Readers' Workshop Changes: Literacy Tasks

At the beginning of the year, I blogged about how I was making my new district's requirement of readers' workshop work with what I already knew was best for kids.

It's been an adventure to say the least!  So, here I am reporting that by October of this year, we had closed down literacy stations in my classroom for the first time in 10 years.  Gone.  Out the Window.

While I truly believe that hands on experiences in literacy stations are great for's not great for anybody if the first graders can't quit talking long enough to stay on task! :)  In 10 years of first grade literacy stations, I have never had so many problems getting kids to use quiet voices while working!  I pulled out all of the tricks I knew to pull out: turning lights down during readers workshop, playing quiet working music, rewarding students who worked the quietest....nothing worked long term.

And let's face it: Guided Reading is really the goal during Readers' Workshop.  I need to be able to meet with my kids and intervene on their level in a small group setting.  And if I can't do that because of issues I'm having with other kiddos staying on task, then I've just waisted a full hour of my instructional day!

Do I think I'll ever do literacy stations again? Of course!  It just wasn't best practice for this class.  As with each group, we modify and adjust.

I'll be spending the next few blogs talking about the changes I made.  First up....

If your kids don't do "stations" or "centers" while you meet with guided reading groups, then what do they actually DO?

Well, they do literacy stations still.

Except every one does the same station.

At their desks.

And for whatever reason that has cleared up 90% of our volume problems.  I can't explain it.  It doesn't make a lick of sense...especially when I've had groups who the only time they were quiet was during literacy stations!  But for this group, it was just too much to handle!

I know that this is not an earth shattering idea.  Many people have probably implemented very similar routines into readers' workshop....this is just an update on my journey to find the best fit for me and Readers' Workshop!

Here is what a week of tasks looks like for our "literacy stations."

1. Computer Time/Read to Self
First of all, our school is blessed with laptop carts to share between our hallway.  So, during readers workshop, 2 table groups (8 kids) read to self on one of our laptops.  I use this as a reward system and choose the 2 hardest working groups during readers workshop...but also, I try to rotate everyone through as best I can.

They have 2 choices on the computer to read to self:
>>> Raz-Kids {your school totally needs to jump on board this AMAZING resource if you haven't already!}

>>> Pebble Go {another resource your librarian needs to sign your school up for!}.  On Pebble Go, students are given a specific category of articles to read which correlates with science or social studies we are studying through our Common Core integrated units. The kids have LOVED getting to read and make connections to our big ideas!

2. Read to Self
Usually Mondays, we have quiet reading.  This is also our day we shop for new books from our classroom library. Book shopping and quiet reading just seem to work well together.   This day is essentially our classroom library station except everyone is doing it at the same time!  There are plenty of reading response sheets to give them to work on after they read, but usually I don't give them an extra assignment because of the time it takes to shop for books.  This also gives them a chance to catch up on their reading group assignment for me {which I'll blog about next}.

3. Word Work
On Tuesdays, we work on our phonics sounds for the week.  This can change from week to week, but we do anything from phonics printables and games that come from our district's adopted phonics series, Benchmark Phonics, to sorts from my phonics packets!

When they finish their assignment, they can read to self or to a buddy.

4. Buddy Reading
Usually on Wednesdays, students read to a buddy.  We still use the same routines and "I can" card goals from our literacy station, it's just that everyone is doing buddy reading instead of just one set of partners.

They can choose to read at their desks or can choose a quiet spot around the room to buddy read.

Sometimes, they just buddy read from their browsing box or library books.  On this day, they are usually required to do the buddy reading recording sheet from the literacy stations packet.

Sometimes, they are given a Scholastic News article to read with their buddy.  I use these as much as I can as they connect with our big ideas!  And the kids LOVE these.  The follow the procedure for our big idea station on this day:  Circle sight words, read the article to a buddy and then answer questions on the back.

4. Writers' Workshop
Okay, I'm just gonna be real for a second...I have some major time issues this year!  And, specifically, I have a day where we have 3 different activity times when kids aren't in the room.  So, on that day, Thursday, we combine readers' and writers' workshop!  Instead of meeting with small writing groups during writers' workshop, I meet with guided reading groups during that time and we "kill" two birds with one stone!

5. Sight Word Practice
Once a week, students work on practicing their sight words for the week using one of our sight word games from our packet.  These are the same activities I used for literacy stations, they are just all doing them at the same time now at their desk.

Follow me on Facebook, bloglovin, and instagram to catch my next post on reading response and readers' workshop!

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