Reading rotations are necessary to your daily routine at school. As teachers, we need to ensure that our students are reading and improving upon their reading abilities. To do that, we need to meet with small groups of students to check in with them, encourage them, and challenge them to improve their reading skills. The hard part for the classroom is making sure the rest of your students are focused and working on appropriate tasks while meeting with small groups.
In this article, we will explore four common missteps made by teachers during reading rotations and discuss practical solutions to avoid them. By being mindful of these simple mistakes, educators can ensure that their reading rotations are effective and yield positive outcomes for all learners.
Mistake #1: Not Using Peer Helpers
Peer helpers can be grouped for different reasons. You may want to group a high student with a low (or lower) skilled student. These students can help them when they don’t understand a word or a particular task that needs to be completed. This helps when you are meeting with a small group and need not have distractions.
You may want to pair an organized student with a student that needs help keeping things organized. The peer may be provided with a checklist on tasks that need to be completed. The peer can help to keep another student on task. Team together new students with a peer that knows your rotation structure. This is extremely helpful for the student and the teacher. They will be able to explain the rules when you are not able to.
Make sure to team up students that get along. There is nothing worse than hearing arguing when you are trying to teach another group of students. You don’t want to pair “besties” either. They tend to be talkative, which is also disruptive.
Mistake #2: Not Prepared For Reading Rotations
As the new school year approaches, teachers all around the country are gearing up for reading rotations in their classrooms. Reading rotations, a popular instructional strategy, involve dividing students into small groups and rotating them through different literacy activities. These activities can include independent reading, guided reading with the teacher, word work stations, and listening centers.
Teachers understand that reading rotations provide a dynamic and engaging way to ensure that all students receive targeted instruction catered to their specific needs. By rotating students through various activities, teachers can effectively differentiate instruction and address individual strengths and weaknesses in reading skills. Additionally, this approach allows teachers to provide more personalized feedback and support for each student.
To prepare for reading rotations, many teachers spend hours planning differentiated activities that align with their curriculum goals and standards. They carefully select texts at appropriate levels of difficulty for guided reading sessions or independent practice.
Try these tips: Try to prepare your centers 4-5 weeks in advance. Print, cut, laminate, and make copies of the resource that you will be using. Check out books from the library about a week before the skill be covered. Stay organized by using tubs, containers, and ziplock bags to organize your supplies. If you can use the same activities again next year, you will be grateful you took the time to organize this year.
Mistake #3: Not Prepared For Small Group Instruction
When it comes to small group instruction, teachers play a crucial role in ensuring the success of their students. However, a recurring issue that many educators face is not being adequately prepared with the necessary supplies for these sessions. It may seem like a simple mistake, but it can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of small group instruction.
One common mistake is not having enough copies of materials or handouts needed for each group. This can lead to disruptions and delays during instruction as teachers scramble to make additional copies or share resources between groups. Moreover, when students are forced to share materials, it can hinder their engagement and focus on the task at hand.
Another simple mistake is failing to gather all the required manipulatives or learning aids before starting the session.
Teacher Tip: Make sure you pull the supplies needed for the skills you will be covering that week in small group. Have them at the table where you will meet. Also, have supplies like sharpened pencils, erasers, highlighters, etc., ready to be used. You will most likely have a group that you will always meet with.
But sometimes, you will find a student that needs help with a specific skill. Since we don’t always know who will struggle with what skill to work on in a smaller setting, it can be hard to prepare last minute. Try to identify the struggled skill 2-3 days in advance, so you can pull all students that are struggling together.
Mistake #4: Activities That Are Too Hard
Even though you want your student to work on a current skill, you may want them to practice a skill previously taught. Having a skill that has just been introduced may cause excessive interruptions for the teacher during small groups. This can also cause a student to act out due to being frustrated because they don’t know how to do the provided skill.
Provide explicit instructions within the center tub. This may include pictures and or examples. This helps the student understand what is expected. I always introduce the rotations during whole group and ask if I need to clarify before breaking them out into the rotations. Use the same types of activities and change out skills. Students will be familiar with how the activity works, and you will have fewer interruptions.
Avoid these common mistakes during your reading rotations. Use peer helpers to make sure the students who have a hard time staying on task have a buddy encouraging them. Be prepared for reading rotations by making sure you have all the necessary pieces in advance. Make sure your small groups are ready to go by reviewing what will be taught and using your precious time in small groups to the fullest capacity. Make sure the activities you provide are age-appropriate for your small group students, as well as the reading rotations you are expecting them to complete. Good luck setting up your next set of reading rotations!
Are you looking for some great ELA rotation resources? Check out my ELA rotation resources here!
You may also enjoy these articles:
The Ultimate Guide to Phonemic Awareness
Bridging the Gap: Empowering Struggling Readers with Our Comprehensive Reading Intervention Resource
Why Small Groups During Center Rotations Are Powerful in the Classroom