Article #32
Summer Planning
An Idea for Each Block

Cheryl M. Sigmon

More ideas for those of you who are using the summer to plan and organize for the next school year:

Guided Reading Block:

Because activating or establishing prior knowledge plays such a critical role in children's success with text, we include that in our lesson format each day in the introductory part of the Guided Reading Block. Take some time during the summer to think about those connections and how you can help children make the necessary connections. Some ways you can do that might be to

  • collect artifacts (Example: shells and coral for the story, At the Ocean; seed packets for Growing Vegetable Soup)

  • find pictures (Example: internet pictures of the rainforest and of extinct animals for The Great Kapok Tree; postcards for Casey Over There)

The more tangible and personal these connections can be, the better you'll find it will be for the students.

Writing Block
Keep a diary of writing ideas this summer to use in your daily model writing lessons. Not only will this save you time during your busy school year, but you'll also impress your kids! What a great model for children to know that their teacher keeps a writing diary or journal of ideas!

SSR Block
Find and practice good books for your daily read-aloud at the introduction of the SSR Block. The library and your local bookstores will have great suggestions for you. You may want to access one of Jim Trelease's read-aloud books for hints of read-aloud techniques and of recommendations. (Also, a "must buy" for your read-alouds next year is the book, Wolf, by Becky Blume from Orchard Publishing! You'll love this picture book about a wolf who learns first-hand about the power of reading. It's a book, too, that will help you explain "fluency"---that it's not about reading fast. I just know you'll love this one!)

Words Block
While you're planning how you're going to connect kids to prior knowledge about the selections they'll be reading, you may want to go ahead and make your Guess the Covered Words activities. There are a number of ways this can be done. Let me share two ideas that some loyal 4-Blockers have shared with me:

  1. Type sentences on your computer and print out on overhead transparencies. Make the font large enough to be seen clearly by all children in the class when placed on the overhead projector. Use sentences connected with the literature selections you'll be using the week of that Guess the Covered Word activity or with content area selections you may want to integrate throughout the curriculum. Some sentences may be generic and may have blanks left so that kids' names can be inserted to personalize the activity. After the sentences have been printed, you may even want to go ahead and cut Post-Its so that you'll be ready to reveal the onset and then the rime (or remainder) of the words covered. You'll be ready to go! You may want to organize these lessons in a three-ring binder along with other elements of the week's lesson or in a clasp envelope marked with the name of the appropriate story or text. (Thanks to the teachers of Centerville Elementary and Shirley Hills Elementary in Centerville/Warner Robins, Georgia)

  3. Make sentence strips for the Guess the Covered Word activity, again correlating the sentences with stories and/or content material or with generic statements about class members. You might leave spaces to personalize with the names of classmates. You may want to laminate the strips or put contact paper on at least the portion that you'll want to personalize so that you can use the strips again. Go ahead and prepare the Post-Its, index cards, or sections of sentence strips to cover the words kids will be making reasonable guesses about. (Idea compliments of DeLinda Youngblood of Raccoon Elementary in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.)

4 Blocks Goodies