Literacy Center Help!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by Starista, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Apr 3, 2006

    Good Monday Morning to All! :love:

    Starting with the next school year all primary classrooms are to have literacy centers! For one hour, children are to be engaged in a center while I am meeting with small groups. I am very excited for this! However, I do not have a large budget for this and am wondering if anyone had some ideas/suggestions? Next year I will have a class of 30 1st graders, so I am not sure how an activity like "Read and Write the Room" would work and still be "organized chaos!"

    We received a 1.5 hour training on literacy centers at our last in-service, but it was basically the philosophy behind the guided reading, and not so much practical ways to make it work.

    I am not sure how often I change the centers, if I am to meet with each reading group each day, etc etc. :)

    The woman leading the session said that a Math center could not happen during literacy centers which I found very disheartening, as I ADORE Math centers.

    Any thoughts/suggestions/links are greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance and here's to a wonderful week!

    :love: Star
     
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  3. Miss W

    Miss W Phenom

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    Apr 3, 2006

    Hmmm... What if you were applying reading to math? Would it work then?
    I teach 2nd grade, and we hardly have time for centers. Next year, at our new school (we're moving), we have been told we will have to have them. I have a few ideas, but a lot of them won't work with 2nd grade. Here's my very short list so far:
    *Toobaloo's (I love these!)-Students will read to themselves their GR book with a toobaloo. Great way to practice fluency, and the students can actually hear themselves.
    *Listening center-I've been working on getting this one together this semester. I actually had to go on a hunt to fine blank tapes to record on.
    *File Folder games-These are fun for the kids and easy to make. I've been trying to put several together all year. I should have a pretty good collection by next school year.
    *Comprehension games-I have some really involved comprehension board games. They are all on grade level, so I have to find some that are below for my low readers.
     
  4. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Apr 3, 2006

    Here is a list of centers and activities for each:
    Writing Station:
    mini-books
    journal
    letter writing
    word search
    overhead
    handwriting sheets
    sticker stories

    Games Station:
    BINGO
    word games
    math games

    Computer Station
    Type words
    Games.....starfall,kidpix,etc

    Reading Station
    journal
    DEAR books
    Browsing Bags
    Poetry BInder
    Read the Room clipboards
    Read the Newspaper and highlight key words

    ABC station
    magnetic letters
    building words
    stamping words
    BANG!
    Rainbow words
    Readers Workshop
    Listening Center

    Meet with teacher station
     
  5. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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  6. Irissa

    Irissa Cohort

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    Apr 3, 2006

    Math science or social studies can be part of literacy centers if you are reading during that time... Ie math word problems (great for comprehension) I use weekly reader and or scholastic news (whichever my school will buy for me) for science and social studies centers.
    Making words is a great center even for 1st grade. What letters can you add to AT to make more words etc.
    Partner reading poetry or easy books is another center I use.
    For my 3rd graders I also use board games that teach skills suck as cause and effect...
    I have a go fish for phonics that I made.
    You can also check out Adrian Bruce's site he has some cool games.

    I do not meet with every group every day I meet with 3 groups an hour for 20 mins each ( I have 5 groups of 3-4) so my lowest group of non readers I meet with every day and my high group of above grade level readers I meet with once or twice a week.
     
  7. Miss Starr

    Miss Starr Companion

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    Apr 3, 2006

    A book suggestion is "Literacy Work Stations: Making Centers work" by Debbie Diller. My school does not use centers for literay time, but I recently heard Debbie Diller speak at a conference and bought the book to see if there was anything I could incorporate. It is a very pratical book with tons of suggestions and actual lessons. It is gears to K-2, but I almost feel that this point in the year the activities are a little too easy for most of my first graders (I have an abnormally high group this year) so I think that it might be better for K and beginning of first grade. Hope this helps. I am intrigued by the idea of centers during literacy time. but am not sure that I will be able to incorporate it this year.
     
  8. teachurite

    teachurite Rookie

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    Apr 4, 2006

    I love centers! I have adopted many similar ideas that are listed in Kinderkids reply. We generally begin with a journal writing lesson. Following a fun set induction and graphic organizer, students begin to write as a whole group, beginning with an illustration. Depending on the students level they write 1-5 sentences and then place their work in the "finished basket". They are also encouraged to problem solve prior to coming to me while I'm in reading groups at the front or back of the class (depending on lay out). We create a word bank for all words they are thinking about using that are probably not in the dictionary, they have the graphic organizer, a student dictionary, words in the room, ask a buddy, etc. We generally begin the first sentence together or have a close sentence on an overhead. Furthermore they must do all of the above problem solving skills prior to coming to reading groups and if they still need help form a line to the left (they are not allowed to interrupt a reader and I usu. have only 1-2 stu. pop in and out and often I can redirect). Once stu. have completed their work they go to centers until I call their reading group. Each table group has a center for the day, and Fridays it's FREE center day.

