Friday, March 14, 2014

Differentiated Reading Centers: An Overview & a Freebie!

Hi guys!

I shared this photo on my Instagram/FB page a while back and I was really shocked at how much interest there was in them! It was very flattering to say the least!
Lots of people asked if I could share them and at the end of the post, I will be doing exactly that!

But instead of just uploading them as a freebie and being done with my post, I thought it best to explain a little about how and why I use these!

I tend to be very wordy, especially on posts like this so I'm going to try NOT to be this time.

I group my children based on reading level and differentiate my centers accordingly. The way that I differentiate is by assigning my groups an animal based on their reading level. My below-level group is a GIRAFFE. My on-level group is an ELEPHANT. My above-level group is a ZEBRA. You'll notice that the directions I use, have one of these animals at the top. Students are to read the paper with THEIR GROUP ANIMAL only and follow those directions. 

My 6 weekly centers are: 
1. Word Work
2. Writing in Response to Reading
3. Sight Word Center
4. Spelling
5. Independent Reading
6. Teacher Table/Guided Reading

Out of those 6, I have made permanent directions for 3 of them: Sight Word Center, Spelling, and Independent Reading. 

Teacher Table is of course with me so there's no need for written/typed directions for that center. 

Word Work and Writing in Response to Reading are my 2 centers that change weekly HOWEVER I always try to keep similar steps to the activities, just with different content. 

Let's see some visuals for what I just said.

I use this paper to organize my groups based on level and assign them the proper animal to match their ability.


I use these super nifty plastic latch bins to organize my center materials. All of the direction sheets and materials needed for that center go inside. Each bin is labeled with the center name so students can quickly grab the bin they need and take it to their table. They can get started immediately since all materials are already inside. I use Sheet Protectors to store directions/copies which I discuss a little more later.
For my 3 permanent centers, I have printed and laminated the direction sheets that you will see in the pictures below. I place the laminated directions into the storage bins along with the materials and they're ready to go each week with zero hassle!

For spelling, I have the 3 direction sheets but also include a few other things...
I take the blank word list and fill them in with each groups spelling words. Notice the lower group only has 10 and their words are usually very simple. The on-level group gets the regular spelling words for that week and the zebra group gets challenge words to practice. 

I have also laminated 2 blank copies and cut them apart so that each child has an already numbered paper to write their words on. They do their words 3x each with a dry-erase marker, then erase and use the same sheet for ABC order, and then get out their journal for Step 3. This eliminates thousands of spelling papers to be collected and/or lost and saves my precious paper supply each week. 
I've taken the alphabet strips seen in the picture below, laminated them, and cut them apart. This allows students to use a dry-erase marker to cross off the letters as they go when they are working on step 2 for ABC order. 
I also place dry-erase markers and erasers into the box for spelling. Sounds like a lot, but I promise it's really easy once it's set up. 

The Independent Reading box simply has these laminated direction sheets inside. I have pillows in my classroom but I also included a set that says "pick a comfortable spot" in the freebie so that it hopefully works for your room.

I use my Abra Cadabra Sight Word Game in my room for the Sight Word Center. I made that game specifically so that I could quickly differentiate it. I use my FRY edition even though I also have a Dolch version. Bag 1 contains the first 100, Bag 2 contains words 101-300, and Bag 4 contains words 301-400. 

For my 2 centers that change weekly, I use these blank direction sheets. I made about 20 copies of each animal sheet and placed them into sheet protectors. I then put the sheet protectors into my Center Binder. I simply grab one blank direction sheet for each animal group on Fridays before I leave, write the directions for the upcoming week on each sheet, and then place them in the appropriate center box. Since I can't laminate these directions, I place them in a sheet protector within the center box to protect them for the week! 
My Word Work center is almost always a sort of some kind so the students are familiar with the process but I can change out the content each week and sometimes change the response activity. Writing in Response to Reading is also a similar process every week - read an assigned story and then respond in writing. Process doesn't always change but the stories and ways to respond do. Again, because the papers are already copied, it's super quick to prep each week. 

Because kiddos can fluctuate in and out of a group once their ability changes, I like to keep visual reminders of WHO is in their group and what their ANIMAL is. I display the rotation schedule pictured below on my Promethean board. I have a "Board Magician" that will go arrow to the next slide once our timer goes off. When that person clicks to the next slide, the groups/animals rotate on the screen helping students to stay organized and not waste time wandering around the classroom. 


