Organizing Math & Reading Rotations for Small Group Instruction

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Figuring out how to successfully organize small group rotations for guided math and guided reading is tricky. If you’ve found yourself searching endlessly for the game-changing trick, I’m here to share my favorite solution! As you read, think about how you might adapt or change these ideas and format for your classroom!

Rotation Charts That Work

In order to run rotations smoothly, every student must know exactly where they’re supposed to go. I’ve tried three different strategies for this.

First I tried making a poster or pocket chart on my wall, but I found it took up too much wall space. Not to mention, my students would crowd around it to see where they should be. Fail number one.

Next, I tried to display our rotation charts on our interactive whiteboard. This strategy worked much better… until my screen would fall asleep. Or it wouldn’t turn on. Or I had a sub who didn’t have access to it. The lack of consistency with this makes it fail number two.

Everything changed when I decided to give every single student their own rotation chart.

That’s right! Every group had its own chart that showed them exactly where they should be during guided math and guided reading rotations. Students kept these charts in a sheet protector inside.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking… This is great, but my students are inevitably going to lose this. You’re probably right – they are kids after all! That’s why I also created a master scheduling chart for myself. This allows me to see exactly where everyone should be during our guided math and guided reading rotations.

Image shows teacher schedule for math rotations

How many guided math rotations do students have?

For guided math, I found great success utilizing three rotations per day.

  1. Teacher Table: Students meet with me to work on the carpet or at a table. Read more here!
  2. Independent Work: Students go to this rotation directly after teacher table to complete a short, simple practice activity. This is an extension of our work from teacher table. It’s also a great rotation to include some mandated math curriculum if your district requires you to follow it with fidelity. Read more about this on this post!
  3. Math Centers & Games: Students complete a variety of math centers, board games, fluency activities, and more. Students visit this center 3x a week, and on the other two days, they utilize technology for math games and activities. Read more about easy math center prep here!

How many guided reading rotations do students have?

For guided reading, students visit 3 rotations a day; however, they will only go to teacher table a few times a week. This allows me to split my students into 4-6 guided reading groups.

  1. Teacher Table: Students meet with me for small group reading instruction.
  2. Word Work: Students work on phonics skills, sight words, etc. Read more about the word work center here!
  3. Listen to reading: Students listen to stories on an iPad, iPod, Chromebook, etc. I love using the app Epic! for this!
  4. Buddy reading: Students read with a friend. They can also read aloud to a stuffed animal.
  5. Work on writing: Students free write or respond to journal prompts.
  6. Computers: Students work on district-wide online reading programs. If you don’t have this, you could utilize a poetry center or add book browsing/shopping center.

Here’s a look at two different guided reading rotation charts:

You can read more about setting up your literacy centers here!

Guided Math & Guided Reading Rotation Charts

Ready to revamp your guided math and guided reading rotations? Be sure to check out the bundle of editable rotation charts here!

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