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organize guided reading rotations in the classroom

How to Organize Guided Reading Rotations in Your Classroom

Guided reading rotations. A concept that sounds amazing, but in reality, looks a lot like chaos for most of us.

“What am I supposed to be doing?”

“Where do I go now?”

“I know we are not supposed to interrupt you during guided reading but I don’t know what to do.”

Sound familiar? I am here to get your rotations sorted out so that they can run themselves and never cause you to *face-palm* after being asked the same question for the 100th time, again.

First things first – groups.

Before you can have flawlessly executed guided-reading rotations, you need to set your guided-reading groups up. See my tips for creating effective groups here.

Once you read through HOW to set up your groups, you can download my guided reading organization freebie here.

Google Sheets guided reading rotation free resource for organizing your groups

Creating the Guided Reading Rotations

Next up, you are going to want to figure out what kind of rotations you’d like your class to do on a regular basis. I highly suggest keeping these rotations simple the first time around and sticking to 1-2 familiar activities per station.

Common rotation stations are: Daily 5 (read to self, read to someone, listen to reading, word work, and work on writing) or Daily 3 (independent reading, independent writing, word work). ]

For example, teaching Grade 5 I always wanted my students to move through: Guided Reading, Independent Reading, Independent Writing & Spelling/Grammar. Those stations always stayed the same, but the activities within them changed throughout the year.

The reason I suggest only giving them 1-2 familiar activities/choices per station is because that will eliminate questions and uncertainty. If you teach students how to complete a reading response or use a reading response menu, they won’t have to ask you how to do it when the time comes around. You can switch these up throughout the year of course – but that brings me to my next point.

Scaffold the activities

Before you assign a worksheet or activity to your class for rotations, make sure you have explicitly explained it to them. In order to be successful in an independent setting, students need to know exactly what to do and how to do it. This builds confidence and gives them the tools to complete the activity without teacher supervision. Also, the less you throw at them, the bigger the opportunity for them to master the skill being practiced.

Writing Activity Ideas:

  • Write about reading: have them summarize, make predictions, make connections, etc. about the text they are reading independently
  • Free write or writing prompts
  • Writing for a concept being taught in class (e.g., continuing procedural writing after the mini-lesson taught)

Implement it!

Once you have created your groups, determined your stations and taught the activities, you are ready to get started. This can often be the most difficult part.

The one tool that has completely changed the game for me, and many teachers out there is having a digital rotation board.

Guided reading rotations example slide

This tells the students exactly what they are supposed to be doing and how much time they have in that station. When the timer goes off, the students see where their name/group moves and what activity they should be doing next.

My Literacy/Math Rotation Schedule resource is created for PowerPoint and Google Slides and is completely editable (aside from the titles). You can choose from a variety of timers to suit your needs, and once you get this set-up – you will NOT have to worry about it again!

Here’s what some of the thousands of teachers using this product for guided reading rotations have said…

“I had been looking for something to use for my rotations in class to support students visually for rotations. I had looked around and then came to this. The price undersells this product. It is well designed and super easy to use. I am using just the single page to show what rotation the students in groups are moving to next. Thank you so much!!”

“So easy for my students to visually track exactly where and what they should be doing for each math rotation. I love being able to add colors to the individual squares to make it so easy for students to see exactly which group they are in and have them match my room colors so it doesn’t clash with my room.”

“One of the best purchases I’ve ever made on tpt! Easy to use and super effective during small groups. I love how the timer automatically restarts on its own. The color coding is great and I love that it’s editable too. I’ll definitely be using this every year. Thanks!”

Want to get started?

To purchase the literacy and math rotation slides product, click here or on the image below.

Guided reading rotation slides TpT resource and reviews

If you are ready to get your guided-reading rotations organized and under control, click here to grab your free Guided Reading organization resource.

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I’m Katarina and I teach elementary students in Toronto, Canada. I’m passionate about creating authentic learning experiences that students will love and remember. If you are looking to improve your classroom management and engage your students with easy-to-implement resources and tools, you’re in the right place!

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