Independent Literacy Work

In order to have those beautiful small group guided reading groups we talked about – you are going to NEED to have a healthy dose of independent work or paraprofessional run centers for your kids to do when they aren’t with you. This is really KEY to this whole system working. You can have the most amazing instruction and activities planned for your small groups but if you are kids are running around like crazy – that plan will never happen. The goal is you want your other students working on something meaningful, individualized, and functional. This isn’t busy work, it’s independent work. There is an important distinction.

You definitely need a schedule for that independent work. Especially if you want that independent work to take more then 3.7 seconds. Check out this video tour on my multi-layered schedules I set up a few years ago. Also check out the tour of my writing centers with a schedule built right in.

Repeat after me: boredom is the enemy, boredom is the enemy. Boredom is going to do nobody any favors. Bored kids are naughty kids and can we even blame them. I definitely catch myself looking though facebook on my phone at a red light because I can’t even handle for 22 seconds of boredom. So make sure to mix up the work. Embed this into your system. My numbered box independent work system ensures my kids aren’t doing the same tasks each day. I love sorts because they are easy to switch out. Get creative here!

We have this misconception that independent work needs to be easy. It can be. But it can also be meaningful and challenging and that’s okay too. Consider incorporating work that is a little too hard for your kids and teaching them how to use anchor charts, the internet, or reference pages to find the right answer. Problem solving is the most critical skill we can teach our kids and let’s incorporate that into our independent work! Check out this post to learn more. I also love these data entry work tasks for a little extra challenge for my older kids 🙂

All of our kids could use some practice on writing so be sure to incorporate writing even if it’s at the most foundational level like copying pictures or tracing.

Yes, yes, yes, yes. Make this your life mantra. You will have some students who will FLY through those 46 tasks you prepped for them. Be ready for those kids. Always have extra activities. I like to end the schedule of independent work with either an open ended activity like puzzles, coloring, or quiet reading or have an extra stash of “early finisher” tasks – check out this post. 


  1. I just watched your “setting up a stellar autism classroom”. Loved it! Do you have templates or samples & “how to” suggestions for making & creating all of those schedules (including visuals) for students as well as staff? Would love to have something that show where everyone is at throw out the day?
    Also, I love how everthing you do doesn’t seem to target Only the little ones (K-2). Most of the resources on TPT target those little ones. Thank you!

  2. Hi! I was wondering where I could find the pages that you put in your centers. I watched the YouTube video and saw the vocab pages are in your student binders and then there were some pages in the writing and math binders. Where can I find those pages?


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