Sunday, December 2, 2012

Literacy Stations

Why Can't I Make Up My Mind????

You would think after teaching for 17 years, I would have this down, but I don't. I am constantly thinking about/changing around the structure of my literacy stations. I used to call them "centers", and I used to laminate everything, change them all weekly/bi-weekly, but that's another story...

Anyway, a few years ago, I picked up a little unknown (at that time) book called The Daily 5. Flash forward to now, and every primary teacher has heard of it. Well, back in the day, I was sitting in the same predicament that I am now, although this was in the summer, not after routines had been set. Amazon had recommended this wonderful book to me, so I checked it out. It doesn't take much for me to buy a professional book, especially one that says it will make my life easier by simplifying what students do when I'm meeting with a group of students. Of course I bought it, and I read it cover to cover the same day it came. 

I went into school that year, and I simplified my stations, I built routines over time with my students, we worked on stamina, I taught them how to choose "just-right" books, and I LOVED IT. But, there was, and still is, a small part of me that just couldn't give up control of what stations my students use/when they use them. 

This year, a few years after the first time I implemented some of the ideas in The Daily 5, I thought it was time to finally relinquish control. I started the year off as usual, building those routines. using gradual release, and I gave them a choice about where to go/when. I even made handy-dandy clipboard size charts to help me keep track of the students' choices, so I could "nudge" them in a different direction if they insisted that they had to go to Listening day after day (I couldn't help keeping a little control). They seemed to really enjoy having the opportunity to have a choice of what to do/when to do it. 

But,  surprisingly, I was still frustrated. I was frustrated with how long it took them, morning after morning, to make their choices. I was frustrated at the complaining that occurred when a station would fill up and others really wanted to go there (even though they'd have the chance tomorrow). I just felt it was chaotic, so I added dusted off my trusty station plan boards and the choice was once again mine (meet with the low group plus two more reading groups on days 1,3,5 and meet with the low group plus the other two reading groups on days 2,4,6...nice and neat). Well, nice and neat isn't me, and deep down inside I knew that this wasn't the answer either. 

When those pre-made station boards are used, there is no time wasted in choosing stations and I know where they are to be in each rotation, but something is still nagging at me. This way just isn't flexible and it isn't suited to pulling over an impromptu skills group or changing my conferencing schedule. I know I have to change, yet again!

I really liked the flexibility of having the students choose their own stations. In doing this, I was able to be more flexible with whom I met with and my reading groups didn't have to be so rigid. 

So, I "think" I'm ready to give up control for good. I just have to trust myself and my students.  I plan to skim over the book again tonight and hold a class meeting, tomorrow, so we can discuss the changes to this part of the day. 

I am SO super excited to be taking the Daily 5 and CAFE grad class this January. I can't wait to talk about my reservations with many other teachers who will be in this online course. Hopefully, I will get some answers too.

Do you use the Daily 5 structure when your students are to be working independently? If so, do you have any tips? 


  1. Hi! Can you send me your email? I'd love to use your fresh eyes on my STAR readers unit. :)