Reading Workshop...Rotation Style! Plus a FREEBIE!

Hey awesome bloggy friends!!! I hope you are all enjoying your Labor Day weekend if you are in the US! :) I have actually really enjoyed the weekend so far! That sounds funny, but our evaluations start in a week so I had it in my head that I was going to be working nonstop! hah You know the feeling?!? Well, I told myself this year I needed to have more of a life on Sundays than 9+ hours of school work! I can't promise that won't happen tomorrow hah, but at least, it's a week day! :)

So, we just finished our 5th week of school!! That's right! We started back on July 29th with our balanced schedule. Now, it sounds worse than it is because of that July in there, but in about a month and a half, we will enjoy a 2 WEEK FALL BREAK! :) I'm not counting or anything! hah So it all averages out in the end! So getting back to the point, we have really been working hard in getting our routines set and everything in order. One of the most important parts of our day is Reading Workshop Rotation Style!!!
Click here to see the Rotations Board Set in my TPT Store. :)

I'm going to take you back about 3 years ago when I was worn out and bored with using the basal series we had. I wanted to be more skills based exposing them to a PLETHORA (my brother's college football announcer would always use this word when he played! hah) of literature to read to use those skills and strategies. I'm one of those people that likes change! hah Not in everything, but I am usually up for slight changes and some huge changes as well! So, at the time, I had 2 EL teachers in my room for a part of reading since I had all the lower level EL students (I speak Spanish and that's our population except our Chin population has increased this year). As I was talking about trying to change things up a bit, one of the EL teachers said that she did a rotation system in Florida that was all small groups and more skill based. My eyes were WIDE OPEN!!! I was so excited and took off with it! We started doing 3 small groups based on levels and did short 20 minutes rotations that included mini-lessons with the I do, We do, You do format. I often used the Read Works website since it is an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING RESOURCE!!! It has TONS of common core aligned lessons for grades K-8 that span over a few days using the same I/We/You formats. If you haven't checked out this site, go now!! It is just full of ideas and tons of resources like nonfiction and fiction passages as well as picture book recommendations to use for the lessons!
So after having a year of testing things and getting a rhythm, I really got into my groove last year! Last year I started using binders to keep all of my materials for each specific skill behind my desk. This picture is from last year. I had to move rooms for this year so they have a little spot behind my desk area. hah 
This, alone, helped so much!! I still use Read Works periodically, but I now create and find materials that go well with teaching the skills. When I determine my goal for the skill I am teaching, then I search for GREAT picture books, passages and texts to use! We use my Reading Skills Posters and more for anchor charts that we constantly refer too! It's awesome to see the kids go to them for reference!
It has COMPLETELY changed my students into reading detectives instead of passive readers. I LOVE it!!!

Here is what a Reading Rotation Time would look like:

1st Rotation:   Group 1 (below level) with me for 20 minutes
                       Group 2 (on level) with the EL teacher (if I didn't have her which I don't for several weeks due to EL testing, this would be an extension time for responding to literature with whichever skills we've worked on or are working on that week using familiar reads)
                        Group 3 (above level) is On Their Own with technology center time where they would reference the rotations board to see where they go for that day. (smartboard for word work, computers for Successmaker, or iPads for reading apps and word work apps)

*When 20 minutes is up, we have already closed up the lesson, and they go and "park" their cards under their understanding. :) I also chant "Clean up, Clean up, and Rotate" which they copy and start cleaning their group areas to line up for the next. We go over what this means a lot in the first weeks of school. Then they line up by their present group areas until I say "rotate."
Click here to grab this FREEBIE from my TPT Store! :)

2nd and 3rd Rotations: Each group gets to the next 2 as stated above. 

Since I am lucky to have my EL teacher as one of the rotations (I have 18 EL kids out of 24), the kids get 2-20 minute focused reading instruction along with reinforcing those skills with technology. As I said earlier, it would be a little different without her in there, but they would be at their desks as they do for their math rotations since I don't have another teacher during that time.

Pros: I have seen AMAZING growth in all of my students, not just the EL students. They are exposed to more academic language focusing on the skills and using literature to reinforce those skills. They are able to explain how to use the skills with new literature and often want to share when they connect a new text with a skill or strategy we have used. 

