1st Edition

Practice with Purpose Literacy Work Stations for Grades 3-6

By Debbie Diller Copyright 2005

    In her 30 years as an educator, Debbie Diller has closely examined classroom practice, asking Why? What's the purpose? Watching primary students work successfully at literacy work stations, she wondered with teachers, Why don't we have upper-grade students doing this? Could we kick it up a notch? In her new book, Debbie shows teachers of grades three-to-six how to structure their classrooms so that all students can be successful doing meaningful independent work using literacy work stations. Practice with Purpose offers guidance on establishing routines for independent reading and response writing, as well as step-by-step instructions on how to set up and manage a variety of hands-on literacy work stations appropriate for intermediate students. Each chapter includes: how to introduce the station;innovative ways to use materials;what to model to guarantee independence;how to troubleshoot; assessment and accountability ideas; how the station supports student achievement on state tests; reflection questions for professional development. The extensive appendix includes time-saving tools such as management board icons, graphic organizers, task cards, and recommended Web sites and children's literature.

    1: What Is a Literacy Work Station?; 2: Management of Independent Work Time; 3: Independent Reading and the Classroom Library; 4: Response Writing and the Writing Work Station; 5: Easy-to-Set-Up Work Stations; 6: Word Study Work Station; 7: Poetry Work Station; 8: Content-Area Work Stations; 9: Drama Work Station


    Debbie has been a national consultant since 2000, but still has those back to school dreams in the fall. After playing school in the basement of her childhood home in Lititz, Pennsylvania, she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Millersville University and Temple University and spent the next four decades as an educator. She's worked as a classroom teacher, migrant education teacher, Title I reading teacher, and literacy coach in Pre-K through grade 10 in diverse public school settings. Her love of teaching stems from her love of learning. I have always loved learning. Becoming a teacher was a way I could share that love of learning with children and eventually, with adults. A big part of her learning is listening to teachers and their professional development needs. When I work with teachers, I try to understand their needs by finding out what they know and listening to their questions. Then I begin where they are and work with them to help them take the next steps toward where they (and/or their school systems) want (them) to be. I believe in professional reading and professional learning communities, and support teachers in their quest to best meet the needs of all students in their classrooms. Debbie's ideas for her books also come from her work with teachers. She listens for frequently asked questions, patterns, teachers' needs, and keeps a writer's notebook to collect ideas, thoughts, and notes. Often, the old joke comes to mind: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. That's how I write: Bit by bit, on planes, in hotel rooms, in my office on a rare day. Teachers' questions and comments spur me on through my daily, ongoing work in classrooms, which sustains my craft. Debbie's family has changed and grown in recent years. Her son, Jon, and daughter, Jessica, are both married, and she now has a granddaughter, Chloe, with another on the way. Debbie's husband, Tom, passed away in 2012.

    "Practice with Purpose has many strengths that will prove it to be an invaluable resource for any professional development library. Diller strikes a fine balance between providing an overview of the theoretical reasons underlying literacy work stations and supplying a wealth of ready-made activities and resources that teachers may use in their rooms almost immediately." - Education Review