Teaching ELA as a true “block”

I really love the idea (now that I am used to it and in it) of teaching a true ELA block.   One of my most favorite classes (though, the bane of my existence as a freshman) at Milligan was Humanities.   Why?  Because it was a block.   It was history… the literature that was written in that time, the art that was a reflection of the times and literature, the philosophies of the greats…. all in one giant block.   

My problem is this:   I am really a literature person.   By my nature, I give glancing instruction in grammar and writing (not that my kids don’t write…  but my instruction is lacking).   My partner is thinking of having one half of the block be lit instruction and the second half being grammar/writing instruction so that the grammar/writing doesn’t get left out.   Truthfully, that would be easier for me… simply for the fact that I would have to have a separate instruction time set aside for grammar/writing so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.    BUT (you knew that was coming, right)… I’m trying to fight it….   I don’t think that’s the best way.   I need to find ways to put it into my lit instruction so that it makes sense in “real life”.    

This is what I am thinking, maybe, for now… 

There will be a day (probably Mondays) that I have an actual focused grammar lesson… complete with one formative assessment piece… just to make sure they “got” the point….  and then each day have something within the literature that “shows” the point…  Maybe by Thursday have them come up with or add 4 or 5 examples from what we have read.   

Also… ideally…  I would like Fridays to be writing days.   This means 2 things:   1.  Early in the year, I need to dedicate time to explicit instruction.   2.  I have stuff to read over the weekend….  While this is a bummer for me, this is definitely where it fits best in my instructional setup.   

Anybody teach an ELA/Common Core block?   Ideas?   (Read….   am I an idiot?  idealist?  can this work?   What do you do that DOES work?    HELP ME!!!!!    I’m trying not to drown!)

Week #5 here….  Hope you all enjoy yours!!!!


2 thoughts on “Teaching ELA as a true “block”

  1. In our district, we’re on a 90-minute block. It’s intense! And setting aside time for grammar instruction that doesn’t necessarily “gel” with the rest of the work we do in class doesn’t always make sense to the kids and it makes it easy for me to “forget” to do it.

    So here’s what I like to do: sentence study. We cover a convention at some point in the week and then the kids look for it in the readings following the instruction and we discuss its efficacy in conveying meaning. This works especially well with teaching sentence variety. Then … to tie it together in a more concrete way, the kiddos write their own sentences mimicking the author’s style.

    I’m pretty sure I didn’t come up with this on my own and I vaguely remember an article in the English Journal perhaps pertaining to this idea. I bet it’s google-able. Have fun! Go grammar!

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