Welcome to a center-based classroom!
Imagine walking into your classroom and seeing students in small groups working cooperatively. One group sits at a center with the teacher for guided reading instruction. Another group of children works at a thematic center sequencing the life cycle of an insect. At the next center, students work together solving Math word problelms with sentence strips. The teacher signals for attention; the students are quiet for directions. Students clean up their centers and rotate to the next center, going right to work. Centers can be done simply with the helpful hints we give you here. Read on and
make centers a reality in your classroom!
How is your school year starting off? Are things running smoothly? How are your math centers and stations working out? Let’s talk about centers!
Let’s start with the basics! 🅱
What does a center-based classroom look like?
A well-run center-based classroom will have small groups of children working independently at all of the centers, the teacher leading a small group at the guided reading center, and perhaps a parent facilitating another center. The children will be engaged in the activities, well trained about the procedures, and involved in their own learning.
What’s the rationale?
Learning centers facilitate growth and learning!
💭 Learning centers provide an opportunity for small-group
💭 Learning centers enhance student learning.
💭 Learning centers teach students responsibility.
💭 Learning centers allow you to teach to a variety of
💭 Learning centers offer a wider variety of activities for
students to learn from.
💭 Learning centers allow students to work at their own level
while reviewing and practicing skills.
💭 Learning centers promote cooperative learning
What is a center?
A center is a physical area in a classroom set aside for a specific
learning purpose. The center has appropriate materials and supplies so students can work individually or in cooperative groups.
How many students should I put in each group?
We recommend three to four students in each group at each center.
How long do students spend at each center?
Twenty to thirty minutes at each center is an adequate amount of time for students to complete most center activities.
How do students know where to go when it is time to rotate centers?
By teaching and practicing the routines and procedures you want to be followed at center time, your students will know what you want them to do. We suggest you follow a clockwise rotation pattern to rotate students through centers.
How do I group my students for centers?
To teach to the varied levels in all classrooms, we suggest you group your students by reading abilities. By grouping students this way, you can meet the instructional needs of all your students in Math. Learning centers will allow you to teach to your low, medium, and high ability groups and move everyone forward.
How does a center-based classroom look?
Many teachers use tables and desks against the walls in
their classrooms. You can use student desks as a center, too.
During center time, the desks will be empty and small groups of children will be sitting at centers throughout the room. The teacher at a small group math center will have her/his back to the wall in order to see all centers at a glance from where she/he sits.
How many adults do I need to run centers in my classroom?
Just you! When you teach the routines and procedures of
your centers well, your students will learn how to work without supervision during center time.
How long is center time?
That depends on you and on how many centers you have each day. If you have five groups of students rotating through five centers and spending 15 minutes at each center, then you will need 1 hour and 15 minutes for center time. Six groups of children rotating through six centers will need an hour and a half. Remember to add a little extra time for the rotation of
groups when determining the time you will allot for centers.
When it is time to change centers, how do I get my students’ attention?
Ringing a bell or calling out “freeze” or “give me five” are great ways to call your students to attention. Teach your students to “freeze” when the signal is given and to listen for instructions.
By providing a center-based environment in your classroom, you will be able to give your attention to small groups of children during “guided reading.” Research shows that this small-group instruction is one of the primary components that leads to strong readers. Centers are perfect for differentiation and making sure you are reaching and teaching your
English learners. Centers also allow you to teach to all the student levels that are in your classroom. Your choice to run centers in your classroom will also teach your students how to work cooperatively in small groups. Learning centers allow you to teach “responsibility” as students work independently, practicing and
reviewing skills and concepts at each center.
For more in-depth information on running centers in an elementary classroom Click Here!