Reading Rotations: The Overview

Like most of you, I spend my summers trying to refine my classroom practice so I can best service all of my students.  I want to make the most of my limited classroom time, so I sit down and brainstorm what went well in previous years, and what didn't.

Over this past year, I feel like I finally refined my math rotations to the point that I feel very successful in its implementation.  So much so, I decided to do the same thing with reading!  I plan to do a few different posts on it for you all, but with this one, I am going to lay out the basics of what is happening in my room.

My entire language arts block is actually fairly long.  I have a good 2 hours in the morning for grammar and reading and then can take another 30 minutes later in the day for writing.  Grammar, skills, root words, etc... (and morning business, like Breakfast in the Classroom and stuff) takes place in the first hour of the day.  The second hour is dedicated to Reading Rotations.

So here is what I do (as of we all know, things change as the year progresses, but this is working for me now):

From 9:15 - 10:15am I do reading rotations.  So:

9:15 - 9:35am  Rotation 1
9:35 - 9:55am  Rotation 2
9:55 - 10:15am  Rotation 3

During those rotations, several things are happening.  The kids are doing one of three things:

Reading Comprehension

During this block, the students are doing one of two things.  Either they are Reading to Self, in which they can choose a book and read it, or they are doing a Comprehension activity.  These include, but are not limited to, working with task cards for retell, practicing a center game for a comprehension strategy, or working with a partner on reading comprehension mats.

The groups are assigned with section they are doing, they do not get to pick.   Basically, if they did Read to Self on Monday, Tuesday they would do the Comprehension Choice activities. 


When the students come to me for their 20 minute block, I am doing guided reading instruction....sort of.  During this time is when I teach reading strategies and skills to the students.  For example, I may teach lessons on Plot or Setting.  I could also be doing a fluency lesson with them or just plain reading our novel together.  This time is when I am doing the directed lesson with the kids for the day.

Reading Response

The students ALWAYS visit this rotation after they have seen me. Usually, after they are with me, I give them an assignment to do in response to my lesson.  During this 20 minute block is when they get that assignment done.

While ALL of this is going on, I have my aide pulling students to work in small group remediation or enrichment during their Reading Comprehension or Reading Response times.  (I know I am very lucky to have an aide here, and I love having her.  However, she is not necessary to do rotations.  She is an added bonus!)

Without oversimplifying it, the kids move through each station every day we do rotations (in a perfect world....every day.  In the real world....about 3 times a week.) that is a basic overview of what is happening during the rotation time.  The next post focuses on how I keep the students organized and how they know where they are going during each of the rotation times.  You can read that post here.

Reading Rotations:  Organizing it All


  1. I am doing a very similar thing - I have 4-5 stations also. I also have a 2 hour block, but you are so lucky to get to fit in another 30 minutes!! They have a "have to do" list and a "can do" list for their choices, but we haven't implemented that yet...still learning the stations REALLY well. Love your blog!!

  2. I am hoping to start doing this kind of block this year. I may start out small and start by implementing it twice a week and work my way up...hope it helps my kiddos.

  3. Looking forward to tomorrow's post! You have such a long block for you include science/ss/writing during that time as well?

    1. I have to integrate as much as I can during the day, so a lot of times, I use social studies materials as my reading material during my groups. Writing is done separately.

  4. Great post. I'm still trying to figure out to implement rotations. I'm wondering, if you have 3 rotations, how many kids in each rotation group? Also, I was wondering, do you make multiple copies of the same set of task cards, or do you have enough sets for each student to have their own set when they are working in that rotation? Thanks so much!! I love reading about all of the wonderful things you do in your class. :)

    Thrills in Third Grade

    1. I do not have several sets of the same one copied off. The kids just use a few of the same set at a time. I also have so many other things that they are doing during the choice time that I don't really run into the problem of them all wanting the same thing.

      As for the groupings, I actually have 4 groups (I know, it is a bit confusing right now, but I will explain in my post tomorrow) So there are 8 kids per group.

  5. Thank you so much for this blog! I teach 5th and 6th Grade Language Arts and have about 70 minutes per class! I have been struggling with how to incorporate rotations! This is so easy to grasp and will work wonderfully! Thanks again!

  6. I am extremely jealous of your time! My school (with four others) was selected to pilot a new departmentalized program this year. I have two hours ONLY with each class for ELA and Social Studies. When you take things into account like transitions, other required elements, etc, I am left with far less than two hours. It has been a very trying start to the year!

  7. My teachers are struggling with how to fit in Guided Reading and your post is the perfect example to share with them! Thank you so much for sharing how you manage everything!


  8. How many students do you have per group? I love the idea of stations, and would love to use them in the future.

  9. What about the students who begin at the reading response rotation? How does that work? One group has to begin there for the three rotations in an hour.

  10. Great idea, can you share how you do you math rotations?

  11. What are the comprehension task cards you are working on?



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