FAQ: Bubble Pages: What do you need to know?

Let's start with the basics. What are Bubble Pages?  

Bubble Pages are teacher-created, leveled pages that include tasks for students to complete independently over the course of the school week.  When I develop my Bubble Pages, I typically ask that my students complete fifteen tasks per week.  Meaning, I am asking them to complete three independent tasks per day.  This could vary based on your classroom set up, grade level, number of days you work in centers, ect.  I use these in both reading and math.  

How do your students keep track of what they have completed?  

At the beginning of the school year, I advised my students to break the circles up into fractional parts.  I do not require them to do this.  One of the important things that I love about utilizing Bubble Pages, is the self monitoring and responsibility that it teaches my kids.  The majority of my students do this automatically when receiving a new Bubble Page on Monday morning!  As they complete one task, they color in a portion of their circle.  

How do you and your students keep track of who should receive which leveled Bubble Page? 

This year, I had a new idea about keeping track of which "color" everyone was on.  I opened a new Bubble Page template in PowerPoint, and inserted the names of the students in each group (rather than tasks on a Bubble Page).  When I printed them, I shrank them down and hung them above the storage crates.  I really like this addition to the process.  It allows me to ensure that they are working on a Bubble Page that is designed for their learning ability.  It also lets the students double check from time to time if needed.  

Do you ever change what group the students are in or the requirements of the Bubble Page throughout the school year? 

I totally change Bubble Pages throughout the year!  If a student moves to a new Bubble Page, I often grab a permanent mark and add their name to the new list.  Every now and again, I print out updated lists for the wall after we reassess using STAR Reading, STAR Math, or other classroom assessments.  I really strive for these groups to be fluid, versus permanent groupings.  

I also occasionally change the requirements on the Bubble Pages themselves.  As with anything, every class and group of students is different.  If I see that a few students need more of one task, and less of another, I adjust the numbers on the Bubble Page.

About how much time throughout the week do your students have to work on their math Bubble Pages?  

It honestly varies from day to day, and skill to skill.  On average, I would say my students have thirty to forty minutes of our fifty minute time block.  If we are working on a difficult skill, such as long division, it may take us a little longer to check our Exit Tickets.

What are some of your best tips for someone who wants to get started?  

The best tip that I could possibly give is to take your time introducing your centers and expectations.  As with any center or station type of classroom set up, you need to ensure that your students know what is expected and how to complete tasks without interrupting your small groups.  If at any time you feel like they are slacking in meeting your expectations, don't hesitate to reteach and reestablish your procedures.

Secondly, deciding what to include in the structure of your centers and Bubble Page set up can be overwhelming, but is also the most important aspect.  First, decide what the most critical skills are for your grade level and subject.  Then, develop centers to continually review and address the skills you would like for them to master.  I believe that this set up is PERFECT for spiral review.  :)

I struggle with "fitting it all in". How do Bubble Pages fit into your daily reading block?  

Whoa!  Don't we ALL struggle to fit it all in?!  I seriously have my days where I feel like I am spinning my wheels.  However, I do believe that Bubble Pages cut down on the stress of "fitting it all in".  I have a blog post about my Math Routines.

For reading, this is what a my typical reading block looks like---
8:55-9:05      Mentor Sentences Mini Lesson
9:05-9:25      Reading Centers {Students work to complete Bubble Pages}
9:25-9:35      Vocabulary Mini Lesson
9:35-9:55      Reading Centers {Students work to complete Bubble Pages}
9:55-10:05    Comprehension Skill Mini Lesson

So, how does that help me?  I know that the basics, such as fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension are covered.  I can use mini lessons and small group times to really focus on specific skills that I need to cover.  I also believe that it helps simplify my planning, while engaging the kids!

How would you change them to fit a monthly schedule instead of weekly?  

I LOVE this question.  I have honestly never thought of switching them over to a monthly schedule!  Here's what I think would do:
1.  Consider how many tasks you feel your students should complete per day.
2.  Calculate the number of days (or average number of days) per month.
     Example: 3 tasks per day x 20 days of school per month = 60 tasks
3.  Create bubble page that includes that particular number of tasks.

Where do you store extra Bubble Pages that aren't being used? 

I always make copies in large quantities.  When I'm done, I clip the middle section, and lay them in the back of the crate.  They are always accessible to students who were absent or may change Bubble Pages mid-week.

On Friday afternoon, I lay them out on the counter before I leave.  Then, they are ready for the kids on Monday morning.  

How do you grade them?  

On Friday afternoons, I have my students staple everything in their folder to their bubble page.  I am also really picky, and require them to put their pages in the order they appear on their bubble page.  Then, I can quickly go through and record tally marks for each item that is stapled to their Bubble Page.  Their score is the number of completed tasks out of fifteen tasks required.  

My students also utilize the "Checking Station" to ensure that their answers are correct.  They also ask for help if their are totally confused, or unsure why answers were incorrect.  As I am grading their Bubble Pages, I am able to peak in on their performance without grading each and every paper myself.  

What happens when students are absent or you have interruptions that don't allow students enough time to complete their Bubble Pages?  

Since I plan on my students completing three items per day, I am able to give them credit when they miss school.  If a student has an excused absence, I give them three points.  If we have an interruption, such as a snow day or school-wide convocation, I drop the weekly requirement from 15 tasks to 12.

I would love to add to this list of FAQs.  What questions to YOU have about Bubble Pages?


  1. Hi there! I'm really intrigued by this idea. I can see it working during our resource time. We have reading workshop so no time for centers, but could figure out how to use them. What do you do when students don't finish their work for the week?
    Our Elementary Lives

    1. If students do not finish their work during the week, it is usually because one of two reasons:
      1. They aren't working during independent work time.
      2. The work is too challenging.

      Here are my solutions to these problems:
      1. I typically contact parents or send home their bubble page and work to be signed by the parent. This often teaches students to better manage their time, ask for help when needed, or keep track of their materials. I also tell parents at parent teacher conference time that students are welcome to bring home a few items from the centers and complete them at home. Typically, having a student bring home items for a few days teaches them to focus and speed things up a bit when given the opportunity to work in class.
      2. If the work is too challenging, I have been known to create a bubble page for a student or group of students that directly targets their needs and ability.

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    1. Hi Brandi!

      Thanks for writing and asking a VERY good question. I can see your principal's concern, and I'll do my best to answer your question based on how I use Bubble Pages in my classroom. First, I think I would have to argue the fact that students are doing "busy work". My Bubble Pages are NEVER filled with random things to keep students busy. Each task on my Bubble Pages are selected for a very specific reason. Maybe you could explain to him your logic and reasoning behind the choices you have selected.

      I would also encourage the argument that although the Bubble Page itself is not a research based strategy, the fact that I am incorporating researched based strategies such as choice, spiral review, differentiated instruction, and that students have a clear understanding of expectations brings the researched based element to my classroom.

      Let me know how this turns out!
      Amanda :)