Literacy Workstations Six Feet Apart!

One of the things that kept me up at night this summer was the question, “How can I implement my interactive and differentiated Literacy Workstations with all the COVID restrictions?” I love having workstations that allow movement. I also use a listening workstation daily as a way for one group to enjoy an engaging and independent activity while the other groups work with either my assistant or me. And the sensory table….what could I do to make that activity COVID-safe? Finally, how do I have small groups work with me when they can not sit close together? Talk about overwhelming! I needed to start thinking outside of the box for sure!

The first thing I tackled was the Listening Workstation. I have been collecting books with coordinating CD’s for much of the last eleven years and have amassed an incredible collection that offers a large variety of titles. But with COVID, there is no sharing of materials…or if students have to share, the headphones and books need to be wiped off in between each use. No time for that! I started thinking about QR codes that, when scanned, would bring students to a safe website where they could not only listen to a story, but also see the words on the pages, just like my old-fashioned listening center. As luck would have it, I found a resource** on Teacher Pay Teachers that had everything I was looking for! (and the QR codes are dynamic…so whenever a code does not work, the author finds a new link…but the code stays the same!)

Fortunately it was in the budget for each student to receive their own set of headphones. While iPads are shared, we quickly wipe them off in between uses. I made special binder rings for each student that holds their QR code of the day. By the end of the year, students should have 100 or more book QR codes on their rings! How awesome is that?!

Next, I thought about how I can incorporate movement into the Literacy Workstations. Since students are sitting at desks and they can not share space, there would no longer be groups sitting together at one table and rotating together to each workstation. I still wanted students to move, so I created outdoor learning spaces. This space is made up of tables and lots of shade. I also purchased some great square shaped rubber mats.

I took this photo right after lunch. We do Literacy Workstations in the morning, so the entire area is shaded at that time.

My thought was that students who were using the iPads for the Listening Workstation would sit on the rubber mats that are spread out. Students working on printing or other skills with my assistant would be spread out around the tables. The tricky part would be getting students in the routine of bringing the supplies that they need to each rotation. AND, because I want them moving, they do not simply go from one outside activity to the next….nope….I make sure each group has an outside activity and then an inside activity. (Rubber mats and tables are wiped down between groups.) Students’ supplies are in a pencil box that they bring with them to Mrs. Riley’s station. They are learning to bring their headphones and QR code rings to the Listening Workstation. I am confidant that as the year moves on, it will be easier for students to remember what they need for each rotation. Another activity that I love to incorporate during Literacy Workstations is Write the Room. I purchased a clipboard for each student. I have certain cards around the room, taking extra care to place them at least six feet apart. Today students searched for uppercase letters and then matched the uppercase letter to the lowercase letter on their recording sheet. They loved it!

Next up…small group work with me that is differentiated. I put my reading table to good use, placing colored dots on top that I could use to help students have a visual of where I want them to sit. Usually, I work with four to five students at a time. This year, I am meeting with two students at a time…one sits at the red dot and one sits at the green or blue dot. After each rotation, I quickly wipe down the table and the seats.

I love, love, love, meeting students at their reading level…so this was a time that I was not willing to let go. Since my groups are made of either three or four students, I have another little activity planned for when the student is waiting to work with me.

Finally, the sensory table. I am still trying to wrap my head around that one! I purchased enough shoe box sized bins with lids so that students could each have their own sensory bin. Now, I just have to figure out how I am going to integrate them into Literacy Workstations. Usually, students are searching for laminated cards that have a certain phonics theme….but I’m undecided if preparing thirteen sets of laminated cards for a ten minute activity is a good use of resources. Maybe something will come to me on how to accomplish using individual sensory bins this year.

Today was our second day of Literacy Workstations. I am happy to report that it went a little more smoothly than yesterday! (Air quality has improved enough that we are allowed to be outside again.) We will keep practicing our routines and soon these new kindergarteners will be Literacy Workstation Pros!

**QR Code TPT resource by Mrs. B Teaches Me