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Archive for the ‘Work stations’ Category

A work station for music

During back-to-school workshops, teachers from art, music, and P.E. often attend our training on work stations. Often, I’m pleasantly surprised by the creativity of these folks and how they adapt work stations to match their special subjects!

Jennifer Bartos, the music teacher at Ford Elementary School in Denver, CO., came to my after-school session and shared what she’s been trying in her classroom with music stations. I LOVE it! She does things a little differently, because she has many classes each day with lots of different students. But she makes it work for her! Here are a few of the stations she is using with her 3rd-5th graders on the stage in the auditorium, nonetheless!

Students read and play music here using a variety of instruments

Students read and play music here using a variety of instruments

Students read music and play the bells at this station

Students read music and play the bells at this station

Students also play the Boomwhackers (why didn't they have these when I was in school?)

Students also play the Boomwhackers (why didn’t they have these when I was in school?)

Kids compose music using the last 4 digits of their phone number and play it on the xylophone

Kids compose music using the last 4 digits of their phone number and play it on the xylophone

A computer station is used to teach about the musical staff

A computer station is used to teach about the musical staff

There is an emphasis on learning music vocabulary too

There is an emphasis on learning music vocabulary too

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Here are a few tips on how to set up a buddy reading work station from my book Practice with Purpose. What ideas do you have for this station? Have you used one in your classroom?

Two students sit beside each other on the floor. Each holds a copy of the same fiction book. They are reading a chapter silently and then using discussion cards to talk about what they read. The cards relate to a reading strategy their teacher has been modeling in whole-group instruction—inference.

They take turns reading the cards and then talking about what they think. For example, one the “I Can” list in the buddy reading basket and have chosen the option “I read a paragraph; you read a paragraph.” They are reading the assigned chapter for science in this way and stop to discuss their reading at the end of each section. When they have finished all the assigned reading, they answer the questions in the textbook together. One is the recorder and writes their answers on notebook paper.

Ideas for the Work Station
Teachers like buddy reading because it doesn’t take up much space and is easy to get started. All you need for this station is a basket (discount stores sell some that are just the right size and price!) and two copies of the same book or other short text. This is a portable station that can be taken anywhere in the classroom; you will be wise to set up predetermined places, though, so it doesn’t get overcrowded in any one area of your room. You might set up two or three buddy reading stations to accommodate more pairs of students.

You might set up different-colored buddy reading baskets for students reading at different levels or put three or four titles at different levels in one basket and code them with colored dots to help students find books at their independent reading levels.

Provide sticky notes and pencils, too, so kids can mark where they finished reading for the next time. Use a variety of texts over time, including popular chapter books, your basal reader, and social studies and science textbooks. It is wise to provide shorter text at this station so students have time to finish reading something and discuss it. Include lots of nonfiction, such as current events clipped from the newspaper, Eyewitness books, fact books such as the Guinness Book of World Records, and Cross-Section books.

To help students know exactly what is expected of them at this station, here are some possibilities for the “I Can” list:
I Can . . .
■ Read the same chapter as my buddy and discuss it when we’re finished reading.
■ Decide how we’re going to read here (together orally; you read a page aloud, I read a page aloud; silently to a certain place).
■ Read a nonfiction text together and discuss it as we read it. Then we can write a summary of what we learned as we read.
■ Use the chart on how to read nonfiction text to remind us not to skip any parts.
■ Write questions about what we read for the next kids who come here to read this text. We can put our questions on a sticky note and write the answers on the back.

How the Buddy Reading Work Station Supports Student Performance on State Tests

Having students practice reading at this station builds both comprehension and fluency. The main thing tested on standardized reading tests is comprehension. Having buddies to talk with about reading can increase student interest and engagement and encourage them to read more than they might on their own. When students pair up and practice reading orally, fluency can really improve as well. Improved fluency often aids comprehension. If the standardized test is timed, this can be a real boon to student performance on the test.

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Drama!

Drama work stations often strike fear in the hearts of many educators. In a recent workshop with teachers I showed a video clip on how to introduce the drama station in a 1st grade classroom from Launching Literacy Stations. At this station, two children work together to read or retell a familiar book. In the video, we use the book, Hobbledy Clop by Pat Brisson. It’s a cumulative tale with lots of opportunity for children to join in with the repetitive line, hobbledy clop, as well as to participate in making sounds, such as meow and ssssss along with the animal characters in the book.

