This is something I’ve played around with a lot over the years, and I’m excited for my plan for this year, although I’m never really sure if it will actually work. We’re going to give it a try. My biggest problem with differentiated independent work is making sure that I’m flexible. After all, not all students who need fluency practice will also need phonics practice, but there will definitely be some overlap. At the same time, in the past I’ve attempted to be so flexible that I create an unsustainable level of work for myself. In an attempt to find a balance, I’m going to use guided reading as a launch pad for this. Each week, I’ll have 2-3 (depending on predicted time allotment) activities for each of my “centers”. Then, as I meet with students in small group, I’ll assign them to a particular center using color coded bookmarks. When I give the kid their bookmark at the end of guided reading, they will be responsible for putting their name card in the appropriate pocket on my centers chart (that way, there’s no excuse for not remembering if they lose their bookmark). These bookmarks will be what they turn in to me with a short reflection on what they got out of the activity. In this example, the bold would be printed for them:
Today, I worked in the fluency center. I learned about reading more quickly and more smoothly. First read: 56 words. Second read: 63 words. Third read: 68 words.
Listening Center: This is a new one for me. I’m just beginning to understand the importance of students reading and listening at the same time. This article really got my brain going on this, and it’s so consistent with what I see in my own classroom.
Fluency Practice: I’m late to the game on this one, but several of my students who were kind of borderline below grade level in reading fluency were able to make great strides because of timed reading passages. This year, I want to make this a daily thing for those kids who need it, and to do that, I’ll make it independent. Partners will time each other
Vocabulary Practice: I choose to make this very simple by having students complete Frayer Models for each of our vocabulary words that week.
Word Work: For the vast majority of my students, this is phonics time. There are word sorts and games for them to play, targeting whatever skill they’ve been assigned. For higher students, this will be a word building time using word parts (roots/affixes).
Comprehension: We have another time during the day when students self-select books, so this probably won’t be that time. Instead, it will probably focus heavily on finding text evidence. I’m not entirely sure where I’m going to pull these texts from, but I will probably rely heavily on Reading Detective and Inference Jones. I also anticipate that with my higher reading groups, this will be follow-up from our guided reading lesson. They might be assigned to finish reading the text and annotate it so that they’re prepared for guided reading the next time.
Reading A-Z: This is a subscription based program that my district pays for. I love it because it gives students texts at their reading level to read, then answer questions on. Kids love it too because computers.
So many kids won’t go to some of these. Let’s say that I have a student struggling in decoding and fluency skills. She might go to the word work center on Monday, meet with me on Tuesday, do the listening center on Wednesday, meet with me on Thursday, and do the fluency practice on Friday. Another student in the same reading group might be struggling more so with comprehension. He might do the listening center on Monday, comprehension center on Wednesday, and Reading A-Z on Friday.
Basically, on any given day, I’ll have 10-15 students meeting with me at some point during the reading block. Obviously, this will be over the course of 2-3 reading groups, but students who meet with me are unlikely to have time for any independent work. This will leave 5-15 students (depending on my class size) left to work in centers, meaning 1-3 kids per center. These low numbers should help tremendously with classroom management and keeping the general volume of the room down. I find that anything more than 3 students in one group can get very noisy very quickly.
… now I just need to figure out how and where I’m going to store all of this…