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Running a Literacy Station
Here are some general tips to keep your first grade literacy stations running smoothly.
- Introduce one literacy station at a time. Let the children practice it and don't add a new station until the last one is running smoothly.
- Try to keep some stations that can stay the same from week to week. It is hard to change five or six centers every week. Writing, listening and spelling stations can be used all year without having to change much from week to week.
- Make sure each station is clearly labeled, organized and contains adequate supplies each day. Stock your supplies for the week and keep an eye on them when they get low. There is nothing more frustrating than having to stop a guided reading group to put more paper in the writing center or find the right book for the listening station.
- Be flexible about how your children participate in centers from year to year. Establish a routine, but be willing to tweak it depending on the needs of your students. I've had years where once stations were established I could put up the week's stations and tell the class they needed to complete each center by the end of the week and they did. I've also had years where I had to put each child in a specific center and use a timer to let them know when to rotate and everything in between. My literacy stations became more successful and less stressful when I realized they didn't need to look exactly the same each year. Some classes can handle more independence than others, especially in first grade.
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Ideas for Literacy Stations
Listening to recorded books helps children learn what good reading sounds like and leads to better fluency and prosody. Collect books on tape or Cd and multiple copies of the recorded book. Each week change out the book and have the children listen to it and complete a graphic organizer to go with. Headphones are helpful, but not necessary. Some years I've placed my listening center just outside the classroom door where I can still see the children, but where they won't be distracting to the other children. Be sure to use graphic organizers that the students are already familiar with so that they can complete them independently. Story maps and character webs work great in listening centers.
A writing center is another easy literacy station to include in your classroom. Set up a table and provide paper, pencils, markers, crayons, tape and a stapler. You have paper with different sized lines, some with lines only on half or no lines at all. Colored paper and stationary are also fun to add to the writing station. Let children write stories, letters and lists or make their own books.
Word Work Station
Use this station for word work. Make games and activities for different word patterns and spelling rules and change them out each week. Some ideas are bingo games, matching games and sorting activities. You can have one for the whole class each week or have several of different levels to differentiate your instruction. If you are working on short vowels, you might have a picture sort for just short 'a' patterns, one for sorting short 'e' and short 'i' and that sorts all 5 short vowel sounds.
These are just a few ideas for first grade literacy stations. With a little thought and creativity you can incorporate any of your language arts activities from shared reading to word wall into a literacy work station.