Six Small Group Literacy Center Organization Models

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Teachers realize the great benefit of working with smaller intimate groups in reading. By doing this, the teacher is able to tailor reading instruction and text levels to the needs of the students. This is a valuable time for students as well as the teacher. However, organizing a schedule and the activities for students who are not meeting with the teacher is very difficult. Then, if there is a large class (which seems to be the norm now), how can 20 students realistically be properly engaged for 45 minutes while the teacher meets with 5 . . . and move from one station to the next orderly, clean up after themselves, and do this all rather quietly?

So I have developed 6 different options which will enable the teacher to conduct small group instruction, while the other students are occupied productively. Click here to get a full description of them all, with charts and illustrations to help visualize how they are organized.PDF Center Organization Ideas For more help, search for my previous posts on Guided Reading Literacy Stations. And if you have questions or suggestions, by all means — click the comment box!!

Option #1:  Traditional rotation method — students rotate every 15-20 minutes and visit each station every day (including the teacher table).

Option #2: This is a semi-flexible schedule. Students start off with a must-do desk assignment(s), followed by reading practice. Then they choose a work station. Each day is a different station.

Option #3: If another professional adult is present in the room for an hour, the teacher and adult can conduct a group and then switch. Two groups are with an adult, and 2 groups are at work stations. This adult could be a trained paraprofessional, retired teacher, reading specialist, SPED teacher.

Option #4: Do you only have 60 minutes? This plan identifies a 30 minute whole group lesson sequence in which the story is read aloud on Monday (along with vocabulary and sight word emphasis), on Tuesday the emphasis is comprehension, on Wednesday, the focus is on Word Work, and on Thursday, writing related to the story is emphasized. The other 30 minutes are small group: The teacher works with 2 groups per day (Groups 1 and 2 are seen on M and W; Groups 3 and 4 are seen on T and Th). Fridays are often reserved for review and assessment.

Option #5: This is similar to Option 2, but this option starts with one mini-lesson followed by 2 small group sessions. Then there is mini-lesson #2 along with an energizer, followed by the last 2 small group sessions.

Option #6:  This is a task board system.

Literacy Station Activity

It’s a little difficult to describe via text, so I did my best and included a couple of illustrations.  I implemented this when I taught first grade and I loved it! At first it looks like a lot of work, but it really wasn’t. Instead of figuring out each week what my stations would be, I organized them by the month. Some bulletin board space is needed for this method. There are some must-do tasks, then students have a dozen more to choose from throughout the month. Students worked individually or with a chosen partner. This option enables the addition of math, science, and art stations.

For those of you who want to implement math centers, some of these options would work equally well with math.

Do you have a system you love? Please share!

Have a great week! C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

2 thoughts on “Six Small Group Literacy Center Organization Models

  1. I love these ideas! Additionally, I love how they can easily be implemented with larger than normal groups! Very useful! Thank you, Mrs. Elkins!

    • Hi Mr. P! Good to hear from you. Thanks for following my blog from your new location! I always say, “When there’s a will, there’s a way!” Glad you liked these different options.

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