Make Your Rotations ROCK!

So who has ever stood staring off into space in their classrooms wondering how on this Earth you were going to get rotations to run more smoothly??? 

Well, I was in that very position about 4 years ago when rotations JUST WERE NOT WORKING!!! It can be so frustrating!!!! You PLAN, PLAN, and PLAN some more to make sure you have EVERY inch covered so you don't have a line of kids going, "I don't where I go next." Then, there's your line of kids AGAIN!! What happened?? I planned for what felt like a year, and it still isn't working!!! 

After shedding some buckets of tears, I shook it off and set out on finding a way to make it work! As all teachers do, we keep trying! I wanted a setup that would be self-sufficient and allow the kids to take charge! In the 4 years I've been using it, I have tweaked it according to our schedules, teaching partners (if I have one), and students. So I wanted to share what literally RUNS my room during rotations!! It has made my rotations ROCK and move so seamlessly along with keeping gray hairs off of my head!! :) 

If you are interested in using the materials with this rotation setup, check out the UPDATED Rotations Board set in my store!! :)

Now, I'm going to try to explain this as well as I can without writing a dissertation!! You may want to get a snack. ;) 

Let's get started!!!

 The Rotations Board

 The Rotations Board is the CONTROL BOARD! It is where everything my students need to get through rotations is located. It takes modeling and practicing, but I had my 2nd graders using this within the first month of school!! Now that I looped to 3rd this year, my kids were ready to go right away!! I will get into more detail below, but this setup is for 2 rotations. One rotation is with me, and the other is independent. When they are at the independent rotation, they follow the Rotations Board. I have done this with 3 rotations too when I had a teaching partner. You can read more about this way HERE. It can work in whatever way you'd like it to!! These are just examples to give you some ideas! Let's take a quick look at how the post-its are set up before we get into the nitty gritty (is that how you spell it??).

Okay, so here is a look at my daily schedule.
During Literature Circles, I have another teacher who is in there who takes two groups as well. Each literature circle is 20 minutes long. If the kids do NOT have a literature circle first, they do 1 of the Daily 5s. I will have to blog about that to share how I use that setup in my room. My literature circle groups are on the Rotations Board so they can see which teacher they are with as well as which group 1 or 2.
 During our Reading Rotations, I do not have anyone in the room with me so I have 2 groups. One group is with me, and the other group follows the independent rotation on the Rotations Board.

Description of Each Reading Rotation I Use

Comprehension Tubs: There is an explanation of these below, but they are where I have my students practice reading passages at their Lexile levels while highlighting text evidence to support their answers to the response questions. 

Computer: Our district uses a program called Successmaker that levels the students as they work. The kids love it!

Vocabulary: Students write their 5 new words for the week 2 times each using a Boogie Board or keyboard to practice typing. They also record the words on a half sheet of paper. Then they doing a making words activity. The second activity has varied throughout the year. Right now, my kids need to work more on manipulating words to aid in their reading and writing.

Reading iPad Apps: This is where they pick a reading app to practice. I have folders for each Comprehension Tub so that the apps are even differentiated. I also have a folder with Reading Games that they can chose from. Read all about the apps and how I organize them on my iPads HERE!! 

Now, let's move to the math rotations. These are set up the same way as my reading rotations minus the numbers on the post-its. 

This rotation board set will work with any schedule. It all depends on how you want to set it up! The GREATEST PART is that it's soooooooooooo SIMPLE to move kids around. Using the small post-its with their names on them saves so much time when  I need to adjust groups. It's also right there in front of you! It makes it easier to stay on top of things for myself. 

Description of Each Math Rotation I Use

Computer: Since we have 1:1s, the first 10 minutes of the independent time is for EVERYONE to go to Xtra Math to practice their facts. It's a free site that's awesome for fact practice!!! Then, if their actual rotation for that day is computer, they stay on it and go to Successmaker Math just as they do for reading.

Fact Practice: In this tub, I like to put my Solve It! games as well as other games that focus on the facts! 

Math Tub: In this tub, I normally put activities that go with the skill we're practicing that week. I've also been using the 3rd Grade Math Spiral Task Cards from Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher. They are AWESOME!!! 

