ELA · guided reading · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · Question Box · rotation cards · work stations

The drought ends here.

Hello, friends!

Well, as I’m sure you can tell, 2014 is not playing around.  These 20 days have been incredibly busy; we went right from the holidays into weddings, birthdays, and apartment hunting.  Currently, I’m back home in the glorious Midwest for a family funeral.  I have to email in my sub plans for tomorrow, but I REALLY hate writing sub plans, which is why I almost always haul my butt into school if it’s at all possible, but since it’s not possible tomorrow I’m taking a break to revive my little blog.

I’m here today to share with you 2 quick tips, if you can call it that.  To be perfectly honest, I generally feel that I’m not a very tricky teacher, and I sort of feel that organizationally I’m not really dazzling anyone, but just in case you’re looking for new ideas here are two things that have been incredibly helpful for me this year.

The first thing that has been incredibly time saving for me is our work station rotation board.  Right now I only have one for literacy work stations, because those are the work stations I use daily.  (We generally do math work stations only about 2-3 times per week.)  Unfortunately, I’m going to have to just describe this work station board to you all since I don’t have any pictures.  I’ll write myself a note to take a picture and share it with you later.  =)

Basically, I have 5 groups and I give each group an icon (usually it’s seasonal) and those are lined across the top.  Each card has the group’s icon, the group name, and the names of each student in the group.

This is a mini-sample of how our group cards looked in the fall.  So these cards line the top of the pocket chart.  We only do two work stations each day (which was hands down the hardest adjustment I had to make in my literacy block this year), and I show the students which work stations they are going to by putting two picture cards underneath their group card.  We have 6 work stations in our classroom–word work, independent reading, fluency, writing, iPad, and inquiry and investigation.  Each work station has a corresponding picture card, which looks something like this.  
I made 4 for each work station so that 2 groups can go per day, plus there are a few extras.  So I stack the two picture cards under their group to show them where they’re going.  What’s really nice is that now, at this point in the school year, organizing the work station board is a job that I can delegate to more responsible kids.  I can generally have a kid organize the work station board during morning meeting.   What’s also really nice about using picture cards is that kids who are coming back to the classroom during our work stations can find their group/activity much more easily than they could in the past.  It’s really helped those students transition back into the classroom with minimal disruption.  
My other tip, in addition to picture based work station rotation cards, is picture based anchor charts with directions.  I’m part of a fellowship this year and technology is part of it, so I was able to receive a small group set of iPads for my classroom, which has been great.  As a school, we’ve been using 2 programs this year that I put my kids on during iPad time–Lexia and Reading A-Z.  We took time earlier in the school year to make anchor charts together showing the step-by-step directions for students to use both Lexia and RAZ Kids.  Adding small pictures to the anchor charts really helped kids integrate those directions into the routine.  My students know that they have the first 90 seconds of a work station to get their iPad and bring it to the Question Box to have it unlocked.  After 90 seconds they have to wait until I have a break in my group instruction.  Having the anchor charts has really helped the kids understand what to do, but it’s also really helped me with redirection.  When kids don’t follow the routine it’s easy to point to the pictures and help them understand what the routine is.  
I promise to be back more this week with some peeks into my classroom, although this will be a short week–I’ll be out Tuesday, with a field trip on Thursday, and an early dismissal on Friday.  
Enjoy the holiday!  =)


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