Click play below to hear why to have a strong whole group lesson routine:
This summer I’m doing my best to answer your questions on your biggest challenges as teachers. While I could do four individual episodes on these four questions, each of them can actually be answered with the same common response: creating a strong whole group lesson routine. In this episode, I’m sharing a sample routine you can use in your classroom and 7 reasons why routines should be a significant part of your school day.
As you know by now, I love adding routines throughout my day, which is why I’ve embedded them in the lessons you can get in my Stellar Literacy Collective membership. As an example, I share a sample of our routines, then follow it up by giving reasons why routines are beneficial. Implementing a whole group lesson routine saves you time, increases engagement, and ultimately eliminates stress, just to name a few.
If you really think about it, you probably have daily routines in your personal life, so why not implement routines in your classroom? By having a whole group lesson routine, your students will build their confidence and empower them to contribute to your lessons, all while making things easier for you in multiple aspects of teaching!
In this episode on a strong whole group lesson routine, I share:
- A basic explanation of a routine and how they benefit your personal life, along with your professional life
- A detailed example of a routine that our members from the Stellar Literacy Collective use
- 7 reasons to use daily routines in your classroom
- How to save you time, increase student engagement and mastery, and eliminate stress
- Sign up for my Private Podcast: Confident Writer Systems Series
- Check out the Stellar Literacy Collective Membership
- Free Literacy Block Workshop
- If you’re enjoying this podcast, please leave a review on Apple Podcasts!
Related episodes and blog posts:
- Episode 134, Calm the End of Year Chaos with These 3 Literacy Routines
- Episode 132, Two Simple Ways to Boost Engagement During Whole Group Lessons
- Episode 78, Literacy Routines for an Engaging End of the Year
Connect with me:
More About Stellar Teacher Podcast:
Welcome to the Stellar Teacher Podcast! We believe teaching literacy is a skill. It takes a lot of time, practice, and effort to be good at it. This podcast will show you how to level up your literacy instruction and make a massive impact with your students, all while having a little fun!
Your host, Sara Marye, is a literacy specialist passionate about helping elementary teachers around the world pass on their love of reading to their students. She has over a decade of experience working as a classroom teacher and school administrator. Sara has made it her mission to create high quality no-fluff resources and lesson ideas that are both meaningful and engaging for young readers.
Each week, Sara and her guests will share their knowledge, tips, and tricks so that you can feel confident in your ability to transform your students into life-long readers.
Hey there, friend, happy Monday. And welcome back to another episode. I am so glad that you are tuning in today.
Now, if you have been listening to my podcast episodes this summer, then you know that I am trying to answer as many teacher questions as I possibly can. I sent out a survey to my audience back in the spring, and got just an amazing number of questions and responses. And these were all questions that had to do with your biggest teacher challenges.
And today, I am going to answer four questions with really the same response. And these four questions are, how do I fit it all in? I want to get more out of my 90 minute block. What can I do? How do I keep my students engaged during my whole group lessons? And how do I eliminate student disruptions while I’m teaching?
And while all of these can get their own individual response, and I could do an individual episode on all of those. There really is one thing that is a common answer for all four of these questions. And that is creating a strong routine for your whole group lessons.
When you create a routine, you’re going to save time, and it’s going to allow you to get more into instructional day. When you use a routine, it’s going to allow you to get more out of your 90 minute literacy block. Routines keep our students engaged and routines can also eliminate student disruptions while you’re teaching.
And so I want to share with you what a sample routine could look like. And then I also want to share with you really the seven reasons why you need to be using routines in your classroom as if those few benefits that I just explained for not enough, there are plenty more.
So really quick, let’s kind of get on the same page with what a routine is. And a routine is really anything with a specific set of steps that gets repeated over and over and over again. And I bet you have lots of routines both in your personal life and your professional life. And you just might not even know that they are a routine.
For example, I have a specific personal morning routine. This isn’t anything fancy. And it’s not anything that I’ve really written down. But every morning, I go through the same set of steps. I wake up when my alarm goes off, and the first thing I do is turn on an audiobook and put in my air pods, so I can listen to something while I am working through my routine. I love reading, I tried to read a lot. So this is an easy way for me to get an extra 20 minutes with my audio book.
Then the next thing I do is make coffee because it is probably the most important thing I do during the day, then I feed my dogs, then I take them outside. And by the time I am done with the dogs, the coffee is brewed, which is perfect timing, because then I’m able to pour myself a cup of coffee. And I give myself about 10 minutes to drink my coffee first cup at least and do some journaling or some mindset work. And then I get dressed and I start my day.
