Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The 411 on Centers: Part 2!!

Happy Wednesday!

I'm back for Part 2 of my posts about Centers!  Today I'll fill you in on some of my rotations and how they work in our room.

background image- Ashley Hughes, alphabet graphics- Teaching Super Power, font- Jennifer Jones
As I told you in this post, I do an adaptation of the Daily 5 in my classroom.  I have similar centers that The Sister's use in their book, but I'm too much of a control freak to let my whole class just choose where they want to go!  I organize my class in teams and they do get an element of choice in their centers each day. (Just not exactly like in the book!)

I have lots of info and lots of pictures, so let's get started!

When I read The Daily 5 and thought about how I wanted my Writing center to work, I knew that I wanted some daily structure worked in there and that came in the form of writing prompts.  I've tried a variety of things in my Writing centers over the years, like a post office and little journal entries, but I never felt like my kids were actually writing.  So I took the time to come up with monthly themed writing prompts that involve fiction, non-fiction, poetry, science, emotions- just a whole lot of everything!!  I put out two writing prompts a week and the students complete them in their Center journal.  We go over the prompts on Monday and I write sentence stems on the board for those that need a little extra scaffolding.

I use my monthly Writing Prompts and pick out two prompts to use each week (because every team visits the Writing center twice a week).  Here's the link to the monthly prompts and you can check out the bundle here!  The bundle has over 200 prompts and they all come in two sizes.  I use the large size and place them in a table top pocket chart.  The smaller size prompts are perfect to put on a ring for each month.

After they finish the prompt, my students get out a bag of sentence scrambles to work on.  These are mixed up sentences that they put together and then write in their Center Journal.  This activity is great practice for so many reasons!  Obviously, it's great for their reading and writing.  It's also a great reinforcer for sentence structure.  We practice looking for the word with the capital letter to put at the beginning and the word with punctuation to put at the end.  Then they move the other words around to complete the sentence.

I use my monthly sentence scrambles and you can take a closer look at them here!  And don't forget about the bundle!

Buddy Reading
My students do activities from the Buddy Reading center in two spots in our classroom- the library and the Poetry Center.   This is my adaptation of "Read to Someone".  I have always had a Poetry Center and wanted to include it when I switched over to Daily 5 style centers.  So for Buddy Reading, each team usually splits into partners and one set starts at the poem and one starts in the classroom library.  For my Poetry Center, I have a new poem for each week that I have written on large chart paper.  I have pointers next to the poem for the students to use while the read the poem.

I also write a few instructions above the poem as additional tasks to do with the poem.  As you can see in the picture above, these often include things like "Find 3 word wall words." or "Find 2 sets of rhyming words."  The pair of students works together to complete the tasks and read or sing the poem together.  I also have all of the weekly poems typed up, illustrated and laminated for them to read next.  They take the tub of small poems to their desk and read them there, until the timer goes off for them to switch.

If you are looking for poems to use in your Poetry Center, be sure to check out my Poetry Binder product in my store!  It contains all of the poems I use (over 55 poems!) and it's nicely set up for a take home binder of poems.  Each Friday, I pass out a copy of that week's poem and we read it together one last time.  Then the kids get to illustrate it and find rhyming words and word wall words on their own.  They add it to their binder and take it home each weekend to read with their families.  They love reading and singing the poems at home and it is a nice literacy connection that they can share with their parents.

The other part of Buddy Reading is in the classroom library.  While in the library, my students get to choose Big Books to read together.  I have a lot of Big Books that I own and our ELA curriculum also comes with a weekly Big Book, so those are available to read in a large tub.  I like that they get a chance to independently read the Big Books that we used during our Phonics/ELA time and they get excited to know that they are already familiar with several of the Big Books that are there.

My students do activities from the Computer center at my desk computer and our one student computer.  I wish we had more student computers, but unfortunately, we only have one.  They keep telling us that we will get more, but I guess I'll only believe it when I see it!  Our school has classroom licenses for Lexia, so that is the program that they use during that time.  Each team has a username and password and they go through the different literacy activities together.  If I had 4 student computers, I would love for each student to have their own username and password, because then the program would be truly differentiated for each kiddo.  Maybe someday!  :)  What computer programs do your students use in your room?

I would LOVE to hear about your Centers!!  Leave me a comment about your classroom!  And feel free to ask any questions in the comments as well.

Next up- Part 3!  My version of Word Work, Listening and Read to Self will be explained in my next post!  And I'm going to make it a linky party- so get ready to share all about your Centers!! 

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