Successful reading programs all have several components that need to be taught and practiced. Comprehension, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and writing all need to be apart of a reading program. You may have added several ways you practice these with your students in your mind map. While it is our responsibility as instructors to teach these skills, we want our students to be able to use the skills independently while reading. Let’s share how you added to your mind map.
As teachers shift the responsibility to students, much modeling must be involved. This can be exemplified through the use of mini-lessons. The next step would be “handholding”. This would be when teachers and students share the responsibility. Students can attempt what the teacher has been modeling, however, the teacher will still be there to offer assistance and guidance. The final step would be the students independently using the skills learned. This can only be achieved through much modeling, practice, and guidance.
Why use Literacy Work Stations? It can incorporate independent practice for all components of reading while meeting the needs of all students and offering differentiated practice, reaching all learners.
According to Debbie Diller (2003), literacy workstations are “an area within the classroom where students work alone or interact with one another, using instructional materials to explore and expand their literacy. It is a place where a variety of activities reinforce and/or extend learning, often without the assistance of the classroom teacher. It is a time for students to practice reading, writing, speaking, listening, and working with letters and words.
Literacy work stations differ from traditional centers in a number of ways. For example, LWS include materials that the teacher has taught with and modeled and remain up all year, while traditional centers add new material and are changed weekly. Traditional centers are often used when all other work is finished and offers the same work for all students. However, LWS are a daily task and offers much differentiation. LWS also build a relationship between teacher and student because they come up with directions for activities together, while traditional centers are teacher created and prepared. In addition, LWS allows for the teacher to work with small groups to differentiate instruction. In traditional centers, teachers usually do the same activity with each group.
Begin by giving your students quiet independence practice. Students will be independent reading and responding. Books are self-selected by the students. Teachers should model the procedures for self-selecting a “just right” book and how to respond to it. Diller suggests that students chose several books before independent reading time and place on their desk (p.41). The classroom library should be closed during this time. Active independent practice should be given after quiet practice. Students will at this time be participating in LWS and small groups.
In order to have a successful active independent practice, space, time, and grades need to be considered with planning LWS. First, think about where you want your students to practice independently. Diller suggests using every area you can think of, such as space on the floor, bulletin boards on the walls, in the corners of your classroom, and even on your students desks (p. 13). Plan for time. You can make a compromise in your schedule by incorporating grammar, spelling, and handwriting together and in the LWS. Also, plan for grades. You may continue to take traditional grades, but LWS can offer grades as well due to the independent work.
“ Literacy work stations should be connected with what you have already taught.” (Diller, p. 17). Therefore, beginning LWS with a mini-lesson would give students a purpose for the day. There are three instances in which a mini-lesson is necessary: introducing a new work station, adding something new to a work station, and when reviewing or reteaching a work station activity. Teachers should incorporate before, during, and after reading strategies into minilessons, focusing on one topic at a time.
Management boards are used to help the students (and teacher) know where they are to go. They can be used as pocket charts, posters, bulletin boards, computers, or walls. Use whatever is best for you and your students. It should include the child name or picture, and the station they are to go to.
When getting started with any new program, teachers have questions. Brainstorm with your group answers to the following.
It is best when 2 students work together in LWS to decrease in behavioral problems and noise level. The number of stations you have depends on you and your students. Some teachers prefer 4 stations, while others like 8 to 10. Shortly, we will discuss several work stations you can use in your classroom. However, you should pick your work stations to meet your student needs and complement your content. Please, use the materials you already have, as one of the principles of LWS is “less is more.” If your work stations are 20-30 minutes, and you effecitvely included open-ended, interesting stations, your students will not finish early!
I Can lists are lists that students and teachers develop together, of activities that be included at a work station. I Can lists give students a sense of ownership and belonging and ensure students spend their time wisely. This is an example of an I Can list for the newspaper work station.
When it is time to begin introducing and modeling the LWS, begin with the classroom library first. Give students assessments to help determine reading levels. Also, teach mini-lessons to help students learn how to select their “just right” books. Teachers should also model to students how to choose a book. This work station is not meant to be a silent work station. Students will be reading, writing, and talking about authors. Also, students will be reading and recommending book to others. Students will be responding to what they read by writing reviews and using sticky notes to pose questions. Students keep a reading log to keep a record of the books they have read at this station. Assess learners work by reading their responses and keeping track of their reading log. Keep this work station interesting by adding books made by the class. Also, students love to read books “blessed” by the teacher, meaning giving a short book talk without giving away too much information about the book.