And every day it is the same set of steps. And because I do the same steps every morning, I know exactly how long it takes me to start my day. And if I’m traveling or if I have an early morning meeting, I know exactly when I need to wake up. So it’s really easy to adjust my schedule so I can make it through my routine.
And it’s also really nice, because for the first 30 minutes or so of my day, I don’t have to think about what I should be doing. I just follow the steps in my routine. And it gives me enough time to really fully wake up and get my brain functioning before I have to start work or really interact with anybody.
So in the same way that we benefit from personal routines, we can also really benefit from using routines in our classroom, and routines benefit both teachers and students. And so today, I am going to share with you seven reasons why I think you should develop a specific routine for your students for your whole group reading lessons.
And before I jump into those reasons, let me give you an example of what a routine could look like. And this routine is one that we use for all of our whole group reading lessons inside the Stellar Literacy Collective, and it goes something like this.
So teachers first of all get access to a lesson plan and a set of Google slides that follow the lesson plan that they can display whole group. And they also get a graphic organizer and a student response page. And the lesson goes in this order.
We have an introduction. And this is where teachers are going to connect the lesson to some prior learning or they’re going to share an analogy or a short story that leads into the lesson. And then they’re going to clearly state the objective. And teachers know that this part of the lesson takes them around one to two minutes.
Then they’re going to teach the objective. And when teachers are teaching the objective, we always give them a teaching slide and the Google slides that has all the information related to the objective, so it probably has definitions terms, a step by step process, questions to ask whatever details are needed to communicate to students, it’s included on the teaching side, there’s gonna be some visual to help connect students. And teachers know that this teaching portion of the lesson is going to take them maybe around three minutes.
Then teachers are going to share an example. This might be a chart or diagram, it might be a short text with some example highlighted. It might be an example with a sentence or phrase, it might be a short text that students have to analyze and respond to. The example is going to vary depending on what the objective is. But it’s going to be some concrete example that teachers can use to model to their students or uses some sort of guided practice. And teachers know that this part of the lesson takes around five minutes.
Then there’s going to be a discussion and engagement. And this part of the lesson we always give to turn and talk questions related to the objective. And teachers know that this part of the lesson is going to take two to three minutes. And then we have the extend. And this is where teachers are going to provide details on the independent practice portion or if they’re doing partner practice.
And we give a short graphic organizer that teachers can use to extend the lesson for students to you know, read another passage or complete an assignment either individually or with partners. And teachers know that this extension really this transition into independent practice takes around one to two minutes.
And this routine is the same routine that our members use for every single lesson every single day that they teach. And hopefully, just by hearing this routine, you can start to see that there are some benefits to using a routine like this for all of your lessons, but let me highlight what some of these specific reasons are.
So seven reasons why I think you need a routine or a system for your whole group lesson. First of all, it’s gonna save you time planning. When you use a routine or system for your whole group lessons, you know exactly what you need to plan and prep for each lesson. Really, when you create your routine or system, that’s when you are doing the bulk of your planning ahead of time. And then each week, you just need to implement and execute.
So for example, let’s say part of your routine is to use a Google slide like ours is or to use an anchor chart to introduce your objective for each lesson. You’ve already made that decision that that is the type of visual you want to use with your lesson. So each week rather than having to decide how am I going to introduce my lesson? Or what type of visual do I want to use? You just need to find the anchor chart that matches your objective.
Let’s say that part of your routine is to ask a turn and talk in the middle of your lesson. Since you’ve already decided that that’s how you want to engage your students, you just need to come up with two questions. Rather than spending extra time thinking about well, how am I going to engage my students, you’ve already decided to have a time.
Basically, having a routine tells you what you need to plan and prep each week, which is a lot easier than starting from scratch each time you try to plan a whole group lesson.
But using a routine also saves you time teaching. Routines are huge time savers, and not only will they help you save time planning, but they will also help you save time teaching. When you create a routine for your whole group lessons, you are deciding ahead of time how much time you want to spend on each part of your lesson.
When I was describing the routine that our members use, I also included the general timeframe that each part of the lesson takes. And this is such helpful information for a teacher to have. Because you know exactly how long your lesson will take you.
You know, sometimes I don’t know if this has happened to you. But when I was in the classroom, I would plan a lesson and I would think it would maybe take 15 minutes. And in reality, it took like 30 minutes. And so it took so much longer. And that put us behind schedule for the rest of the day. And other times I would plan a lesson. And I would think it would take 30 minutes and we got through it in 10. So then we were left with this like extra time.
