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.


ELA Lesson Plans #2


Click here to learn all about teaching ELA in the 2nd grade classroom.  These free and fun lesson plans will detail curriculum and ideas for all informational, literature and writing standards in my elementary classroom.  Your second grade students will the love the lessons and activities shared here.  These lesson outlines are added and updated almost each week.

The previous week's lessons in reading focused on procedures, routines and teaching students the importance of asking and answering questions about key details in a text.  You can find ELA Lesson Plans #1 here.  By the end of the week students should be able to ask questions before, during and after reading so that they understand what the text is all about and why.  This week students will continue to ask and answer important questions in order to gain knowledge of details and be able to retell key details in their own words. It's important to gradually grow these reading skills and strategies so that students can start to summarize this information next week and eventually synthesize the information. Regardless of the student's reading level, they should be able to master all skills and strategies when given differentiated text.

During independent time students will build their stamina in independent reading and gain confidence in using skills and strategies in shared reading independently with self selected text.  The other portion of the independent block should be used to teach procedures and routines for independent work such as workstations.  When choosing workstations I use the five core components of reading:  comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, phonics and phonemes.  Each component will be represented in the work stations.  Students can also learn dictionary skills during independent time so that they can work independently to grow their vocabulary, check spelling and grow in grammar knowledge.

The following lesson plan templates are from A Modern Teacher .
Click here to learn all about teaching ELA in the 2nd grade classroom.  These free and fun lesson plans will detail curriculum and ideas for all informational, literature and writing standards in my elementary classroom.  Your second grade students will the love the lessons and activities shared here.  These lesson outlines are added and updated almost each week.


Click here to learn all about teaching ELA in the 2nd grade classroom.  These free and fun lesson plans will detail curriculum and ideas for all informational, literature and writing standards in my elementary classroom.  Your second grade students will the love the lessons and activities shared here.  These lesson outlines are added and updated almost each week.

During the previous week students learning focused on the hows and whys of writing.  They were able to complete a narrative piece so that teachers could assess where each child has the most potential to grow their writing.  Now teachers can model the basic conventions of writing starting with capital letters, punctuation and using nouns properly so that students can look at their writing and make corrections.  As students gain more knowledge of the process and procedures, the writing block will increase in time.

Click here to learn all about teaching ELA in the 2nd grade classroom.  These free and fun lesson plans will detail curriculum and ideas for all informational, literature and writing standards in my elementary classroom.  Your second grade students will the love the lessons and activities shared here.  These lesson outlines are added and updated almost each week.

Click here to learn all about teaching ELA in the 2nd grade classroom.  These free and fun lesson plans will detail curriculum and ideas for all informational, literature and writing standards in my elementary classroom.  Your second grade students will the love the lessons and activities shared here.  These lesson outlines are added and updated almost each week.


ELA Lesson Plans #1


Click here to learn all about teaching ELA in the 2nd grade classroom.  These free and fun lesson plans will detail curriculum and ideas for all informational, literature and writing standards in my elementary classroom.  Your second grade students will the love the lessons and activities shared here.  These lesson outlines are added and updated almost each week.

Hi everyone! I've decided to share my lesson plan outlines with everyone each week or at least as often as I can.  If you aren't signed up for my newsletter, please sign up now.  I'll send the lesson plans and free resources out each month for you to have.  If my newsletter opt-in doesn't pop up for you, just email me and I'll add you to the list.  My hope is that we can collaborate and make the best learning experience possible for students.  You will definitely find lesson ideas and outlines in these series of posts.  You will not find detailed plans in these posts, but you will find links to my detailed units in my TPT store.  The following lesson plan templates are from A Modern Teacher.

Just like every teacher at back to school time I'm spinning my wheels and working through my exhaustion to get my plans up, going and best suited for students.  Please be patient with me.  Below you will find a very rough draft of my yearly plans.  As the next month goes by I will be updating these outlines and replacing them.

Click here to learn all about teaching ELA in the 2nd grade classroom.  These free and fun lesson plans will detail curriculum and ideas for all informational, literature and writing standards in my elementary classroom.  Your second grade students will the love the lessons and activities shared here.  These lesson outlines are added and updated almost each week.
The first two weeks of my lesson plans are short.  My main focus is building a classroom culture with students and going over procedures with students that will set them up for success.  In my lesson outlines you will see T for teacher and Ss for students.

 Click here to learn all about teaching ELA in the 2nd grade classroom.  These free and fun lesson plans will detail curriculum and ideas for all informational, literature and writing standards in my elementary classroom.  Your second grade students will the love the lessons and activities shared here.  These lesson outlines are added and updated almost each week.

Click here to learn all about teaching ELA in the 2nd grade classroom.  These free and fun lesson plans will detail curriculum and ideas for all informational, literature and writing standards in my elementary classroom.  Your second grade students will the love the lessons and activities shared here.  These lesson outlines are added and updated almost each week.

The first week of writing is most successful when procedures are created to set students up for success.  My main focus is on teaching students proper penmanship and a love for writing.  Youtube has a ton of videos that you can use to walk students through handwriting instruction.

