We are working on getting our third graders ready for the Virginia State Reading Test. I’m so glad that you are addressing this topic. I’ll be coming to Richmond next week to see your conference on Connecting Real Life Reading to State Reading Tests. I’ve gotten so much from your books and am looking forward to walking away with some inspiration on Thursday!
I’ve just started implementing the Observation Station and have connected it to science by putting out frog eggs. The kids LOVE it. The tadpoles have just started coming out of the sac and my kids wrote great observations about what they noticed. An observation station will help them prepare for the VA Science State Test. It always has students analyze a situation or picture. This station gives them practice in doing this.
Thanks for your great ideas!
Just finished reading your book on literacy centers. I am ready to read your book on small groups. I will be teaching a half day kindergarten class. How would I fit all this in? I noticed you had a schedule up for full day, but not half day.
I taught 1/2 day kindergarten for many years. Debbie’s literacy work stations really saved my life as far as scheduling was concerned. Literacy Work Stations is kind of my Bible. Yes, it is difficult to fit everything in to a 1/2 day schedule, but if you set up all your work stations to be literacy based, don’t allow more than a couple of kids at a time in any one center, have an organized rotation chart for how kids will move in and out of centers, and make sure that students are providing you with evidence that they are working productively in those stations (I used folders that students took with them from center to center; they have to show me their work in some tangible way whether they’ve been in the housekeeping area, the block area, or the word work station) your students will be engaged throughout the day. I promise. Make sure the literacy work stations are developmentally appropriate and fun, too. I know a lot of schools are aschewing traditional K centers like blocks and housekeeping, but I believe they are important for five year olds and literacy, math, and science can be incorporated into them. Just my opinion.
The key to successful work stations, I’ve found, is routine, routine, routine. Modeling, Modeling, Modeling!
Make sure that those little transition times (washing hands, snack, getting coats and backpacks) are filled up with teachable moments, too. You can play all sorts of fun little letter, number, word games quickly as kids are transitioning.
I started my day with a shared read aloud which served as the springboard for our work for the day often incorporating our math and science work (kind of an integrated K version of Reader’s Workshop). That lasted about 15-20 minutes. Then I had students reading independently for 15 minutes while I conferenced with a handful of students 2-3 times per week. After that, students had snack for another 15 minutes, and then spent about 45 minutes at literacy work stations while I took reading groups/skills groups. Students went to 3 stations a day about 15 minutes a piece. What Debbie’s book really helps you do is be free of the mindset that every student has to do every center every day. The rest of the day was divided among specials, science, and math (though I also had a work station for math that was incorporated into my literacy work stations).
I did not do science every day. I only taught science 2-3 times a week, alternating the days I had the students reading independently.
Hope this helps some.
(the blog listed is my personal blog that does have some teaching content on it. My teaching blog is http://www.thebuzz125.blogspot.com if you want to check out what work stations look like–it’s a first grade class).
I’ll ask folks to post their 1/2 day kindergarten schedules if teachers would help out with this. Most schools I work in today have full-day kindergarten, so that’s why you found the full-day schedule. Obviously, you can’t do everything froma full-day program in a half day.
It may help you to know that when I developed literacy work stations, we were still teaching in 1/2 day kindergarten.
Our school is full day kindergarten. I will be working with kindergarten classes setting up literacy workstation. I would like to know: when is the best time after the beginning of the year to start teaching kinder students about the stations and implementing the stations.
I’ve used Literacy Work Stations with both full and half day kindergarten for many years. I usually started my stations the second week of school to get my students started with the routine right away. However, I only began one center at a time and kept adding a station each week or so. Following Debbie’s advice in Literacy Work Stations, I also only let students start using each station after tons of modeling. As a result, it did take about 6 weeks to 2 months to get all my stations up and running. But all that modeling and repetition is worth it in the end. Your students know exactly what the expectations are and are so engaged. This means you might actually get through all your guided reading or skills groups without interruption!
I started off with very basic stations: blocks first, then library. I had about 8-10 stations: blocks, housekeeping, big books/pocket chart, word work/phonics, writing, library, computers, lightbulb lab (a center where kids be creative with a variety of materials. The rule was that they had to connect their work to a story we had read or a concept we were learning about), math, science, listening, and read around the room.
I never had more than 3 children in a center at a time and I kept centers to about 15 minutes in length. Students went to 3 centers a day. It’s ok if everyone doesn’t get to every center day. That’s what I really learned from Debbie’s books. I used to stress out about all my students getting to every single center daily. Better for them to be doing quality work at 3 centers a day than rushing through 8 centers just to say they got them done.
By the third week of school or so the kids really had the rotation chart down and knew exactly where to go. I signaled when it was time to change stations with a little bell I had at my guided reading table. After a lot of modeling, the students knew to quickly and quiety straighten up their station and move to the next center. I used pictures of the students and pictures of the centers to indicate where they needed to go.
I also differentiated my stations with color-coded charts so different kids might be doing different activities or variations on an activity based on their needs.