I use a base of nine different stations which students rotate through twice before I typically change them. Even though there are nine stations available, at any given time, only six are being used. Each drawer is assigned a number and the numbers 1-9 move down through the six groups of students I have. I like this drawer system because it's neat and there aren't many activities that can't be stored easily in them. Plus my students can manage retrieving and putting them back independently. BONUS! The other HUGE addition to my stations I started this year, is to identify a 'materials handler' in each group. These are the students who hand out and put away all the objects from an activity. No one else is allowed to grab or handle the materials unless the material manager gives them directions. This has been a MAJOR help in eliminating fighting and bickering over who gets to do what.
There are no more than four students at a station and depending on the activity, they either work in pairs, individually or as a group. Because my room is so small, this has been the best system and number for me. Groups are color coded to help with tiering but are very flexible. I switch up groups and a students name may be on a different colored tag (that's why I laminate them) depending on the skills we are working on during a given rotation.
If you look at my math station planning page for math stations it looks something like this . . .
So for station number 7 above, when a students arrive at that station they will find in their drawer three envelopes that look like this:
If the student's name is written on a blue card, they would grab the blue envelope, green card green envelope and so on. In each envelope is a recording sheet for a common subtraction write the room activity. The difference is that they will be looking for different cards that correspond with their particular recording sheet and tier.
When they find the write the room cards, they will look like this:
Two other things I need to point out. Number one, you'll notice that I don't tier EVERY station. No one has that much time. In fact, if you're just starting out tiering your stations, I would say just start with one or two stations being tiered. See how it works for you and if everything is moving along, if your students are getting the gist of it, add more. And number two: you may notice that station number 8 above is not a kindergarten common core standard. You're right. It's not. But in order to make counting by 5s meaningful to my kinders each year, I explain that they need the skill of counting to 5s in order to eventually tell time. It's a great motivator, but it also means that if they do it, I have to follow through with telling time activities. So that's why I introduce it (and money) to those kindergarten classes that are ready for it at the end of the year.
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