One observation I’ve made recently is that not all work stations are equal. Think about these questions. Are your stations connected to your whole group and small group lessons? Are they manageable for the kids to do on their own? Are you able to adjust them with ease so that you can keep focus on small group? It is easy to put a kid on a laptop in front of a website, but is this best? With a very busy schedule and long list of to-dos, one of the biggest challenges for teachers trying to implement small group instruction and a workshop model is planning for work stations. I totally get it and see it! So, let’s talk about how to take this headache and turn it into productivity.
What Makes a Quality Work Station?
Practice with Purpose
According to Debbie Diller, literacy work stations should begin with what it is you are teaching in order for the station to provide practice that is purposeful. The key is to focus on the content versus fluff and frills, so when we’re planning, the stations should be part of that plan. When student practice is directly tied to instruction, you will KNOW if they’re getting concepts or not. One easy way to be sure your station is tied is to model it with your kids as part of the lesson and then, moving that activity into a station for independent practice.
Slow down to Speed Up
Keep Balance with the Process and Product
Do What Works Best for You and Your Kids
Ask yourself these questions. Is what I have in place working well for my students and I? Am I following my district’s expectations? If the answer is yes, you may not need drastic changes to your station routine. Keep your stations running like a machine if they already are. Keep in mind that there is no one way that will help each child. You know your students’ needs, and as long as the work your students are doing in their work station gives you the data you need for assessment, then you’re good to go. You want high engagement and progress, so keeping it simple, yet purposeful will make a huge difference to your sanity.
Easy to Implement Options
Start with Freebies:
Of course, the first place to check for easy to implement options is on Teachers Pay Teachers and teaching blogs. There are so many free files on TPT which make planning easier for teachers, but you can also find great reasonably priced resources that can be tailored to your needs.
Literacy Workstation Bundle:
Earlier this year, one of my teachers was looking for a system that would make setting up stations quicker and easier. She was overwhelmed with planning whole group and small group lessons, so I helped her with this set. The basics remain the same, but students have choices in each station. Students work on fluency, comprehension, word study, and writing. The teacher can edit the poetry cards to use favorite fonts and poems that fit her current themes or teaching topics. For the comprehension station, the teacher just needs to gather a collection of good fit picture books that can be used with the organizers, task cards, etc. The word study station is matched to the child’s weekly list, so whether he/she is at the Letter Name Stage or Syllable Juncture, the materials work.
For more information on this set, [click here] or the image below. There is a full preview of each station type on TPT and in my blog shop.
Paper Bag Books for Comprehension:
Another fun option teachers might be interested in are the paper bag book projects that I’ve been adding to my store. There is a bundle of 13 books for comprehension. Here is a preview of those I have completed. To learn more about them, [click here] or check out the blog shop link below.
Stations do not need to be challenging, and this is an area where I’m helping many of the teachers I work with. If you have questions or need help, I am happy to chat with you and offer what I can.
Have a great day!