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March 28, 2015

Setting up Rotations

Differentiation at its best!

Setting up a rotation system can be daunting! There are so many things to think of logistically, and of course, there is so little time to make changes to the daily rotations. This is my current system for my 4th grade math class, and it is working wonderfully!

I used masking tape to create the grid on my magnetic whiteboard. I have four groups and four rotations, so I made a 5 by 4 grid.  The first column is to write a brief description about each rotation. All of the rotation icons were made using foam sheets, a Sharpie, and magnetic tape, all of which were purchased for a few bucks at Wal-Mart.  The magnetic tape was AWESOME! It isn't very strong, but it is perfect for the foam sheet.  It is very thin and doesn't peel off the way that the thicker magnetic strips I've used in the past have. Each student also has a magnetic name so that my groups remain fluid and are quickly changed.

I have lots of different icons, and the students love that the routine changes up often.  I also have little notes and reminders that can be placed in any rotation, such as "bring your book" or "DUE TODAY." If an activity will take longer than one rotation period, I use arrows to extend into the next rotation period.  I also have group work icons, and if I don't have an icon for a particular activity, I can just write on the whiteboard with a dry erase marker. Not all students will complete the same activities.  Sometimes I will group all of the GT kids together and give them an activity to work on. Sometimes I will have the same group come to the teacher rotation twice so I can give them a little extra attention.  I may have two groups work at the computer and two groups play math games instead of computer time.  Rotations make it extremely easy to differentiate and allows kids to build independence and take ownership of their learning.

Each rotation has a brief description of the day's expectations, and there are "turn-in" areas located around the class. The icon on the turn-in station matches the icon on the rotation board.  This area includes any materials the students will need to finish the assignment. The black mesh file sorter (also purchased at Wal-Mart for around $6) is compartmentalized. My two separate classes know their designated area for turning in the completed assignment and do it in number order for easy grading and filing later. Having these turn-in stations set up around the class cuts down on confusion over where to get papers and materials and where to turn in completed projects.

The very best part about having rotations is that it gives the teacher time to work in small groups with each and every student each and every day! It is the best way to collect data and formatively assess student understanding. Plus, it is much easier to keep students engaged and participatory when there are only 4-6 students.  I keep a bucket of dry erase markers and erasers at my round table and the students LOVE writing on the table as they do their work!

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Please comment to share some of your tips and tricks to using rotation boards in your classroom!

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