Wow! I realize that's a LOT OF INFORMATION I just threw at you and bless you if you actually managed to read through it all!

I **think** I have included all necessary information in this post but I certainly may have left something out! If you have any questions about anything in this post or how I do centers, PLEASE leave a comment below and I will certainly answer you! :)

If you want to snag these directions and resources for yourself, click here or click the pic below to download!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to PIN any of the images! :)
Pin It!

28 comments:

  1. I LOVE this!!! so going to adapt to mine :-) Thank you for the great ideas!!
    Karen
    tommysmom0206@yahoo.com

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    1. Yay Karen!!!

      So happy that it gave you some ideas! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! It means a lot! :)

      Daina

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  2. Thanks so much!!! I have been looking for something to help me get my rotations to be better.

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    1. You are so welcome Debbie!

      Thanks for leaving a comment!! :)

      Daina

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  3. Thanks for all of this information and of course the freebie! This will help me a lot!
    -Monique
    More Than Math by Mo

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    1. You are very welcome Monique!!!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!! :)
      Daina

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  4. What a great idea from a GREAT teacher! :) Thanks for sharing a little of your awesomeness with us all this evening! ;) Love this!! :)

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  5. Thanks for taking the time to share. :) Even coming up on year 14 in first grade, I am still constantly tweaking how I organize my station time and how I differentiate within those centers (all without confusing the students). It's great to see, in detail, how other teachers approach it.

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    1. You're welcome! It certainly helps to see how others do things so that you can come up with a way that fits your classroom needs the best! :)

      Daina

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing! This is what I needed for my classroom. I love the differentiation within the centers.

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    1. You're so welcome Vickie!

      So glad I could help!
      Daina

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  7. I love the way you use the cute animals to differentiate the groups. I have the 6 colors groups and have been trying to figure out a way to make differentiating easier. Although I have 29 Kinders at a much lower level than 2nd graders, I am hoping to use the animals in my centers to help ease things for me a little. Thanks a bunch for sharing, have a great weekend!!

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    1. You are welcome!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      Daina

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  8. I love this. Thank you for taking the time to share!

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  9. Very cute..I work with 2nd grade students with special needs (speech, learning, behavior, social), and this year, I only have 6 students during reading. They fit into 3 groups, so I could utilize these with a little more tweaking. Thank you for giving me more ideas to use with my munchkins :)

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    1. You are so welcome! Glad I could help!

      Daina

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  10. Thank you so much for sharing these. I am thinking about how I can put them to use in my classroom after Spring Break! :)

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    1. Wonderful Tammy!

      So glad I could help!
      Daina

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  11. Thanks so much! This gives me an easy way to differentiate my kids; I was having trouble w this and I appreciate it so much!! :)

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    1. You're so welcome!

      Thank you for stopping by!
      Daina

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  12. This is great. I am wondering more about how you project on your board and have it rotate. I have a different board and wonder if they have anything similar. Interesting.

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    1. Hi!

      Thanks! I made that rotation chart using ActivInspire for my Promethean board. I will gladly answer questions to help you make your own if you would like! Feel free to email me at stickynotesandglitter@live.com!

      Daina

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  13. Genius!!! I love that you use animals for your groups! Thanks so much for sharing ... always looking for ways to work smarter and make things run a little smoother!

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    1. Thank you so much Trish!

      I am happy to share! :) We always learn best from one another, right?? :)

      Daina

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  14. Thanks so much for sharing! I'm always curious about how other teachers run centers. Couple questions: How long is each of your rotations? How long is your block of time each day? Is this your whole group reading block and you just meet with 3-4 students at a time to teach the skills, or is this more of a guided reading/reinforce skills already taught time with you? I'm trying to figure out how to run a 50 min block with fourth graders using something similar. Not successful yet! Thanks for your help!

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  15. I am a retired teacher, and I run a small tutoring business. I love all of your ideas. I have gotten so many great things from you. This is awesome, and I can use some of this with my kids at tutoring. I wish my kids had you for a teacher, as I have so many special needs kids who need your differentiation and fun activities. Thanks for all you do for kids and teachers.

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