Re-Working Independent Work Time

Figuring out how to maneuver different schedules is a fact of life as a teacher.   Between my recess and lunch times, the aide I am lucky enough to have, and the RSP teacher who also needs to schedule into my room to work with students (not to mention any specials we have throughout the week...I know, we are lucky to have them!), I have quite a lot to juggle when it comes to my language arts block.

I have been really struggling this year trying to accommodate everything I *want* to do with everything I *have* to do and I think I may have a solution.  It is still in it's infancy, and things in my world are constantly changing, BUT all of the elements of what I want are there.  So I am going to share this with you now.

Basically, I have reworked my Independent Work Time.  I usually use this time as a "catch up" for my students but they weren't always catching up.  The students never really got to what I wanted them to do because they were so busy (or not so busily) working on the first task and never moving forward.  Then I would have the students who finished everything in a few minutes and I was constantly searching for something for them to do.

So now, I have incorporated the rotation idea behind my Test Prep Rotations into the IWT time.  Each week, the students are given this checklist.

Here is a copy of the checklist for you. 












Each station will be visited once over the course of the week.  What I like about these stations is that I took something that I was doing once a week anyway (ie: the grammar stuff, or the root words) and just turned it into a station.  Didn't take a lot of thought on my part to do that one ;)  When the students are at the station for the day, they are at the station doing the task.  Each of the tasks are designed to last the entire half hour.









The tasks are:

Read to Self -- they need to read.  I found that my students just weren't given adequate time to actually read a book for fun.  I know that 30 minutes a week isn't the most ideal, but it is a start.






Reading Response -- the students have a few options here.  They can complete a Book Blog (which I will blog about soon), their Reading Record Rings, a Comprehension Mat, or complete the response to the weekly story during this time.  It is up to them, but they MUST be responding during this entire time.  No dilly dallying!


Writing -- We are just beginning to get the process of constructing an adequate paragraph down, so the students have some journal type topics for now.  Eventually this will become a "writer's workshop" area where they continue with our writing lessons from the writing block.







Grammar and Vocabulary -- right now, they are doing root word work.  I like that they are doing this, they like that they are doing this, and I am not sure it will change much throughout the year.  








 While they are working on the stations, I am calling groups, two for 15 minutes each.  This means, that some of the kids only get 15 minutes for their station.  That is ok though, since when they are working with me, I am providing remediation on what the kids need (based on their weekly quizzes and the breakdown that I have).  I am really liking this because, honestly, it is forcing me to work with the students in a more systematic way.  Before, I would call the groups, but really, since now I am part of the rotation, I can't really 'find something else to do'.  I am getting so much more bang for my buck right now.

When the students are done with the rotation for the day, they write on their chart where they visited, what they did, and if they finished.  If they saw me, they write that down as well. 

You will notice that there are only 4 stations (if you exclude me).  That is purposeful.  One day a week, on Thursdays actually, I give the students a comprehension quiz/language arts quiz.  When they are finished with quiz, that is the time for them to catch up on all the work that they didn't complete at the stations.  Thursday is our "catch up" day (which, luckily enough, we also have built into our reading series, so nothing is being lost)

Then, the students turn in their sheet with all of their completed work, and receive a work habits score on it.

So that is it.  Just a different way for me to organize my IWT time.  How do you organize yours? 
 

26 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your stations!! I do a similar rotations. I love your forms.

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  2. How long is your typical LA block? Have you shared a breakdown of your whole block before?

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    1. I have not shared a breakdown of it all before, but I have two hours for LA. What I just shared takes 30 mins of it.

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  3. We are blogging about books too! Well, just starting too. We're using KidBlog--what do you use? Ok, don't answer that, I can wait 'til your post! :)

    I loved reading this--it's so interesting to see what you do in your room. My independent times fall within the Work Period of our various workshops.

    Have I told you I adore your blog and work? Haha!

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    1. We've blogged a few times about books. I always had a science blog in 5th, but in 4th I decided to make it about reading/writing. If you have any ideas for what to have them write about, I'd love to hear!

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    2. We actually aren't doing it on the computer...it is on paper! But I will show you how we do it soon :)

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    3. And Kristen, I adore you right back :)

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  4. I love your blog- so much great information! Would you mind sharing what you typically do for your 2-hour language arts block? I would love to know how you do it.

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    1. I most definitely will blog about it one day. Just have to get it all settled and down on paper ;)

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  5. Love this system, Stephanie. You seem to have it all under control. I love reading about how things run in your room. Like seriously LOVE :)
    Elizabeth

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I am glad they all seem under control. Sometimes, I am just not so sure ;) lol

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  6. I love how you explained all your stations. I'm curious....what do you do with your group of students and do students do one group per day or several? Aslo, do you see all students in your group during the week? Just trying to lay it out in my head since we are required to do workstations all day long this year. Thanks for all your hard work! You're awesome!

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    1. With my small groups, I do various things. I pull them based on their need. So I actually don't see regular groups of kids...meaning, I don't see Johnny and Tony every Monday, you know?

      When I see groups, I see two different sets of kids for 15 minutes each. So each child in my room chooses a station, and if I call them for a group, they come over, work with me, then go back to the station.

      I try to see everyone who needs some sort of remediation during the week. If I have time, I do meet with my group of higher students for enrichment.

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  7. What a great idea! Thank you for sharing! You have such wonderful ideas to keep your students engaged and learning. I'm curious, what do your weekly comprehension/language arts quizzes look like?

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    1. I get them from my reading series. They look very similar to our standardized tests.

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  8. And this is why yours is my favorite blog of all! This is EXACTLY what I need, right now. Thank you for sharing yet again. You're the best!

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    1. And your comment was exactly what I needed to hear :) Thank you.

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  9. Always GREAT ideas! I tried LA stations a long, long time ago and it wasn't as successful as I had hoped. I've been wanting to try it again. I especially like your management of it all.

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  10. Wow, I'm having the same problem in my class at the moment. Thanks for sharing your wisdom! Seeing what works for you helps me reflect upon my structure and helps me see what changes I need to make.

    Sincerely,

    Novice Teacher :)

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  11. Hello, I'm ALWAYS impressed by your blog and plan on purchasing your word study materials, too. I don't blog myself...I'm more of a blog stalker. *blushes* But, I enjoy reading about what other people are doing in their classrooms.

    I teach 5th grade and due to the size and structure of my building, we're only allocated 55 minutes per day for Language Arts. Yes, that's reading, writing, grammar/word study. It's a constant challenge to restructure and manage the classroom in way to maximize efficiency and effectiveness in my teaching. I read about other people having 90 minutes for reading and 45 to 50 minutes for a separate writing workshop and I start salivating. :)

    Having said that, I do have workstations in my classroom and mine are set up similarly (is that word?). My students get a checklist at the beginning of the week, they work through the workstations, and write up their reflections at the end of two weeks. Since my class periods are so short, I have to stretch out my workstation activities over two weeks instead of one. *sigh* What a difference another 1/2 hour would make...

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  12. Thank you for writing about real content in a real classroom at the intermediate level. I love that your blog is not all about making things cutesy, but making them content focused and standards-based FOR students - while still being attractive!

    Keep doing what you're doing! I'll be following...

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    1. Thank you Betsy. I really try hard to write about what I am doing so that others may benefit. Thank you for recognizing that. You really made my day!

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  13. Thank you for sharing how you manage your workstations! Could you tell me more about your "work habits score?" My team teacher and I were just discussing how we could have some kind of concrete score for homework completion and such.

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  14. Would you happen to have a copy of your check off for the kids?

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