After viewing the video, teachers worked in table groups to come up with ideas for what makes a book good for retelling at a drama station. See the chart below for our ideas. We also brainstormed ideas for some other good books for retelling, such as the following:

  • The Napping House
  • Silly Sally
  • There Was an Old Lady (many versions available)
  • Great Big Enormous Turnip (choose a version with the fewest characters)
  • Mean Jean, the Recess Queen
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (and other books in this series)
  • Too Much Noise
  • Click, Clack, Moo
  • Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • Little Red Hen (and other folk tales)
  • Aesop fables (for grades 2 and up)
  • nursery rhymes (for PreK and K)

A great resource for books to retell, complete with retelling pieces ready to use is www.kizclub.com. Click on the Stories and Props. Below each book pictured, click on color for a colored version of related props for that book. Click on B & W for a black and white version of the same retelling pieces. Note that some of the stories there have more pieces than you’ll want to use for retelling. Choose wisely.

For more ideas on using a Drama Station in your classroom, see the following chapters in my books: In Literacy Work Stations (for K-2), read chapter 6, Drama Work Station. In Practice with Purpose (for grades 3-6), read chapter 9, Drama Work Station.

If you try the drama station, please send us pictures of your kids at work and your favorite ideas for this station. Send them to d.diller@live.com and we’ll share them with others. Enjoy this fun station with your students!

Our chart on "What Makes a Good Book for Retelling"

Our chart on "What Makes a Good Book for Retelling"

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What might work well as a portable work station? Where will I store these neatly? What materials will we need here? Where will students use these in the classroom… on the floor, at a desk, in the hall? These are just some of the questions you might have about portable work stations. Take a look at the following photos and ideas from Spaces & Places.

Wire cubes on a tabletop create a storage area for portable stations in this fifth-grade room. Each basket holds a separate station complete with a label naming it and materials needed inside the basket.

Students practice buddy reading using these portable materials stored in a basket. They wear buddy reading visors from a dollar store for novelty (and to keep buddy reading fun). On the right, upper-grade buddy reading materials are stored in a portable basket and carried to another area of the room where a pair of students works together.

Tri-fold project board is used as a portable writing station. Kids set it on the floor and write on clipboard in this fifth-grade classroom as an extension to the writing they do during writer's workshop. The board holds ideas and student writing samples to give kids ideas for their writing practice here.

A portable drama station for kindergarten includes a retelling board (in background) and props and books for retelling.

Portable poetry stations are used in these two classrooms. In the top photo, poetry books are stored in a basket with poetry task cards. In the bottom photo, precut and pre-typed poems taught with in shared reading are stored in a basket and can be glued into kids' poetry notebooks where they visualize and illustrate them.

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How to tell time

Telling time is challenging for young children, and it will take a lot of exposure before they master this skill. Model by demonstrating how to read the clock in your classroom frequently each day. If you use the Every Day Counts series, you might use the 8½-by-11-inch clock that comes with this program to teach students how to count the minutes each day as you color in and count them. Also, use a large model, such as a Judy clock or an old battery-operated analog clock, to show how the hands on a clock work by moving them around and having students observe the motion. Help children understand that the long minute hand goes all the way around the clock once in an hour, tracking 60 minutes, while the shorter hand moves from one numeral to the next, representing the hours.

Teach children how to first look at the long minute hand and count the minute spaces to determine the number of minutes past the hour. Then have them look at the shorter hour hand to see what hour the minutes come after. In first grade, as you teach students how to tell time to the hour and half-hour, model and encourage them to use math talk like this: The long minute hand is pointing straight up to the 0, and the short hand is pointing to the 2. So it is exactly 2 o’clock. And The long minute hand is pointing straight down to the 30-minute mark, halfway around the clock, so it is half past 2, or 2:30. Also, help students understand that the numbers on the clock tell two things: (1) how many minutes have gone past the hour, with each number representing another group of five minutes, and (2) what the hour is. A first grader put it well when she told me, “I get confused because I see the numbers on the clock, and I think that’s how many
minutes.”

This anchor chart was made with first graders in response to a student's comment: "I get confused because I see the numbers on the clock and I think that's how many minutes."

To demonstrate that each number shows 5 minutes, point out and count the 5 spaces the minute hand passes through in order to reach each number on the clock. As the class counts the minutes by ones, emphasizing the groups of fives,
you might have a volunteer use tally marks to record each minute, accumulating a group of 5 each time the minute hand reaches the next numeral. Children can see that the numeral 1 is at the 5-minute mark and goes with 1 group of five,
that the 2 goes with 2 groups of five, or 10 minutes, and that the 3 goes with 3 groups of five, or 15 minutes, and so on. Continue counting the minutes and emphasizing each new group of 5 to the 12. This explicit demonstration is very different from teaching children simply to look at pictures of an analog clock showing time at the hour (reading just the short hand), as shown in many math books and on tests.

Post a daily class schedule that uses either analog or digital clocks and use it to discuss telling time with your students. Use digital clocks with younger students and analog clocks when you are teaching about telling time to first and second graders.

