Differentiated Winter Workstations!

A few days ago I posted about students' goals - what they are, how students can track their progress, etc. (see here). As teachers, we all know that students have goals that they need to achieve by the end of the year so figuring out what the goals are the easy part. GETTING students to those goals is where the hard work comes in!

One way that I help students to achieve their goals is through scaffolding independent workstations. Last Wednesday I spoke about scaffolding workstations at my district's principals meeting and thought I would share some of those same ideas with you!

When teaching a new skill, there generally different tiers to mastering that skill (you can see tiers for alliteration here). The way we divide the skills on my campus is as follows:

Tier 1 is whole group instruction. Students in tier one gain an understanding after whole group instruction and can practice the skill independently.

Tier 2 is small group instruction. Students in this tier have a basic understanding but there is still some confusion and they need more practice during small group in order to practice the skill independently.

Tier 3 is small group or 1 on 1 instruction. These are the babies who are either really struggling or who are just beginning to understand a concept or a skill.

During small group or workstation time, tiers for the skill producing a letter sound might look like this:

Tier 3: Students have some knowledge of letter sounds and know what sound several letters make



Student on this tier can identify which picture begins with a given letter sound. This activity is a good tier 3 students because students are only given 2 options to choose from - one picture that begins with the given letter's sound and and one that does not sound anything like that letter's sound.

Tier 2 students have an understanding of most letter sounds and may only be miss a few sounds when being assessed. 


This activity is good for tier 2 because they have to identify which sound they hear at the beginning of the word and then find the letter that makes that sound.

Tier 1 students know their letter sounds and are ready to segment simple CVC words and spell them out.


For math I wanted to share a workstation that I have had for the past 5 years and has always been a class favorite! The kids love it because it is fun and interactive. I love it because it was easy to make and can be used to practice a ton of different skills! 

For this workstation I used a large piece of green felt cut into the shape of a Christmas tree, red and white felt cut into circles for ornaments, a dice, and different sized presents for ordering by size. 



For my tier 3 students, they can practice subitizing with the dice, counting with 1:1 correspondence, and ordering the presents below the tree from largest to smallest. 


When my tier 2 students go to this workstation, they can practice subitizing with the dice, counting with 1:1 correspondence, comparing groups, and ordering the presents below the tree from largest to smallest. 



For my tier 1 students, they can practice subitizing with the dice, counting with 1:1 correspondence, completing simple addition problems, and ordering the presents below the tree from largest to smallest. 

I love when I can find 1 activity that meets all of my students needs! 

Do you use tiers to divide your students into groups? What kind of things do you do to differentiate workstations? I LOVE hearing new ideas! 
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Student Goals

I really don't like to have my time wasted or do things just for the sake of doing them. If I am asked to do something, I want to know what the purpose of doing it is! I have found that even though students will sometimes do things "because the teacher says so" when they are given a purpose, they are much more eager and focused when completing the task.

This is why I love giving my students goals to work towards!



Here is an example of my literacy goals at the beginning of the year. 


As you can see, each goal has a special icon that goes with it. I use these icons 2 different ways. 

The 1st way I use the icons is to label my workstations:


This way I can tell students, "You are working towards the goal of producing letter sounds. I want you to work towards that goal by choosing a workstation that has the letter B with the bear."

I also use the icons to help students track their progress. On this binder ring, each student has an "iPad" with their picture, that shows different things that "iCan" do.  

I used to track their goals on large ant cutouts (we are Mrs. Alexander's Ants) and display them on the wall. I like doing it better this way for 3 reasons: 

1) I covet my wall space and if I have 22 large ants hanging up, that is less room for student work! 
2) having each student on a different page that I can flip to when I am working with a particular student, helps them to focus on what they are trying to achieve instead of seeing what their friends have or have not achieved.
3) When meeting with parents, I can show them what their child has achieved without making comparisons to his/her classmates.

 Here is a student who has met many of their goals already. Each time they can show me that they have met a goal, they get to add another little icon to their page. 


We usually add icons to our chart on Fridays but if I see a student who has been working really hard to meet their goal during the week (and they show they can independently practice this skill during workstations or in small group) we add the icon right then and there! 

One more thing, the goals listed above are not necessarily the same goals for all students all year long. As students meet these goals, I add new ones. There is always something new to learn! If a student is working hard but still really struggling to meet these goals, I will break down some of the larger goals into smaller chunks. For example, if it is October and you still only know 1 letter, 26 seems pretty daunting! A new goal for that child might be to learn 5 letters, then 10, then 15, and work their way up! 

I love this system because it connects the abstract concepts of what we want to learn, how we can learn it, and our achievement of gaining new knowledge to something that the students can actually see. The fact that my principal loves it too is just icing on the cake! ;)

Think this would be helpful in your classroom? You can find everything you need to set this system up and have it work for you all year long here!

Goals and Icons

Have any suggestions? How do you help your students track their progress? 
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