Saturday, March 3, 2012

This is how we do it: Seatwork

Oh dreaded seatwork! I have struggled for a while whether to have a seatwork time or just a center time. If I just have a center time then I don't have a reading grade for the week (you know since we don't use E's and S's anymore in 1st grade- we actually have to put in a number grade.) So, I decided on the seatwork option but I found a way to make it a little more interesting than just a work book page. I absolutely hate workbooks! My kids have the books that come with the reading series but we haven't written in them at all this year! (It can be some good summer review! ha!) Last year I used the workbook pages as homework pages and I tore all the pages out and sent them home and sometimes I got them back but sometimes I didn't. <--- That was at a school where my class size was 13. Now I have a class size of 23 and I don't have time to pull out pages out of workbooks and stuff folders with homework every afternoon so I send home a tic-tac-toe board weekly with homework activities. I digress... The truth of the matter is I needed to find a way to do seatwork, so I wasn't being bogged down with how to keep them busy during guided reading... I mean centers can only keep you busy so long... You guys know that center time can be really productive or really chaotic! I did a really good job training my kids at the beginning of the year for center time and I tried a no seatwork approach but it just didn't work for me. So, I came up with a type of "choice board" that my kids work with 4 days a week that practices phonics, spelling, comprehension, and word work skills. A traditional choice board is a great way to differentiate with any project. You can give choices based on interest, learning style, or ability. I truly believe that giving any kind of choice provides interest and to some extent differentiation no matter how you do it. So, last year I came up with a "choice board" that we use everyweek during seatwork time. This board provides a variety of practice in skills that we are working on. Then at the end of the week I grade (which takes a while) and get my reading grade for the week. I can make the boards longer or shorter depending on the week (if we have specific activities we need to accomplish or if we have a day off). The *best* thing about this seatwork is the kids can still work on it when you are absent! When a sub is there the kids are still working on things they are familiar with and not working on busy work. So, here is the cover of my choice board packet:

The board is made up of:

Word Configurations that I usually download from this fabulous site: Little Book Lane. She has lots of word configurations available. They are not too hard to make though!

Word Sort. I have a book of sorts or I will make a word sort to put in sorting word families or whatever skill we are working on for the week.

Spelling Practice. Sometimes I put rainbow writing, cut/paste words in ABC order, practice writing words, etc.

Grammar Practice- depends on the skill for the week

Reading Comprehension- depends on the skill and story for the week

Break the Code- so graciously provided in this yahoo group.

There are usually 6-8 pages attached to the cover page above.
Monday-Thursday students complete 2 pages before they can go to center time. We do 2 center rotations so they always get to go to at least 1 center a day. They keep this packet in their desk all week and turn in on Thursday (that's when the grading begins!)
I really like how this is something consistent and I am never scrambling for something to do (I know we have all been there!)

So, there you have it! Spiced up seatwork! How do you keep your kiddos working and learning during center time??

Hope ya'll are having a fun, safe weekend!



  1. Laura I use choice sheets during my daily five rotations. Students have differientiated activities, must dos, and each assignment is worth 2,4, and 6 points. Every day they color in the box they have completed and then at the end of the week add up points to get their grade. The point ranges determine their grade. Some assginments don't have to be turned and I only change a few things on the sheet weekly. Students love making a choice.

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    First Grade Magic