There is so much to cover in the literacy curriculum. Literacy plays a massive part in all other curricular areas too. Last year, I used literacy stations and found them very effective. The children loved the different stations and a lot of different areas were covered in a short amount of time.
- Groupwork; children can work in groups for discussions, paired reading, story writing or games.
- Differentiation; the work can be differentiated to cater for the needs of the children in a specific group. The more able children can be paired with children who are finding a certain aspect difficult. Groups can be based on the children’s ability or they can be mixed ability.
- Independent work; children work independently on some tasks for a certain amount of time.
- Small groups; the teacher can work with one group at a time and hear the children reading. This can be very effective for assessment.
I’ve found 4 groups work best. The groups can be mixed ability or the children can be grouped according to ability. One group can work with the teacher, while the other groups can complete activities such as those suggested above. You can focus on reading for a few weeks and then writing and then oral language or you can try a mix of reading/writing/oral language depending on the needs of your class. I think its important to ensure that the groups that are not working with the teacher can complete the activities independently.
There are different routines that need to be taught for smooth running stations. These include;
- Materials; What materials do the children need to complete the different activities? (Copy, pencil case, pencil, red pen, ruler, reading book etc.)
- Changing stations; What signal will be used when children need to move to a different station? Tambourine? Timer? What direction should the children move?
- I’m stuck; what do the children do if they can’t complete an activity/ question? The teacher should not be interrupted when working with a group so it might be an idea to have a special light/sign/ tag which shows that the teacher is busy and should not be interrupted unless there’s an emergency.
- Is there a learning support/ resource teacher available for a Literacy stations lesson once or twice a week?
- I did station teaching 3 days a week for 1 hour. I saw each group for 15 minutes and I had 3 independent activities for the other groups. If I was doing station teaching again I wouldn’t try to get through 4 different groups with just 15 minutes each as we were often rushed for time.
- Instead I would divide the class into 4 groups and begin with 2 days a week for 45 minutes to 1 hour. I would work with groups 1 and 2 on one day and 3 and 4 on the second day.
Here are some ideas;
- Reading with the teacher (individual/guided reading session)
- Individual reading; children can read their own book.
- Paired reading; children can work in same ability/mixed ability pairs and read together.
- Group reading; the children can read a short story/ chapter together and then discuss the piece. They could predict what might happen next or give their opinion on what has happened.
- Reading task cards; children can answer questions, complete character profiles, discuss the story in their groups.
- Magpie copy; Children work independently or with a partner to write a list of verbs/adjectives etc. that they can use in their writing. e.g. write a list of alternative words for said/went, write a list of adjectives to describe people, write a list of verbs, write a list of similes or metaphors. After a few minutes, the children can then share their ideas and ‘magpie’ from one another.
- Free writing; lots of ideas here.
- Story writing; children love to write stories! The children can choose a character, setting and event from the resources below and write a story using these cards as inspiration.
- Debating/Discussion; these debate motions from Seomra Ranga are fantastic! Download here.
- Discussion; choose a topic that the children will find interesting and let them discuss it. Give the children a list of problems that they can discuss and find a solution to. Discuss a story/poem that was covered in class or that they like themselves. Give the children a photograph/image or display one on the board and ask the children to discuss what they think is happened/what has happened.
- Barrier games
- Dictionary work; choose 5/6 words from a class novel/ SESE topic – children then look these up in the dictionary and write down the meaning/ put the word into a sentence. Use a thesaurus to find words that mean the same.
- Stop the Bus is a brilliant game to play for vocabulary and categorising. The children divide their page into 5/6 categories such as Boys Name/girls name/ food or drink/ animal and place. One child says A and then continues saying the alphabet in their head. Another child says STOP. And the child saying the alphabet says the letter they stopped on – the children then fill out the categories with words starting with that letter. (As seen below.) Once they have filled all the categories they say ‘Stop the Bus’ and everyone has to stop writing. They can then calculate their score; 10 points for a correct answer, 5 points if 2 or more people have the same answer, 15 points if only 1 person has a correct answer. The winner is the person with the highest score at the end of the game.
- Use the alphabet; write a list of food/drinks/animals/places/names/things you’d find in the kitchen/bedroom/bathroom etc. beginning with each letter.
- Grammar activities; Capital letters and full stops, using punctuation, underline the noun/verb/adjective, make the sentences more interesting etc.