So when you use a routine that is predictable with how long each step is going to take, you are going to be able to maximize your instructional time because you’re not going to have lessons that go over and you run out of time. But you’re also not going to have lessons that are under the amount of time that you estimated and you’re not gonna be left with dead time.
But also when you consistently use your routine, you and your students become really efficient with executing it. So even if you know how long it takes you, you’re going to get really good at utilizing the three to five minutes to teach your lesson or the two to three minutes to engage your students.
And then finally, the other way that it can help you save time is when you consistently use the same types of visuals something like a Google slide set to help you with your lesson, having these visuals consistently for your lessons are going to help you pace your lessons and you’re going to be less likely to waste time with excessive teacher talk or go off on a tangent that’s not on topic of the lesson. Because the slides are helping you drive your lesson forward.
So using a routine, especially one that includes a set of like visuals that are consistent each week, are really going to help you save time.
But routines also help with student engagement. Routines are super helpful when it comes to getting and keeping students engaged. I like to think of routines as the roadmap for your lesson. And I’ve said this a bunch already. But it is so true, you are deciding ahead of time when you want to incorporate an engagement strategy into your lesson. And students are able to anticipate and know what to expect in terms of their participation in the lesson.
So for example, and the lessons and the slides that we’ve created for the teachers inside the Stellar Literacy Collective, we’ve automatically included a few different places for student engagement. This is great, because as a teacher, then you don’t ever have to worry, it’s like oh, my gosh, I’ve gone 20 minutes talking the whole time and I haven’t engaged my students, we’ve built in the engagement.
So you know that you’re, you know, every few minutes going to be getting your students to participate in the lesson, that’s going to help keep your lesson moving forward. But also, it’s great for the students because they know when it’s their turn to participate, and they’re going to be less likely to ask questions while you’re teaching. And they’re going to be more likely to actively participate when it is their turn.
So in the lessons that we include inside the membership, the lessons start with a teaching slide, which is basically an anchor chart, and the teachers talk through the concept. But then we include one to two slides that have, you know, some sort of example and a short passage. And they also include discussion or application questions. And so students know that during this part of the lesson, they get to participate. And it’s really easy for them to know because there are visuals on the slide that prompt students to participate in the lesson.
But then we also include turn and talk questions that are following this guided practice. And so students also know that even if they didn’t participate in the guided practice, that everybody has to participate in the turn and talk, and when there’s a visual that’s prompting students to talk, it’s going to increase their likelihood that they’re going to participate, because the question is already listed out, they see the directions for the turn and talk, it makes it really easy for them to participate in that portion of the lesson.
And I think sometimes we worry that if we use a routine, then our lessons will become stale and boring. Like, okay, every day I’m asking a turn and talk to my students like this is gonna get old after a while. But I actually think that the opposite happens.
When we use a routine, we are empowering our students to know when they can contribute to the lesson in an authentic way. And as students are getting daily opportunities to do a turn and talk with your classmates, they’re going to start to get really good at listening, they’re going to start to get really good at responding, they’re going to start to get really good at articulating their thoughts, because they get that practice to do it everyday. So routines aren’t boring, they actually help our students with their confidence and their willingness to participate in a lesson.
Okay, another reason why you should be using a routine for your whole group lesson is because it helps with student mastery. And student mastery really does improve as a result of using a routine. And this happens for a few reasons.
First of all, your lessons are going to become much more clear and concise. When you use a teaching routine, especially one that includes visuals like a Google slide, you’re going to become much more articulate and clear with what you’re teaching and explaining the concepts to the students.
But also, since we know that routines increase engagement, your students are going to be actively participating in every single lesson you teach, probably at a much higher rate because you know, you’re building in intentional you’re building in engagement opportunities. And participation is necessary if we want them to master a skill or a standard.
But also, since you’re using a routine and implementing a time efficient system, you’re going to have more time after your lesson for students to get some independent practice, or partner practice which is going to be an important part of their road to mastery. And I think oftentimes, our whole group lessons can go on and on and on. And we never have enough time for guided practice or independent practice.
And we can just get stuck in this sort of habit of I’m teaching my students a lot of content, but they don’t ever get time to practice it. But when you use a routine, you are really taking back control over your time and you are deciding okay, I only want to spend 15 or 17 minutes on my whole group lesson, which means I’m going to have 20 minutes for independent practice or 20 minutes for partner practice or however it breaks down. This might look different depending on your specific routine.
