Feeling helpless when it comes to centers

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Haley Kraemer, Aug 21, 2016.

  1. Haley Kraemer

    Haley Kraemer Rookie

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    Aug 21, 2016

    Brand New Teacher: I need some direction! I feel so overwhelmed and unsure of where to start for centers in the first grade.

    -a lot of the stuff I see looks too complex. I need to keep it basic right now.
    -Also I got hired 2 days before the school year started, so when do I have time to print and laminate all these centers?
    -I'm also afraid that I will do all this work, and then the kids will finish the center too early or get bored after a few times.
    -I have found some good center management step by step guides, but it is the choice factor. What center do I introduce first?
    -Some of the permanent centers seem easy like the Big Book Center. In word work, do I have to print have a million write it, stamp it pages, rainbow words pages, etc? At first, will students be using the same word work choice every day until they master it and we introduce another choice? If so, that is a lot of paper.
    -As far as where will kids put their work, I want to use a pocket folder that says finished/unfinished. I don't plan on looking too closely at their work. The goal of centers is more that kids are working independently while I meet with small groups to provide them with that invaluable support. I will look through them to look for misunderstandings, common errors, and things I need to reteach.
    - Are the kids losing valuable small group time while I'm rolling the centers out? A lot of my kids need extra help. What I am most afraid of is not having the time in math to appropriately help my learners and reteach concepts. What I need is basic fluency activities that the kids can work on as a permanent/unchanging center. That would be a time saver. I do have an addition/subtraction shoots and ladders game made already. And I can use addition/subtraction flash cards as a center. Also, I could laminate various worksheets and have kids use dry erase markers as a center. That would be easy and not too time-consuming.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 21, 2016

    Are you required to teach using centers?
     
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  4. Haley Kraemer

    Haley Kraemer Rookie

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    My fellow first grade teachers did mention that we would be expected to start them. She said that she wouldn't start any of that until the 3rd-4th week of school. I think what we are required to do is meet with small groups. I have only completed the first week of school, so I don't know a lot about that yet.
     
  5. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Aug 21, 2016

    You sound like one of the newer teachers at my school! :) I shall give you the advice I gave her.

    Daily 5 is a fairly popular choice at our school, though the spectrum of following it by-the-book is a wide one. I stick very close to the prescribed Daily 5 as the book and site tells me. Other teachers are more liberal with it. The newer teacher in question calls the various centers she uses Daily 5... and she stresses herself out making them interesting and varying. I recently found out she spends about 20 minutes each day introducing and modeling the centers for that day.

    I told her if it's that much stress to her and that much time-taking, to really go to the basics. Read-to-Self, Listening, Read to a Partner... you're pretty much doing the same thing each time with different books. Writing... spend some time setting up a writing program, and then it will become just about automatic after a short time. Word Work... this is where I allow myself to do a bit more variety as I desire... and, tada!, I have the time to do so.

    If you can keep it simple and much of it fairly automatic, you will be saving time.

    And, if you don't like centers and aren't required to have them, save yourself the heartache.

    I love Daily 5. I hate all other types of centers.
     
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  6. Haley Kraemer

    Haley Kraemer Rookie

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    Yes, I want to keep it simple, and the only center I would want to vary regularly is the word work center kind of like you said. Basically one by one I can introduce a word work option, like rainbow writing, stamp your words, build your words with beads and a pipe cleaner. They will get to choose! I don't have the resources for a listening center. The only thing that makes sense to me is using a site like Reading A to Z kids where each kid has a log in and it has books for them on their level for listening. The only thing is that that costs money for a year subscription. Is there a free one you know of? I know my local library has a tumble books subscription, so we could access it through the library's site.
     
  7. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I agree with Backroads - read "Daily 5" ASAP. It's an easy read and will clearly outline how to run effective, meaningful centers in your classroom. There is minimal prep once you get everything up and running. The book covers the topic of word work and how to introduce choices and variety.

    Good luck! I used "The Daily 5" structure with my grade 1s and loved it!
     
  8. Haley Kraemer

    Haley Kraemer Rookie

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    Thanks, you guys! I have read through it before, but I will go back to it and take it step by step! My focus right now will be to teach the centers. I do not know if I will do reading groups for awhile. The kids haven't been Dibels tested yet. Hopefully they will be getting last years scores to us soon to help with ability grouping. Tomorrow starts the second week of school, and these first graders came from a pre-k to K school to our grades 1-5 school. Therefore I think it make take longer to get their scores than if they were at our school last year.
     
  9. Haley Kraemer

    Haley Kraemer Rookie

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    In the meantime, do I just walk around and help the kids during independent practice time? That is all I know to do. I mean sometimes I will pull my ones that are struggling and have the other kids doing something else at their desks like finding sight words in their table books.
     
  10. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I consider such programs for listening. I don't know of any free ones, but I got my school to pay for it.
     
  11. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    ETA: Sorry, in re-reading this I see you are asking about independent practice time. Is this different from your center time? If so, the ignore what I wrote below. My comments below are better for center time.

    I used to walk around and support the students during center time, but like the authors of The Daily 5 point out, this can create dependence. We want our students to be able to do the centers without us, so we need to train them to do them independently. I am assuming that you want to use center time as a chance to work with small groups while the rest of the students are engaged and productive.

    Tomorrow during centers, while the students are working, (and you have clearly explained & modeled the expectations for the centers) go to wherever you will typically be working during centers (i.e. guided reading table). Sit there by yourself, observing the room. As soon as someone is off task, give the signal to pack up. Gather everyone at the carpet and celebrate the successes. Then practice again. Repeat, repeat, repeat, constantly evaluating as a class - what worked well, what areas do they need to improve, keeping it a s positive as possible. You want them to gradually build their stamina for working alone. Slowly start pulling students to work with you in the space that you have designated as your work space.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
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  12. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    Aug 22, 2016

    The beginning of each year, Daily 5 is worn on my hip. I follow it nearly word for word and have tremendous success with it. It is easy to follow and little to prep. Even if your centers will be different than those of the Daily 5, the book will give you fabulous ideas.

    Time wise...you will be making centers evenings and weekends especially your first year or two. I use the app Educreations to make phonics/work work centers.
     
  13. brigidy

    brigidy Comrade

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    Aug 28, 2016

    I just read an interesting blog about working with centers and small groups. I may incorporate some of her ideas. It is called "learning at the primary pond". It might be worth a read.
     

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