Click here to learn all about teaching ELA in the 2nd grade classroom.  These free and fun lesson plans will detail curriculum and ideas for all informational, literature and writing standards in my elementary classroom.  Your second grade students will the love the lessons and activities shared here.  These lesson outlines are added and updated almost each week.

Clean and Protect Your Classroom Carpet



Almost every classroom teacher knows the woes of keeping their rugs looking decent.  The rug in the picture above is 4 years old.  One of the ways that I keep my rug stain free is to clean it yearly with my household steam cleaner and spray Scotchgard on it afterward.  I recommend spraying the stain protector just before you leave for the weekend because it is very pungent.

Follow these simple steps:
1.  Vacuum your carpet.
2.  Spray your spots or stains with stain remover and follow directions for recommended soaking time.
3.  Clean the rug with a carpet cleaner.  If you don't have one many grocery stores rent them out.
4.  Once the carpet is completely dry follow the directions for spraying Scotchgard on it.
5.  Let the rug air out over the weekend.

Here's some random information answering questions from social media.  If you are dying to know where the rug is from - it's from Ikea.  The bright circles are sit spots which velcro to this rug with no problem.  "Does it repel lice?"  According to the manufacturer it does not repel lice.  I've seen quite a bit of natural products that help deter lice.  I would keep my students from laying on the carpet to help with the little critters.  Feel free to leave any questions that you may have below.

All About Dinosaurs In The Classroom


If you want to have the happiest students ever, teach them all about dinosaurs! They absolutely love it.  When I first started teaching I was very much by the books and did exactly what the district told me to do.  As I became better at my craft I realized that I could teach the standards that the district wanted more thoroughly with engaged students if I used topics that the students wanted. The big bonus is that student behavior is much better when they love what they are learning.  Every year I give an interest survey and every year dinosaurs are on the top for students. In this post I will walk you through a week of learning about dinosaurs.




The very first part of every lesson for me is the engagement piece.  I want to hook the students in so that they are invested in what they learn.  For Dinosaur week I created a control panel and taped it outside of our classroom.  As students walk in I had them press their lunch number in, scan their finger and get their security badge.  They were so excited and this was very little effort for me.




The first lesson's objective was to learn how figure out unknown vocabulary that the students would encounter through independent reading.  We read a dinosaur passage together whole group and circled unknown words.  We walked through the word "fossil" together on a 4-square vocabulary organizer which you can see below.  Before we filled the organizer out, I gave the students salt dough and had them make a fossil.  This hands-on activity allowed them to see first hand what the vocabulary word was.  This helped the students to master the skill of learning unknown words.  Now they're ready to tackle those words on their own.  If you click on the photo above it will take you to another post where you'll learn how to make this salt dough.  As a side note, it takes at least a week to dry the fossils so starting on day one helps.


 On day two we moved into reading about dinosaurs with partners.  Each group was assigned a station with books.  The partner's had to find an unknown word and fill out a 4-square.  At the end of the lesson the partners shared their 4-squares with the class.


Days 3-5 were spent studying different dinosaurs independently.  Each person received a leveled passage about a specific dinosaur, a 4-square and dinosaur writing paper.  The first day they figured out any unknown words and shared them with the class.  Then they moved on to finding important details and writing about their dinosaur in an informational piece.  At the end of the week they shared their writing with the class.  Through this week's lessons they were able to learn a variety of informational standards which included:  main topic, vocabulary, key details and informational writing.  It was a fabulous week.



If you are too busy to create all of the materials including differentiated reading passages that your students need, click below to find my Dinosaur Unit.  Included are 6 different passages on:  dinosaurs, paleontologists, T-Rex, Stegosaurus, Velociraptor, Triceratops and a ton of other resources!!


You may also like partner pairing cards.  These cards get your students up, moving and thinking about the days lessons before they start!



Reading Notebooks Made Easy



Set up reading notebooks with your students in a proactive way that frees up time in each of your lessons! Reading notebooks are great way to store tools and information for students that they can reference throughout the year. Reading notebooks also allow teachers to have a concrete example of student work that proves mastery of standards. If you choose to put mini anchors in your reading notebooks then you can free up wall space in the classroom and create a calm environment for your students.  Click on the picture above for a free how-to video on setting up reading notebooks.

Fidget Ball DIY




Do you have students who need a way to get out their fidgets, anxiety or extra energy while they're learning? A fidget ball may be just what they need.  Read below to see how you can make them yourself.

Supplies:  balloons, sand, funnel, pen, scissors

1.  Blow up balloons to stretch them out.
2.  Place the stem of the balloon over the stem of the funnel.
3.  Fill the balloon with a hand-full of sand.  Use the pen to push the sand down if needed.
4. Tie the balloon and place another balloon over it with the stem facing the opposite way.  
5. Cut the stem off.
6.  Repeat steps 4 and 5.
7.  Keep extra balloons on hand in case they become pierced.

Make sure to follow all of the directions on the packages with safe balloon use.  Below you will find some rules that will help keep you sane.

1.  Students should leave the ball on a surface at all times.
2.  Students should not pinch or poke the ball.
3.  Students can roll the ball on their desk with their palm as long as they pay attention to their task.
4.  Students can press the ball.
5.  If students mistreat the ball it should be taken from them.