Set up your tasks.
So this first step might seem obvious but there is a specific way I like to work on this. You likely have a plethora of bins and work tasks in your room. I suggest filling a shelf (or two) with empty bins first. Don’t worry about the tasks. Fit as many different bins in the shelf as you can. I like to use a combination of small and large bins and fit as many in. Use tupperware, plastic bins, whatever you can find. Doesn’t need to be pretty. Then add the tasks. Make sure to save the bigger bins for larger tasks. I like starting this way because you can really maximize space and get the most bang for your buck.
If you need ideas for work task ideas, I have TONS! Check out my work task pinterest board. I also have 5 different work task mega packs that I love. It has the setup, labels, and visuals for the work tasks included in the resource.
Label the bins.
Next label the bins. Think about the skill set of your students before you select label types. If they can’t all match letters, don’t use letters. You can label them with letters and numbers, pictures, or colored shapes. I love the colored shape options for my foundational level learners! .
Make the schedule.
Then you want to set up the materials to make student schedules. Basically print multiple copies of whatever you used to label the bins (letters, shapes, etc) to make identical schedule pieces. Laminate and velcro those for each students’ schedule. Then setup where you will put student schedules. You can have them all in one place next to the independent work station. You can have certain students’ schedules in a special spot or even embed it into their daily schedule. There is no right or wrong way! I typically try to do 3 independent work tasks so kids can work on transitioning between tasks (which is part of the skill here!) and the station is long enough to build up some work endurance. But again no right or wrong way. Some kids may be better suited for one task or you can add more for your busy bees!
This last step you can’t forget. This is what makes this system so dang amazing and effective and efficient and amazing. Did I say amazing already? Plan out the schedule for the week. This will take time. It will be annoying. You will need to use pencil and erase one million times. Make a schedule for each day of the week for each student. You goal is that no two kids are assigned the same task on the same day (no redoing tasks in the middle of the day!) and that each student is only doing the same task once a week (or maybe twice. So Johnny does task A on Monday, nobody else is assigned task A on Monday, and isn’t assigned to him again all week. Once you have this schedule, then you repeat it through the year. Every Monday Johnny gets task A, K, and P. This schedule is key because it avoids accidentally giving the same students the same tasks over and over and ensures that you aren’t need to redo tasks mid day. You can even have students set up the schedule at the end of the day or in the morning as a class job!