Friends, I completely understand that having a concrete rotation board is not a true Daily 5 or Daily 3, but at the beginning of the year, our 1st grade friends are not ready for choice. In fact, it takes us until Fall Break (9 ish weeks) into school before we’re ready to make responsible, just-right choices.
So, until we’re ready, we use these rotation boards. I display them on our SMART Board and we practice rotating….a lot. And then, when we think we know where we’re supposed to go, we practice going to our rotation. And then, we practice again this time practicing getting out all the materials. Then, we practice going to our rotation, practice getting out the materials, and practice cleaning up. Then, we practice going to our rotation, practice getting out the materials, practice cleaning up, practice rotating (although initially we come back to the carpet to regroup instead of straight to our next rotation because we’re six), AND THEN, maybe we’re ready to try rotations…BUT WAIT – Friday happens and we have to start all over on Monday.
This is life until Fall Break. Then, BOOM – all of the sudden, we are 1st graders and we’re ready for choice. It’s magic, I say.
You’ll notice on all our rotation boards that the groups are color-coded: green (approaching grade level), yellow (on grade level), and blue (above grade level). This has been a complete game-changer for differentiation in my classroom. It has made it simple for me and my students. To read more about our system click here or the picture below –
Below is our Reading Rotations chart for the first quarter. Students alternate between teacher table, Word Work, Listening to Reading, Lexia (a district reading program), and Read to Self/Partner. You’ll also notice that Work on Writing is missing…because this was my first year teaching 1st grade and it really scared me. Therefore, it was the last ‘choice’ I introduced. In fact, I did not introduce Work on Writing until the students were already comfortably making just-right choices (i.e. November). This year, I’m *pumped* to introduce Work on Writing much earlier in the game. I’m shooting for the end of September! #letsdothis
So, now for math. Actually, I am not going to share a lot about math because in January our 1st grade team started doing Guided Math and it rocked our worlds in the best possible way. From January to May, our rotations look nothing like this. We’ve eliminated whole-group math (expect for a short number talk) and traded it in for 3 daily rotations. It’s awesome and now we ‘know’ our kids as mathematicians…not just readers. Each group gets ‘just-right’ math instruction and practice. I’ve written about our Guided Math time on the blog before. You can read more about Guided Math, click on the picture below (how I organize centers) or here, here, or here.
Before Guided Math, our math block was structured into 3 parts – Number Talks (5-7 minutes), Whole Group Lessons/Games (25 minutes), and one Math Center (20 minutes).
For centers, I pulled from my differentiated math centers pack that is manipulative-based dice and spinner games. These makes creating just-right math activities a breeze! Then, at technology, we use a district math program – DreamBox. Math by Myself was our Interactive Notebook station which was the perfect time for independent practice.
We still do all of these things in our Guided Math rotations, just daily instead of weekly. It has given us such great practice, and has allowed me to target specific skills with specific groups – it’s been a challenging but fabulous change!
To use these rotation boards in your classroom, I’ve included a few different options in this free download. If one of the boards does not work for you, I would encourage you to use PowerPoint and start playing with tables until you find the just-right fit. We all have different classrooms and administrators and curriculums, so one table will never work for everyone. My advice? Find what rotation boards provide the best support for your friends and go with it until they are ready for choice.
Then, take the leap of faith and release. Our students are amazing and capable of so much!
So, friends, tell me – how do you train your friends? Do you use rotation boards or charts at the beginning of the year or all year? How does choice work in your classroom? I’m always trying to learn, so I’d love to hear what works for you!
If you’re teaching in Intermediate Land, click here or the picture below to see how Molly from Lessons with Laughter adapted this rotation chart for her 4th graders!
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