Archive for the ‘Work stations’ Category

It is so good to be back in classrooms again! All summer I worked around the U.S. with teachers, but the kids were off for the summer. Last week our schools were open, so I got to go to a few of my favorite rooms to work with the students (and their teachers). I visited a few math classes and introduced our first math station in one classroom. We taught a game to the whole class (very thoroughly), had two students show the rest of the class how to play, and then had all kids play with partners as their first math station. More to follow in the next few weeks.

The secret is to introduce each station well, one at a time, to be sure students understand the routine and can work independently. Take something you’ve taught well, and then have students do it with a partner. The teacher isn’t working with small groups. She is walking around the room, checking in and observing students at work.

Two students model how to play the game, Close to 100, for the rest of the class

Two students model how to play the game, Close to 100, for the rest of the class

Directions written with the class on how to play this game

Directions written with the class on how to play this game

All students play in pairs around the room

All students play in pairs around the room

Jamila checks in with partners as they work at their first math station

Jamila checks in with partners as they work at their first math station

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Have you been thinking about setting up a drama station in your classroom? Here is your chance to find out all you need to know about making this great station work for you and your students! Watch the video and then you can download two chapters from Practice with Purpose and Literacy Work Stations where I talk about setting up a drama station.

Chapter 6 from Literacy Work Stations
Chapter 9 from Practice with Purpose

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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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While working at Jackson Elementary in York, PA I saw many students using work stations. One of my favorites was the “Dental Health” station. Kids practiced flossing with yarn and a large model of teeth. There were several familiar books about teeth in this station, too. I love when I see well-organized classroom libraries with labeled baskets to help students choose their “just-right” books. One classroom library had response supports to help kids write about and post responses to what they’d read there. And, last but not least, it’s always very helpful to see kid-friendly objectives displayed in a classroom to help teachers and kids stay on track and get the most they can from the day!

Dental health station

Well-organized classroom library

Classroom library I-Can List

Kid-friendly objectives for the day posted

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Inquiry station

I’ve been working with primary teachers at Mark Twain Elementary in HISD (Houston) on stations. They are an IB school and teach with PYP themes. Currently, kindergarten is studying about life cycles as part of their PYP studies. So, they’re going to set up an Inquiry Station using materials they already have in their rooms. Can’t wait to see what they do!

Here are some of the things they already have set up in their rooms. Right now they’re studying life cycles. Some classrooms have an “I Wonder” board posted. The class can jot down questions about their topic of inquiry to answer at this station!

1- PYP themes are posted in this kindergarten room.

Life cycle materials are already in place.

This "I Wonder" board could be integrated into a new inquiry station.

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I’ve been studying with first grade teachers, Michelle Giles and Maddi Johanek at Outley Elementary in Alief ISD this year. It is such a delight to go to their classrooms weekly and think together about meeting the needs of their diverse learners! They have been doing author studies and are just opening an Author Study Work Station. Here’s a photo of the first day this station was open:


And here’s another example of an author study area from a classroom in Denver, CO:


(show pic #31)


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Do you have a Smart Board station? A kindergarten teacher at Irby in Alachua, FL used her Smart Board in whole group to teach her kids to manipulate sight words to make meaningful sentences. They took turns touching and moving high frequency words and pictures to write and read sentences. They loved it!

A kindergarten child makes sentences using sight words on a Smart Board as part of whole group. This can also be done at a Smart Board station independently.

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