Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Classroom Tour: Work Station

Last year, I did a week of posts giving an in-depth look at most of the stations in my room.  This year, I wanted to do the same thing, but focusing mostly on what I have changed, updated, or left out!  Every year when setting up my room, I ask myself about what worked and what didn't the previous year.  Sometimes during this process,  I start to realize the old way wasn't as efficient or organized as I would like.  It is easier to set things up the same way each year, however, sometime making small changes can make your life much easier.

The stations/areas I will cover over the next couple weeks are:
1. Work Station and Factory
2. Morning Group
3. Language Station
4. Break Area
5. Hallway and Coat room

So today, we will start off with Work Station and Factory.  These are both independent stations.  

At both Work Station and Factory, students work alone.  However, I do have an aid monitoring these stations to teach them how the station works, ensure no one runs away or switches their work, and to deliver reinforcers as needed.  For the most part, the tasks at these stations consist of topics students have already mastered.  It provides them a time to practice and maintain the skills as well as develop some independence.  I want my students to be able to work without someone standing over them and hounding them or by being prompted to do each part of a task.  I often tell my assistants, "If he/she needs help on that, it doesn't belong in his work station."  If things are too hard for a student to do alone, then they are utilized at my other direct instruction stations run by me or my assistants.

I completely changed my work station from last year and I am SUPER EXCITED about it!  First of all, this station is actually used for 26 kids with autism....yes, you read that correctly!  I have 13 students and my coworker also has 13 students.  We both set up a few stations in our rooms that can be completed by all of our students.  This gives our kids more activities to complete during the day, gives them the opportunity to work in another setting, and also splits up the workload between us teachers.  

My beginner learners work on file-folders, puzzles, sorting tasks, etc.  I store their extra work materials in this bookshelf.  

They have individual bins filled with file folders at their level and then there are also some general sorting tasks/puzzles that most of the kids at this level can complete.

Most of these learners have picture schedules.  They take their work picture with them to the station and check in by velcroing it to their drawer.  

Then, they open their drawer and take out their work.  They find a seat at a desk, and when their work is completed, turn it back into their drawer.  Later, one of my assistants takes apart the work and sets it up with new work for the next day.  

Work Station is set up the same way for my more advanced learners.  The only difference is that last year, we had our mid level and advanced learners completing worksheet packets at this station.  This became a lot of work that took up a lot of time and wasted a lot of paper!  So, this year, I decided to make re-usable worksheets in a binder.  First I made a list of students and categorized them by 3 different levels (beginner, mid, and advanced).  I then found a variety of math and language arts worksheets and categorized them by the same levels as the students. Their binders are stored in this set of drawers in the work station area.

Next up came the laminating.  I probably spent a week after school laminating all of the worksheets at the end of last school year.  Over the summer, I found $1 binders at target.  I bought 3 different colored binders to represent the 3 levels of students/worksheets.

Then, I put together the binders.  I put about 4-6 worksheets for each day, and divided them by page dividers.  Each binder holds enough worksheets for the entire week.  This is amazing for my assistant because she only has to change the work for 20 students one time per week!  

Students use dry-erase markers to complete the laminated worksheets in their binder.  These are stored in a caddy that sits on top of the drawers.  At the end of the week, my assistant erases all of the work in the binders, and switches them with another student at that level.  

The binders are color-coded by level and I also taped a label onto each binder which specifies the binder number and a list of students at that level.  The binders are numbered to aid my assistant in keeping track of who had which binder (since each binder is filled with different work).

 I also keep a list posted on the wall in this station for my assistant to track which binder each student had.  This helps so that the same students aren't always completing the same binder and that the binders get mixed up enough and evenly distributed to all the kids in that leveled group.

Here is a sample of a beginner binder,

a mid-level binder,

and the advanced binder.  I made a few extra binders, so if students need to advance a level over the course of the year, we are prepared.  We may just have to add some harder worksheets to the advanced level when the time comes!

Factory is a much simpler station.  This just consists of 2 hands-on, longer sorting or put-together tasks.  Some kids only complete one while at the station, while others work so fast that they complete both!  My coworker has a large set of these factory tasks that we switch out.  We also lost our life skills classroom this year due to our school population growing, so we will be incorporating some of those tasks into this station as well.

Currently, my students are sorting balls by size/color as well as 

sorting turtles by color.

 Well, that is it for up, I will be discussing how I re-vamped my morning group!


  1. That is very helpful! I LOVE the binder idea...a lot of work to get going but then done! Thanks for sharing.

  2. How many grade levels do you have in your class?

  3. I have 3-5th grade in my room. My coworker has 5-8th, so this station is used for that whole range of grades.

  4. I put my worksheets in page protectors instead of laminating. I love your blog and tips!

  5. Do you have problems with your kids coloring themselves or other things with the markers? I have a few kids that I can't leave alone with writing tools :( so then I have to make things with Velcro answers instead.

    1. 8 of my kids can't really write/complete worksheets, so they have Velcro stuff, but the other 18 can, so they have the binders. Also, I do have an aid monitoring these 2 stations at once, so that helps as well!

    2. How many binders did you make for each level?

    3. I made the amount based on how many kids I thought could complete each level. I think I ended up making around 6-7 of each level (which allowed for a few extras).

  6. Where did you get the worksheets that you put in the binders? I have somewhat of the same set up but am looking for better worksheets.

  7. Where did you get or how did you make the sorting container? I like that and it looks like I could adjust the amount of spaces. How many aides do you have for the 12 students?

    1. They came in this set... However, in these pictures, they look like much cheaper containers. We got our set about 6 years they may have changed it.

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  9. Where do you buy your colored drawer shelves? I have seen them at craft stores for scrapbooking, etc. but thought I'd see if you've found them any where else. Thanks!

    1. Here is one of them ( I got it through writing a Donors Choose grant).