Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Organizing Math & Reading Rotations for Small Group Instruction

After seven years of teaching, I finally found the best way to organize my small group rotations. I'm going to share with you how I organize my rotations. Keep in mind this is what worked for my students and my classroom - you might adapt or change these ideas as you see fit! You can ask/share how other teachers organize rotations in our free Facebook group: Simply Creative Teachers!

First: Rotation Charts
I've tried multiple ways of making sure my students knew where they were supposed to go during rotations, but I always encountered a problem... Poster/Chart on the wall = not enough wall space; Rotation chart displayed on my interactive whiteboard/screen = technology is never on my side and won't work OR I have a sub and he/she can't log in so students don't know where to go... SO. MANY. PROBLEMS.

Soooooo... I finally decided that EVERYONE gets a chart! For math, I had 3 small groups and named them different fruits. For reading, I had 5-6 small groups and named them different animals. Every group had their own chart (see picture below), and every student kept their chart in a sheet protector. (I also kept master rotation charts in my guided math & guided reading binders for my reference).
Next: How many rotations do students have?
In math, I had my students in 3 rotations a day.

  • Teacher Table: students work at the carpet with me
  • Independent Work: students go to this station AFTER teacher table & complete a few practice activities that we learned about during teacher table (also a good time to get in district mandated math curriculum work)
  • Games & Centers: students complete differentiated math centers that include card games, board games, puzzles, fact practice, and more.

I differentiate my independent work each day by putting appropriate work in the folders for each group. When students go to independent work, they pull their work out of the correct folder.  
Here's a sample math rotation chart:
In reading, my students go to 3 rotations a day; however, they will only go to teacher table a few times a week (so they'll have 5-6 total rotations). I always have my lowest group meet with me every day (ex: they start their reading rotation at teacher table everyday). My highest reading group meets with me 2x a week (ex: they meet with me on a Tues/Thurs rotation). My on level groups meet with me 3x a week (ex: they meet with me on Mon/Wed/Fri).

Here's a sample reading rotation chart:
Last: How long do students spend in each rotation?
For math, I begin with a 10-12 minute whole group lesson. This includes a number talk and a short mini-lesson so I can be sure that EVERY student is getting grade level instruction. Then, we start rotations and students spend about 20 minutes in each rotation.

For reading, I usually have a read aloud (10ish minutes) and mini-lesson (5-6ish minutes) before starting rotations. Student spend about 15-20 minutes in each rotation. I do not include read to self time as a rotation; we ALL do read to self at the same time together later in the day so that I can conduct one-on-one reading conferences.

I hope you've found some of these ideas for organizing your rotations helpful. You can create your own rotation charts here!

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