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January 18, 2016

Tips for Guided Reading Stations

By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    Guided reading is based on good, solid teaching practices that include teaching small groups based on their instructional levels of reading. My friend and fellow Top Teaching blogger, Genia Connell has helped make guided reading manageable and organized. The part of guided reading that always requires a lot of planning on my part is the stations that the students who I’m not meeting with are rotating through. Here are a list of guided reading station ideas and the resources that I used for each one.

     

     

    Art Station
    Alphabet Art Activities Cover

    I am a fan of classic art activities, which I store in my big blue tote. Cutting, drawing, and coloring are important to developing small motor skills as well as the creative process. However, I will say that there are weeks where it is overwhelming assembling all the materials, patterns, and directions. Also, many times the art station requires an adult close by. If you are the only one if the classroom and your focus is at the guided reading table, then art can be difficult.

    I recently found a fantastic, lifesaver of a book. Alphabet Art Activities is a wonderful resource to pull quick art activities from that relate to the alphabet. Each two-page spread has one activity (with patterns in the back of the book) and one reproducible sheet that also includes some letter formation practice and an art activity. This is a great resource for every early education classroom.

    Inky Inch WormEraser Elephant Inky Art

    Sight Words/High Frequency Words Station

    Systematic Sight Word Instruction for Reading SuccessI like to use sight words/high frequency words for my students to learn that are based on some sight word program. This keeps things systematic and organized. Systematic Sight Word Instruction for Reading Success is easy to follow and full of great ideas.

    I also make sure that at the end of every weekly newsletter I send to parents, I have our two new sight words featured, as well as a list of all the sight words that the class has learned so far that year. This keeps it at the front of everyone’s minds. I usually try to have two sight words a week for my students to focus on. I will frequently expand the amount of time that the class has to learn their two sight words to two weeks if I feel as if the majority of my students have not mastered them in a week.

    Reading in Sight Word Station

    I have several different resources that I love to pull my sight word activities from including Scholastic Success with Sight Words and my Sight Words String Up Kits (as pictured in the first image on this post). When using the sheets from Scholastic Success with Sight Words, it is easy to differentiate. There are several sheets of activities for each set of sight words/high frequency words. Given the different levels in my classes, I am thankful that to have different activities based on students' abilities. Picking the right activity is super simple when it's all right in the book.

    When I put some Sight Word Readers in this station as well, I see the kids reading the books with huge joy because they are putting all the pieces together and seeing their new words in text. I also love my guided reading set of the Sight Word Readers because I am able to use them at the beginning of my guided reading groups to reinforce what they have already completed or will be completing then the Sight Word/High Frequency Word station.

    Success with Sight WordsSight Word Readers Sight Word Readers Guided Reading Pack

    Of course, everyone's favorite sight word/high frequency word station resource are my bottles of shaving cream. I write the words out on the table and the kids travel around, tracing each word. When everyone in that group has rotated through all of the words, they spread the shaving cream out and then spell all the words that they just practiced. Fun is had by all, and my tables get clean!

    Harper with shaving cream sight words/high frequency words Harper writing in shaving cream

    Listening Station
    Pete the Cat Listening Library

    This is the easiest station to plan. I alternate activities here. Most weeks we listen to books on CDs. I have built quite a big library for free by using my Scholastic Reading Club bonus points and buying the book/CD libraries. These are always stories that my students love to listen too. After listening to a story two times — one time just listening to the story, the other time following along in the book since I never have enough copies of these books — each student must fill out a Reading Log form.

    Reading LogThe Reading Log requires them to fill in their name, the date, the book title, the author and illustrator, and then provides them a box to draw the main character. I usually stick with one story aspect for several weeks in a row to give them lots of practice with determining that story element. Finally, students are directed to rate the book with one, two, or three stars. I tell my class that three stars means that they want to hear the story again, two stars means that they liked hearing it but don’t really want to hear it again, and one star means that they didn’t like listening to that story. Most weeks I see a lot of three stars because they are so excited to hear these great stories.

    This is also my documentation of their station activity. I try to have something for them to turn in at each station. This keeps them accountable. However, I know each of my students, and I know their strengths and their needs. There are no huge consequences if they don't get something finished. When a student continues to not finish his/her guided station work, I begin to look at what is going on with that student and how I can best support them to get back to meeting my expectations. Harsh consequences rarely create conscientious students who enjoy learning. 

    Great Vowel RaceThe other activity in my listening station is an auditory discrimination activity. I record myself on my classroom iPad reading four- to five-word sentences very slowly. Each student has a sheet of paper and a crayon in front of them. On the sheet of paper there are two columns of black-and-white cars. At the base of each column of cars is what sound they are listening for. This activity is great to help kids begin to determine the difference between commonly confused sounds. Examples are:

    Of course, you can use whatever sounds you notice your students confusing. The race is that the sound that gets all their cars colored in first wins! You can have your students predict who they think the winner will be by circling the sound that they are rooting for. They take this very seriously. When recording your sentences, you may want to repeat each sentence a couple times so that they can listen to each word and try to hear the sound that they are listening for. An example of some sentences that you may want to record for the short e/short i Great Vowel Race would be:

    Great Vowel Race example

    Mr. Smith sells hot dogs.
    Ted will get two hot dogs on Friday.
    Ted picks ketchup to top his fresh hot dogs.

