Sunday, October 18, 2015

Reading Workstations

Todays' post is all about workstations!
Last May, when I found out that I would be moving to first grade this year, I started looking for great first grade blogs.
I found lots of great ones, but when read Reagan Tunstall's blog posts on how she uses workstations in her classroom, I knew I wanted to try them.
In kindergarten I used centers daily and loved them.  You can check out my blog post all about kindergarten centers here.
So here's a look at my reading workstations.
First up is my workstation chart.
I chose to have 5 workstations: small group, phonics journal, independent reading, word work, and writing.
I have 20 students, so as of right now, I have 4 students in each group.

One thing I always did with my kindergarten centers, and now with my first grade workstation, is to always have groups start in the same place.  I purposely made my station cards and group cards match.  This way I know where to begin and where to end.
So everyday when we do centers, polar bears will start in small group and end in phonics journals.  It helps the kids and myself get a sense of organization.

Making sure I stick to my 15 min with each group is very important to me.  I get very focused with  my small groups and sometimes forget to switch workstations unless I have an alarm to remind me. 
A month or so ago, I bought this really fun timer from Amazon that would light up and sound an alarm when the timer was finished, but it didn't work.  So back to Amazon it went.  I've been using my cell phone timer until I could find something better.
While we've been on Fall Break I've had time to look for another one.  I just bought a digital timer from Lakeshore, but have yet to use it since we've been on break for the past two weeks.  So I'll let you know how it works. 

Here is my small group table.

When I first introduced workstations back in August, I had my small groups working on some literacy activities so that I could monitor the class and make sure that everyone was on task while we were learning workstations.

Have I mentioned that I'm obsessed with Lakeshore?

Next is phonics journals.
I worked on introducing these interactive journals everyday during the first 2 weeks of school.  First, I would show how to cut and glue the pieces onto my journal while projecting onto our Promethean board.  Then we would work on the journal as a class.
The second week I started timing them because they were taking like 20-30 min to cut, glue, and complete their journal.  So I started the timer at 20 min and then we went down each day from there.  I was a little worried at first that my students wouldn't be able to complete their journals in 15 min.  But once they knew that they would have a time limit, they haven't had any issues.
Most of my phonics journals come from this set by Teaching with Love and Laughter.  Sometimes I mix it up by using a kindergarten set, same author, that I never got to use last year.
I love this set because everything is organized by skill.  So I can print out activities that build on our spelling/phonics skills for the week.

Independent Reading is next.
For right now students have been choosing books from our book nook.
The books are leveled, but we just got our student leveling program before Fall Break.  So I haven't' had a chance to sort my kids yet. 
So as of right now I let my higher groups choose from the top two shelves and my lower groups choose from the top shelf.

I also have kid magazines and class books in there that anyone can read.

I'm super excited about our new computer program Raz-Kids!  My plan is to have two kids working on computers while the other two read in book nook.  Then the next day they would switch.

Then we have Word Work.
This is where we work on our spelling pattern or phonics skill for the week.

Before school began in July, I invested in two phonics bundles from TpT.  They are both organized by spelling pattern, so I just pick and choose from each set.
The first is by Reagan Tunstall and the second is my A Year of Many Firsts.

My last station is writing.

Some of the things I use for this station include:
- Writing Activities Menu - Teaching with Love and Laughter
- Build It & Write It - Brenda Tejeda
- Write Away - Shuna Pocket Full of Kinders

Here's a view from the first day as my kids where hard at work.

Now, I'm going to go into a little more depth with each workstation and show things that we've been working on lately now that this is a routine for us.
I always quickly go over what is expected each day.
Here I'm showing an example under the digital projector so that my kids can see it on the Promethean board.


Then I go hang it up beside our write site so that my students can refer back to it.

At my write site, I like to keep: scissors, a glue tub, a tidy tub, crayons, smelly pencils, and of course their work.

I love these phonics based writing pages from A Teachable Teacher.

Phonics Journals
I have an example page already cut and glued, so I'll show it on the projector.

And then I put out the basket with the journal page and my example so that my kids can refer back to it.

