Booked: How Literacy Units Have Saved My Scheduling Bacon

This year… I have put Literacy Units to the TEST in my preschool assignment. These units have made planning more efficient for push in for 19 large groups and one virtual class stored on my site with a total over a hundred sweet littles reached every week and counting. Inspired by the units of a developmental teacher pro I met years ago, that combined a fresh new story with a predictable and plannable format, I’ve been adding new books to my list each week and my workload is the better for it.

The keys for me:

  1. There are Book Units and There are Book Units.

You can take something meant to make your life better and overdo it. I could get incredibly intricate in my activities and visuals, but right now… that is not where I am at. Right now, I stick to a structure to suit my two goals: language expanded through literacy enrichment for my students and lesson plan streamlining for me. 

  1. Play to Your Strengths

I’m a singer, so my structure has songs, finger plays, rhythm, and movement embedded in the routine (that is the same format every time, with swapped out key pieces). You might be a story book and craft/chat kind of person because you have that artist’s knack or story and game because you’re just that fun. If you pick what’s already your jam the content will be creative, more natural in presentation, and you won’t necessarily get as burnt out doing variations of the same thing over and over. 

And… over.

  1. Repetition and Expansion

While there are exceptions, (Goldilocks for 8th graders? Maybe, maybe not) using the same unit with expansion activities across age groups and language levels can improve efficiency of planning. While my students are all 3-6 years old, by including options for expansion, I give myself the ability to take the same unit to play with non-verbal “just turned 3’s” and 5-6 year olds that are going to general education kindergarten next year.  It’s a bit of front loading effort, but it equips me with a common format and story with activities that I can tailor to who came that day or expand the theme on the second and third presentation to a group of students. More return for the time investment and repetition is good for learning.

  1. Get a visual, write a script. Keep both Simple and the Same

I swap out the sound of the week, but my script visuals are otherwise the same every unit. Both keep me on track. They keep the students engaged and are instant redirection tools. I start the script the same way, clap at the same times, and use the same words to introduce the segments of my lessons. You’d think it would get old, but it enables me to focus on other things in the moment (like individual student goals and cueing hierarchies) and the kids follow along with the enthusiasm  I reserve for a warm plate of brownies. Win-Win.

 

Author: Amanda Owens, SLP

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