The Million Dollar Questions - Stations/Centers/Independent Work

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by McKennaL, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. McKennaL

    McKennaL Groupie

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    Nov 3, 2009

    I am working in Guided Reading (now and back through student teaching) and i look up at my room...and I can watch students going through the MOTIONS of the centers. Wasting time. And i want to scream.

    You shouldn't HAVE to have a teacher or parent volunteer at each station to make sure it is being utilized correctly and the lesson IS accomplished! That they take away from that station what they SHOULD (reinforcement or expansion).

    SO.... here it comes...

    HOW DO YOU KEEP KIDS WORKING, AND MOSTLY, ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR LEARNING WHILE AT STATIONS/CENTERS/ (AND FOR OLDER STUDENTS) INDEPENDENT WORK?

    it can't help unless it's actually worked. you can have the most brilliant ideas...but if they sit there and chat or just look around at others...it's wasted time.

    (Oh, and how would you do it without having tons of papers to grade each night?)

    And I have tried a check off list that a parent volunteer would have to initial...but that only insured that they were THERE not that anything got through to them.
     
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  3. Falcon Flyer

    Falcon Flyer Companion

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    Nov 3, 2009

    I have been teaching for four years and have done centers four ways. This year, I am actually very happy with how things are going and may stick with it next year. My centers are a combination of the Daily Five with a couple other centers thrown in. My problem with centers was that I was getting so bogged down in paper and planning stations, I didn't know what to do. Here's a basic run down of what my center time looks like:
    1. Writing - My kids have a writing journal where they get to write whatever they want.
    2. Listening - They listen to a book on tape twice and then fill out a response sheet where they write the title, a sentence about it, and a picture of their favorite part. The response sheet will get harder as the year progresses.
    3. Spelling - I have index cards with that week's spelling words written on them. I also include words from weeks past, so there are about 20-25 words. Then, they sort the words and write them in their spelling journal.
    4. Songs & Poems - They read our weekly poem together, find the sight words, rhyming words, and draw a picture of the poem. Again, this will get harder as the year progresses.
    5. Reading - Free choice silent reading. Here, they can read their own library books or thematic books I put there.
    6. Computer, Reading Games - My kids can do starfall.com, spellingcity.com, or abcya.com.
    7. Computer, Technology Skills - My school district has an online technology curriculum.

    The beauty is that these centers never change, unless I decide to make a new response sheet. I used the method from the Daily 5 to introduce the centers and we practiced them for about six weeks before I felt comfortable setting them free. Another reason they work well is that since there are seven, the kids don't get around to them so often that they get bored. Also, I am lucky enough to have seven computers, so I can have two computer centers. In answer to your original question, the way that I get my kids to do what they are supposed to do is practice, practice, practice. They are probably saying the rules for centers in their sleep! (Stay in one spot, Work quietly, Work the whole time, Get started right away, and Do your best.)

    Hope this helps. Sorry it was so long!
     
  4. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Nov 3, 2009

    If you read the Daily 5 you would feel that it is speaking directly to you. I would highly recommend it. By doing the Daily 5, all 21 of my kindergartners can do Read to Self independently without ONE child even going remotely off-task for 15 minutes straight! It's a miracle, I swear...

    I thought that there was absolutely no way it would work with kindergarten, but it is amazing how great it does. It's meaningful, the kids are on-task, and they LOVE it! They wanted to stay in for recess to build stamina!
     
  5. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Nov 3, 2009

    I'm not that familiar with the Daily 5 so I'm looking for some advice. I teach grades 3-5 self contained and resource special ed. I have 8 reading groups and the whole morning available to do reading. Would that program be something I can use to keep my students occupied and learning?
     
  6. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Nov 3, 2009

    I'm only familiar with using the Daily 5 in K, but I think it would work well for you. I have a friend who teaches a 4/5 split class with 28 kids, 9 of which are ELL. She does it in her classroom and it works really well for her!
     
  7. Falcon Flyer

    Falcon Flyer Companion

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    Nov 4, 2009

    You can get the book for about $12 on Amazon. It's a pretty quick read, and even if you don't fully use the system, it's got tons of good ideas that I think will really help.
     

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