Sunday, September 18, 2016

Literacy Station Rotation Chart



Happy Sunday!  Sorry, this post has taken so long to write. We have been sick off and on in our house.  It started with me, I passed it to all the kids and back around again.  We just seem to love sharing!  haha

When I decided to change up my literacy stations, I had to figure out the simplest way for my students' to know what station they were at and which they would move to next.  I wanted an easy visual for myself and my first graders.

Below is a picture of my rotation chart.


I divide my students into groups of 2-3, depending on how many students I have in class.  I like to keep my station groups as small as I can.

Each round lasts 15-20 minutes.  Students' will rotate to the next station once I have finished a reading group.

How are groups moved? 

I move the station groups directly down the chart.



Do you have students return to their station after they finish reading at the teacher table? 

No, I do not.  Once I finish with a group I ring a bell.  This is our cue to clean up our stations.  We then move to the carpet as a group.  I like to call my next reading group to my table before I move students' to their next station.  We meet back at the carpet after each station.
When a student misses a station, they will have a chance to visit it later in the week.
Thanks for checking out how I use my rotation chart.  In my next post, I will explain how I set up each station.
Blessings,

Monday, September 5, 2016

Literacy Stations Part 1




Part 1:  How to up Literacy Stations in you classroom


Hey, guys!  I am so excited to share with all of you this post.  It is part 1 of my blog post series, "How I Implement Literacy Stations in my Daily Routine".  Our literacy block has become my favorite part of our day.  

Can I tell you a secret?  This time of day has not always been a favorite.  In fact, there was a time it was stressful.  I was overwhelmed with how I thought it should look and what all of the students would be doing while I was working with a small group.   

The past few years I used strategies that I learned from Daily 5. It was my saving grace at the time.  I love how it gives you a guide on how it should look and what to do so that it runs smoothly.  I still use some of these strategies when setting up expectations for this block of time.  If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it.  

One year ago, I decided that I wanted to change up my literacy block.  I spent part of my summer putting my thoughts down on paper so I could begin the new transition at the beginning of the school year.  I knew I wanted more stations to give my students more options.  I also wanted to make it as easy as possible.  

I knew I needed enough stations so my students would be spread out.  I wanted to have no more than three students in a station at a time.  My hope was that it would increase engagement and limit the amount of time my students were off task. 

Below is a list of stations that I have implemented. 

Teacher Table- Please know that I do not number this station. Students are pulled back to my table from many different groups. 

1.   Read to Self
2.   Work with Words
3.   Writing Station
4.   Computer
5.   Read and Write the Room
6.   Listening Center
7.   Ipad
8.   Read and Write the Room
9.   Smartboard  
10. Buddy Reading

Now, I know you might be thinking there is NO WAY I have time for this!  How in the world can I implement that many stations without it sending me over the edge?  I don't want to change up that many stations. I would be working myself to death if I implemented this crazy idea.  This woman has fallen off her rocker!  That is ok.  Stick with me over the next two posts and I will show you what I have learned to make it easier. I am all for making my life easier and sharing with others what I have learned along the way.   

Below is how I display/set up my stations.  It does not explain how I introduce each station.  I will dive into that topic in Part 2 of this series. 

How do you display your Literacy Stations?

I purchased a vinyl pocket chart and hung it up at the front of our classroom.  I know it isn't very high tech, but it has worked very well.  In the past, I used my smartboard to showcase the rounds but I wanted to be able to use it for a station. 

In the pocket chart, I stored picture cards for each station.  Next to each picture is a number (1-10).  I also have the numbers taped around the classroom.  I have discovered displaying the numbers around the classroom allows students to see where they can find each station. 


How do you decide on the different groups?

I divide students into small mixed ability groups (2-4) depending on how many students I have in class.  I know the possibility of 4 sounds like a large number for a station but keep in mind one of those students might be working with you at your teacher table.  I try and pair a middle/high student with a student that might need guidance.  Students then have a buddy to ask questions as they arise.  


How do you move stations?

