Today, I started rotating reading centers with my class for the first time. My school requires a 90 minute reading block in our schedule. For 60 of those minutes, I do centers with my students. I group my students according to their level and provide centers focusing on reading. Throughout the year I change my centers constantly. I try not to let my students become bored with the 60 minutes.
One center I never change is guided reading time with myself. During this time, I can read with a group (3-4 students) that are on the same reading level. This is one of my favorite times of the day. It allows me to focus on the needs of the student. I feel that reading with a small group is sometimes better than one-on-one time. The students learn from each other. I usually read a short book each day with each group. Some days, I switch it up and turn the guided reading time into reading games. Nothing sparks interest than a friendly competition.
Another center I have is seatwork. During this time, the students can work independently on a small assignment. Normally, I have the students work on class books or writing assignments (later in the school year). I provide each student with a picture dictionary that contains words they can use during this time. Each page has 8-10 words with a picture describing it. I put the dictionaries in binders that allow the students to add pages in throughout the year. At the end of the year, I allow the students to take home the dictionary pages to use at home during the summer.
One center that the students never become bored with is computers. I have three computers in my classroom. Some groups have four students. I simply have the students share one computer. This year I started the center on Starfall.com. For those of you who do not know about Starfall, I strongly suggest checking it out. I used this site with my students last year for the last six months of school. They never became bored! I know some adults who spend time playing on Starfall. One suggest for the computer center: earphones. If you have access to earphones, I would use them. The earphones help with the noise level in the classroom.
Another center I have is actually two centers in one. At this time, I split the group in half. Half goes to listening center and the other half goes to ABC games. I like using 2-3 students at listening because the students sometimes become cramped with four students crowded around a small table. I change the book weekly. The alphabet games are always changing. This week I have the students sorting upper case letters and lower case letters. One website that provides alphabet centers is Kelly's Kindergarten.
My last center is alphasmarts. In the beginning of the year, I only have my students type the alphabet or classmate's names. As the year goes on, the students type sight words, poems, or word families. Today, the rotating centers went smoothly. I only had the students spend ten minutes at each center. I allowed more time for transitions because I wanted the students to learn how to correctly go from center to center. I will use the rest of the week to go over center procedures and by next week we should be rotating smoothly.
Read about other teachers' centers here!