For now, we keep our journals in crates that match each groups color.  The phonics journals are in the blue tubs and our math journals are in the green tubs.
We always get out our journals before we begin workstations.  This prevents wasted time while kids try to locate their journals.
I have a journal monitor in each group who passes out journals before we begin.

I bought these fun composition notebooks at Walmart this summer.
I purposefully bought the exact same number of each color so that if a student had a pink phonics journal, then they would have a pink math journal too.  I thought that might cut down on confusion.
I made these fun little labels and printed them on avery label paper so that they'd stick onto our journals.

I also saw this great idea on Pinterest, I can't remember who the original idea came from.  I taped ribbon to the inside back cover of each journal so that each journal has a built in bookmark.
The blue ribbon matches the blue tub for phonics journals, because I'm a dork like that.

Here's a peek at our math journals.

This one has a green ribbon, which matches the green math tub.

Teaching with Love and Laughter has written some blog posts on how she incorporates interactive phonics journals into her class.  One idea that I loved from her blog was to have the kids color the part that needs to be glued. 
That was my biggest concern over using interactive journals, that my kids would glue the entire paper down instead of just the one part.  But so far, we haven't had any issues and I think its because of her little tip.

Word Work
I bought two drawer towers at Big Lots this summer.  One is for reading workstations and the other for math workstations.

I just divide out the work for each day of the week.  And my students know where to go.

Like with the other stations, I do a partial example on the board.

Then, I lay the example on the top of the work tower for students to refer back to.

These sorting cards and pages came from Teaching with Love and Laughter's Word Sort Activity Bundle.

The word work activities that you see above and below this sentence came from the two phonics bundles I linked at the beginning of this post.

Small Groups:
This was the workstation I stressed about most this summer and its turned out to be my favorite.
I like to have a plan for our weekly small groups, but I also like to switch things up and keep it fun.
On Mondays, we'll usually read from our reading book.  I love that it has our sight words for the week, then words to practice our spelling pattern, and then a story using both the new sight words and our new spelling pattern.
Sometimes we read aloud all together, sometimes I have my students take turns reading with a partner while I listen.

Sometimes we'll work on a reading workbook page, especially if I know my students will need support completing it.

On  Tuesday's we'll usually do these word building pages by, you guess it, Teaching with Love and Laughter.

This upside down one is mine.
She includes the letter cards for you to print and use.  But I thought, hmm I have these letter cards I can use instead.
Bad idea.
Not only were they huge and took up a lot of room at our table, the kids kept taking each others letters by accident and then the other student would be searching all over for their missing letter.

So I typed up the alphabet in little boxes, printed 2 sets on different colors.  I purposely used 5 different colors of paper.  4 for my kids and 1 for me.  So now we know whose letter card is on the floor and no one is stealing anyone else's cards anymore.

I love these word building pages.  It really helps me see who is still struggling with sounds and identifying letters.

On Wednesday's we wear pink!

No, just kidding.  Couldn't help myself because I love that movie.

On Wednesday's I like to use these phonics dice games from Reagan Tunstall.

I keep the game boards in plastic sleeves and the writing cards in a pencil pouch. 

I love easy storage.

Super easy game.  Students roll the dice, move their bear, figure out the phonics pattern (this game was r blends), and write it on their card.

On Thursdays, the kids usually read their stories again, or read the independent readers that came with our reading series, while they spend their BEE Bucks in our Behavior Catalog.

Now, I thought I'd show how I keep my small group tools organized.

Functional organization makes my heart happy!

Here we have fun pointers for reading and dice and bears for our phonics games.

Color dice and crayons for rainbow writing.

Dry erase markers and eraser socks for when we use dry erase boards.

Independent readers.

Dry erase boards.

Letter organization for our word building activity pages.

Writing strips from Tara West.

I love National Geographic Young Explorer magazines.
And when we get back from Fall Break, I'm going to start these Differentiated Comprehension Journals by A Year of Many Firsts with my 2 highest groups.

Hope you enjoyed this little peek into our daily reading workstations.

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