Sunday, August 23, 2015

Getting Centers Started in the Classroom (It Can be Done!)

If you have trouble implementing centers, or stations, in your classroom, you're not alone. Everyday, teachers differentiate instruction and work in small groups to meet the needs of their students. And to do this, you'll need to give the other students an assignment that will keep them engaged and quiet. So the big question is. . . How do I do this?
Getting stations, or centers, started in the classroom
I am in my twelfth year of teaching and I have tried just about everything to get my stations (AKA centers) going in my classroom. I've done everything from making it difficult, to making it boring just to keep the kids occupied, to killing myself to have new stations every week. Let me tell you, this zaps the fun out of station/center time.

I love this time of day. It gives me time to give attention to kids in small groups and it gives the kids time to work independently (which they LOVE). So let me share with you how I get my stations started (from a 2nd grade teacher with no adult helpers point of view).

Now, this isn't something that I just start. It takes time. It takes time to teach the activities. It takes time to set an expectation. It just takes time. But once I've given the time, it's so worth it!
Rules for teaching students to use stations in the classroom
As with anything new in the classroom, rules and procedures must be established. I find rule #1 to be the most important. The rule is to the point. I know 2nd graders, so I explain that they cannot bother me. They can't ask to go to the restroom or to get water. They can't ask to sharpen their pencils. Those procedures need to be put in place before I'm disturbed during my precious table time.

I let the kids know that the purpose of stations/centers (whatever) is for students to work by themselves (AKA reinforce previously learned material) and for the me to work with a small group of kids.
I tell the student we will be practicing a station. I won't be working with a small group. I'll just watch them, but they must follow the rules. I show them the materials and tell them how they are used. I write on the board how the station can be used using an "I can. . ." stem.

Set a timer. I started with 6 minutes. I don't know why I chose 6 minutes. I just did. Let the kids practice and just watch. I write down the good and not so good things happening. Once the time is up, I show the kids how to clean up.

During this time, I like to bring kids to the carpet to discuss all of the good things I saw and any problems I may have seen. This give students the positive feedback they need.

Repeat steps 1-5 using the same station. It can be done on different days or a couple of times in one day. The number of times I practice is dependent on how well my class does.

Thanks for stopping by. Check out my classroom stations here.
Clip art by:
I Teach What's Your Superpower?


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