Middle School ELA Schedule (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Year-Long Pacing)

I think one of the most frequently asked questions I get is about my schedule. The questions range from my daily, weekly, monthly, and year long schedules, so I thought I would answer some of those questions here.

I don't think there is a specific type of teacher who tends to ask this question. I think new teachers want to know, because in those first years we're all just trying to wrap our heads around things, while seasoned teachers are curious as to what other teachers are doing daily, weekly, monthly and each year.

So I thought I would show you all here.

I think the best way to show you all, is to break down my day, my week, and then show you my year long pacing guide, along with the resources I use all year.

Here is my daily schedule that the school assigns me. We have 7 periods with 55 minutes each class period. We also have a 30 minute lunch. This is all honestly kind of changing because we are going to a Four-Day week next year (I have a blog post here if you want to read about the Four-Day Week). And I can post that new schedule when I've developed it a little more. I will talk about ELA and Books and Movies a bit, but I feel like my art class is irrelevant to this post haha.

This is what my hourly schedule looks like depending on whether we are doing a reading or writing unit. I alternate them pretty consistently. A reading unit can take anywhere from 3-6 weeks, depending on the the book, while my writing units take 2-3 weeks. My hourly schedule will look different depending on whether we are doing a reading or writing unit. And again, next year will look a little different each hour. 

When we are doing a reading unit, we are usually reading one of our required curriculum novels. I read the novels out loud  for about 15 minutes, after we do our bell ringers. Then we do a lesson or activity, and then we read our independent reading books. 

For writing, I try to do a mini lesson on what they will do, so they have close to 30 minutes to write or type. I also really try to still give them the last ten minutes to read, but most get in a groove and want to keep writing. I plan to make some changes to try to make sure we read every single day.  

I just finished a books and movies blog post to explain it a little bit more (even though I keep it super simple), but this is my hourly schedule for books and movies. 

About two years ago, I made a pacing guide for my 7th ad 8th grade ELA classes. I then made it editable and posted it for sale on TPT. I have updated the big overview, but I don't go update the week by week ones because I now have a much better idea. 

This year I adapted it because I went on maternity leave ,and now next year, we are going to a Four-Day week.  

Here is my most recent pacing guide for this last school year. I am working on my newest one (18-19 School Year) as we speak. I teach at a Core Knowledge School so all our literature (and basically everything is pre-selected). I HATED it my first year, but after one year, I kind of have learned to love everything and have some wiggle room to make it my teaching style. 

You can get my editable (blank ones with just dates are included as well) by clicking here or clicking the image below:  Basically you can use mine as a guide and type over it or I made completely bank ones with just dates, for you to fill them in. This editable pacing guide also has editable weekly pacing to help you get more detailed (pictured below). 

I often get asked about how I make these, and honestly, I just kind of get everything I need and make them. I get my standards and my curriculum book I am required to use (I work at a Core Knowledge school so we have required literature and non-fiction terms, vocabulary, spelling, phrases, texts, speeches, writing pieces, grammar terms, etc.). 

I try to align things that fit naturally and our school also works hard to align our ELA learning with what is happening in Social Studies. I make sure that everything is taught at some point while still making it cohesive fitting nicely into units, and then map out what resources I have, and then start looking for where I need to supplement. 

As you can see above in the year long pacing guides, I teach grammar all year long whenever I can squeeze it in. I used to use Lovin Lit's grammar notebook, which is still great, and I still occasionally use some of my favorite lessons that she created. But I recently had been hearing and reading a lot about mentor sentences. I loved the ideas of kids using their favorite books to learn grammar. So I set out to make my Mentor Sentences for Middle School.  We didn't get through all four quarters, because I was still learning, and I also went on maternity leave for a quarter of school, but I plan to get through more of the lessons this year. 

I LOVE TeachersPayTeachers for supplementing and seriously wouldn't survive without all the amazing teachers that create resources for me to use. I do make a lot of my own, but I also use A TON of other sellers' resources. My editable pacing guide resource above includes images of the resources I use, but I have since added more to my repertoire. I will try to link my favorites all below. 

For literature terms, I use Lovin' Lit's interactive notebook: 

I use her original one for 7th Grade: 

And then I use her new one for 8th Grade: 

For narrative reading and writing, I do use my own Freak the Mighty (7th Grade) and The Outsiders (8th Grade) reading units and my narrative writing unit. (I also use Freak the Mighty and The Outsiders for all our examples when we are working on our literature terms from Lovin Lit's Resources). I treat them like read alouds that I use to teach the standards with. 

This is the narrative writing unit I use. It was designed to be used with Freak the Mighty and The Outsiders. My 7th graders have to write from a different point of view than Max's (Freak or Killer Kane), while my 8th graders have to continue Ponyboy's narrative. I personally hate and am horrible about teaching personal narratives, and honestly our state assessment has them either continue a narrative or write from a different point of view, so that was my inspiration for creating this unit. 

For Literary Analysis, I use The 8th Grade Units of Study from Lucy Calkins and Colleagues. I bought it with my own money and it is seriously the most amazing unit. My school doesn't use them, so I am able to just use it for the lessons to teach me how to teach writing (and because it's not mandated, I can use it how I see fit). I don't use the other two units, for a variety of reasons, but the literary essay unit is GOLD. 