The order of the stations stays the same.  I move the groups down the chart in number order.  I have found using this strategy is the easiest way for me to keep track where they will move next. 

How many rounds do you accomplish in a day?

 In a perfect world, I would love to meet with all of my students daily.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  I have come to realize this is not possible unless something else gives.  I try to meet with 2-3 groups daily.   There are days where I can only meet with one of my reading groups.  When this happens, I meet with my lowest group.  

How often do you change what keep in your stations?

My next post will dive into this question in greater detail.  I did want to give you a few tidbits before then.  The write the room station changes weekly to match our new phonics skill.  The topics for work on writing is changed out every month to six weeks.  

Stay tuned for my next post to see how I introduce each station. 

BONUS: 

Would you like to save a little time?  Snatch your own copy of my literacy station cards by clicking HERE

Blessings, 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

How I implemented flexible seating





Hi, guys.  I hope you are having an amazing long weekend and a wonderful start to your school year.   Have you jumped on the flexible seating bandwagon?  This is my first year to use flexible seating.  I am excited, yet nervous about the change.  

Each year I have assigned seats for my students.  I would move students to a different table as needed.  I wanted to have control where they sat.  Can anyone else relate?  Last year I began to allow them to work around the room.  I noticed when they were given this option their focus was better and they were not as easily distracted.  It was a win-win.

With that in mind, I began thinking about the move to a flexible seating classroom, researching the benefits and what I would need to make it happen.  First, I spoke with my administration about the change.  They were supportive and excited about the possibility. One of the first steps for me was spending time during the summer deciding how I wanted this to look.  I also needed to decide what types of seating options I wanted. 

Here are a few tips that I have learned the past two weeks at school. 

How does it look?


I have 4 tables in my classroom instead of desks.  Each table has a different option of seating.  Example: typical chairs, stability balls, crate seats, and pillows.  

I also created an L-shaped bench for extra seating and storage for my classroom books. This area has been perfect for our read aloud. 

Students' also have the option of working on the floor.   Last year, a few of my students loved using laundry baskets.  This is another option I have offered.  

Beginning Process


I need to be very honest.  It has been a learning curve.  I have made adjustments along the way.  The first day of school I  introduced our different seating options.  The first week of school I allowed my class to try out all the different options. We spent the last 10 minutes of  class choosing our "new" spot for the next day.  I no longer have to spend time with this step.  Read further to see how and when they choose their new spots. 

How do you handle supplies?


This was one of the most difficult concepts for me to grasp.  I wanted to make it as easy as possible for all of my students.  It took a few days, but I finally figured out what works best (for us).  Each student has a drawer to hold all of their supplies. I store their crayons, pencils, scissors, and dry erase markers in a zipper pouch.  They are a perfect size and do not take up much room. 



Each morning they come into the classroom, turn in their nightly folder, put away their backpack, take out their WIP (work in progress) folder and zipper pouch.  They get to choose their new spot for the day.  I have loved the flow of them doing it this way and has not taken long for them to get this procedure down. 

Here is a pano shot of our classroom.  It will give you a little better idea of our seating options and how I have my classroom set up. 




Do you let them change spots during the day? 


Yes!  It is something that I want them to recognize if they need to move independently.  I have been very pleased with how well my first graders are handling this task.  We have days where no one will move to a new spot. Then there are days where a student (or 2) might ask to move.  If they feel like a move to a new table would be best, I want them to take the initiative for that move. 

What about students who can’t handle choosing their own spot?


If a child is unable to handle choosing their own spot I will choose for them.  The goal is as the year progresses they will be able to make this choice independently.   So, I will give them the opportunity to try again.  I believe that part of learning is making mistakes and trying to learn and grow from them.


Are you enjoying the transition?


Yes!  I have loved using flexible seating.  The benefits I have seen far outweigh any issues we have encountered along the way. 


I will keep you posted on how it is going (the good, the bad and the ugly).  I know there will be learning curves along the way, but hopefully, we will have lots of celebrations.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments or send me an e-mail. Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Blessings,