As I reread your post, I realized I didn't answer the last part of your question. You wanted to know if it's okay for students to "just read" for 40 minutes during IDR time. My answer is definitely "yes," as long as they are reading with a purpose. I always teach a mini-lesson each day, so there is always a teaching point that I make before sending my students off to read. While I may not assign them a specific written task to complete in the 40 minutes, I make sure that they are always asked to think about something, notice something, or try out a new strategy when reading. In this way, their reading is not completely interrupted by a writing assignment, but they are reading with a purpose.
I hope I have answered your questions!
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