But when you use a routine for your whole group instruction, you are going to consistently have more time to go through other parts of the lesson cycle which will lead to student mastery.
Having a routine also makes it easy when you have a sub and I think this is a huge win and I know it’s in the middle of summer, so you might not be thinking about it now. But I bet at some point this year, you’re going to want to take a sick day, or you’re going to want to take a personal day. And if you have a solid routine in place for your whole group lessons, then it is going to be so much easier for you to take a sick day or that personal day, and know that your students can carry on with their normal lessons. And you’re not going to have to play catch up when you return.
The routine really serves as the teacher. And even if the sub isn’t familiar with your grade level or your content, if your students become really familiar with the routine for your whole group lesson. And if you use something like Google Slides, to really help teach, then, in theory, you could really have a student walk the rest of the class through the lesson, because the routine and the slides do all of the work. And the sub is just going to be there to facilitate the lesson. So having a routine is going to help it when you want to take a sub this year.
The sixth reason why I think you should use a routine for your whole group lessons is that it eliminates decision fatigue. And I don’t know about you, but when I have to make last minute decisions, or when I’m making a lot of decisions, it stresses me out. And teachers have to make a lot of decisions in their day, I forget the number of I read something somewhere. But it is a ridiculous amount of decisions that you have to make. And I’m sure you can feel that.
But I always think about like if I meal plan for a week ahead of time, I can find recipes and make a grocery list and decide what I want to eat in like 30 minutes. But if I have to decide what is for dinner tonight, I’m all of a sudden paralyzed for like an hour trying to come up with something to eat or deciding on a restaurant, or figuring out where to go or what to order.
And the further ahead you can make decisions about your teaching, the easier it’s going to be for you to effectively and quickly plan and execute because your planning is actually productive preparation, rather than you trying to brainstorm how to teach something new. So you’re going to eliminate decision fatigue when you put a routine in place.
And then finally, having a routine for your whole group lessons is going to eliminate some stress for you. And hopefully this is kind of obvious. But if you spend less time planning, which is a benefit of using a routine, and if you spend less time teaching or more, so you’re teaching in a more time efficient way, which is a benefit of using the routine, if your students are more engaged and mastering what you’re teaching, and if you’ve eliminated decision fatigue, then hopefully you are also experience less stress as a result of all of those things.
And really, when you use a routine, you are making one decision for how you want to set up and structure your lessons for the year. And then you don’t have to think about it again, your lessons are going to run on autopilot. And that is going to be one less thing that has to take up space and your teacher brain this year.
So let’s recap seven reasons why you should be using a routine for your whole group lessons this year: it’s going to save you time planning, save you time teaching, it’s going to increase student engagement, it’s going to increase student mastery, it’s going to make it easy for when you have to step away for a sub, it’s going to eliminate decision fatigue, and it’s going to eliminate stress.
Now you are welcome to use the exact same system that I shared at the start of this episode. That could be the routine that you use for your students. But if you really want to make it easy for yourself and actually get access to the lessons and the slides that we have created, basically, if you don’t want to do any prep work for the year and have all the work done for you, then we would love to have you join us inside the Stellar Literacy Collective.
I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about it. Doors open up next week on Monday, July 10. And the reason why I keep on mentioning it is we’re only going to have doors open for a week. And so if you’ve been thinking about joining us, I don’t want you to miss out on your opportunity to get in before the school year ends. And one of the huge benefits of the membership is getting access to over 150 mini lessons and Google slides that are already set up that really will help you teach the majority of your reading standards.
And inside our membership Facebook group, one of our members Tara shared with us she said, “I saw a huge growth this year using the membership exclusively for my ELA block. I also saved hours of planning and prepping since everything was ready for me at the click of a button. I loved the Google Slides for my mini lessons. They were so engaging and led to such authentic discussions among my students. I was excited to come to school to teach my next reading lesson.”
And if that sounds like something that you want to have for yourself and your students this year, then like I said, we would love to have you join us inside the membership doors open next week. And if now’s not the time to join us in the membership, I totally get it. I would still encourage you to create a routine for your whole group lesson.
Take some of the ideas that I shared for our routine at the beginning of this lesson. Put that in place, figure out a way that you can really make decisions ahead of time so that way you can save time planning and save time teaching and get all of the other benefits of using a routine.
All right, I hope you found this episode helpful. Don’t forget we are still in the middle of our summer series. So you have another bonus episode coming up this Thursday as part of our small steps to SOR series that is happening here on the Stellar Teacher Podcast. And until then, I hope you have a stellar week.