I could write forever about what Sheila did (in fact my notes are 9 typed pages, plus an audio recording), but I'll highlight for y'all, because I'm sure you already know this stuff! When I arrived, she was about to give a spelling test, so I just set up my computer, got out a notebook, and settled in. After the tests were turned in, she said, “Transition time, no talking,” to signal that students should get their station folders, as she called a group to work with her. All of her station work is differentiated, but is on the same skill, which she calls a goal. A volunteer prepares any written work/recording sheets for every station, including writing names on the correct leveled assignments, so that students know which activity to do. Sheila begins new weekly stations on Tuesdays, after teaching a (longer, more in-depth, whole group) foundation lesson for the week in both reading and math on Mondays. On some Mondays, work stations from the previous week are then completed. On Fridays, the class meets on the rug to go over all their station work from folders, share writing, and discuss and review the goals of each work station.
Tuesdays – Thursdays, Sheila teaches her small groups (2 20-minute lessons per day) while other students are in work stations. Students are in teams of four, with 2 high and 2 low students per team (ideally). The teams are for scheduling purposes, only, not to work together. In fact, all station work is independent, and there is no talking allowed, except to ask the three permanent station monitors a question, if needed. If the monitor cannot help, students leave the teacher a message on a post-it note on a message board. As individual students complete the work at their first assigned station, they automatically and independently move to the next, without waiting for their whole group, or any other signal. The order of stations is posted on the board, with the “starting point” indicated by the team color’s being under the station name. The students move to the next station posted on the board.
Small groups are based on RIT bands, as well as teacher judgment, and identified needs. They are called, by name, from the teams working at stations, and come to her with a pencil only. Teams sit together in the room and are changed monthly. The first table is the first team, no matter who sits there. If there is a rug at a station, meaning the children work on the floor, they sit on the four corners of the rug, facing away from each other. If the station is at a table, there are “privacy tents” at every other seat, forming a pattern of covered, uncovered, covered, uncovered, so that students cannot copy each other, or work together. She explains that this is dishonest.Routines were clearly in place, and had been well-rehearsed. Schedules for the day were posted on the board, as was her calendar math, content vocabulary, the date, lunch choices, and reward points. Students were reminded, once, that there was to be no talking during station time. They were told that they were talking far too much for someone to just be asking a monitor for help. Sheila went on to say that they were either working together, which was cheating, or were socializing, which was wasting time. They were told that they had interrupted her group lesson for the last time, and that if it happened again, they would all go to their seats to work.
Independent reading books were sorted into baskets, by levels, topics, series, and genres. Comprehension cubes were located nearby, possibly for review time, after station time.
Excited to Begin Anew,