Archive for the ‘Work stations’ Category

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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I enjoyed working with K-2 teachers in Alachua, FL recently. We looked at their literacy stations and how to add depth and purpose. They are required to post “essential questions” in kid-friendly language to answer with their classes. I’ve posted some clear examples here.

Essential questions for literacy and math


I love that this teacher posted her EQ on a sentence strip attached to her overhead. It was easy for everyone to see!

An "I Can" list made with this 1st grade class helps students know clearly what is expected at this poetry station.

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In Randolph Co., NC, we focused on how to plan for literacy work stations. First, we looked at space and teachers mapped out their classrooms using paper and sticky notes. Then we examined quality whole group teaching based on state standards for reading. FInally, teachers worked in teams to plan and chart what kids would practice at literacy work stations. The photos tell the story!

Teachers work in pairs to map out space in their classrooms using paper and sticky notes

Working in teams, educators chart what they’re teaching, materials they’re using, and how they’ll apply that practice to literacy work stations:

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In this classroom (filled with big kids and big desks), half the students work with pairs in buddy reading. They read fiction books and talk about characters and character traits. They work together using a graphic organizer to think about characters and their traits (which the teacher modeled in whole group prior to students using this independently).

The other half of the class goes to literacy stations with partners, including poetry, vocabulary, writing, computer, and classroom library.

Half the class does buddy reading using different books.

They use a graphic organizer to discuss and record character traits.

The other half of the class goes to stations with partners. This management board directs them to their station for the day. (Note that this teacher sees 3 classes each day. Each class has cards in a different color. Names from students in the teacher's first class of the day are on green cards, the second class's names are on pink, and the third are on blue.)

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I always enjoy working with teachers in Lafayette, IN, where I taught classes on literacy work stations. During the training we brainstormed ideas for having an observation station in K-2. You might cover a table with a large piece of bulletin board paper, set up in a similar fashion to the chart pictured below. Place an object or two in the middle for kids to observe, place a few related books at this station, and include a magnifying glass. Possible objects include: fall leaves, rocks, shells, a bug in a jar, an ant farm, worms in a terrarium… The possibilities are endless! Provide crayons or colored pencils for students to jot down their observations and thinking in words and pictures on the paper.

First, talk with your class about questions they might answer as they observe, and list each question in a quadrant on the paper. Here’s a sample of what this might look like. Please let me know if you try this in your classroom. We’d love to see pictures of what your kids do!

Sample recording space for an observation station in primary grades

Teachers discuss ideas at training in Lafayette, IN at Wabash Valley Education Center

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A reader recently sent me this question, and I’d love if some of you could post a few lines on how you got started with stations in your kindergarten classrooms. I’ll follow up with comments, too. (I’m asking for your help because I just found out that all my website email from the past 6 weeks went to a spam folder, and there were 64 messages that I hadn’t received including the one below!) Thanks for helping me! 
From a teacher in NC– Hi! Our Kindergarten team is currently reading your book about Literacy Work Stations.  We are going to implement these into our schedule. I would like to know how and how many to introduce in K at a time.  Also when is it appropiate to introduce the work stations since some Kinders are getting adjusted to school.  Thanks, Joye

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Just like when we teach students, we built upon our successes with literacy work stations. From there, we learned how to teach with math work stations, too! As I talked about how to get started, I used the analogy of a cake with layers. One of the teachers is starting a new business, baking cakes, and brought one in for tasting. (Yum! I think she will be very successful!) I pointed to the cake and explained that the first 4-6 weeks of school are like the first layer of the cake. After it has been established, layer on small group instruction. A delicious lesson!

Teachers charted and shared successes they had with literacy work stations last year

We used a cake as an analogy for "layering" on small group instruction once stations are established (a delicious example!)

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