being a teacher, Literacy, new year, Reading

Our ELA Curriculum Map for 7th Grade 90 Minute Block

As some of you may know, we are moving from a 45-minute block of ELA time to a 90-minute block.  I cannot tell you how excited I am for this to happen.  To actually have more time to dig in, to have fewer students so I can know them better, to be able to pull small groups more often and really support student growth – yes, please!  But with this change comes a lot of decisions.  We want to make sure students are engaged and challenged well within the 90 minutes.  We don’t want it to drag on, we don’t want it to be lecture.  So as the year starts to come closer, the ideas and aspirations we have had are starting to take shape and I thought it would be nice to share them here, in case others need some inspiration.

Last year we decided what we believe when it comes to our literacy work together and this is what grounds our decisions.  While the chart below is just the overarching theme, our original document discusses things much more in depth, such as the need for equitable practices and for creating opportunities for students as changemakers.

The overarching beliefs we function in are:

If middle school learners need… Then we will commit to…
Empowerment Giving them choice
Read/write every day Give them time
To have a voice Discussion/authorship/ownership
Developing/understanding their identity Reflection/guidance/exposure/structure
See connections to themselves and others Incorporate global/local topics and connect to other classes
Adult role models

Peer role models

Read/write/think/discuss with and in front of students

  • Opportunities for student learn with and from each other.
  • Teachers model/share their love of reading/writing in their own life.
  • Teacher is part of the classroom reading/writing community
  • Exposure to mentor texts
Visible/continuous growth Mini-lessons, explicit/targeted instruction etc., exposure to many genres and formats (balanced literacy), and goal setting.
Need personalized learning communities Small group instruction and conferring

My tentative schedule for our 90 minutes together looks like this:

  • 10 min = independent reading

  • 2-3 min = book talks

  • 15 min = mini-lesson (can be read aloud)

  • 20-25 min = work time (reading practice, conferring, small groups etc)

  • BELL BREAK – 3 minutes
  • 10 min = Grammar/mentor text work/free write

  • 15 min = mini lesson focused on writing or speaking

  • 20 min = work time (writing practice, conferring, small groups etc)

  • 5-10 min = read aloud/picture book read aloud/share/closing

Yesterday, I had the chance to sit down with colleagues and spend some time tentatively mapping out our literacy year.  Inspired by the maps in 180 Days by Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher, we thought providing ourselves with an overview of the year meant we would have a better feel for what to plan for.

This map is intended for 45-minute readers workshop followed by a 45-minute writers workshop.  We wanted to make sure that students had two different times to read within the 45 minutes, one chunk of time that was focused on reading for pleasure without any extra “work” attached to it, and one chunk of time where they would be working more on the skills of reading, most often within their own self-chosen texts, but sometimes in a text chosen by us.

We also wanted to make sure that students have time for meaningful embedded grammar instruction, as well as time to free write.



We are a standards-based district and so we have 9 separate ELA standards.  These are not assessed every quarter but are instead assessed at least twice throughout the year so that students can see their own growth.  Here are the standards we have 5327283641122816.png

The students have not started yet, so all of this is aspirational.  I will keep updating it as the year progresses but thought I would share.

There have been a few books that have really shaped my thinking for the upcoming year.  They are

Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School by [Shalaby, Carla]

Troublemakers by Carla Shalaby

180 Days by Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle

A Novel Approach by Kate Roberts

Being the Change by Sara K. Ahmed

Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle

Image result for mechanically inclined

Mechanically Inclined by Jeff Anderson

Notice and Note by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst

Passionate Readers by myself – weird to say your own book but this book holds my reading beliefs and also my ideas for how to reach our goals.

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

Book Love by Penny Kittle

The Reading Zone by Nancie Atwell and Anne Atwell Merkel

If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child.  This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block.  If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book  Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.      Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.

15 thoughts on “Our ELA Curriculum Map for 7th Grade 90 Minute Block”

  1. I saw on your writing curriculum map you have something labeled as “Shark Tank” and I was wondering if you’d be willing to share more about what that is? I’m trying to find ways to incorporate more problem solving and creativity into my classroom units, and I LOVE the show Shark Tank. Any information would be awesome!

  2. Our reading and writing periods are separate periods I only have one reading class.
    How did you plan your 45mn reading period ?

  3. I’m moving to 45 minutes to teach both reading and writing. Do you have any good ideas for how to maximize my time with students?

      1. Hi Pernille,
        I read half of Passionate Readers (enjoyed it immensely and was highlighting a lot of gems) and then needed to prioritize other books. I’m circling back to Passionate Readers soon. Which chapter focuses on teaching in the 45 (in my case 43) minute block? I also have been looking for posts on the topic in your blog. I’m sure you’re quite busy now, but if you have a moment would you direct me to the posts? (For some reason, my different search terms are not yielding anything on the topic of teaching in a 45 minute block.)
        With continued appreciation,

  4. I thank you thank you thank you for sharing all of this information, Pernille. I have an 80-minute block, and this may help us get our head around what we want to do differently this year. I do, however, want to encourage you to make that 10 minutes of “on their own” reading 20. We have 20 min of independent reading at a stretch, because many of our students think 10 is just not enough to get into their books. We also confer with children during this time, even if it’s only about 5 students a day. We are considering reading workshop one day, and writing workshop the next, so we can have larger chunks for both (even with the 4 min passing period we have). Either way, I know you will enjoy the 90 minutes!! Here’s to 2018-2019!

    1. Hi Leslie,
      I’m trying to figure out how to have students read for 10 minutes every day as well as write for 10 minutes. I know it’s important to to both. Our 6th grade classes are only 43 minutes long, however. I’m interested in your idea of holding reading workshop one day and writing workshop the next. Are you thinking of designating Monday/Wednesday/Friday as reading and Tuesday/Thursday as writing? I’m trying to figure out if that would be a good plan, but then I think about the message it might send about the value of reading over writing. As you can tell, I already am struggling with how to prioritize in a 43 minute period. Any suggestions?

  5. Last year I did a Dystopian Book Club unit as well. Wondering if you have found any resources particularly helpful for the Dystopian Book Club unit or book clubs in general?

  6. What type of grammar instruction do you use for your mini lessons? What did your days look like before with the 45-minute classes? Do you feel this schedule would work with the 45-minute classes and do every other day reading/writing workshop?

    1. We do specific teaching pints such as commonly confused homophones, figurative language etc – one skill to focus on with examples and work to do. With 45 – it was 10 min of IR, then mini-lesson then work time. I would not do every other day of workshop, but rather concentrate it one unit at a time, when we did a reading unit we then tried to implement creative writing at the end of the 45 min so kids always had writing time.

  7. We are switching to the 90 min block for the upcoming school year. This is very similar to what I had in my head. I see that your original post was from a few years ago. Do you still use this format? Have you tweaked it in any way? Any other suggestions on a smooth transition?

    1. Now it looks more like this:
      20 min = independent- reading
      2-3 min = book talks
      5 min = Grammar lesson/overlooked history or other bell work
      15 min = mini-lesson (can be read aloud)
      35-40 min = work time (reading practice, conferring, small groups etc)
      10 min = Freewriting

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