Click HERE for centers board download! Click HERE for planning sheet download!
Here are the basics:
*There are 15 centers (or more, or less-depends on you and your class)
*Centers are placed around the classroom in bins and are labeled with a picture.
|An example of the center bins placed around the room.|
*Each center picture on the center board will have either a green dot or a red dot next to it. EACH DAY-The students must do 2 green dot centers (example: spelling, wordwall, math) before moving on to a red dot center (star center, file folder games, art, puzzles). This motivates the students. -A student does not have to move on to a red dot. They can continue on green dots. Think of the green dot centers as "must do" centers and the red dots as "can do" centers.
*In order to go to recess that day, the student must at least complete one green dot center that day. Remember the expectations are for each day. They are expected to complete 2 green dots before they go to a red dot THAT DAY, not each week.
*If a center only has 4 bag (example: bag of alphabet cards), then only 4 students can use this center. You will indicate this on the center board above the green/red dot. You will simply write a 4 above it. This tells the students that only 4 students can go to this center at one time.
*Centers are independent in my classroom. I teach them what independent work looks like and sounds like. If they have a question and I am with a reading group, they are not allowed to interrupt the group. They must ask the center inspectors.
*Center Inspectors are 2 students who know what to do on each center. They can answer simple questions students might have (How many words do I have to write on this, how do I glue this...? etc). They also check the centers at the end of the day and let me know if I need to make any copies or need more supplies for any centers.
Frequently asked question:
How do you make sure the students are doing the center correctly?
Each center has a way that I can check their accountability. Every center is hands on, but after the hands on part is completed, the student needs to document what they did on either a worksheet or in their center journal (Usually just for green dot centers). The center journal basically has 20 pages double side of handwriting lines in a folder. For example, in spelling center this week, the student will write the spelling words in rice. When they finish, they will write the spelling words in their center journal. If the student has to write something in their center journal because there is no worksheet, I will put a star next to the color of center it is red/green. When the bell rings to go to recess, the students will clean and make sure their centers are on their desk. I check the center off just by glancing at it. If I check them off, they put their center work in the "center basket" (just a drawer).
How do you get started?
Remember, choice centers are all about procedure. The students need to be trained. I train them for about 3 weeks before I even start the centers.
When do you change the centers?
Every 2 weeks. I introduce on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. I will intro 4 centers on Wednesday, 4 on Thursday, and 5 on Friday. Most of the activities the students are familiar with and I always give them an example and show how to do each center.
Do you grade the center work?
NO! That would be so much work and you really are just practicing each skill and trying to reinforce concepts. I do make sure the student is doing the center correctly. I go through each center worksheet/journal after they turn them in to the "center basket" each day.
What about behavior management?
Centers are a privilege and the students know that. They practice behaving in the center before they even practice the center. The students are usually so actively involved and they work very hard on their centers.
What if a student does not finish a center that day?
If it is their 1st green dot, they must try to finish that center while the other students are at recess. If it is their second green dot, they may go to recess, but put their unfinished center in their center journal folder to finish tomorrow. Yes, this green dot can carry on to the next day. If it is a red dot that they did not fully complete, I have them finish 2 green dots the next day before they can finish that red dot from yesterday. Get it? Wow! That's intense.
Does everyone start centers at the same time?
No. Centers are stagger started by first having 3 review worksheets that each student must complete before they go to centers (this is where their time management skills will show). The worksheets are usually: 1 spelling review, 1 math review, and one language review that goes along with our them that week (this weeks theme is friendship) At first, it is quite difficult for a few students to manage their time and that is why we practice. For 3 weeks at the beginning of school, we do 3 workshops and then if they finish early, they get to play a game. This motivates them to finish and they then recognize what pace they need to keep in order to finish.
Here is my center planning sheet. Each time I switch a center, I write it down so I can have that idea for next year! The pictures next to the center name are the same I use on the bins and on the center board!
*A huge thank you to Carrie, my sister in-law who helped me start up these wonderful centers that she also did in her classroom.
*A BIG thanks to Ashlee, my partner in crime, for making the centers what they are today!