I have launched into literacy and numeracy rotations for an hour a day. I do Literacy for an hour three times a week and Maths for an hour on the other two days. Obviously there are plenty of other whole class lessons, games and activities, but this is the time for direct instruction and ongoing assessment. I was going to wait until I had a bit more response from parent volunteers but I thought since I have such a variety of learners that I may as well get the routines ironed out as soon as possible.
I have only had the rotations for two days so far, but I am really pleased with this way of teaching and I feel much more effective than when I try to lock-step the whole class through a learning episode.
I read this scholastic site on Math Workshops a few weeks ago and I have implemented some of these ideas, particularly the order in which I see the students. I am really pleased with the logic behind the rotations and I think it is working.
Basically, the class is split into three main groups. (When I get more help I will try to increase the number of groups so they are smaller and they are getting through more work). I work with the lowest group first and basically go through the workbook activity, giving a bit more instruction and teaching explanation along the way. It is a good chance to work with hands on materials and really see that these students are understanding the concepts. During this time the middle group is working on a game or using the iPads on a related activity and the top group are doing the workbook independently. In the second rotation, I work with the middle group and do some small group teaching and a basic introduction to the workbook activity to get them started. The lowest group go straight on to completing the workbook activity that they started with me, and the top group play a game to consolidate the skill they just practised in the workbook.
In the final rotation I check the work done by the top group to ensure they understand it and then do a challenge or extension lesson with them. The lowest group are ready to play the game and the middle group get a chance to finish the workbook activity.
So far it is working well (after two whole days). I would love to differentiate the games a little more and make sure that the independent groups are working effectively but I'm sure this will come as we get used to the routine.
I am keeping the same groups for this week to make it simpler for me (and the kids of course) but once I learn more about the Daily 5 and CAFE system I would like to make the groups more flexible.
How do you manage rotations?