    At this point the short e column will have all six cars colored if the student was able to pick out all the short e sounds. The short i column will have four cars colored. After they finish the race I occasionally give them all a copy of the sentences that I recorded, and they have to circle the sounds that they were looking for and then add them all up to check their work.

    Poetry Station

    Circle-Time Poetry Around the YearYou can always find poems by Googling "poem about _____," but it is a lot of work to sort through all the results, which is why I was so happy when I found Circle-Time Poetry Around the Year. There are five poems for each season.

    Each poem comes with an illustration, but I cut that off my first copy of the poem (more on that later). I make copies of the poem for each of my students’ poetry journals. I read the poem several times each morning when going over the directions of each station. The students in the Poetry Station have to glue a copy of the poem in their notebook and then illustrate it.

    At the end of the week, they love to compare their illustrations to the book illustrations. The other great thing about this resource, besides being a huge time saver, is that there are other activities for each poem that I can use through the season. I love a book that gives me multiple ideas and the patterns for each topic!

    Writing Station

    Writing SampleThis station can look different from week to week but the idea is always the same: write a story. Sometimes I will use the writing activities that Circle Time Poetry Around the Year suggests to go along with the poem. Other times, I just put a picture in the middle of the center and provide paper and pencils and have students write their own stories about the picture. I will usually put a word bank with the picture but I honestly find better writing (more creative) results when they don’t have a word bank because they don’t have anything to just copy.

    I make sure that I take the last few minutes every day to pull the writing station students back to conference with them and read (and transcribe when needed), what they wrote. Making sure to conference with your students is the key to improving writing skills. This picture is from an early-in-the-year writing station assignment when writing a single sentence feels like they have written the great American novel. This child was so very proud of his sentence and gave himself a smiley face. I love kindergarteners!

    Check out my guided math post for ideas for your guided math stations.

    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Twitter and Pinterest for more ideas.

    
I can’t wait to see you next time.

    Some of the products in this blog post were provided to the blogger by Scholastic for his review and suggested use.

    Guided reading is based on good, solid teaching practices that include teaching small groups based on their instructional levels of reading. My friend and fellow Top Teaching blogger, Genia Connell has helped make guided reading manageable and organized. The part of guided reading that always requires a lot of planning on my part is the stations that the students who I’m not meeting with are rotating through. Here are a list of guided reading station ideas and the resources that I used for each one.

     

     

    Art Station
    Alphabet Art Activities Cover

    I am a fan of classic art activities, which I store in my big blue tote. Cutting, drawing, and coloring are important to developing small motor skills as well as the creative process. However, I will say that there are weeks where it is overwhelming assembling all the materials, patterns, and directions. Also, many times the art station requires an adult close by. If you are the only one if the classroom and your focus is at the guided reading table, then art can be difficult.

    I recently found a fantastic, lifesaver of a book. Alphabet Art Activities is a wonderful resource to pull quick art activities from that relate to the alphabet. Each two-page spread has one activity (with patterns in the back of the book) and one reproducible sheet that also includes some letter formation practice and an art activity. This is a great resource for every early education classroom.

    Inky Inch WormEraser Elephant Inky Art

    Sight Words/High Frequency Words Station

    Systematic Sight Word Instruction for Reading SuccessI like to use sight words/high frequency words for my students to learn that are based on some sight word program. This keeps things systematic and organized. Systematic Sight Word Instruction for Reading Success is easy to follow and full of great ideas.

    I also make sure that at the end of every weekly newsletter I send to parents, I have our two new sight words featured, as well as a list of all the sight words that the class has learned so far that year. This keeps it at the front of everyone’s minds. I usually try to have two sight words a week for my students to focus on. I will frequently expand the amount of time that the class has to learn their two sight words to two weeks if I feel as if the majority of my students have not mastered them in a week.

    Reading in Sight Word Station

    I have several different resources that I love to pull my sight word activities from including Scholastic Success with Sight Words and my Sight Words String Up Kits (as pictured in the first image on this post). When using the sheets from Scholastic Success with Sight Words, it is easy to differentiate. There are several sheets of activities for each set of sight words/high frequency words. Given the different levels in my classes, I am thankful that to have different activities based on students' abilities. Picking the right activity is super simple when it's all right in the book.

    When I put some Sight Word Readers in this station as well, I see the kids reading the books with huge joy because they are putting all the pieces together and seeing their new words in text. I also love my guided reading set of the Sight Word Readers because I am able to use them at the beginning of my guided reading groups to reinforce what they have already completed or will be completing then the Sight Word/High Frequency Word station.

