Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Our Typical Day in Second Grade

Making the most of every minute in the day is so important!  Out learning time is precious, and we can't get it back if we waste it.  This is why I put a great deal of thought into my schedule and how things will flow throughout the day.

I thought that blogging about it will help me reflect on what I currently do.  Also, maybe someone will have an "aha moment" to share with me.  There's always room for improvement, so I am open to new ideas.

So what does a day in second grade look like?  Here it goes…

Our students begin entering the classroom at 7:25 AM.  (Yup, it's early).  The bell rings to officially begin at 7:45.  As students come in, I always have a poem displayed on the Smart Board.  We call it the poem of the week.  After morning announcements, we read the poem a few times. Sometimes I model it, sometimes we read as a whole class, and sometimes individuals read to the class.  The purpose is to get some fluency practice in and make it fun.  We also use the poem to look for hunks and chunks from The Phonics Dance or root words, prefixes, and suffixes.

Students unpack their things and get iPads.  (Every student has one.)  Our school implements something called "ESpark."  It's an individualized learning program for reading and math.  Each day we focus on either reading or math during this morning time.  Students are working on "quests" that teach them about a concept or skill.  Typically, I am greeting students by the door and/or troubleshooting iPad/ESpark issues.

As soon as the bell rings, we have morning announcements.  Then we read the poem mentioned above.  I take attendance and send it to the office while students are working.  We move to our carpet area around 8:00.

We start out at our whole group meeting area where we identify the Star Student for the day and determine who gets to sit on the bench.  Every morning, I choose one person to be the Start Student based on how well they came into the room and got started on morning activities.  This person gets the privilege of sitting in the Star Student chair, AND they get to pick sticks for who sits on the bench.  (It is such a coveted honor).  Of course, the Star Student also receives a brag tag and sometimes a star sticker or eraser (if I have any).

After taking care of these important duties, we talk about the day's schedule.  I briefly tell the students what we are doing and/or learning during the day.  I let them know of any changes in the normal routine.  I think it's helpful and comforting when they know what to expect in the day.

Then we start with a core lesson for language arts. This is also a time that social studies and science lessons are integrated.  During this whole class lesson, I  usually  teach a reading strategy or skill.  I often read a mentor text and model how to use a certain strategy.  This whole group lesson gives us common language and experiences we need as a foundation for future learning.  I really try to have every student in class for the whole group instruction.  That means nobody leaves for speech, OT, PT, APE, or interventions.  This doesn't always work, but I try to have 30 minutes of "sacred" time in the day.

Following the whole class lesson, we start Daily 5 rounds.  We usually have 3 rounds, each lasting for 20 minutes.  Last year, my grade level started doing flexible guided reading groups.  Because of this, we really have to stick to the schedule.  I have mixed feelings about this time, but I'll save that for another post.  Anyhoo, we meet with students for guided reading while others are completing a Daily 5 choice.

We have a morning recess at 9:30.  It's a good time for a break as both students and teachers need one around now.  We take turns having recess duty.

When we come in after recess we usually have spelling/phonics.  I have mentioned that I use Word Journeys and The Phonics Dance.  While students are working on sorts or other spelling activities, I meet with small groups to focus on their word feature or pattern for the week.  We usually have spelling for about 30 minutes.

Following spelling, we have writer's workshop.  I like to have spelling first and writer's workshop right after that because students who finish with spelling activities know they should just start writing. It's a routine that we establish, and it helps cut down on lost transition time.  Oh, I forgot to mention, before students go to recess, I try to have them put their spelling notebooks on their desks.  This is another way I strive to tighten transitions.  Any time we can be ready for the next subject, we try to be proactive.

I have already shared a lot about writer's workshop, so I won't go into any detail here.  When we finish with writer's workshop, we do math warm-ups.  Math warm-ups are quick practice and/or review problems we do each day.  We have booklets made for each quarter of the school year.  There are 5 problems to do each day, and the days are numbered in the book.  So, on the 6th day of school, we work on lesson 6.  While students are working on math warm-ups, I start sending teams to the restroom to get ready for lunch.  This is one of the few times we take a whole class restroom break.  Even then, it's really not the whole class at one time.  Some students stay in the class and work, while others go to the restroom.  It's pretty easy for me to monitor both groups because the restrooms are right across the hall from me.

We have lunch from 11:15-12:00ish.  (It varies a few minutes each year, depending on how many class we have).  I usually take a few minutes of my lunch time to get ready for the next subject which is math.  If I need any manipulatives, I get them ready. Also, I put the math lesson on the Smart Board.

When we come back to class after lunch, we start with a few minutes of calendar math.  We then have a whole group math lesson followed by small groups.  Overall math time is about an hour.  The last thing in the day is usually specials.  Next year, I will have to adjust a bit because our special time will be earlier.  I'm still thinking about the best way to get everything in, but I am sure I will figure it out.

Do you have any tips for making the most of instructional time?


  1. I love the way you weave positive behavior awards into a normal part of your day! I plan on using the star chair idea next year.