in the day to engage and teach our students. One of the most common questions that I hear from fellow teachers mapping out their first year of using an online ELA platform is, “How do I structure my daily routines and schedule around the core instructional path in a way that builds academic achievement?”
For me, the key to maintaining this pace lies in my weekly routine. Here are the four key pillars that I focus on:
1. Plan it out in advance. I currently teach all four of the Core StudySync units, including the Extended Writing Prompts, within one academic year. Each unit is taught for six weeks, and is followed by a book study. This year, we chose 1984, Hunger Games, and Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. Many of my peers have marveled at the amount of content that I can cover with students.
2. Carve out the time for it. Our school has a weekly block schedule with 84-minute periods and one 60-minute period. I’ve carved out a set of activities for each day of the week. On Mondays and Thursdays, I assign the first read with the workbook, the think questions, and the skill lesson. Tuesdays and Fridays are designated for the close read with audio, comprehension questions, and writing prompt. On Wednesdays—a shorter period with 60 minutes—I focus on the extended writing prompt.
3. Get creative with student engagement. To increase reader engagement, I try to use “texture” by taking the Core ELA and finding current events, Blasts from the library, articles, or songs that relate to the material. My students have told me that is their favorite way to experience the texts. I change the medium, or “texture” every 10-15 minutes to keep the lessons fresh.
4. Don’t forget to refresh their minds. My students tell me that the Blasts are “mind refreshing” and a fun way to learn. I award participation points no matter how good or bad they did, plus prizes for top responses. With students engaged, the time passes so quickly for them that they often call me a “time wizard.”
Keep students moving forward
To teachers who are considering an online ELA platform and trying to develop a schedule around its use, my best advice is to not be afraid of new things and to experiment with your pacing.
For example, I like to give students until the next morning at 8 AM to submit their work from the previous day. After that, no late work is allowed. I also encourage them to use the reading app on their phones, or submit work via paper and pencil if they don’t have Wi-Fi at home. This pushes students to keep moving forward instead of falling behind.