Cons: none. haha :) I'm biased what can I say!

I know we talk about grouping students with different levels, and I agree that's important too which is why we do our own version of the Daily 5 when they are at center time instead of a book club. This allows students to work with others at different levels giving them that chance to learn from each other.

I love having the leveled groups for the reading rotations because I can really focus in on their needs with only 6-10 kids per group! Last year, my principal made the comment that there was not one child off task during my lessons. I was super happy she noticed, but I said small groups work for me and my kids especially with 20 minute focused instruction with higher levels of movement and interaction with the literature, activities, etc. She said, but you have them trained! hah That is one of the MOST IMPORTANT parts of doing any type of small group rotations is setting up those expectations and PRACTICING, PRACTICING PRACTICING so everyone is HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY! :) 

OHH, if you are wondering where they go for each rotation, you will see I'm not too much of a fan for sitting at desks even though it does have to happen for certain times of the day. However, I try to get them up and moving as much as possible! 

I have my group come to the reading area where the classroom library is so we can sit on the floor, and I use my white board triangle organizer thingy. hah I have my caddy with all the supplies necessary, clip boards underneath with wipe off clear sheet holders, and anything else I may need that day. My student's desks are in 2 huge, long tables so my EL teacher uses an end of them for her groups where she can use the whiteboard and have some room to organize her materials. I know I said I don't like desks, but it's only 1 rotation haha, and there's no other place! :)
Now, you can see the mess on the floor haha, but underneath are all the supplies with the caddy also on the floor. This is not an actual reading group. I don't have a picture of one so this will give you an idea! :)

OK, so I just found one and had to go back and add it! hah

This is the only picture that has the other area for my EL teacher to have her groups. We were making our pizza for our How to Recipe writing activity so that's why there are English Muffins on the desks. hah The EL teacher uses the white board in the back of the room, and the desks closest to it. 
Just found another one! hah My classroom may be organized, but my computer is NOT! :)

For the Technology Centers, they either go to the Smartboard at the front of the room, the computers by my desk, or on the floor in the back with the iPads.
Smartboard where there is also a troubleshooting binder when they don't know what to do! :) We also work on what to do when something isn't working without interrupting the teachers' groups. They know they will ask the "teachers of the week" in their groups first to help, and then they will join up with another center for the rest of the time. They get really good at this after we've practiced a LOT! :)
Here's the best look at the computers! hah This year I decided to type up their usernames and passwords by girls and boys doing every other line a different color to make it more readable for them. Now, they don't come up to me saying they lost their cards with their names and passwords! The big clothespin will have the "I can" statement for the computer program and directions how to get to it.

I don't have a picture with the iPads center, but they are on the floor. 

Lastly, within the group that is on their own, I also have them paired up within that group for the centers so I know they are with another student that will work well together! This helps TREMENDOUSLY!! 

I can easily move around kids to different groups since I use post-its for each student on the rotations board!! :)

Thank you sooooo much for reading this lengthy post!!! I just LOVE our Reading Workshop: Rotation Style that I wanted to share with you all!! 

Here is a FREEBIE for all of your amazing support!! Have an inspiring week!!! :) 


  1. This is a great post! Love the way you are doing your reading groups. The way I've done mine is similar...but I like the way your are doing yours even better! Glad I'm just in the training process of mine so I can make the tweaks!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Primary Inspired

    1. Thank you Brenda!!! I'm so glad you stopped by!! I think I will always be tweaking too! hah I'm such a perfectionist, but I think I would be bored if I ever really did get something perfect! haha Does that make sense?!?

      Thanks again!! Have a great week!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing! I enjoy seeing how other teachers organize their small groups. Your passion for teaching is evident. Your students are so lucky!

    1. Thank you so much!! You just made me smile! :) I appreciate you taking the time to get acquainted with my room!! I absolutely love this world of blogging, instagram and TPT! I don't know how I did it without all of the supportive people like you!!

      Have a great week!!
      Nicole :)


I always LOVE to hear from other teachers and bloggers so thank you so much for taking the time to comment!! It's so exciting to meet new people who share in your passion!