Having a time to meet with students in small groups for reading is extremely important, which is why our reading centers need to be easy to manage and engaging for our students! This blog post explains how I manage materials, shows specific products students have enjoyed using, and describes how to get students working independently.
Imagine your least favorite activity from elementary school. Mine was spelling...writing my words ten times each, ugh. Imagine that you were told exactly when you had to do your least favorite activity. Now...imagine that your teacher understood that writing your words ten times each wasn't your favorite activity. What if instead of always doing that activity with the same group of people on Wednesdays...you now got to choose WHO you could work with and WHEN you could work on it during the week? Does it seem a little better now?
Giving students choice can have a huge effect on their mood and work ethic. It makes for a happier classroom. Each student has 2 magnets with their picture. Our star student of the week gets to call on students who are sitting nicely to make their center choices.
If a student is meeting with me in a reading group, one of their magnets will already be on Teacher Time before reading centers begin.
The expectation is that students complete each center at least once a week (with the exception of Makerspace and Creation Station). Students then have a choice as to which centers they can 'double dip' and do more than once a week. Students have to complete all centers before they can double dip. They cannot do the same centers the following day.
Students keep track of what centers they have been to that week by marking their choices next to their classroom number. Once all of their choices have been filled up, they don't continue marking it. The recording sheet gets erased at the end of each week.
Students may bookshop and read a book of their choice from their book bin. They may read around the room in a spot that is comfortable to them. They are typically seated away from other students working collaboratively so they can read independently.
Students read a book with a buddy. They may take turns reading the same book. At the beginning of the year I model the Okay vs. Not Okay way to talk about our books while buddy reading. Okay: "I predict that...." "This story reminds me of this book..." "Wow, I wonder what will happen next!" Not Okay: "Tonight I have soccer practice. What do you do after school? I'm hungry for lunch."
Buddy Reading options:
Students independently listen to a story and follow along. My students use a program called Raz Kids (found on Reading A-Z) for this center. You can set a student's independent reading level. Students then have access to books on their level where they can listen, read & record, and complete a comprehension quiz. There are incentives for students to finish their books, which gets the kiddos excited! We have also used Tumble Books and Epic! in the past.
Students work on writing a writing piece. They may write more than one writing piece in a given session. My students use writing papers from my Yearlong Writing Center Bundle. Some of their favorite options are....post cards, menus, secret codes, comics, lists, story book paper, and news reports!
Students work with a partner to practice their specific spelling words. Students work on word work centers from my Word Work Centers Bundle. They have six different options that they can choose from throughout the school year. In the past I rotated my word work centers more frequently, however I've found that these centers are their favorites. They don't tire of them as quickly! Some of their favorites include: Word Battleship, Wordsearch, and Scramble Words.
The makerspace is an option for two students to go to during reading center time. Students work on a task card specifically related to one of our reading standards. These task cards are from my Makerspace Reading Task Cards product on TPT. Students typically work on their reading center project over the course of a month, seeing as they don't go to the makerspace as often during reading time.
The creation station is a place where students work to create a digital product. During reading time only two students may use the creation station. Students work to create character collages, interactive videos, and book trailers. Students use a task card, which explains their project. All projects align to our reading standards.
What are some of your favorite reading center resources? Please share in the comments below!
-Ashley from Talkin Pinata Teaching