    My CENTERS always appeal to multiple learning styles. They are:

    Library Center - comfy and different places to sit and labeled books by subject and of ALL levels

    Technology Center - Kid Pix, Math Blaster, Reader Rabbit, Word (sign up sheet and egg timer as their are usu. not enought comp)

    Writing Center - varying activities, multiple types and sizes of paper and writing instruments (pencils, colored pencils, pens, markers) , dictionaries, stencils, etc.

    Spelling Center - paint spelling, rainbow spelling (diff. color pens for each letter), stamp spelling , sand spelling, hop spelling (potato sack and hop out words), jump rope spelling (list posted in safe space/place and jump rope out each word), hand spelling with a buddy, pipe cleaner or play doh spelling (shape into words) etc.

    Math/Puzzles - Different types and levels of puzzles, different math games, varying activities based upon standard being learned (counting coins, etc.)

    Listening Center - Books on tape and 4 head phones

    My goal is to get to every reading group every day. While this doesn't always happen, each child has a reading log and a leveled book to read nightly and have signed by a parent.

    Hope this helps....
     
  9. teachoh

    teachoh Rookie

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    Apr 8, 2006

    i have been working on fine tuning my centers all year. I struggled with finding a way to give students feedback on their work and providing them with more structured activities. My most recent change came from a differentiated instruction book. I use a tic tac toe board with strategically placed activities that fall into three groups: reading, writing, and phonics/word skills. the fourth center (not on the tic tac toe board) is a game center that has comprehension board games, phonics games, and computer games.

    Students rotate throughout the week, visiting one center a day. Using the tic tac toe board, they have three choices of activities at each center. they must carefully follow the instructions and complete the activity within 30 minutes. if they finish early they stay at their center and do any center activity that interests them. often students will chose to do more than one of the "assigned" activities.

    at the end of the week if they chose and completed activities that resulted in a tic tac toe then they receive a small treat (smarties, sucker, etc).

    If your interested in the tic tac toe boards email and I'll send them to you.
     
  10. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Apr 9, 2006

    Thank you all SO much for all your wonderful and talented ideas. I really like the ideas of the tictactoe board and all the ideas at the spelling center too. :)
     
  11. Erin Elizabeth

    Erin Elizabeth Groupie

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    Apr 9, 2006

    All of these ideas are wonderful! I would just like to add some management tips. Don't introduce more than 1 center a day. Make sure that you model the correct way to use the center and have student volunteers demonstrate as well! Establish routines for transitioning between centers and have them practice those, too. It will probably take a good 4-6 weeks before the centers run smoothly, but if you take the time at the beginning of the year to really teach procedures, then it will save your sanity for the rest of the year!
     
  12. Miss W

    Miss W Phenom

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    Apr 10, 2006

    I have found a marvolous book at a garage sale. It is Scholastic's Instant Independent Reading Response Activities. So wonderful!!! I am currently setting it up for my classroom. Once you teach the students how to do the center, they can independently use it the whole year. I'm going to use it for the rest of the year and work out any kinks I may have. These are wonderful things to put in the student's portfolios. It's for 2nd-4th, but can be adapted.
     
  13. Teacher379

    Teacher379 Companion

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    Apr 10, 2006

    To Erin Elizabeth

    You said not to introduce more than one center a day...I was wondering...What do you do for the rest of the center time?...Do you not have center time for 60 minutes of your reading block?

    My district follows 30 minutes shared reading and 60 minutes guided reading/centers. I can imagine how introducing one center a day helps with management, but I'm draing a blank as to what to do during the rest of the 60 minutes.

    Are you having EACH student take turns to volunteer?

    Thanks for your input.

    -Crystal

     
  14. Erin Elizabeth

    Erin Elizabeth Groupie

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    Apr 10, 2006

    What I meant was don't introduce more than one new center a day! I have 4-6 centers going at once, but I don't like to overload students with new info more than once a day. Usually I don't show them a new center more than once a week! Really, it depends on your class. If they can handle learning procedures for more than 1 center a day then go for it! I have found that starting off the year with 3-4 simple centers like word sorts, journal writing, etc. is good to get students into a rountine. When introducing a new center, I usually have 2 students demonstrate, unless it's really complicated, then I have 3-4 demonstrations. I hope this clarifies!
     
  15. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Apr 11, 2006

    More Center Questions ~ Thanks in Advance!!

    Good Morning!

    I am wondering when I begin centers if I need to have more than one activity at each center ~ or just at a few. For example there will be lots to choose from in the spelling and phonics center, but maybe just one or two activties at the computer center (my classroom is lacking educational software, but hopefully this will change next year).

    I may introduce a center or two the week after spring break... Haven't decided yet. On one hand, the children are almost ready for 2nd grade. On another hand, they are probably going to be wild and ready for the end of the school year.