    Success with Sight WordsSight Word Readers Sight Word Readers Guided Reading Pack

    Of course, everyone's favorite sight word/high frequency word station resource are my bottles of shaving cream. I write the words out on the table and the kids travel around, tracing each word. When everyone in that group has rotated through all of the words, they spread the shaving cream out and then spell all the words that they just practiced. Fun is had by all, and my tables get clean!

    Harper with shaving cream sight words/high frequency words Harper writing in shaving cream

    Listening Station
    Pete the Cat Listening Library

    This is the easiest station to plan. I alternate activities here. Most weeks we listen to books on CDs. I have built quite a big library for free by using my Scholastic Reading Club bonus points and buying the book/CD libraries. These are always stories that my students love to listen too. After listening to a story two times — one time just listening to the story, the other time following along in the book since I never have enough copies of these books — each student must fill out a Reading Log form.

    Reading LogThe Reading Log requires them to fill in their name, the date, the book title, the author and illustrator, and then provides them a box to draw the main character. I usually stick with one story aspect for several weeks in a row to give them lots of practice with determining that story element. Finally, students are directed to rate the book with one, two, or three stars. I tell my class that three stars means that they want to hear the story again, two stars means that they liked hearing it but don’t really want to hear it again, and one star means that they didn’t like listening to that story. Most weeks I see a lot of three stars because they are so excited to hear these great stories.

    This is also my documentation of their station activity. I try to have something for them to turn in at each station. This keeps them accountable. However, I know each of my students, and I know their strengths and their needs. There are no huge consequences if they don't get something finished. When a student continues to not finish his/her guided station work, I begin to look at what is going on with that student and how I can best support them to get back to meeting my expectations. Harsh consequences rarely create conscientious students who enjoy learning. 

    Great Vowel RaceThe other activity in my listening station is an auditory discrimination activity. I record myself on my classroom iPad reading four- to five-word sentences very slowly. Each student has a sheet of paper and a crayon in front of them. On the sheet of paper there are two columns of black-and-white cars. At the base of each column of cars is what sound they are listening for. This activity is great to help kids begin to determine the difference between commonly confused sounds. Examples are:

    Of course, you can use whatever sounds you notice your students confusing. The race is that the sound that gets all their cars colored in first wins! You can have your students predict who they think the winner will be by circling the sound that they are rooting for. They take this very seriously. When recording your sentences, you may want to repeat each sentence a couple times so that they can listen to each word and try to hear the sound that they are listening for. An example of some sentences that you may want to record for the short e/short i Great Vowel Race would be:

    Great Vowel Race example

    Mr. Smith sells hot dogs.
    Ted will get two hot dogs on Friday.
    Ted picks ketchup to top his fresh hot dogs.

    At this point the short e column will have all six cars colored if the student was able to pick out all the short e sounds. The short i column will have four cars colored. After they finish the race I occasionally give them all a copy of the sentences that I recorded, and they have to circle the sounds that they were looking for and then add them all up to check their work.

    Poetry Station

    Circle-Time Poetry Around the YearYou can always find poems by Googling "poem about _____," but it is a lot of work to sort through all the results, which is why I was so happy when I found Circle-Time Poetry Around the Year. There are five poems for each season.

    Each poem comes with an illustration, but I cut that off my first copy of the poem (more on that later). I make copies of the poem for each of my students’ poetry journals. I read the poem several times each morning when going over the directions of each station. The students in the Poetry Station have to glue a copy of the poem in their notebook and then illustrate it.

    At the end of the week, they love to compare their illustrations to the book illustrations. The other great thing about this resource, besides being a huge time saver, is that there are other activities for each poem that I can use through the season. I love a book that gives me multiple ideas and the patterns for each topic!

    Writing Station

    Writing SampleThis station can look different from week to week but the idea is always the same: write a story. Sometimes I will use the writing activities that Circle Time Poetry Around the Year suggests to go along with the poem. Other times, I just put a picture in the middle of the center and provide paper and pencils and have students write their own stories about the picture. I will usually put a word bank with the picture but I honestly find better writing (more creative) results when they don’t have a word bank because they don’t have anything to just copy.

    I make sure that I take the last few minutes every day to pull the writing station students back to conference with them and read (and transcribe when needed), what they wrote. Making sure to conference with your students is the key to improving writing skills. This picture is from an early-in-the-year writing station assignment when writing a single sentence feels like they have written the great American novel. This child was so very proud of his sentence and gave himself a smiley face. I love kindergarteners!

    Check out my guided math post for ideas for your guided math stations.

    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Twitter and Pinterest for more ideas.

    
I can’t wait to see you next time.

    Some of the products in this blog post were provided to the blogger by Scholastic for his review and suggested use.

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