Thursday, July 23, 2015

Centers in Action!

Yesterday I blogged about how I organize my materials for my centers. Today I will explain how my centers are actually ran. I changed how I run them just slightly from the previous year. I still continue to use a "Daily 5" structure, but it is now called "LEARN". This stands for Listen to Reading, Enjoy a Book, Attention to Writing, Read to Teacher/Someone, New Words.  I LOVE this and found it HERE. Reagan Tunstall is amazing, really! Anyway, I bought her center rotation system and tweaked it to fit my needs. I turned the powerpoint into a SMART board file, added my animal groups, links and timer.

Okay, let me sloooow down and start from the beginning...... I divide the students into 5 groups - Lions, Tigers, Giraffes, Elephants, and Monkeys. My lions are my highest students and so on. I form these groups based on many different things, but mostly by their skill performance and behavior.  They change periodically, as I see fit.  Here are my posters that I laminate and then write their names on with dry erase. I've also included an editable version if you prefer to type their names. (I used "African" font for the title- it's free and can be found HERE)
Click on Pic!

Now, as I briefly mentioned above, I use a Daily 5 structure during centers. We go through the whole introduction of centers, just like the Sisters. We use anchor charts and go over expectations EVERY day for at least the first month. I use these posters as my anchor charts. They are free and I print them as poster size, cut, glue, and laminate them.

Click on pic to get yours!

So, I have these 5 centers that we rotate to every 15 minutes for 5 rotations. Realistically, once you include a couple minutes for clean-up time, centers usually take around 90 minutes total. We can usually get 4 of the 5 rotations completed before lunch and then the last one after lunch. The students know where to go by viewing the board (they end up having it basically memorized).

This is what the main menu looks like.

When you click on the each sign it takes you to the page that shows who goes where and includes the timer to keep us on track. They look like this. 

And so on........

This works for me and my class. They can practice their reading skills by completing a task, but not being in the center too long and losing their engagement. I get to meet with every student, everyday. My groups are usually only around 5 in each, so I get to really zone in on how they're doing. The biggest difference between what I do and what the sisters do is that I assign them where to go. However, once in word work, for instance, there are choices- 8 choices usually. Every student is assigned a number.  Once they complete a tub, they will check off their student number by that tub on the chart. So, if I'm student #4 and it's Monday and I Stamped the Room with Tub 2, I'll marked off my 4 in the column next to the pumpkin stamping game. On Tuesday, I'll need to select a different tub. Last year I did not have any form of accountability to which tub they completed and in the BIG picture, it probably doesn't really matter because every tub is a necessary skill to practice. This simply helps those that want to do the same thing over and over without branching out to work on a different skill. 

The next day they will need to select a different tub in word work, and so forth. I may, on occasion, require students to all complete a specific tub by the end of the week.

I hope this makes sense to you all. I'll gladly answer any questions that you might have.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Center Organization

Organizing your centers is one of hardest things for teachers, but can be one of the biggest pay-offs if you take the time and just do it. I'm going to show you how I have my math, word work, and writing centers organized.

Before I begin, I have to stress.......This was not all done at once! It has taken me a couple years to work up to this. Just focus on one center this year or one aspect of this organization system. You will continue to tweak your system as you grow professionally and finally reach a point of contentment.

I begin by using a table/chart to provide a visual and guide that I will house in a binder and use for easy changing of centers.
I have these charts made for each center.

Once I have chosen what activities that I want in that center for that time frame, I place a copy of the chart and all materials (that can fit) in a plastic envelope with a label of the dates covered. I have designated a specific color to each center. My writing center is black, math is red, and word work is blue. 

Once these plastic envelopes (purchased at Dollar General for $0.50 each!) are stuffed and labeled, they are placed in a storage tub that is labeled with the month and placed above my cabinets until needed.

You will find different activities that you like better and will constantly adjust your charts, but the overall system is in place and pretty easy to use. My goal is to have it so organized that my student teacher can pull down a tub and immediately know which tubs to replace when and with what materials. My third grade daughter helped me switch out centers last school year on Fridays and it was a piece of cake! My focus can now be taken off the stress of center changing and on to something else! lol

I have included a copy of my center activities for the first half of the year, along with a blank template for you to begin creating your own! ;)

Click HERE

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Lace up your boots! We're having an ABC Boot Camp!

An ABC Boot Camp for the beginning of the year is great! It provides students with a real quick and simple (yet effective) introduction to each letter and sound. I dedicate 1 day per letter for the first 26 days of school. During the time we listen to the letter song (Have Fun Teaching), go through the pages of that letter on Starfall, and watch the letter formation and read letter poem on Starfall. During this time we are noting all of the different things that begin with that letter. Then we complete a circle map together using the SMART board file.

The students each have their own letter books that they will then complete independently. 
During this 26 day boot camp, all of my centers are filled with letter activities that allow time for hands-on manipulation of letters - forming letters with glass rocks, punching letters, forming with play-doh, rolling letter dice, daubing letters, highlighting letters, gluing on letters, cutting out letters, and even wearing letters!

This ABC Boot Camp file can be found HERE! I'm also giving away 2 bundles to fans who comment and leave their email. Good Luck!