A new school year brings us fresh new learners and fresh new challenges. I’ve already laid out my case for using literacy centers in your classroom, but if you haven’t tried it yet, go back and read
Literacy Centers will eventually involve student choice, but not at first. I want all students to know how to complete each activity correctly initially.
So my tables of students remain static- everyone stays at their own spot while we practice simple word work centers like Disappearing Spelling Words, Letter Tiles, Dough Words, White Board Spelling, Letter Stamps, and Spelling Games.
We review the expectations for each activity and students get time each day to try out one or two centers while they practice their spelling words for the week. I simply move the activities from table to table each day so each student practices each center activity.
Each group starts in the same center every day and follows a set rotation around the room designed to maximize efficiency and learning (see my previous blog post about our rotations here). Each group visits each center every day.
I show them the activity they will be doing in Word Work and Writing, how it correlates with the picture on the drawer it is stored in, and where to find the matching picture on their recording sheet.
We then mark it with the initial of the day (M for Monday, etc.). This is helping them practice marking which center they do each day, which is important information for me once they start making their own center choices.
Instead of diving into guided reading, I usually take the first week to play simple games with students we will use for word work activities- word sorts, sound boxes, etc.
The reason for this is two-fold:
1) these activities will be easier and take less time if they are familiar to the students in the near future, and
2) I really need to have my focus on the WHOLE classroom to monitor how students are doing in all of the centers.
It is important to catch off-task behavior early and nip it in the bud so it doesn’t become contagious and accepted.