Tuesday 27 June 2017

Monday Motivation - Managing Centres

Hey there, I'm a little late to the party, but I'm back again this week for Teacher by the Beach's link up: Monday Motivation! This week is tips and ideas on how I manage centers in my classroom.

I have two different times of day for centers: guided reading and guided math. I do a variation of Daily 5 for each. This is how I ran each of them last year and I'll talk a bit about what I plan to keep/change for next year. Again, set up will be a bit different because I'll be heading to a new classroom. :)

Guided Reading

Here is my pocket chart for organizing my guided reading centres. This was my first year implementing full-choice for which centres students went to and I absolutely LOVED it! I will definitely be doing this again next year (and doing it for math as well). I had three small tubs with the cards for first rotation, second rotation, and third rotation. Each student's picture/name card was down the side. The Guided Reading Cenre Cards are in my TpT store. I'm going to be updating them to be editable soon.

First I would put my "Read with Teacher" cards in the spots that I wanted to read with my groups (or sometimes individuals for running records). Then I would call table groups up to choose their centres. They would choose one centre from each basket. They had four choices to choose from: read to self, word work, writing, or listen to reading. I only had four iPods, so there were only four listening cards in each rotation basket. If they had a "Read with Teacher" card, they only picked two centres. If they didn't read with me that day, they got to pick three. Each day I chose a different table to pick first. 

Next year I will continue the three rotations and full choice, but I might have them just choose their centres in the morning after they have done all their unpacking and getting ready. I will also continue to have my iPods for listening, but I have five new classroom iPads, so I might make a fifth choice be iPad Word Work. 

For read to self, students took their book box and found a comfy spot around the room to read. Inside their book box they are allowed to have a max of five books from the classroom library (free choice, not levelled, based on interest) and can change these books at any time. They also have their poetry folder they can read and previous guided reading books we have done in group (at their level). I don't do "read to someone" separately, so if they would prefer to read with someone or by themselves, it doesn't matter to me. Sometimes if I have an EA or parent volunteer, I'll have them read with students too during this time.

For word work tubs, I had five different tubs with a variety of games/hands-on activities. The skills changed throughout the year: alphabet, letter sounds, CVC words, sight words, sentence writing, etc. I just changed them up when I noticed something wasn't getting chosen as much. They could choose any centre and they could switch centres when they finished one. I didn't have a lot of rules or requirements, as long as they were working and practicing their literacy skills.

For writing centres I used this tall plastic drawer unit. In the bottom drawer was their writing folder. The other drawers had different writing centres. Their folders had a "still working" pocket and "finished work" pocket, so they had to finish up their "still working" writing before they could choose a new centres. Some of the drawers stayed the same and some I changed up. I usually had sticker stories, regular story writing books, and letter templates available all year. Some other ideas I have used: doodle stories, Would You Rather? (by First and Kinder Blue Skies), comics, lists, book reviews, write the room, etc.

For listen to reading, I have a bucket of books they can choose from (I have almost 100 now... ekk! #teacherhoarder #scholasticmakesiteasy). Each book has a number on it. When I load the songs onto the iPods, I change the track title to the number and change the artist to the book title. So students grab a basket with the iPod and headphones, grab a book, and find a place to listen to their story! They just have to find the correct number track. Easy peasey! You can read more about my set up {here}. If they finished early, they just switched books. Each iPod has all of the songs on it, so anybody can listen to it. I've never had any writing/response activities with this centre; not sure if I will add this aspect in or just leave it the way it is.

I use my horseshoe table for guided reading groups. I used the rainbow drawer unit to store each group's materials. I had my Guided Reading Toolbox on top with all the tools I need for lessons. Each student brought their book box with them when we met, so they could read quietly while they waited for me to get to the table.

Guided Math

Last year I did not have students choose their math centres, I just grouped them and told them where to go. Next year I will use choice like my reading centres. Each group had a coloured shape and went to two centres a day. We only had four centres: math tubs, math work, iPod math, and work with teacher. The Guided Math Centre Cards are available in my TpT store. They will also be getting a mini update soon.

Kind of like my word work tubs, I had nine dish tubs on the cubby shelf that house different activities. Most of these were games we had played or hands-on activities with lots of manipulatives. They could choose any tub and switch at any time. 

Each student had a duotang with math work inside. I started the year off using Miss Kindergarten's Number Practice Printables, then moved on to other number work, addition/subtraction practice, etc. I really just used a bunch of different worksheets I had saved up. They worked at their own pace. Some students went through booklet after booklet, while others just did a few. I added some coloured washi tape at the top of the folder that matched each group's shape, so students could easily find their folder.

I'm really struggling with this centre next year. I want to move past using worksheets, so I might try and incorporate something with math books and writing. Or maybe use interactive notebooks. Not quite sure yet; stay posted while I work through this idea in my head. Haha!

I had some math games loaded onto my iPods, so they could play these games during iPod time. I let them use my iPad too, which had some fancier games on it ;) so that's why there is a little iPad card at the top of the pocket chart. If their group was on iPod math, the student with the iPad card got to use my iPad that day. Next year I have five iPads, so this won't be a problem.

And my horseshoe table again. I used the other drawers in the rainbow unit for my math groups. I would usually have something at the table for students to do while they waited for me to get there and begin. Some warm ideas: ten frame cards to play with, writing numbers in a blank 100 chart, Math Writing Strips (by Tara West), etc.

Well that's how things ran last year! I'm still thinking about what tweaks I'm going to do for next year. I think I'd like to have a bit more choice for math centres and less worksheets. I'll keep you posted! ;) Go check out Teacher by the Beach's link up for more ways to organize your centres. Everybody does it differently and that's ok! Find what works for you!


  1. Hi Amanda, I like your ideas. I have a question though, how did you get your iPods? Our district got iPads a few years ago, but there is a five page application to fill out each time you want something put on them... which pretty much makes it impossible to add anything. I would love to get my hands on a set of six iPods of my own so I could load what I want... was wondering how you got yours. Thanks, Kathleen

    1. Hi Kathleen! My iPods are actually just old iPods/iPhones that I've collected over the years. One is actually a 1st generation iPod Touch that I bought like ten years ago! Everytime I or my husband upgrade our phones, I keep the old ones. You can ask friends/family/parents if they have old ones to donate to your classroom. Check Craig's List/FB Marketplace for old ones. I've found some for $30-50. Or if you can save up your Scholastic Points, they sometimes have them in the Bonus Catalogue. You can't get a ton of apps on the old models, but there are still a few that I found that worked, ever on my oldest one. Now that I have iPads in my classroom though, I think the iPods will be solely for listening.

  2. wonderful ideas to centers organized!!! I also like your colorful classroom!!