Apr 18, 2013

My Version of a Literacy Workshop...PART 2

In my previous post I told you guys about our 20 minute BOOK TALK time at the beginning of our workshop.  This is when my students read and respond in writing to a novel of their own choosing while I conference one on one with my readers.  They get additional independent reading time later in our workshop, but I find that my sweet "tweens" begin to lose their highest quality of focus after about 20 minutes, no matter how engaged they might be.  I have noticed that if they simple change locations, they can regain that optimal focus ability.  (If I keep them moving, I can eliminate behavior problems that often start to crop up when they get a little stir crazy.)  I wrap up BOOK TALK time with an app called PICK STICK.(see post here)  Students prepare themselves for a moment of public speaking about their novel by thinking in advance what they will say if selected by the app.  They know they need to tell the class the title of their book in case a classmate is interested, a little bit of details from their book as evidence of their reading, and a lot of thought from their book using thinking stems posted in the classroom as evidence of their thinking.  We also SKYPE from time to time to share our BOOK TALKS with other classes, so if you are interested in SKYPING with us, shoot me an email or a tweet and we can set that up!  We love to connect with other classes to share our books and to discover new ones for ourselves!

Today I want to talk about the structure of the rest of our time together.

I typically have a 10-15 minute mini-lesson where I share a mentor text and/or model a sample of writing that we might be working on. Then we quickly review the expectations for our workstations, the students review their agenda for the day by checking the chart, and I answer any questions they may have about their plans for workshop. When everyone is fully aware of and prepared to meet the expectations I have laid out for them, we move to our first assigned rotation via the chart. We work at that station for approximately 20 minutes, then a timer (set by me) dings and we have a 10 count to move to our next assigned station. My kiddos know that they need to be on task at all times in order to meet all the expectations in our workshop.  There is rarely a second available to waste. In the picture you see the 3 rotations. Each child simply follows his or her own row. For example, in the close-up pic, these students will go to WORD WORK, READ TO SELF CAMPGROUND, and then SMALL GROUP MEETING WITH ME. Some stations are independent, and some allow them to work together with a partner, or with a group.

If you were to walk into our classroom during these rotations, you would see a lot of different activities going on all at the same time!  I have planned for only one or two activities that involve collaboration to be simultaneously happening to control the noise level.  Even then, my workers are aware that anything above a whisper tone buys them a ticket to “workbook world.” (Which kind of explains itself I think! ;)  One trip to “workbook world” and you remember to work quietly on task for the rest of the year. :)

Here are a few examples of things 
you might see:

At our WORD WORK STATION you might see:

  • practice activities to review prefixes and suffixes 
  • practice activities to work on parts of speech 
  • other activities that focus on any type of words 
 In the picture, my reader is using an app called GRAMMAR JAMMERS…fabulous app to work on parts of speech. It plays a short video, and has a quick check game to practice that part of speech. When he is done with the assigned video and game, he will write a paragraph about anything he wants but he will need to focus on making sure he using at least 4 examples of the assigned part of speech correctly in his writing, and he will highlight those as his evidence from the station.


  • any activities that involve reading, writing, and researching different types of informational text 
We use leveled readers that align with our science or social studies standards, kid-friendly magazines, or texts that relate to our project we might be working on in our current unit.

  Our SPECIAL OCCASION STATION is a free for all! I use this station as a place to add activities that might not fit well into our other categories, but are activities that are valuable none-the- less. In the picture, I have provided post-its and biographies for the kids to research and make notes about a famous person of their choosing. This station typically has activities that relate to our projects we are working on in our unit, but sometimes the activities relate to a seasonal or community topic. 

At our WRITING STATION you might see 

  • writing related to our project for our unit 
  • free writing about anything they want (If they choose to do a free write, then they will need to make a note of a trait from 6+1 that they used to help them with their writing, or a note explaining how they improved their writing in general. 

Other stations you might see:
  • READ TO SELF CAMPGROUND (comfy chairs to read BOOK TALK books)
  • SKILLS STATION (I co-teach with a special education teacher during one of my 3 ELA blocks.  From time to time, we see a need for some remediation with some of our shared students.  This is a station that she manages and works on specific skills with any student that needs it.)

No matter what is going on in the other areas of my classroom, you will always see a SMALL GROUP MEETING happening at my SMALL GROUP table.  During SMALL GROUP, I use texts and activities related to our projects that will be due at the completion of the unit.  For example, we are currently working on an autobiographical/biographical narrative unit, and at the completion of the unit, the students will have 2 published pieces, and example of each type of narrative studied.  So, during our small group meetings, we are reading and discussing related mentor texts, researching pieces that relate to our unit, or working on writing/research skills that relate to narratives.  My units are project based and integrate research, reading, and writing Common Core standards. I meet with every student during for a SMALL GROUP MEETING everyday.

Your turn!  As I have stated in an earlier post, my workshop is always changing and growing as I learn from other teachers with similar focus and passions.  Please take a moment to tell us something you do in your workshop that I or another reader could use.  

If you blog, please leave a link with your comment and I’ll come visit and connect via Google Friend, twitter, Google +, etc. with you.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope to hear some great suggestions from you.  :)


  1. I love the way you have it all laid out. Thank you for sharing how you run your workshop. My students and I have a mini-lesson where I too share a mentor text, then I have them reading in their "comfy nooks" (the students can get pillows and blankets and move around the room.) Students can also get up and take Reading Counts quizzes as well. During this time I am either meeting one-on-one or in small groups with my kiddos.
    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

    1. Thanks Bethany! We call our "comfy nooks" our campground. LOL! It's actually just some camping chairs sitting under some paper lantern balls that I have turned into owls! :). That's as close as we get to comfy...but it works for us. :)

  2. Great post! Love all your stations. Next year, I teach just language arts and social studies! I'm so excited. I really like your "special occasions" station!
    Fabulous Fifth Grade Fun

    1. Thanks Charlotte! You will love being departmentalized. It allows you to be so much more focused. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Wow these are so organized and looks awesome! Thanks for sharing. =)

    Just Wild About Teaching

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and for the kind words!! =)

  4. Once again... another amazing post! I will definitely pin this post as a reference point to use while reevaluating and planning for my literacy time this summer. Awesome!!

    1. You are too sweet! Thanks for stopping by. :)

  5. Loved learning about your stations! I have also become a new follower... Thanks for stopping over to my blog and becoming a follower as well. I will be back to read future posts!


    1. Thanks Sarah!
      And PS... I love the name of your blog. ;)

  6. Another fabulous post!! I am learning a lot from you. I love the stations that you provide to your students. I am going to borrow some for my 4th graders next year.

    Foreman Teaches

  7. Another great post! I love all your ideas for stations. They are actually meaningful AND engaging, which I sometimes have a hard time finding for upper elementary. I've bookmarked both of your Literacy Workshop posts for future reference. I love the "Workbook Wonderland". LOL. Definitely going to have to start using that.



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