Article

Accelerate Reading with Literacy Stations

Oct 20, 2023
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Effective literacy stations enable young learners to develop their social, writing, language and literacy skills. Literacy stations also help teachers find time for more targeted student instruction.

Step 1: Define Stations

Focusing on all aspects of English language arts is key to a successful reading program. This includes literacy activities like independent reading, listening, partner reading, writing, and word study. One such reading framework is the Daily 5™.

Independent Reading

When children read to themselves, they have opportunities to apply reading strategies, develop fluency, and build confidence as readers.

  • Expand your classroom library by printing your own books or providing e-books. 
  • Make reading fun by providing whisper phones for students to hear themselves read or creative pointers to encourage following along. If students are reading independently while at home, volume is less of an issue, so reading to themselves can be encouraged even more!
Listening

When young learners listen to fluent readers, it improves their listening skills and attitudes toward reading and provides demonstrations of fluent, expressive reading.

  • Allow students to listen to audiobooks or educational sing-alongs. For students learning remotely, consider a quick search on YouTube to see if the selected book is available online—perhaps read by the author or a celebrity.
  • Use animated, online e-books on students’ reading levels. 
  • Incorporate writing by having students complete a reading-response activity. This could include noting main story components, writing a summary, or reviewing the read via a reflection question.
Partner Reading

When children read aloud with someone, it helps increase their reading involvement, attention, and collaboration, and it builds vocabulary, phonics, and familiarity with printed words.

  • Make reading strategies for students available for use when their peers need help. Consider a free printable bookmark option like this one.
  • Have students take turns reading pages to each other from the same book or alternate reading books of their choice. In a virtual environment, consider the use of breakout rooms.
  • Encourage students to take turns retelling the story aloud after reading to promote comprehension and emphasize active reading skills.
Writing

When children create a connection between reading and writing, it helps them solidify phonemic awareness and phonics skills.

  • Consider using a writing choice board (here is a sample template featuring a Google Slides component for distance learning) to complete independently or within groups.
  • Focus on a specific writing strategy, such as adding punctuation or detail, to narrow the scope and lessen the anxiety that some students may feel toward reading.
  • Allow students to create their own stories using suggested writing prompts. 
  • Organize student writing by providing personal writing notebooks versus loose-leaf paper that can easily get lost.
  • Consider creative ways to offer supplies, such as colored paper, markers, and colored pencils.
  • Put this station near a “word wall” to encourage the use of vocabulary words and correct spelling.
Word Study

When students experiment with spelling patterns, high-frequency words, and new vocabulary, they expand their knowledge of known letters and words, and it reduces the effort of decoding while reading.

  • Create a print-rich classroom that includes a word wall, word families, lists of commonly misspelled words, and classroom labels. Here is a virtual word wall to use if class takes place online.
  • Support learning through different media, such as printable worksheets, workbooks, online programs, manipulatives, and games. 
  • Include differentiated activities that are color coded for students of varying learning abilities.

Step 2: Set Up Stations

Once you have defined each of your stations, it’s time to build them! Wherever possible, don’t reinvent the wheel. Here are some literacy station ideas that are flexible enough to work all year long.

For In-Person Learning:
  • Provide flexible seating options, and allow students to discover where they learn best. While lying on the floor or sitting on floor pillows may not be possible in a pandemic setting, consider adding stretchy bands to the legs of student desks, wobble stools, or air-filled cushions that can easily be sanitized.
  • Clearly label each station and the materials being used; label books by author or genre using words and pictures, or designate colors for different reading levels.
  • Keep graphic organizers and writing journals on hand. Pulling and assembling targeted worksheets aligned to specific skills can be too tough to keep up with week after week. These items can offer more flexibility to capture student output for a variety of activities.
For Virtual Learning:
  • Consider using a PowerPoint slide deck to keep your virtual centers organized. With a daily slide deck, you can outline the rotation structure and instructions. Check out a free template for virtual reading stations here!
  • Use tools like Google Docs to help students work together on collaborative tasks.
  • Enable breakout rooms, particularly for more collaborative rotations like partner reading.

Step 3: Implement Your Literacy Work Stations

After stations are set up, spend some time in the following areas to make your rotation model a success.

Create Logical Groups

Think about your unique classroom culture to determine the most successful grouping strategy.

Do your groups represent ability levels so that an entire group can rotate to the educator for targeted support? Do you prefer creating groups with mixed abilities so that students can be paired up in more of a tutoring model?

In the latter model, groups are frequently broken up as students receive small-group instruction, but they can then easily rejoin their group later. Both models have merit; you know your students best.

Set a Strong Foundation

When a new station is introduced, brainstorm and chart out expectations together as a class.

Create intentional time to model ideal behaviors, encourage students to help you identify examples and nonexamples of your expectations, and then practice! Don’t expect maximum learning to happen until all the logistical kinks have been ironed out.

Let Students Choose

Don’t be afraid to give students greater agency over their learning to keep things feeling fresh.

Perhaps students must engage in independent reading every day, but allow them to choose stations beyond that as long as they rotate to every station twice over the course of the week. These small “choices” mean a lot to learners!

Reinforce Expectations

Acknowledge your students’ hard work, and end your literacy block by celebrating positive behaviors. Check-ins and self-reflection, even just a simple thumbs up or thumbs down, set the precedent that accountability is an expectation.

Feature Student Success

Make stations meaningful and build a positive classroom community by allowing students to share their best work and learning triumphs.

Looking for a new strategy to help students that are learning to read? Learn more about how setting up a literacy center can help to incorporate all aspects of reading and the English language arts into your curriculum.

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