As a middle school language arts teacher, I know how overwhelming it feels to try and fit everything into a curricular map. ELA feels like a hamster wheel more often than not – and half of the time, you’re wondering if you’re even on the right hamster wheel. I’m here to tell you that there is a way of structuring your language arts daily schedule that will feel purposeful and holistic without making you feel overwhelmed or inadequate.

Tip #1

Identify Your Instructional Pillars

Your instructional pillars are the content and standards you are personally responsible for. For most language arts teachers, it includes:

  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary
  • Reading Literature
  • Writing

You might have additional pillars that aren’t content-specific but represent a core value (like incorporating a social-emotional component). I personally place a big emphasis on daily face-to-face interactions, so I make sure to designate time in my daily schedule for discussions.

As you are jotting down your daily “must-haves,” I recommend keeping it to no more than 5-7 core pillars. If you’re struggling to narrow it down, look for any overlap between pillars, or consider how you might embed one pillar within another.

Tip #2

Build a Daily Schedule Blueprint

Once you’ve identified your instructional pillars, you’re going to build the blueprint of your daily schedule. How will you segment or break your class into meaningful chunks that keep things moving quickly?

This will look different if you have a 45-minute block, a 75-minute block, or even a 90-minute block. My periods are 62-minutes, so my instructional framework looks {loosely} like this:

  • 0:00-0:10 Warm-Up or Bell-Ringer
  • 0:10-0:20 Time to Read
  • 0:20-0:25 Time to Write
  • 0:25-0:35 Time to Learn
  • 0:35-0:55 Time to Study
  • 0:55-0:60 Time to Check for Understanding 

As you think through your daily blueprint, keep in mind that students’ attention spans range from 8 minutes to 15 minutes. Build instructional “shifts” into your schedule to keep the energy levels (and engagement) high.

Tip #3

Plug Your Instructional Pillars Into Your Daily Schedule

Here’s where planning gets fun. You’re going to take your instructional pillars from Step 1 and build them into your daily schedule blueprint from Step 2. Here are a couple of sample scheduling blueprints that I’ve used successfully in the past with 62-minute periods.

Daily Schedule #1
  • 0:00-0:10 Grammar/Vocabulary Warm-Up (Alternate each week)
  • 0:10-0:20 Book Talk + DEAR Time (Free choice or book clubs)
  • 0:20-0:25 Daily Quick Write
  • 0:25-0:35 Mini-Lesson (this is unit specific)
  • 0:35-0:55 Independent Practice (apply the mini-lesson, work on a task)
  • 0:55-0:60 Exit Ticket/Wrap Up Discussion
Daily Schedule #2
  • 0:00-0:10 Warm-Up
  • 0:10-0:20 Mini-Lesson
  • 0:20-0:55 Station Rotations
    • Independent Practice, Daily Quick Write, Independent Reading Time
  • 0:55-0:60 Check for Understanding/Wrap Up

Tip #4

Maintain the Flow of Your Class

You’ll want to be as consistent with your daily structure as possible for it to become efficient and effective (for both you and the students). Some quick, helpful tips:

  • Display an agenda at the beginning of each class. Train students to check the agenda when entering and start each period by going over it briefly. 
  • Set a timer to keep you honest. If you only have 5 minutes for daily quick writes, stick to that! Going over will only rob you of time somewhere else.

By following your agenda, you’ll develop a regular routine and “flow” of your period. Students will appreciate your consistency as they will know what to expect. This naturally results in fewer disruptions and behavior management.

Tip #5

Be Flexible

One thing you can always count on is disruptions to your daily routine. Whether it’s an early release day, a fire drill, or an assembly, you’ll have to make adjustments. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Eliminate “time to read” or “time to write.” I don’t like to do this regularly, but if I’m short on time, these two are the first to go.
  • Stick to the schedule, but eliminate the mini-lesson and have students continue to work on a previously taught skill.
  • Implement a “catch-up” day. Students can nearly always use extra work days. 

Consistency is Key

The key to structuring your middle school language arts period is being consistent. Following your daily routines will help set high expectations for learning and decrease unwanted behaviors.

ELA Schedule Planning Template & Daily Agenda Slides

To help you maintain the flow of your Language Arts daily schedule, I’ve shared an agenda template and planning document.

Have additional questions? Find me on IG or Facebook, or leave a comment below!