Further down on this post, I give you a video tutorial on how to make your very own digital group rotation board using Google Slides. Before I jump into that though, let me dive in to what a Group Rotation is:
What are Group Rotations?
I cannot tell you how many times fellow teachers or just people observing in my room have asked me, "How do you keep your students on task?" I'll let you in on a little secret: it's all about student ownership. So many teachers do small groups (which I LOVE and swear by) but they do them in set increments of time. I want you to take a good, hard look at your class. Can you really tell me that kid #1 takes exactly 20 minutes to complete an assignment or game you've set out and kid #2 takes exactly 20 minutes to complete the SAME assignment or game? Of course not. Our kids are not cookie-cutter humans! Some of them need more time, some whiz through in a matter of minutes and ask the question "now what?" and some need ALL DAY LONG just to get one thing done! This is exactly why I moved to "free timed groups".
Don't get me wrong, they still have an incredible amount that I expect them to get finished, however instead of waiting for the timer to go off, they alone are in charge of their pacing. This helps them to not rush through to try to beat the timer and not slack off (another super teacher hint...put a computer game as the last station. They'll work hard to get there before groups are done!) Yes, I still have students that need extra time to finish, and that is okay! Yes, I also have students that NEED that timer to help motivate them, and this is also okay! However, since moving to this fluid group timing, I'm never going back.
So, now that you know WHAT a group rotation is, let me tell you HOW I set it up:
At the beginning of the year, I teach each "station" and we practice it for a few days. That station only! I model correct behavior, who to go to for questions, what I expect as far as completion, etc. After they have mastered it, I add another "station" and we continue until we've practiced all of them.
Then, I bring in my digital group rotation board and cover up all but one column. The whole class practices moving from assignment to assignment on their own time and we talk about how it's okay if someone finishes before you. It's not a race. It's only important that we put our best effort in every. single. time.
After that, we then work off of 2 columns - half the class does one column for the day and the other have does the other. We then switch the following day so all kids can try out all "stations".
After a week of trying it all out and answering any questions, we jump into all 5 columns. Students are expected to self-regulate their time and get to the last "station" by the time I am finished pulling small groups back at my table. PLEASE NOTE: I DO NOT put the same kids in each group as their teacher reading groups. I like it to be mixed up because: 1. Then I don't pull entire kids out of rotations and 2. This helps to split up time for the kids, which means less chance for "copying work"!
Why I ABSOLUTELY LOVE Group Rotations (the way that I do them):
Why I love this:
Kids can go at their own pace and not feel pressured to "beat the timer" or become bored if they're done before everyone else.
I can pull small groups back at my table whenever I want to! No more waiting for this particular group to be on the 3rd station.
Moving kids in their small groups was incredibly easy. I didn't have to move them to a new group on the board, all I did was call them with different kids back at my table! No shuffling needed.
This method keeps kids moving. They are constantly working on something! There's really no time for messing around here.
It really helps students take accountability for their learning. They are in charge of getting their tasks done and they alone can make it happen. It really helps to empower them!
Students simply read down their column. Since each column is color coordinated and the icons matched my drawers where the activity was kept, there was no reason for kids to not know what to do. Have color-blind students? Try putting an icon next to their column or change their column background to a repeated shape (like polka dots).
This is displayed on my Smartboard at the front of my classroom. My classroom is super low on display space, so making this out of paper on a bulletin board was just not going to work. However, since it's digital, my kids can see it easily from across the room and know exactly what to do. Plus, when it's not in use, it's not there!
Now that you've read this far, I'm sure you're a little skeptical. You're probably thinking, "How can kids really be this responsible? You probably did this with upper elementary or middle school. No way my elementary kids can do this." There's where you're wrong. I have successfully run my groups this way for 2 years with my 6-YEAR OLD FIRST GRADERS! That's right. The babies. They totally own it, too! It is possible, as long as you stick to your word and your expectations. They can do it!
SO - are you convinced? I hope you'll try it out. If you want to watch my tutorial and make your own digital group rotation board, watch this video - otherwise, keep scrolling and you'll see the premade ones on TPT and a little info about the product as well.
About the product:
In this product, I've given 5 different color schemes to match your classroom: Blues, Blues/Oranges/Greens, Rainbow, B&W, and Sparkle. Simply delete the slides you don't want!
Each of the color schemes have 5 days attached with them. The last group from the day before moves to the first group and then all of the other 4 groups move over a slot. Therefore, in a given week (5 days), each group gets through all of the activities.
I have also included some icons that may work for you, however I know everyone is different! I didn't want to get hung up on finding the "perfect" icons because that's not really what this product is about. If you want something different, I suggest just hopping on to google and doing a "clipart" search for what you want. Simply replace my icons with your own.
On each slide, I have put 3 icons, which represent 3 different rotations. You don't have to do it this way. If you want 5 rotations, simply add some more icons! If you only want 2 rotations, delete some! This is totally customizable to you.
I have also included a place to put your student names. I put 4 student in each column, however you can do as many as you'd like. Simply replace mine with the names of your students.
You can use this with pretty much any group rotation you want to: Daily 5, Daily 3, Math Centers, Literacy Centers, Writer's Workshop, Guided Reading...whatever! Since the entire thing is editable, you can make it match your needs.
Please note that this is a Google App, which means you must allow TPT access to your drive in order to get access to this product. If you DO NOT want TPT to access your drive, just email me at email@example.com after purchasing and I can share it with you personally so you can make a copy. Also feel free to email me if you have questions or need help!!
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