How do you start the process of building centers into your instruction? I have tried a few things with my class, but being a first year teacher, I don't have much experience to draw on in this department and my kids haven't retained much of their training. How do you train the kids? How many tasks do you start with? How long are students given at first? Thanks for any and all help with this!
It is very much worth it to invest in the book, Literacy Work Stations: Making Centers Work by Debbie Diller. It is wonderful!!! She tells you how to do everything to make it work in your classroom. I would never go back to not using work stations.
The above mentioned book is very helpful. My centers are used during guided reading. While I am meeting with a group the other students are working independently in stations. I have 2 students in a station at a time. I have about 10-12 stations. Some of them are: reading, listening, word building, pocket chart, sight word, buddy reading,phonics,poetry. My stations usually last around 20 mins each with the students going to about 4 different ones a day. I usually try to change out activities about every other week....not necessarily new but skills changed to match what we are doing in the room. When I first began I had a lot of handmade tasks.....but now I have several things from lakeshore that I have ordered.
EmersonSquirl, What grade do you teach? I have some materials that I've shared with teachers here before (even though my status shows I'm a newbie) that may help if you're working with K. It is definitely a process! I take a lot of time to teach centers so that kids are i-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t so I can pull guided reading groups. You can see some photos over on the classroom photos forum page.
My advice is to give lots of directions! Make sure it is VERY organized and to have a procedure if they forget. I always had the directions posted at each center and if they didn't understand them, they knew 3B4ME (three classmates before they came to me). I kept the same type of centers every week too, so they got used to them (like spelling, computer, phonics, etc.) then just changed the activity. This helped from them coming to me and asking me a zillion questions during guided reading. Also, I made my guided reading very independent, and just retaught everything a lot in the beginning of the year and by the end of the year they didn't need me at all! Hope this helps.
Sorry, I should have included my grade level in my original post. I teach 4th, and I've got 25 kids. When we come back on track I will have a new student from the GT class. She will be ahead of the rest of my class since the GT teacher maintains a quick pace. I would like some ideas for not only implementing centers for the class to meet with small groups, but also provide some challenge to the new student and my other high kids. My biggest problem is that (from what I have seen) by 4th grade centers tend to disappear. there aren't many resources for upper grades, again, that I have found.
Model, Model, Model...Practice, Practice, Practice! The time you take to do this will save you time. Introduce one that you will have all during the year, and then a short term center. Depending on the grade, 2 or so per week. If you can, try to get high school, upper grade, or parent volunteers the days you implement the centers.
Does anyone know where I can get a run down of guided reading lessons forgrade 2 that would be aligned with Columbia's TC in New York City? How can I start ? Which books are good to use for a grade 2 class?