Okay, this is going to be my last post on this topic for awhile.
Unless, of course, I feel otherwise.
I’ve had several emails and questions about how exactly I manage my centers time . . . so here we go.
First off, I have to say I’m not a Daily Five person. Not because I don’t like it (I do) and not because I haven’t read the book (I have) and not because I like to be different (I am). I just don’t use Daily Five. I might in the future . . . I’m not saying I won’t. I do lots of mini lessons, but my kids don’t break out into the Daily Five after the fact. We usually do a follow up activity or a game or a quick check or who knows what.
I can have up to 32 kids (gasp, I know, it’s not fair, what in the world, this must be why I get paid the big bucks, ha) so traditional reading groups don’t work. We’ve tried. It is hard. It would take all day. And, apparently, I am required to teach math and other hard stuff, too.
So we (my team) have parent volunteers help us run our guided reading groups in the morning (they work with our above grade level students). We trade kids, too. And that’s how we accomplish that. That’s a whole other post in and of itself, though.
My center block is at the end of the day. It only lasts about 20 minutes. Maybe 25 minutes if the sun is shining and no one had an issue at last recess and we didn’t lose anything and only four kids decide to ask questions about this-that-or-the-other.
I love having centers at the end of the day.
Number 1: It’s the end of the day.
Number 2: First graders, at the beginning of the year especially, have a hard time focusing in the late afternoon. Our kinder program is still half day so our first graders tend to be in shock that they’re still in school after lunch up until about Christmas time.
Number 3: It’s the end of the day.
My kids only go to one center each day. That’s it. Most of the centers “don’t have an end” so they stay occupied the whole time. My goal for centers is to have each activity be “unending” so that they can’t tell me I’m done, now what?
Centers give me a chance to pull students one-on-one for intervention, hey, you didn’t fill this part in, let’s look at your writing, what did you mean to say here because I can’t read it, you were absent yesterday, let me make sure you get this math concept, etc etc etc.
It gives the students a chance to work in small groups and also gives them a break from me.
I group my kids heterogeneously with 4 kids in each group.
I try to make sure each group has two girls and two boys. I never ever ever have a group where it is all girls with only one boy or all boys with only one girl. I think about how I would have felt if that had been me in first grade and I am pretty sure I would have died. I do have a group of all boys at the moment because I ran out of girls.
Last year, I didn’t have enough boys so I asked if any boys minded being in an “all girl” group and I got several volunteers. Ha!!
I probably make too big of a deal out of it, but I just really want my kids to be happy and not stressed about the people in their group. They have enough to worry about. Like when in the world are we ever going to go home?
I switch my groups often so that kids have opportunities to be with everyone, including their besties, but also not including their besties.
As far as noise goes . . . it’s one of the noisiest parts of the days. We’re not allowed to blow the roof off, but I also don’t expect them to whisper. I mean, they’re in groups for crying out loud. And some of them have headphones on which means they have no clue how loud they’re being.
I use the music box when needed or I just give a signal and ask everyone to lower their voices, try again, let’s start over.
I’ve found that the busier they are, the more engaged . . . the quieter it is. So I’m always on the lookout for fun, high engaging centers.
In the past, I’ve had to stop centers, make everyone walk away, and we’ve taken a bit of a time out to just smell the soup. Then we try again.
So far, this class is fine.
And now you know everything there is to know about my Centers block. I am pretty sure I answered all of the questions I’ve received so far.
Enjoy the rest of your Labor Day! 🙂