    I hope everyone has a terrific Tuesday!

    :love:
     
  16. iteachk-1

    iteachk-1 Rookie

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    Apr 15, 2006

    Are you a Reading First School? If so that is why you have to limit your math/content area centers. This is my second year teaching with literacy workstations. I LOVE IT!!!!! I have a 30 minute whole group lesson with a read aloud or a poem. We also do work work on the target phonics skills at this time. Then we do three 20 minute workstation rotations. I meet with my small groups to work on comprehension or fluency skills. The workstations groups are heterogeneous, so that my struggling students have good role models. I usually have 8 or 9 workstations each week. They are:
    **Listening Station- I have a tape with the story for each group. These are color coded. I also offer 2 or 3 other trade books/tapes that are seasonal or content area connected. The students complete a listening station log for the story by drawing a favorite part of the story and rating the story. The log is placed in the Workstation folder to be checked on Friday.
    ** Buddy Reading- partners either read chorally, take turns by sentences/pages or they read the story to each other. I also offer whisper phones at this station to help control the volume level. 2-3 copies of several books are available each week. These are the phonics readers that came with our reading series.
    ** Computer- students work on a specific program
    ** Writing- a writing prompt is given. Each students writes in his/her workstation journal and then reads whet he/she wrote at reflection time at the end of workstation time.
    ** ABC word study- specific phonics skills are reviewed. Word sorts, initial consonant sort vocabulary word, etc.
    ** Puzzles and games- phonics games that came with out reading series. Each story has 2 or 3 games. I also make memory games or other games that work on the target skills.
    ** Library- A tub of specific books placed near the beanbags. I use content area and/or seasonal books as well as the series recommended books.
    ** Fluency- Students read a familiar passage to a friend while being times with a small 1 minute sand timer. Results are recorded on a log from the ws folder. Students may also record themselves reading a familiar passage. Each child has a 10 minute cassette. They can record over themselves.
    ** Read the room- students have specific sounds/letter to look for when reading the room. They record replies on a form and place it in their ws folder. I use clipboards and plastic sunglasses with the lenses out to make it more fun.
    **Poetry- Each poem we read is copied for each student so they have a folder full of poems. These are read chorally or by taking turns. I also have each poem enlarged on a chart. They can use pointers to track the print. Another job at this station is to highlight target sounds in the poem with highlighter tape or wikki stiks. This is one of the favorite stations.
    ** Drama- Puppets and feltboards are used to retell stories. Students can also make up new endings for stories. Sometimes I have materials that can be used to make puppets.(This is not used often because there is not enough reading with this task)
    When starting work stations take lots of time to model what to do. We also role play what good work looks like and sounds like. I only introduce 1 station at a time. I am at this station when introducing it so I can guide proper work. I don't meet with groups until I have introduced all my stations. I take lots of time to teach new tasks before adding them to a station. Workstations should be used as a review of skills the students can do. If students can't do the tasks is is more likely behavior problems will develop. We also have a reflection time (3-5 minutes) at the end of reading. We talk about what was good and what was not good during workstations. We talk about how we can make ws time better. I also let the writers read to the class. Sorry this so long, but with lots of planning your first graders can be successful!!
     
  17. ad65shorty

    ad65shorty Companion

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    Apr 16, 2006

    Centers can be so much fun, if you have them managed well (as was mentioned)!! Just another idea. I always had a rule that the kids couldn't talk to me at the guided reading table unless they were puking or dieing. This is such a hard concept for those needy little ones. So at the beginning of the year while I was establishing my center procedures, I would simply sit at the guided reading table and "work." This was begun weeks before I ever pulled kids back. This helped them get that concept (with a lot of reminding) without me worrying about my small groups being interrupted. Also, I always designated two children to be "know-it-alls." The wore a bandana and a badge through centers. If someone had a question, they went to the "know-it-alls" first. A great self-esteem builder, as well as a way to help them with their independence!!

    I also wanted to address your question about reading and writing the room. I always had a limited number of kids at each center. For example, I would only have two pointers for reading the room. This helped with the management a lot. Also, set your rules and consequences and then follow through!!

    For guided reading, I was always told to try to get in every group every day (our centers were an hour so you could get in 4-5 groups each day). Now, realistically, (is that spelled right), that may not be possible. I would always prioritize my groups. I made sure my lowest kids got to see me every day, while my most advanced group probably saw me every other day (still 3-4 times a week). One year, I had to pull back a group during DEAR reading 'cause I had too many ranges in reading levels. (I probably shouldn't admit that) :)

    One more thing. Begin small. You're not going to be able to be 100% perfect at the beginning, maybe even your first or second year. You may have to readjust what you thought was going to work based on your children. I know, for me, what worked for one group of kids one year, quite often didn't work the next. And a fun thing about centers is that you can always add or take away activities from year to year. Also, your budget doesn't have to be a problem. I'm in my 5th year of teaching, and I still make a lot of my activities to save on the pocketbook. Make some activities over the summer, and send some home with parents at the beginning of the year. Utilize your parents as much as possible! My kids always love playing the game they helped Mom make!!

