Saturday, January 21, 2012

Keeping the Students Centered

Keeping track of which students have been to which center can be confusing.  I have a couple of charts that I use to make sure the right students get the right amount of practice in the centers they need to practice the skills they need.

This first chart is simply library pockets glued down to poster board.  The students' names are written on popsicle sticks so they know which center they can go to each day.  When I introduce a center for the first time, I show students a Smart Board slide that contains the instructions.  This same slide is what I print out to label the center, the student record sheet folder, and this particular chart.

This second chart is what I use to keep track of which students have used which center.  It is not anything time-consuming or difficult.  The centers are down the side and student names are at the top.  I simply put a mark at their names when they have completed a center.

The third chart is more of a grid.  The students have to work to complete a pattern similar to BINGO. When they complete a center they write the date in the box. At the end of the year, I place centers on the grid that relate to the skills that are most important for the students to review.  This grid allows me to control the center choices that are available, but the students get to choose which ones they complete.

Sometimes I switch the students out of a center after a couple of days, but mostly the students stay at one particular center for a week.  It all depends on what skills I want the students to work on.  If is something they are struggling with or even a new skill, I will keep them there for awhile.  I do not have all of my centers out on display at one time.  This makes my classroom look cluttered and it can be overwhelming for the students. 

I have some of the centers out all of the time (Computer, Math books, Listening Center, Read Around the Room) because they reinforce a variety of basic skills.  Putting out a new center is exciting for the students.  They look forward to old ones reappearing, too.  One way to motivate students is to allow them to earn a Free Choice Day when they can do whichever center they choose.

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