How to Maximize Instructional Time

I am a literacy specialist at Marvine Elementary School in Bethlehem, PA, an urban school with a high population of at-risk learners.  I have been teaching READ 180 to the school’s 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders for the past eight years and this will be my fifth year teaching System 44.  I currently teach both stand alone READ 180 classes, as well as integrated System 44 and READ 180 models.

READ 180 is a blended learning solution designed for students in grades 4-12 who are two or more grade levels behind in reading and writing. READ 180 is divided into four daily rotations: Whole-Group Instruction, Small-Group Learning, Instructional Technology, and Modeled & Independent Reading.  Each day, I start class with Whole-Group, then divide students based on their level into smaller groups for rotations by using READ 180’s GroupinatorTM. Following this model, my READ 180 and System 44 students are reading, writing, talking, and thinking critically everyday. Over the course of my years teaching READ 180, I’ve seen incredible gains amongst my students.

While research shows that more instructional time results in greater gains, if your school is anything like mine, then finding the ideal daily 90-minute time block to employ READ 180 can be a daunting task. Between RTI, Guided Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies, and the regular Reading curriculum it can feel nearly impossible. Working with our Scholastic Implementation Consultant, we were able to determine several, flexible instructional models that worked with our schedule. So here are a few options that you may want to share with your principal as you think ahead to next year:

Double Period (80+ minutes):

  • This double period time block allows for the Whole-Group Instruction and all Small-Group Instructional Rotations to run the way they were designed. It also allows for the prescribed Whole-Group Wrap-Up time to take place daily, which research shows has a huge impact on student growth and performance!
  • Benefits: This schedule allows for the greatest amount of student carry-over from rotation to rotation, minimal wasted transition times, and the highest levels of instructional intensity.

Two Daily Single Periods: (40-59 minutes each)

  • This schedule allows teachers to maintain both the Whole-Group and Small-Group Instructional Rotations on a daily basis.
  • Benefits: Program can still be run using the prescribed 20-minutes per Whole-Group lesson and for each rotation.
  • Variations on this schedule are possible, given that each block had enough time for a full rotation (i.e. a 30-minute block followed by a 65-minute block). 

One Daily Extended Single Period (60-79 minutes):

  • The limited amount of time this schedule provides means that the Whole and Small-Group instruction much be split up in order to maintain instructional and rotational integrity. Within this schedule the program is taught using a two-day cycle.
  • How it works: Day 1-the Whole Group lesson is taught as prescribed.  Then, the students break in half (to computers and reading group) for two twenty-minute rotations.  The teacher monitors and differentiates for the two rotations following the Whole-Group.  Day 2 - The class goes through all three Small-Group Instructional Rotations for approximately 20 minutes. The teacher led Small-Group lesson is a continuation of the previous day's Whole-Group Lesson.
  • Benefits:  Allows students to maintain the necessary time in both the Instructional Software Rotation and the Independent Reading Group. Additionally, it allows a few minutes of wiggle room that provides the teacher the opportunity to slightly extend Whole-Group and Small-Group lessons.

Whatever your schedule, the most crucial thing for achieving student growth is that students are able to spend time in each of the four rotations: Whole-Group Instruction, Small-Group Learning, Instructional Technology, and Modeled & Independent Reading. Learn more about other scheduling options that have been implemented successfully in many places

Stage A READ 180 Educator