    Hope this helps!!
     
  18. ad65shorty

    ad65shorty Companion

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    Apr 16, 2006

    another thought

    I just thought of one more thing. If your whole school is doing this, you can also utilize your team (if you get along well). It's just as easy to make three games, as it is one. Split the centers amongst your team (one does ABC, one does spelling, etc.), and help each other out!! Then everyone benefits!!
     
  19. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    Apr 16, 2006

    I have such a difficult time keeping my kids quiet. I had a visual cue to help them understand the noise level, we practice six inch voices, but during centers they just don't control their noise level. It's gotten to the extent that my reading group can't hear. But with 23 kids around the room doing center activities and five kids at my reading group part of me doesn't blame it for getting too loud. THere are too many kids!! Sometimes I have to make it a "Red Light" center time with no talking, because they can't seem to control it.

    They also have a hard time getting out of their seats and going to the next activity when they are done. They think it is social hour when they are done with work, not only just with centers. Drives me nuts!! We talk about what to do when we are done ALL the time. I came in midyear so I'm hoping some of these struggles have to do with the lack of consistancy they had all year with the long term sub.

    Also I'm curious, how do you guys organize/grade your literacy centers? I have center packets with a paper they need to complete with each center. They keep these in a colored folder based on their group, then I collect it when we are done with the five centers (usually every week, but sometimes we don't get to centers every day so it's longer). I'm not sure I like the packet idea so I'm looking for something new.

    Sorry so long!!
     
  20. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Apr 16, 2006


    This is my very first year trying out literacy centers, but the woman who gave us our presentation on centers told us that we should not grade them. But I am not sure about that since I'd like to grade them on some things that they can do, especially at the writing center. I plan to organize them by reading groups which I hope will work. :)
     
  21. hescollin

    hescollin Fanatic

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    Apr 16, 2006

  22. iteachk-1

    iteachk-1 Rookie

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    Apr 16, 2006

    I don't grade my workstation work. I just check if it is complete. I also don't have written work for every station. I use more now than I did at the beginning of the year. I use some of the skills they would use on the worksheets and adapt to use in new ways. I don't ever assign worksheets during workstation time. I use the reading series work sheets in my morning work time.
     
  23. AuburnTeach

    AuburnTeach Companion

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    Apr 16, 2006

    Do you use poems from kids' poetry books or another source? Do you introduce/read the poem with the kids before you use it at a center? Thanks.
     
  24. iteachk-1

    iteachk-1 Rookie

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    Apr 16, 2006

    I use some poems from our reading series, some from a word family poem book by Scholastic and some that tie in with our theme. I always introduce the poem during whole group time and we read it several times throughout the week. I give each student a copy of the poem to take home and read to someone. This will be a portion of the homework for the day. Poetry reading has helped with fluency and expression. Sorry I can't tell you the name of the Scholastic book because it is at school, but I will look tomorrow and let you know if you are interested.
     
  25. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    I don't assign worksheets for centers, I just have some sort of written activity that goes along with it. Like if they are doing making words, they record the words they make. If they are building sentences, they record the sentences. I feel like for my kids I need to have something to measure what they are doing. Some of the kids mess around and they don't complete centers. I do two points per center based on if it is complete and I can tell they were on task. So the whole packet is worth 10 points. I don't think I will do this next year, but for my kids right now they need to have something to be accountable for or they will just mess around.
     
  26. teachurite

    teachurite Rookie

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    Apr 17, 2006

    Erin Elizabeth, that is SO SO true! I spend the first 4 weeks teaching classroom standards and expectations, as well as assessing students. It moves quite slowly at first for kids and teacher alike, but it is imperative to be proactive. It definitely minimizes classroom management issues and therefore maximizes academic learning time (not to mention it saves the teacher a lot of grief!) ;)
     
  27. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Apr 17, 2006

    I know EXACTLY what you mean!! I feel that it if I don't say "I'm grading this" or whatnot that they will just fool around since it's not teacher directed. Do you have an assistant? I am lucky to have a full day one. According to the woman who gave us our literacy center workshop, the assistant is just suppoed to walk around the room and make sure everyone is "on task." But I feel it would be cooler to assign her a whole group to work with. What do you think?
     
  28. lindalou

    lindalou Rookie

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    Apr 17, 2006

    When I started my literacy center adventure, this is the book that saved me!

    What Are the Other Kids Doing While You Teach Small Groups? (Paperback)
    by Donna Marriott, Joel Kupperstein

    It has easy to create and maintain AND assess centers! Check it out and good luck!
     

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