If you're not familiar with the framework, you can check it out here:
Basically, the premise is to create a balanced literacy approach by having instruction in each of the four blocks each day. Ideally each block would be 30 minutes in primary grades, with variations on time in the upper grades. For example, in 4th grade we might not really need 30 minutes for working with words, and may need more time for writing and guided reading.
Why this structure works for me:
- Each component has it's own scheduled time. I had this in the other formats, but I found that if I'm teaching a short minilesson on word work, then letting the kids choose an activity to work on, I'm liable to skip that lesson if time is short.
- Kids practice what I just finished teaching! I don't really like teaching a comprehension lesson, then having children practice something totally different. Can't wrap my brain around that...
- Flexibility: Especially within the Guided Reading block. If it suits the lesson and needs of my kids to meet with me in small groups, great! If not, I can have them work with partners, independently, or any variation. I don't feel the pressure to meet with 4 small groups every day!
- There is a dedicated time for me to conference with kids during Self-Selected Reading and during Writing. I love this! It's another thing that gets pushed to the side if I don't have the time set aside.
- Book Blessings and read alouds begin the Self-Selected Reading block. I don't have to find a time to squeeze them in anymore!
This summer marks my twelfth year teaching. I can hardly believe it! It has flown by so fast, and I've learned so much along the way. I'm still learning! I think that learning about myself as a teacher and recognizing what works for me and my kiddos is almost as important as learning strategies for teaching.
That's why Four Blocks is the model that I think I function best under...I like the set times for each component. I'm less likely to
skip postpone something this way. A place for everything, and everything in its place.
How about you? Do you still use Four Blocks or components of it? What have you found works best for your teaching style and kiddos?