A very common question is always, “How do you run literacy work stations in your classroom?”
I thought I would blog about what my work stations look like right now at the beginning of the year. I have to be honest and say that these have evolved and changed so many times over the years. I kind of morph a lot of different ideas together (Debbie Diller, Daily 5, etc.) and use what’s best for my students and me. I think that’s the ultimate goal of teaching. We have to use what we know and make it work for us.
HOW DO I GROUP THE STUDENTS FOR WORK STATIONS?
For the first couple weeks of school, I place my students into 5 groups of 4-5 students. They rotate through the stations, while I assist as needed or pull students back for one-on-one assessments. After I feel that the students are capable of working independently (and my testing is finished), I become a station for one of the groups.
I use a pocket chart to display my station board. I use cardstock with pictures of each of the students along with their names to place on our station board. At first, I do not group my students academically. When I become a station, I group them by their academic needs, so I can easily differentiate the work stations and the activities I will be doing with my small group.
WHAT ARE THE STUDENTS DOING AT THEIR WORK STATIONS?
I like to make it as easy as possible for me when planning my work stations for the week. I do not want to be cutting out and laminating a million pieces of paper each week. I like to use a lot of No Prep Games along with other easy prep activities. I use a lot of items from my Word Work Packets or my Games Galore packets. This makes it very simple to change out each week. The students know exactly how to complete the activity. Only the skill changes.
Students love playing Word Work games. Read the Room activities are also a big hit. It’s a bonus that it gives them a chance to be up out of their seats and walking around the classroom.
I also like to include a Listening Center. This is always an easy one to change out each week. I purchase the Listening Center CD’s and books from Scholastic each month. Then, I use my bonus points to purchase additional books for each CD.
Another easy work station idea is Rainbow Roll and Write. I found this idea a couple years ago from A Cupcake for the Teacher. This is perfect for practicing our spelling words for the week.
At the beginning of the year, I love using this Plinko game from Lakeshore Learning. It’s perfect for practicing phonemic awareness skills.
Sometimes, I even make the students handwriting books a station. Since it’s hard to squeeze handwriting practice into our day, this is the perfect time.
I try to change them up a little bit each week so the students do not get bored, but a lot of the activities can stay the same.
WHAT DO I DO WITH THE STUDENTS IN MY SMALL GROUP?
The first couple of weeks, I do not pull a small group. First, I walk around and check to make sure that each person is on task at their station. Then, if all is going well, I start pulling individuals to complete our beginning of the year DIBELS assessments. After a couple of weeks, I can pull my first reading groups.
For my low students, I start off by working on phonemic awareness. I always have a couple of students that really need to focus on these skills first before becoming independent readers. I’ve been working my way through the activities in my Phonemic Awareness at Your Fingertips packet. I love that I have these printed and placed in sheet protectors, because now they are ready to go.
We use a lot of manipulatives to practice making sounds in words and manipulating our phonemes.
For my groups that are capable of reading, we will start using my Guided Reading packets next week. These are perfect because they are already differentiated for each of my groups. Each passage comes in three different levels and includes vocabulary and comprehension practice.