This is part 3 of using centers in your classroom…
Have you wanted to try centers in your classroom, but weren’t sure where to start? Have you tried centers and not been successful? If you answered yes to either of these questions, read on and I will try and answer some basic questions teachers often have about centers.
Welcome to a center-based classroom!
Imagine walking into your classroom and seeing students in small groups working cooperatively. One group sits at a center with the teacher for guided reading instruction. Another group of children work at a theme center sequencing the life cycle of an insect. At the next center, students work together restructuring a story with sentence strips. The teacher signals for attention; the students quiet for directions. Students clean up their centers and rotate to the next center, going right to work. Centers can be done simply with the helpful hints we give you here. Read on and
make centers a reality in your classroom!
By providing a center-based environment in your classroom, you will be able to give your attention to small groups of children during “guided reading.” Research shows that this small-group instruction is one of the primary components that leads to strong readers. Centers also allow you to teach to all the student levels that are in your classroom. Your choice to run centers in your classroom will also teach your students how to work cooperatively in small groups. Learning centers allow you to teach “responsibility” as students work independently, practicing and
reviewing skills and concepts at each center.
Q: How does a center-based classroom look?
A: Many teachers use tables and desks against the walls in
their classroom. You can use student desks as a center, too.
During center time, the desks will be empty and small groups of children will be sitting at centers throughout the room. The teacher at guided reading will have her/his back to the wall in order to see all centers at a glance from where she/he sits.
Q: How many adults do I need to run centers in my classroom?
A: Just you! When you teach the routines and procedures of
your centers well, your students will learn how to work without supervision during center time.
Q: How long is center time?
A: That depends on you and on how many centers you have
each day. If you have five groups of students rotating through five centers and spending 15 minutes at each center, then you will need 1 hour and 15 minutes for center time. Six groups of children rotating through six centers will need an hour and a half. Remember to add a little extra time for the rotation of
groups when determining the time you will allot for centers.
Q: When it is time to change centers, how do I get my students’ attention?
A: Ringing a bell or calling out “freeze” or “give me five” are great ways to call your students to attention. Teach your students to “freeze” when the signal is given and to listen for instructions.