Math iPad Apps: As with reading, this is where they pick a math app to practice. I have folders for Everyday Math apps (our program) as well as other math games. Read all about the apps and how I organize them on my iPads HERE!! 


Now that you have a grasp (hopefully somewhat :) of how I set up my rotations, here are some ideas on how to organize everything!! 

 I got these AMAZING tubs from Costco last year! I went back 3 times to get more! I haven't seen them since, though. :( However, any tubs, baskets would work. I bought this wicker shelf at an estate sale, and it works perfectly. I set up my bins in the order that we use them in the day. I know, I'm OCD a little. ;) Of course, they are also in numerical order. I made tub labels to match the rotation cards on the board for a simple way to visually identify the correct tub. When my students go to their rotations, they take the tub out and with them to wherever they sit. All of the materials are inside the tubs so there is no need for them to go scrounging around in their desk or roaming the room for materials. These have made my life a lot easier as well! I set up each tub the same way including an objective card and materials. Here's a look at one of them.

In the tub in the photo, I'm using one of the amazing Differentiated Reading Comprehension Passages by Meet Miss Parker. These have been AWESOME in making it a breeze to differentiate for each Comprehension Tub. All of the work they finish during rotations is turned into a try in the meeting area.

PHEW!! Are you still with me??

Wow!! I can go on and on and on about this system!! I've UPDATED my Rotations Board set in my TPT store which includes EDITABLE pages to customize it the way you see fit for your room!!! Click on the picture below or HERE to check it out! :)
Thanks so much for taking the time to read through this post!!! I hope you were able to take away some ideas that you can use in your own classroom!! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask away!! You can leave a comment below, or you can email me!!

You all ROCK!!!


  1. Whoa, you are one organized gal!! FABULOUS. I'm very impressed. Thanks for sharing what you do with the blogging community!! I've learned tons. Great work!! ;)
    Literacy Loving Gals

    1. Thank you so much Colleen!!!! I can't tell you how happy I am to hear you liked the post!! I absolutely love sharing with other teachers through my blog!! I'm so glad you stopped by!! :)

  2. Great post, Nicole!!! :) Love reading about how different people set up their stations. I really like your bins that have a top - brilliance. Gotta find those!

    Creativity to the Core

    1. Thank you so much Meredith!!! Those bins are the best things ever!!!!!! I wish I would have bought more! :) Thanks again for stopping by to check it out!!! Getting a comment on my blog is one of the highlights of my weeks!!

  3. I am new to centers and rotations and I absolutely love your ideas!!! this will definitely fine tune what I have been doing :-) now if I could just figure out how to keep my busy ones on task ;-) Thank you so much for sharing I have definitely learned a lot !!

    1. Karen, thank you so much for taking the time to read this post!! I'm so glad it was helpful!! I've found that since I've enstated the "Leaders" for each group, I don't have many problems with those busy kids. :) My leaders go around to make sure everyone is doing what they're supposed to right away and then starts theirs. They even report to me later if someone was continuing to make the wrong choices! Hah :) Maybe something like that might help. I still do have those kids not focusing, but I think the frequency has dropped. Hah Thanks again for stopping by!!!

  4. Love your board! It looks so great! I have a question about it's set up though... when it's reading time with you, do you really read with all 12 kids in the group at the same time??

    Thanks for sharing!
    First Grade Garden

    1. Hi Amanda!! Thanks so much for reading my post!! When I have the groups of 12, we do more skill work with our reading passages from either Reading Wonders or other places. I also use task card activities and such like that. My actual guided reading time is during our Literature Circles when I have no more than 6 kids at a time. During this time, I have another teacher in my room with me that also has Lit Circles so we both have two Lit Circle groups a day. I guess my rotations time when I meet with about 12 kids in each group is when other teachers Mahdi their whole group time. I enjoy small groups way more so I like to stick to that as much as I can! :) Hopefully, I made some sort of sense! Hah :) Please feel free to email me at if you'd like some more info or bounce off ideas!!! :)

  5. Hi, love your center set up. I am fairly new to this and would like to know if you have the objective tub cards in your TPT store?

  6. Hi Paulette!! The objective tub cards are actually part of the rotation board set in my store and linked above in the post!! :) Sometimes, I simply laminate them so I can write and erase on them each week!! Thanks for checking!! Let me know if I can help!!!



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!