These units suggest students use their own independent reading books, but honestly that was a nightmare for me the first year (I hadn't read all the books so it was hard for me to help them when they needed support), so I pulled short stories from and then used our required curriculum short stories so they could write a comparative essay. It was seriously amazing and ends up being my students' strongest skill as writers. 

A little before or during this time we also read two more of our required novels. In 7th grade, we read The Call of the Wild and we use my unit. In 8th grade we read Animal Farm. I have a unit, but honestly Stacey Lloyd's Animal Farm unit on the book is mind-blowing and it made me an instant fan girl over anything she makes. She's amazing and her Animal Farm unit is a must if you teach this book. I probably learn more from it than my students do from me. 

After that, we go into our drama units and honestly I don't know what the heck I use because I hate teaching both and I just try to survive the month I have to teach Cyrano in 7th and Hamlet in 8th. 

I also left the drama units for my maternity leave sub, so although I had plans to make both better, I didn't even teach them this last year. So hopefully next year I will get better at teaching them. We do have the Shakespeare made easy version of Hamlet and I found a kids version of Cyrano online... just to make them both more accessible, but other than that, I swear I just tried to get through it. 

After Christmas break, we go into one of my favorite units: poetry. We use Lovin Lit's Poetry interactive notebook to learn the terms I am required to teach (definitely don't teach everything she has because there's a ton) and also a few extra terms. 

We then spend a good chunk of time reading our required poems, annotating them, and writing our own. We also learn specific types of poems and practice writing those. At the end of the unit, we create poetry anthologies based on what we learned.

I also do a read aloud in each. I love Kwame Alexander's books written in verse, and so do my 7th and 8th graders. I read Booked aloud with my 7th graders and The Crossover aloud with my 8th graders. I just read them aloud for 7-10 minutes each class period.

I used my 6th grade The Crossover unit and it worked fine. Again, I just used it like a read aloud and asked questions as I went. I am currently working on units for Booked and a 7th and 8th grade version of The Crossover.

My 7th graders also learn about The Dust Bowl in Social Studies, so I'm thinking of making Out of the Dust our read aloud, and I'm also working on a unit for that.

After poetry is my actual favorite unit to teach. Rhetoric and rhetorical analysis essays. Again, I have speeches that I am required to teach (they align beautifully with social studies). The kids have a lot of the background information from their social studies teachers, so I get to spend time analyzing the rhetoric.

We learn all about rhetoric, rhetorical devices, and rhetorical appeals from Carla McLeod's rhetoric unit. I love how she has you teach the appeals and devices, but even more so it includes all the speeches I am required to teach, along with a whole unit on "Letter from Birmingham Jail," which is an 8th grade required speed/essay we read. I can't recommend her unit enough.

I also use some of Lovin' Lit's non-fiction interactive notebook pages too. I mostly use a few of her lessons to teach the kids some basic terms before we really start digging into the essays and speeches.

Our last units we do are our final two required texts. I have a love-hate relationship with both. In 7th grade, we read Diary of Anne Frank and in 8th grade we read To Kill a Mockingbird. I LOVE both stories, but they are LONG. During this time I have to give reading and writing homework so we can get through both novels in a timely manner. I read Kelly Gallapher's Readicide and that helped me to teach the kids how to have a purpose for their reading homework, and that helped me as a teacher. The kids all love both stories at the end of it all though. Our big writing focus with these is working on reading responses and eventually a DBQ (Document Based Question). 

I use my Anne Frank Unit and a combination of units for To Kill a Mockingbird. 

For To Kill a Mockingbird, again I use Stacey Lloyd's Unit, but I also sometimes pull my homework questions from Laura Randazzo's unit, and I LOVE Tracee Orman's interactive notebook activities that align to the book. I try to mix it up because To Kill a Mockingbird is such a long book for 8th graders. 

At the end of these units, we do a Holocaust DBQ (Document Based Question) in 7th and a Civil Rights DBQ in 8th. I honestly just searched around until I found ones I liked. Our social studies teacher does a lot of DBQs in her class, and wanted us to work more on the writing portion, so both of these units worked perfectly for doing just that. 

Lastly, like I said way at the top of this post, we have required grammar skills, vocabulary, spelling, and foreign phrases that our students must learn. For that, I created my Bell Ringers for each grade. Volume One Bell Ringers are the one I use for 7th grade, while Volume Two Bell Ringers are the ones I use with 8th. I have a blog post all about my Bell Ringers and how I make them work. You can read that here. 

Lastly, I have my books and movies class, and I just finished up a blog post about that. You can check out how I run that class by clicking here or the picture below.


  1. This is so helpful! I just finished my second year but I still struggle with figuring how how to structure my day to day. I really want to incorporate some independent reading time. I like closing class period with some time for the students to read books of their own choosing! Thank you for sharing!

  2. So incredibly helpful and enlightening! Checking out your resources and thanks for doing this blog entry!

  3. Okay. Another question... I just read your blog post from 2016 about small groups with your 6th graders. Now that you are in 7th and 8th, do you do them twice a week or so like you did with 6th? I am teaching 6-8th ELAR and I am soooo overwhelmed in general about what to do or not do to help my kids be successful.

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