Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Literacy Centers

I am a huge fan of literacy centers. When I implemented them my second year of teaching K I was so excited about the progress I saw in my students and became an instant convert. The best thing about teaching second grade is how easily my students work independently and how quickly my students have caught on to the procedures. I do not teach kindergarten any more!!

My Literacy Centers time is pretty simple, and it allows students to practice a huge range of skills throughout the week. They do two centers a day and usually one of them is Guided Reading with either me or my aide.

Students find their center assignments on the pocket chart each morning. Those that have a green square behind them are the group leaders.

Center storage area. Group leaders take and return their centers from here. I've seen a lot of blogs where centers are stored in boxes, but in a small classroom like mine using wall storage works a lot better. 

Students go to each center once a week, with the exception of reading with my aide or me which happens twice a week. My center names are:
1. Reading Comprehension
2. Jump Into Writing
3. Word Detective (Grammar)
4. Adventures in Vocabulary
5. Word Work
6. Top Ten (Brainstorming and Writing Activity)
7. Guided Reading with me
8. Guided Reading with my aide

I got several of the names and labels for my centers from Serenade to Second Grade.

Center folder. It is labeled with both the name of the center as well as the location the center should be worked on.

Each center has all the materials needed in the folder as well as a laminated instruction card. I liked the Must Do/May Do concept from MonStars of Second Grade and I use it for each of my center instruction cards. Students are told what they "must do" to have completed the assignment. Once students have finished the "must do," they can choose a "may do" from the instruction card. This allows for students who work a different paces to stay on task at the same center.

Here's an example of a Must Do/May Do instruction card:
When I first started centers I did not have a clear procedure about how students moved from center to center. That does NOT work for me in a small classroom. Talk about chaos! I now have a pretty strict structure and it works much better for me. I know other teachers have more free choice during centers, but every teacher has their own style. My centers procedure goes as follow:

1. Group Leaders of the week get the materials for their group and bring it to the correct area.

2. Group members meet their group leader.

3. Students work independently for 20 minutes.

4. When it is time to move I ring my bell. On the first bell, students clean up their center and stand behind pushed in chairs. When I see that everyone is ready to move, I ring the bell a second time. Students move clockwise to the next center.

5. After the second rotation the clean-up routine is the same, except that instead of students rotating, they turn in their work and come to the floor. Group leaders then return the materials.

I practiced this for about a week, and while they still need reminders, my students basically have it down at this point!

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