Sunday, February 23, 2014

Literacy Stations: A Love/Hate Relationship

Hi All! 
 I don't know about you, but I have a LOVE/HATE relationship with literacy stations. 
(Disclosure...  Not all of my stations are "Literacy" stations.  Some of my stations are math and content stations.  I call them "Literacy Stations" because that is what I find easiest...  I guess just 'stations' would be even easier... oh well!) 

Arvin, Kern County, California. Co-op store and gas station established December 1939 in the Arvin F . . . - NARA - 521769
Cool old picture! Stations... stations...  there is a connection here somewhere.  
I love the small group interactions, the ability to have small groups of students practice skills learned in class,  the time to work with individuals or small groups while the rest of the class is working independently (fingers crossed), and the chance to let my students develop their independence and problem solving skills.

I hate the initial time consuming organization and planning.  I especially hate the first couple of days when I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to make sure everyone understands what they are suppose to be doing. It seems that, even though I have very clear directions on each station folder and have given, what I think, are very clear instructions, some students still struggle with figuring it all out.  I find myself parroting, "Did you read the directions?" a million times.
Multicolored parrot face (7767885876)
Its like looking in a mirror!

Luckily, the dependence and insecurity, for most students, only lasts the first several days of literacy stations.  Soon the kiddos get the hang of it.  Students who have been at that station step in and explain if needed, and when I walk around and check in on each group I usually get the thumbs-up and a "We've got this, Mrs. D." and that make me feel so proud of them!

I've been doing literacy stations for years now.  You'd think I would have it all under control, but I am just not that kind of person.  I started Literacy stations when I was teaching 5th grade and came across this book:
For those of you who are new to literacy station or are just curious, I'll share with you how I run literacy stations in my class.  I usually don't start literacy stations until mid-year.  I don't believe my 4th graders are ready for it until then, and I have a lot of group teaching I need to do to prepare them for what they will be practicing.

I start by figuring out how many groups I'll need.  I have 33 students this year, so I have 11 stations with 3 kiddos in each station.
Forgive the EAR...  It is for a speaking lesson...  Speak to the ear!  
I make each student a name magnet with colorful card stock and labels.  I don't laminate them... they don't get moved much.  Instead, when I am switching literacy stations, I rotate the magnet with the name of the station.  This save me a bunch of shuffling!

For each station I have a folder with a clear pocket on the front.  I insert the station objectives/goals and instructions into the clear pocket so that students can easily see and read what the expectations are and I put all of the materials inside.   I originally started with just ordinary file folders stapled at the side, but recently just purchased folder pockets that I will be using instead.  These will help keep each station's materials all in one place!

In the morning, when students come into the room, they take their attendance using Class Dojo, check in homework, sharpen pencils, etc.  and then they get their station folders and get to work.
Here are some of the stations that I have going this round:

Homophone Practice

Figurative Language Sort

Adjective Order Activity

Science Film - Volcanoes

Great use for old technology.  I have some wonderful Eyewitness VCR tapes and I had an old tv/vcr combo gathering dust in my attic.  The kiddos think it is "vintage".  

Raz-Kids Reading

The Private Eye - Science Investigation

Proof It!  Editing Game

Buddy Post Card Writing - Practicing Letter Form

Content Reading - Using Think Marks to code the text

Reading Comprehension

IXL Math

After about 25 minutes at stations, students are given time to fill out their Literacy Station Reflections.  I "randomly" collect 10 a day to look over and at the end of the rotation of all 11 stations I collect them.  
Click HERE to download this FREE Literacy Station Reflection Form  

When planning for the next rotation, I keep several of the same stations, but add in new ones.  My next round I plan on trading the Figurative Language sort for another activity I found on TpT, changing out the grammar stations for different ones, and adding in some practice activities for the upcoming state testing (ugh!).

Now that my class and I are almost finished with the first rotation of Literacy Stations my HATE toward them is waning and I am hoping that on this next round I will fall in LOVE again.  Students will be more familiar with the routine and several of the stations and I will be able to spend less time getting everyone going and more time meeting with individual kiddos.

How do you feel about stations in your classroom?  Do you use them?  If so, I'd love to get some ideas from you about what kind of things you are doing or some great resource ideas!  If you have a wonderful TpT product that would work well for 3rd - 5th graders, feel free to add it to your comment below!

Thanks for visiting!


  1. I nominated your blog for the Liebster award. Go check out my post and see what it's all about!

    1. Thank you, Courtney! I'm very honored! I'll be sure to check out your post. :)

  2. Could you share whose resources were in your pic? I really like the Answer the Homophone Game.. looks like something my students could use!! I use literacy centers, too, and LOVE them. I like that you also add in other curricular areas because it is so true, being literate and able to read is necessary in everything!! THank you for sharing.. I would really love to know some of the resources if you get a moment.. I am always looking at adding activities to my repertoire!



    1. Hi Susan,
      The Homophone Game and the Proof It! game are resources I got when I took a "Make it and Take it" class many years ago. Unfortunately, I don't remember who taught the class because it was so long ago. I might have to come up with my own version for my TpT store. :) The Think It marks are mine. I made them before TpT and am in the process of creating a set for TpT. The other resources are random ones I have had for years. I am sorry if that wasn't much help. I am like you, I gather from a variety of places depending on what my kiddos need at the moment.
      Thank you for visiting!