I have found that over the course of the years I have been teaching is that my students tend to love independent center time. They love going off on their own, reading, listening to reading, and using the centers that I create for them. This past year I was teaching second grade and this particular group was very vocal as to what they thought would be good ideas for me to make.
“You know what would be SO cute Mrs. Johnson??….”
So I started listening to them and creating word work activities to meet the needs of my second graders and using THEIR ideas. They loved it! I had a room mom that would come in and do my cutting and laminating. Many of my second graders would gather around her and ooohhh and awwwww and that’s so cute! But I also made sure that the tasks involved were things we had covered in class and things they could accomplish without MY help. If they needed help, they could always ask their partner in their group. Center time is when I am working with guided reading groups and cannot be disturbed. So I needed to make sure these centers were COMPLETELY independent.
Directions are a must. You HAVE to tell students what they are going to be doing at each center. But I found myself wasting a lot of time explaining to them what to do. Let’s be real, as a teacher, you don’t have time. Then I thought, why don’t I make posters that have picture directions as to what to do, and also include an answer to get them started??? It was magical. At one point, I had put an old center in word work, and a student started screaming, “WHERE is the POSTER with the DIRECTIONS???”
I said, “Oh, sorry. That’s an old center. There aren’t any posters with that one…”
The student looked up at me with a curled lip and said, “Mrs. Johnson, this one isn’t very good…”
Out of the mouths of the babes.
Another problem I was having is that I was accumulating tons of paper that I DIDN’T have TIME to check. They would complete the center and then put it in my “turn in tray.” I didn’t have time to check center work. And I’ll be honest, I wasn’t as concerned with center work. My concern was for the work they did with me at guided reading (not to say that center work wasn’t as important). Then I thought, why can’t THEY check their own work??? I provided answer keys for each center. I also provided RED editing pens. After they completed a task, they checked their OWN work and put it in their mailbox. Some of the students liked to play “teacher” and would “grade” their partners work and make them go back and fix it. It was wonderful. And I had less paper.
Now on to organizing the chaos. I found these flat, Sterilite bins from the Dollar General. I used my Silhouette to label which month of centers it was.
Each center is in it’s own gallon zip lock bag. This makes it easy for me to grab the bag and put it in my word work drawers.
I bought these drawers from Micheal’s and they hold all my word work centers for the month.
Inside I have the I Can poster, the pieces to the center, and the answer key. After I run the copies of the recording sheets, those go in there too.
The hard copies I keep in a .5 inch three ring binder with the cover in the sleeve.
That way, if I have a parent volunteer or if I’m getting ready for the month, I just grab the folder and run to the copy room. Or I just tell the parent volunteer to run a class set of the whole folder. All the copies go in the bags and the bags go into the word work drawers.
If your interested in checking these centers out for your classroom,
Thanks for reading!