To begin, set up a special place for writing. This shows students, parents, and teachers you care about writing. Include writing resources that may be helpful when writing, such as posters. Have your students write a variety of things: letters, lists, directions, stories, chapter books, etc. Students can also write a description of things, people, or places. Have a mini-lesson about author’s purpose and ask students to write to persuade, entertain or inform. Make students an expert on a certain topic and have them write about it. For example, Lucy may be an expert about math and John is an expert about basketball. Use picture books as models for writing. Students can write summaries about other content areas. Teachers can have many mini-lessons about the 6 traits of writing that can be incorporated into this work station.
Some work stations are easy to set up. They take little preparation; however, it is still important for the teacher to model the steps. Remember to incorporate I can lists.
At the newspaper work station, students can write a want ad or an article on preprinted sheets. Also, a fun idea would be to cut out five headlines, pictures, and articles from a newspaper, and have students match. Learners can also use student newspapers such as Time for Kids at this station.
Vocabulary greatly affects comprehension; therefore, it is very important for students to participate in word study activities. The following are activities to include in this workstation. Scrabble Sorts Make words Words within words Word webs Illustrate words Dictionary work Crossword puzzles Wordy study games
The poetry work station is an excellent station to learn more about writing and parts of speech. Students can read, write, perform, copy, illustrate, compare, respond to, and memorize poems.
The drama work station is a great way to practice fluency and creativity. It is also a place where wiggly students can get some energy out. Some of the activities that can be included at this work station are guess the emotion and working with mood. Guess the emotion is a game in which students convey an emotion that is provided on a card. Students can also write a script and add motions to poems they have read.
As a result of the many activities that are offered at each work station and the I can lists, students are offered many opportunities to work at an instructional level, rather than the too easy or challenging.
At first, the teacher should be walking around, assisting and guiding the students. But as students shift to independent practice, teachers can begin pulling learners for small reading groups. Small groups are another way to incorporate differentiated instruction.
Before beginning small groups, there are important things to consider. How many students per group? How often do they meet and for how long? What will I teach? What are the needs and levels of my students? Most of the answers are unique to your students. It is suggested that the group size stay within 3 to 6 students.
As you implement small groups, it is a wise idea to keep things organized. Plan beforehand the lessons and activities you are going to include with each group. Also, choose which the days you will meet with each group. You may want to meet with each group everyday, or one or two groups a day. Leave a small portion for taking notes about your students.
The fun part is putting it all together. When you have established successful literacy workstations in which students can work independently, it is then okay to incorporate small groups. At this time, you can have a well rounded reading program that includes reading, writing, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency!
In order to ensure that your students are responding well to the literacy work stations and small groups, you must have an evaluation plan. For LWS, a teacher should keep a checklist to be sure all assignments are being completed. Also, especially at the beginning of LWS, teachers should make many observations. Some of the assignments can be graded. In Small groups, teachers can make a checklist and make observations, as well. In addition, assessments, such as fluency tests or oral tests can be given.
Organizing Small Groups Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Group Stars, Circles Diamonds Stars Diamonds Circles Activity Leveled readers Leveled readers Syllable patterns High frequency words Mystery word Notes
With your group, come up with an example of a table of how you implement small groups. Come up with groups and activities.
Diller, D. (2003). Literacy work station: making stations work. Portland, Maine : Stenhouse Publishers.
Diller, D. (2005). Practice with purpose: literacy work stations for grades 3-6. Portland, Maine : Stenhouse Publishers.
Diller, D. (November 11, 2009). Spotlight on small groups: part 1. Stenhouse Publishers. Retrieved July 20, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM_roXStSzs
Diller, D. (November 11, 2009). Spotlight on small groups: part 1. Stenhouse Publishers. Retrieved July 20, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYYV-iMUA4Q&feature=related
Diller, D. (July 20, 2009). Why teach small groups. Stenhouse Publishers. Retrieved July 20, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8if72ROI7ws&feature=related
Kosanovich, M., Ladinsky,K., Nelson, L., & Torgesen, J.(n.d.). Differentiated reading instruction: small group alternative lesson structures for all students. Florida center for reading research . Retrieved July 15, 2010, from http://www.fcrr.org/assessment/pdf/smallgroupalternativelessonstructures.pdf
Literacy work stations. (2009). Kyrene School District No. 28. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/u/kyrene?q=cache:0wPUjl46jswJ:www.kyrene.org/staff/jsorge/litworkstations/Literacy%2520Work%2520Station.ppt+literacy+work+stations&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&ie=UTF-8
Maiers, A. (February 21, 2010. 1 st grade mini-lesson. Retrieved July 20, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWDZqopREwg&feature=related