Breaking Through the Language Arts Block

Organizing and Managing the Exemplary Literacy Day

Lesley Mandel Morrow, Kenneth Kunz, and Maureen Hall

HardcoverPaperbacke-bookprint + e-book
April 6, 2018
ISBN 9781462534517
Price: $80.00
232 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
April 7, 2018
ISBN 9781462534463
Price: $30.00
232 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
February 28, 2018
ePub and PDF ?
Price: $30.00
232 Pages
print + e-book
Paperback + e-Book (ePub and PDF) ?
Price: $60.00 $33.00
232 Pages

This innovative book helps K–6 teachers infuse the entire school day with research-based literacy best practices. Classroom-tested strategies are presented for planning and implementing each component of the “exemplary literacy day”—vocabulary and word study sessions, literacy work stations, differentiated guided reading groups, reading and writing workshops, and interdisciplinary projects. Teachers get tips for organizing a print-rich classroom, supporting students' social–emotional well-being, and using assessment to guide instruction. User-friendly features include vivid vignettes, classroom management tips, questions for discussion and reflection, and 15 reproducible forms, checklists, and lesson templates. Purchasers get access to a Web page where they can download and print the reproducible materials in a convenient 8½“ x 11” size. Note: this book is a contemporary follow-up to Morrow's influential earlier title Organizing and Managing the Language Arts Block.

This title is part of the Best Practices in Action Series, edited by Linda B. Gambrell and Lesley Mandel Morrow.

“How does a teacher fit it all in while creating a student-centered classroom? This is the guide we all need now. As an instructional coach, I want all teachers to read it, talk about it, try the exemplary literacy day in their classrooms, and watch children thrive and learn. The authors acknowledge the variety of curricular expectations across districts, making the book helpful for teachers in all situations.”

—Kathy Harris, instructional coach, Piner–Olivet Union School District, Santa Rosa, California

“All elementary language arts teachers, both novice and experienced, should read this book and reflect on how to improve the management and organization of their own classrooms. The book is anchored in the importance of classroom culture and prioritizes a learner-centered mindset. Expanding the focus from the 'language arts block' to the broader context, the authors quickly pull the reader in. Research and practical suggestions are folded in with spot-on vignettes, management tips, straightforward recommendations for a comprehensive curriculum, and resources for additional learning. Once you start reading, the book is hard to put down—you will want to replicate these authors' visionary language arts classroom for the children you teach.”

—Allison Swan Dagen, PhD, College of Education and Human Services, West Virginia University

“Morrow has been at the forefront of literacy education for decades. Her work has guided thousands of young teachers and career professionals through all the research, trends, controversies, reforms, and re-reforms roiling American education. This timely book pulls together information we can trust, helping K–6 teachers give their students the optimal balance of instruction, support, and exploration. Some of the ideas presented are reliable and familiar; others, like the vocabulary meetings, rework established practice into fresh and even more powerful patterns. On their way through this volume, teachers will dwell on the details, savor the practical strategies, and benefit from the wisdom from cover to cover.”

—Harvey “Smokey” Daniels, PhD, author and literacy consultant, Santa Fe, New Mexico

“Showing that teacher expertise is the heart of good instruction, this book proposes a classroom in which students are engaged and motivated learners as they are immersed in literacy all day long. Step-by-step explanations of how to implement an exemplary literacy program include sample lesson plans, lesson templates, management tips, instructional resources, Web links, and more. Breaking Through the Language Arts Block is perfect for preservice and novice teachers who are looking for a detailed account of best instructional practices.”

—Debbie Rickards, PhD, instructional coordinator (retired), Caddo Parish Schools, Louisiana

Table of Contents

1. Getting Started with the Exemplary Literacy Day

2. Setting Up the Literacy Environment

3. Assessment Guiding Instruction

4. Introducing the Vocabulary Meeting

5. Word-Study Session: Strategies for Figuring Out Words, Phonological Awareness, Phonics, and More

6. Literacy Work Stations

7. Guided Reading: Grouping for Differentiation of Instruction

8. Reading Comprehension Workshop

9. Writing Workshop

10. Interdisciplinary Literacy Instruction

Concluding Thoughts

Appendix A. Exemplary Literacy Day Planning Example (Olga Pryymak and Shira Wasserman)

Appendix B: Fry (1980) Sight Words Grouped by Relative Difficulty


About the Authors

Lesley Mandel Morrow, PhD, is Distinguished Professor of Literacy and Director of the Center for Literacy Development at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her research, which she conducts with children and families from diverse backgrounds, deals with early literacy development and the organization and management of language arts programs and literacy-rich environments. Dr. Morrow has published more than 300 journal articles, chapters, and books. Her work has been recognized with awards including the Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading Award and the William S. Gray Citation of Merit, both from the International Literacy Association (ILA), and the Oscar S. Causey Award for outstanding contributions to reading research from the Literacy Research Association. Dr. Morrow is past president of the ILA and is a member and past president of the Reading Hall of Fame.

Kenneth Kunz, EdD, is a Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction in the New Jersey Public Schools and also serves as president of the New Jersey Literacy Association. He began his career as a third-grade teacher in the New Jersey Public Schools. Dr. Kunz has received recognition as an outstanding teacher through the New Jersey Governor’s Teacher Recognition Program and was awarded the Edward Fry Fellowship in Literacy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Maureen Hall, EdS, is a part-time lecturer at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and is a literacy coach in several districts across New Jersey through the Rutgers Center for Literacy Development. As a teacher, she was recognized through the New Jersey Governor’s Teacher Recognition Program. She serves on the advisory board of the Rutgers Center for Literacy Development and is vice president of the New Jersey Literacy Association.


Classroom teachers in K–6, reading specialists, staff developers, and teacher educators and students.

Course Use

May serve as a supplemental text in Elementary Reading Methods courses.