New For 2010: Timing

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Sep
  • 27
  • 2010

We’re going with a lot of two weeks on, one week off pacing this year. Of course, it’s not that we take a week off and watch movies or anything. It’s all about having time to play around with and review what we’ve spent the previous few weeks working on. We’re moving a touch slower, but I feel more focused in my instruction and assessment. I apply this timing to vocabulary and read journals right now. I plan to set it in place in writing units also.


We spend two weeks on vocab just like normal, a list at the beginning of the week with some vocab work due and review happening mid-week. Instead of having a test at the end of every week, we go two weeks with no test, then go into a week off to review the terms every day and end the week with a test. That results in fewer tests, more time to play with the words, and I’m hoping greater understanding of the words. I have always thought that I don’t do enough review. Now, with our week off, we start each day that week with a kind of review: jigsaw, crossword, flyswatter, sentences, writing, etc. We end the off week with a cumulative test. I plan to make each vocab test worth more points than the one before it. I hope that will make current vocabulary success more important than past failure.

Read Journals

While I’ve done one read journal every week in the past, we write for two weeks and take a week off from writing to just read that week. Students write two read journals, then take a breather from writing and only have to concentrate on the reading pace for that week. That gives students time to catch up on a few things (the actual writing of read journals tends to be what bogs them down) and I get a week to catch up on grading those journals. I want this to temper the fact that my students who are readers hate this assignment because they have to write too much and my students who are not readers hate this assignment because they have to read too much. The timing here is my attempt to give both sets of kids something that makes this work feel more possible.


If I focus my instruction on, say, use of evidence for two weeks, collect a piece of writing where all I evaluate is that use of evidence (giving the students a week off from this type of instruction), I think this will let me target where things go wrong. Then again, maybe it won’t. Still, the idea of playing around with how I time and pace the work in the class is one I’m ready to examine further. I’ll keep you posted.

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