When creating a center based curriculum, there are a lot of logistics involved beyond what concepts/ skills you want your kids to learn. Questions arise: what procedures need to be taught? What materials are involved? Do I need to set them up, or can the kids do it? How does only having 20 minutes play into this? How much do the kids already know as far as working in small groups? Etc.. a lot of these need to be answered in order to proceed, but some will be answered as we go…..like most of what we do!
Typically in a regular classroom, there are several different centers; kids rotate through them after a mini lesson in each. Considering this will be the first time I am doing it with this group, I wondered if this would be feasible right off the bat, so I decided to do only one activity per grade level and have them break into small groups for the first month. This way, we could work out the kinks before it got too complicated.
I also decided that we would do an activity from each of the categories (4 categories, so 4 week’s worth of activities) explained in the last post (read HERE); thus kids would know what major concepts were being covered this year and the standards we want them to master. Last year we did a lot with Note Knacks and reading, so I thought that The Reading Center would be a great place to start!
I chose the activities first, then thought about what the kids needed to know before we started. There is first day stuff (names and what we are going to do here) and then there is the procedures that we follow to work efficiently and safely throughout the year. I always do a name game of some sort to start and then we can dive into the procedures.
- Line up outside door quietly ~ Is it really necessary to have kids enter your room quietly? According to Fred Jones in Tools For Teaching, kids understand that your classroom is a place for learning, not fooling around. When they enter quietly, you are cutting out another opportunity for issues to arise.
- The Briefing ~ I am formally adding this. In the past I would tell kids what materials they needed to gather, where they needed to sit, etc…., but this year I want to try to have a written out statement of what they can expect that day with specifics. Because it is written out, the older kids will be able to read it ~ I’m not sure if this will take too much time, we shall see!
- Kids enter room ~ kids go to where they need to be. I will let them sit where they want for now, but I am leaning towards assigned group seating. I am hoping it will cut down on hurt feelings and chit chatting.
- Mini Lessons ~ If this is the beginning of a center cycle, I will have a mini lesson on each of the centers they will be doing for this cycle. This lesson will include the steps and final result, which will be on a note card so that when they forget next week (because you know they will!!), they have a reference that they can figure out on their own. The more independent they are, the better!
- The 5 minute warning ~ 5 minutes before the end of class, I will let kids know, so they can wrap up.
- Clean up ~ Expectations for leaving the space.
- Line up and exit ~ Expectations for lining up, leaving the room and walking in the hallway to my colleague’s room.
- Entering the other room ~ how to enter quietly and respectfully
Throughout this process, I will have kids model what they think I expect for each of the categories. (What does it look like when we enter a the classroom? Type of things) Because it is the first week of classes for us, they will be on their best behavior, so this is the perfect opportunity to “catch” them being model choristers! I will have lots of chances to praise them and give them a sense that I know they are bright and helpful!!
Next week I will dive into what centers I decided on and how they are working! In the meantime, have a great week!