Make a class schedule using analog clocks to teach students how to put time shown on clocks in order. Children won’t necessarily know that 2 o’clock follows 1 o’clock, so be sure to highlight this in your teaching of time as well. Also, knowing what comes next in their day can reduce anxiety for some children.

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Do you have an observation station in your classroom? This is a great station because it can be easily linked to science and social studies standards. Materials can be borrowed from local organizations, such as a high school science lab, children’s or science museum, or even a regional education service center. Ask around to find out what might be available to you and share your ideas with fellow teachers in the comment section!

Below are a few photos from grades 3-6 in Lafayette, IN.

If you open an observation station in your classroom, send us photos and tell us a little about what students are doing and learning in this station. We’d love to see what your class is doing!

A chart of ideas for observation station brainstormed by teachers

A chart of ideas for observation station brainstormed by teachers

Kids observe guinea pig in 3rd grade

Kids observe guinea pig in 3rd grade

Fifth grade observation station in Denver Public Schools at Philips Elementary

Fifth grade observation station in Denver Public Schools at Philips Elementary

Second grade classroom at CMS in Denver has a tarantula (caged) to observe

Second grade classroom at CMS in Denver has a tarantula (caged) to observe

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In the past few weeks I received several questions about setting up a newspaper work station. So here is a section from Practice with Purpose that describes a newspaper station. Please feel free to share your ideas and experiences with this station in the comments section!

A portable newspaper station made with the class includes cut-out headlines, graphics, and matching articles along with directions for the station and a sample of work kids should do there.

Two third graders are working in the newspaper station writing news stories for the quarterly class paper. One is writing a want ad; she is searching for a good adventure story, preferably one set in the mountains with interesting characters. Another student is writing an article about the planets, something they are studying in science. They are writing their  articles on preprinted sheets formatted for their news stories as a support.  A chart is posted in the newspaper station; students have signed up on it ahead of time, noting what they want to write about so they don’t duplicate articles. The teacher will help them format the newspaper by using a template in a computer program; they will type their articles on the computer while at the computer station on another day.

In a fourth-grade classroom, two students are working together, reading the Mini Pages, a syndicated newspaper for kids. It is part of the Saturday paper that the teacher collects weekly at home and laminates. Her students choose one of the newspapers, read the articles together and then use a vis-àvis pen to do the puzzles and answer questions on the last page. The kids enjoy the articles, and the teacher likes the simplicity of the station.

Ideas for the Work Station
This work station is a great way to incorporate current events and nonfiction reading. It’s a great tie-in for social studies and science. There are several ways to set it up. One way is to cut out newspaper articles of interest for your kids. Mount the headline, graphics, and article separately on three different pieces of card stock, and cut to size. Repeat this process for four to five articles. You might include one from the sports section, another from the food section, one from the front page, and another from the editorials for variety. Be sure to include articles your students will be able to read and understand on their own. Then put all the headlines in a zippered plastic bag, all the graphics in another bag, and the articles in a third bag. Have kids match them, read, and discuss them.

Another idea is to use a file folder box to collect newspaper articles. Fill it with file folders that kids label with categories such as “Community Events,” “Heroes,” “Political Cartoons,” “Mistakes in Newspapers,” “Sports,” “Vocabulary,” Cartoons,” and “Weather.” On the front of each folder glue a sample of that type of article. Again, have students contribute to the files. Include colored construction paper, scissors, and glue sticks so students can affix each article to a “card” to be added to the file. You might have each kind of article glued to a certain color to make filing easier. For example, all sports stories are glued onto blue paper, which is then put in the corresponding file folder where “Sports” is written in blue letters. Include generic question cards for kids to answer about the articles.

A third way to set up this station is to use a commercially available newspaper for kids, such as the Mini Pages, Time for Kids, or Scholastic News. (These can be found online also.) Simply laminate the weekly newspaper, hole-punch it in the upper left-hand corner, and add a 1-inch metal book ring. Hang the newspapers on a hook and you have an instant newspaper station.

There are many things students might choose to do at the newspaper station, including some of the following that might be posted on your “I Can” list there:
I Can . . .
■ Write a news article for our class newspaper.
■ Read a newspaper written for kids.
■ Use a newspaper station task card.
■ Add a news article to the appropriate folder in the news file box.
■ Read two articles from different news sources on the same topic, then compare and contrast
them.
■ Read a news article with a partner. Underline facts in blue. Circle opinions in red.

How the Newspaper Work Station Supports Student Performance on State Tests
Reading and writing news articles gives your students practice with one type of nonfiction used in the real world. Many state tests include articles as a genre students must be able to comprehend in the upper grades. Sometimes there are test questions about parts of a news article, such as headlines and captions. Working with features of news articles at work stations gives students lots of opportunities to become comfortable with this genre. In addition, it gives them knowledge of real-world events, which expands their background knowledge and prepares them for distinguishing between fact and
opinion.

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