Reading centers are the perfect activity for students to work on while you are meeting with reading groups. But please know that reading centers are not babysitters! They are not busy work! Reading centers should be an opportunity to practice important skills that students are learning.
If you are not sure about how to make centers safe next year, make sure to read THIS post.
Centers can get chaotic time consuming if you are not careful. I get it. I’ve been there. I’m excited to share a few tips that helped me to make my reading center time more effective.
Model the Center Procedures…
…and then model them again!
You cannot possibly spend too much time practicing the procedures and expectations for centers. Spend time on it at the beginning of the year and then review halfway through the year or when necessary.
Here are some ideas for modeling the procedures:
- Show students how it is done while they do nothing but watch.
- Make anchor charts to show what it should look and sound like during center time.
- Have students model what NOT to do during centers and then have them go back and correct it.
- Have students show you how to do the centers.
- Get a few centers started during reading groups.
Use Consistent Centers
Nothing will make you hate centers faster than trying to find all new activities for your centers each week.
The best way to simplify reading centers is to use the same basic activities all year and simply switch the skill.
Consistent centers will save you loads of time. First, you save time planning, prepping and hunting for new activities throughout the year. You also save class time. Instead of teaching students how to complete new activities every week, you can teach the routines and procedures once and just review a couple of times throughout the year.
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Don’t recreate the wheel every single week or month! Find something awesome and use it all year.
Use Centers that Focus on a Specific Reading Skill
There are lots of center activities out there that mix skills.
For example, you might have a center with Scholastic News magazines and the printable worksheets that come with the subscription. The worksheet might have questions about main idea, text features, and point of view. But we might not have covered all of those skills yet.
It’s tough when the centers mix skills because our students are more likely to struggle.
I am all about allowing students to struggle some…but center time is not the time. Use those resources during your guided reading groups.
Centers should be the opportunity for students to practice a skill that they have just learned with the whole group. They are more successful and need less support!
Do Fewer Reading Center Rotations Per Day
Four rotations just seems to be the norm. It typically means that your reading groups and center time is very short. As soon as students start digging in deep, it’s time to rotate.
Instead, try doing just two rotations per day. Now all of your rotations can be longer. Less time is wasted with transitions.
Some teachers get nervous when I suggest this. “But my low group needs me every day!”
I get it!
But having fewer rotations and meeting with the groups every other day can actually mean spending MORE time with them.
If you have four rotations that are supposed to be 15 minutes each, they are probably only 12 minutes each due to transitions. This will add up to 48 minutes per week with each group if you do centers four times per week.
If you do two rotations per day that are supposed to be 30 minutes each, they are probably about 28 minutes due to the one transition. That adds up to 56 minutes per week with each group if you do centers four times per week.
Less transitions equal less chaos and behavior challenges! It’s a huge win for everyone.
Reading centers are valuable, but they can be a tad stressful if they aren’t managed well. I hope these tips will help you to make a couple of small changes that can make a huge difference.
Have a Not So Wimpy day,