Independent ELA Time - Reading Centers


Click here to learn all about ELA independent workstations or reading centers in the classroom.  These fun ideas work for any primary classroom.  Your first, second, or third grade students will love the centers and activities shared here.  Included are suggestions for center accountability, phonics, phonemes, comprehension, vocabulary and fluency for the elementary classroom.


Does independent work time in the ELA block stress you out a little bit? Don't worry if it does, it stresses us all out a bit.  Read below to learn tried a true tips for getting the most out of your students.

Before you start workstations make sure that your students know procedures for doing everything in the class.  They need to know how to function on their own so that you can get the most out of guided reading. We have a CHAMP system in our class and this is what independent time looks like.  Conversations - 0 (no talking) for independent reading/work
1 (whisper) for workstations/buddy reading
Help- Ask 3 friends for help, if no one can help you, go into independent reading until the teacher is done with her group.
A- complete 30 minutes of independent reading and then go into a workstation of your choice
M-Free movement, move as needed.
P- Each of 5 workstations should be completed during the week.  Choose one a day as long as there aren't more than 3 people already in the station.  Work with a buddy in stations and independently on reading.

If you have a couple of students who can't handle independent time just yet, place them by your guided reading table to complete work until they can work on their own.  Consider allowing them to work in increments of 5 minutes a time independently until they can work the entire time on their own.

Introduce each workstation whole group and let the class practice together.  Once they can work on the station and follow the CHAMP, introduce the next station.  If they have a bad day, address it right away and go back in steps if needed. It's best to address behavior as soon as it happens so that it doesn't become a problem that keeps you from guided reading.

Each of my workstations are kept in rolling drawers like the ones below.  I sit a basket on top for materials that don't fit.  The workstations are differentiated so that students can work independently and don't get frustrated.  If you don't differentiate for students, they will either exhibit bad behavior because they can't complete the station, or they will get nothing from that hour of your class time.  Neither one are ultimate goals of good instruction.



Workstations in my class are centered around the five core components of early reading.
1.  Comprehension
2.  Phonics
3. Phonemes
4.  Fluency
5.  Vocabulary

Here are a few examples of workstations that I put out during the year:

1.  Comprehension


Click here to learn all about ELA independent workstations or reading centers in the classroom.  These fun ideas work for any primary classroom.  Your first, second, or third grade students will love the centers and activities shared here.  Included are suggestions for center accountability, phonics, phonemes, comprehension, vocabulary and fluency for the elementary classroom.

Students can read differentiated text on topics of their choice and answer standards related questions.
Students can spin a comprehension spinner and answer questions in their notebooks.
Students can compare and contrast two texts on the same topic.


2.  Phonics

Click here to learn all about ELA independent workstations or reading centers in the classroom.  These fun ideas work for any primary classroom.  Your first, second, or third grade students will love the centers and activities shared here.  Included are suggestions for center accountability, phonics, phonemes, comprehension, vocabulary and fluency for the elementary classroom.

Students can complete a host of phonics games.  Keeping the same format throughout the year helps them to gain independence and mastery without interrupting your guided reading time.

3.  Phonemes


Click here to learn all about ELA independent workstations or reading centers in the classroom.  These fun ideas work for any primary classroom.  Your first, second, or third grade students will love the centers and activities shared here.  Included are suggestions for center accountability, phonics, phonemes, comprehension, vocabulary and fluency for the elementary classroom.

Students can work on manipulating sounds in word cards.
Students can sort words by individual sound.
Students can match words with similar sounds.


4.  Fluency


Students can use fluency cards.
Students can use a sand timer to time passage reading.
Students can time themselves reading leveled words.


5.  Vocabulary
Click here to learn all about ELA independent workstations or reading centers in the classroom.  These fun ideas work for any primary classroom.  Your first, second, or third grade students will love the centers and activities shared here.  Included are suggestions for center accountability, phonics, phonemes, comprehension, vocabulary and fluency for the elementary classroom.
Students can work using a 4-square organizer to figure out unknown words.
Students can use clues to build vocabulary.
Students can use a vocabulary spinner to answer questions about vocabulary words.




Try to choose workstations that can be used throughout the year with content changes.  For example, for phonics and phonemes we have phonics games.  The game changes each week, but the format is the same so kids don't need new instruction every week for 5 workstations.  You can still change out the workstations as needed, but you won't necessarily have to.


To help students remember which stations they need and to hold them accountable for their work, consider giving them a simple sheet to fill out.  Click on the picture below for a free copy of my recording sheet.

Click here to learn all about ELA independent workstations or reading centers in the classroom.  These fun ideas work for any primary classroom.  Your first, second, or third grade students will love the centers and activities shared here.  Included are suggestions for center accountability, phonics, phonemes, comprehension, vocabulary and fluency for the elementary classroom.


Grouping students with buddies in workstations helps students to be successful and get the most out of their work.

At the end of each week, I just check the sheet off and return it to the students so that they know I'm holding them responsible for their independent work.

You can find all of the centers above in my TPT store.

Take a look at my ELA lesson outlines in this post.


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