I created this station by using Scholastic's Brain Bank boxes that were purchased for my classroom by my principal. I know that not everyone has access to this, but if you do, or if you have them sitting around collecting dust (I HOPE NOT!!), then this post will be great for you because you can try using them in the way that I do. However, if you don't have the Brain Bank boxes, I'm sure you may be able to use this "year long workstation" idea with other books and activities that you may have.
First of all, let me share the Scholastic link to the Brain Banks and pictures of what they look like. When my principal first delivered one of these to each of our classrooms (they are leveled by grade level), I was excited enough. Then, a few years later, after I'd created this workstation with them, she bought MORE! I was so excited to add to my Brain Bank workstation! The kids were excited too!
Each box has two of each book included (non-fiction) and then laminated cards with activities for each book. Also, there is a guide that tells you the reading level for each book. I went ahead and labeled all of the books right away with the level right on the front so that I didn't have to go back to the guide to figure it out.
Then, I made a folder for each set of books. As you can see in the picture below (all green for me!) All of these folders are in my Brain Bank "crate."
Inside each folder is a set of two books. (You could make two folders if you want, one book in each folder.) Then I copied the cards with activities that I found practical enough for my students to do during my workstation time. I have a whole folder of originals that I copied, then I just copy about 30 per folder at the beginning of each year. That's all I do...ALL YEAR LONG.
On my student work plans, my students that are up to this level of work have Brain Bank assigned with a level. This is how it's differentiated. Some students will be told they need to get a level L or M folder, while others might get N or O. They have to choose a folder that is at that level (clearly labeled on the front.) And they can work with a partner that is assigned the same level if they want, otherwise they are on their own. They read the book, then complete the activities that are assigned in the folder. That activity is then put into their workstation folder to turn into me on Friday.
How could you use this if you don't actually own a set of Brain Bank books?Well, you could use any non-fiction book that you have, then have copies of activities that you want students to complete for that book in the folder. Just have 30-40 copies in there at the beginning of the year, then you never have to touch it again! MY FAVORITE!!!
Problems I've had: Kids trying to do the same folder each week and just memorize what to do because they don't think I can keep track of everyone and what they did the week before. Newsflash--they are right, I can't remember all of that! Tricky little 2nd graders. You could also have a class list stapled into each folder and they have to cross of their name as they do that folder, so they can never do it again that year.
This station is a lot like the Animal Kingdom one: year long, nonfiction, have to trust the kids that they won't duplicate the same one every week. But, I still love it! In fact, I'm looking for more stations to create like this. The biggest difference with this one is that you COULD do it with fiction too if you want, and it's leveled, so it can be differentiated easily within the station.
Check out the workstations Abbie is sharing over on her blog today for Workstation Wednesday!