Students are to work independently during Literacy Stations and the Writer’s Workshop. They have a lot of freedom and make many choices during this time: where to sit, what to read/write, who to work with. However, some teachers prefer to guide students’ decision-making and minimize the plethora of choices. Not to mention, some students need this extra guidance to determine how best to utilize their time.

A simple way to communicate priority tasks (without creating a lot of work for the teacher) is to use the Must-Do and May-Do icons within a Literacy Station Tasks chart or a “Done” List chart of writing tasks.

  • MUSTARD = Must Do: Label tasks that you want students to prioritize and accomplish first. These tasks are all required.
  • MAYO = May Do: Label tasks that you want to offer students as an optional choice. Often these are more challenging and/or time-consuming.
  • PICKLES = Pick This: The May-Do icon may be too “soft” for some students; they think it’s merely a suggestion. If you want to do more, then you may choose to…. Replace the mayo icon with the pickles one to communicate more literally that they have to “pick” from these choices.
  • KETCHUP = Catch Up: Label simpler tasks that most students have mastered with the ketchup icon. Most students will not execute these tasks. However, for those who need additional practice, they can “catch up” by executing some of these tasks.
Communicate Must-Do Reading Tasks
Communicate May-Do Reading Tasks
Communicate Catch-Up Reading Tasks

In terms of accountability, students who do not accomplish the assigned work in time complete it during recess or as homework.

Article originally posted September 18, 2014.

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