Sunday, August 16, 2015

53 Precious Minutes

53 Minutes


53 minutes?

I only have 53 minutes with each of my ELA classes?

How can I possibly teach my Ss reading, writing, speaking and listening using highly engaging, outside-the-box, globally connected activities in just 53 minutes each day?

I don't care about "covering" curriculum, but I do care about getting to know the reading interests of each and every one of my 140 students. I do care about knowing where they've been as readers. I do care about who they are as writers: what interests them and what they need to improve. I do care about developing and nurturing communication skills, which are life skills.

I care so much that I want to make the most of the time I have with my students. Here are 53 experiences to engage my students in those 53 minutes.

1. Weekly book blogs on Kidblogs

2. Socratic and Platonic seminars

3. Literature circles

4. Kelly Gallagher's Reading Reasons

5. Notice & Note Fiction Signposts

6. Non-Fiction Notice & Note Stances, Signposts & Strategies

7. Reading Minutes

8. Daily Independent Reading

9. Classroom Library Choice Reading

10. QR code book trailers

11. Blind Dating Books

12. Speed Dating Books

13. Book Talks

14. Author Skypes

15. Global Read Aloud

16. Biblionasium bookshelves and recommendations

17. Voxer chats with other classes

18. Articles of the Week (from Kelly Gallagher)

19. Writing Sneezes

20. Gallagher's Six Real-World Writing Purposes

21. March Madness Book Battles

22. E-Portfolios

23. PVLEGS & ACOVA lessons and practice (from Erik Palmer)

24. makerspace opportunities

25. Student-selected reading goals (similar to Donalyn's 40-book challenge)

26. Book Shelfies

27. Craft Writing Lessons

28. Editing Lessons (Sentence of the Week, from Kelly Gallagher)

29. Campfire/flashlight reading

30. Flipgrid videos

31. Legos and Play doh experiences (no, I'm serious)

32. Class Twitter to share our experiences

33. Student Twitter chats

34. GHO with other classes

35. Six Thinking Hats

36. Found Poetry and Blackout poetry

37. World Read-Aloud Day

38. Mentor Texts

39. Read-alouds

40. Cardboard Challenge

41. Shared Google Documents

42. Sketch notes to show learning

43. Global School Day of Play

44. Touchcast (green screen)

45. Augmented Reality

46. Pirate Hooks

47. International Dot Day

48. TodaysMeet book clubs

49. Padlet Walls for books we've read

50. Genius Hour/Passion Time

51. TPFASTT for poetry/song lyrics

52. Flashback Friday

53. #youmatter

I'm sure we will fill up our 53 minutes with many more opportunities throughout the year. That's the beauty of a connected classroom with a connected teacher.

Every minute is precious!


  1. What are writing sneezes? Sounds like something every middle school student would love! (Just got back from spending time with the 7-year-old grandson who loves anything to do with farts - are they anything like that?!) ;) Here we go, Sandy - another year of trying our BEST! Enjoy this next journey, and the students will, too!

    1. Hi Joy, writing sneezes are the way Kelly Gallagher describes quick writes. He used the word sneeze to convey that students should get ideas down without worrying about editing, erasing, etc. We start with 5 minute sneezes, and graduate to 7-10 minute sneezes, where they build writing stamina. If they aren't sure what else to write, they either write "I don't know what to write" until something comes, or they circle an interesting word/phrase in their writing and tell more about that. Works well.
      Good luck to you as well!

  2. I feel like you have made the same list I would have made (but I learned a few things) :) Can't wait to connect with our classrooms!

    1. That's probably because we think alike, Cara. Don't rush your return date. Enjoy that beautiful new baby first.