Friday, August 9, 2013

The Centers Themselves

I have centers that I use in Kindergarten - 2nd grade.  I have the signs here: Center Signs.
There are 3 basic centers:

Checkout/Table work - this varies, if I am checking out the students, then they are doing a coloring activity - draw what Curious George is playing on the computer, what is Arthur reading I have some coloring sheets/etc already made: Coloring Sheets. These do include licensed and other copyrighted materials, please do not sell them to others.)

When they are not checking out - they are working with me (learning how to find a book, discussing a book together, etc), or they are working with something on the SMART board (for example - Brainpop Jr has some great matching games, and I have made some SMARTboard games as well). I also want them to be introduced to a variety of literature, and to save my voice, I use Tumblebooks (and sometimes Youtube or Discovery streaming) for read alouds. This also frees me up to facilitate and guide students in the other centers when needed. 

Computers - Teach the students how to use (it's simple enough for any kid to type into), and have them do various games (Keyboard Challenge, Type Rockets Jr, ABC matching or puzzles, etc). Have slips that have a number and the website, the number is the computer number, the website is typed in the address bar and off they go. Show this on the SMARTboard/projector, practice it together, have students come up one by one and show you how to do it...etc. Once they learn, you can gradually build to other websites and other games or activities. I often now can use our school website because they have the ground work as to how to use a computer and go to a website. 

Reading Area: Either read to self or read to a buddy (establish the expectations and practice them together so the kids see it, ASSUME NOTHING!). Students look at books, look for letters they know or sight words, and read what you can...make up/tell a partner the story. In the 1st and 2nd quarters we will focus on parts of the book - title page, copyright page, call number. In the 2nd and 3rd quarters we will focus on nonfiction and looked for: table of contents, glossary, index, captions, title page, copyright page, if that is too difficult, look for maps, photographs vs drawings, etc). Also, look at call numbers and decide which section they are (E = Easy fiction, Numbers = Nonfiction, F = Fiction, etc). 

Practice going to each center the first week, show what it looks like, etc, use a timer to help with a signal.

Then rotate centers in 8 - 10 minute increments. It's a lot of work to implement to start, but I think the kids benefit from having a variety of learning experiences, plus they learn to be a little more independent.

Plan to start the period with 5 - 10 minutes to remind students the centers. Go to the centers for most of the time, but leave about 5 - 7 minutes to clean up each center (assign students to help so they feel like their part of the classroom) and line up so they are ready for their teacher.

Try it out with just 2 centers. Practice. Practice. Oh and practice again =)

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