Starting Literacy Centers at the beginning of the year can be challenging but in this blog post I will break down how I do Literacy Centers in my classroom, the mistakes I made, and how to make Literacy Centers run seamlessly in your classroom.
First, make sure your Literacy Centers are well organized and have a good variety for the students. I did not do this during my first two years of teaching and it was extremely chaotic. I live by the philosophy “Do it right at the beginning of the year or keep doing it all year.” If you set up a great system at the beginning of the year, you will not have to “manage” it all year.
For my students I do the following Literacy Centers:
By doing these centers, I can keep them organized and the students always have a variety of activities in their hands.
One way to keep your Literacy Center organized is by setting up a rotation. I post the following rotation chart in my classroom (with student names obviously instead of letters.) The students can go look at the rotation chart any time they are confused or have forgotten where they need to be. Grab your own copy of an editable version of this rotation chart below the picture.
Just plug in your student’s names and if you need to change the center names you can!
NOTE: Please SAVE a copy of this first before you try editing, otherwise it will make you ask for permission.
I also keep my centers organized in my classroom. I need the students to be independent when going to get their centers. On Mondays, I spend about 10 minutes going through the centers for the week with the students. If there is a game, we go over the rules and how to play. I believe this step is very important so there are less questions during small group time. (Notice in the rotation above, I am doing small groups during center time.) And I keep all of my centers in this storage tower, in the separate drawers.
Any storage will work, but I love this one because the colored drawers repeat in pattern, so I have my students TURN IN their centers to the BOTTOM set of drawers. (For example: If Vocabulary is in the top red drawer, they will turn it into the bottom red drawer.) Simple. (And no, I don’t grade all of my centers. These are for practice and I just spot check them from time to time!)
Finally, let’s talk about the expectation of each center.
(All of the following pictures are from my 5th Grade Classroom)
In the Vocabulary Center, I want the students to be submerged in 20 words each Six Weeks. That’s right, for an entire Six Weeks, they are working on the same 20 words. Really, they only go to Vocabulary once a week though…and each week they have a new activity. By the end of the Six Weeks, the students have mastered 20 new Tier Two Words. By the end of the year, 120 new Tier Two Words…just from Literacy Centers!
Reading Response Center:
During the Reading Response Center, I want the students reading a book from a selection of books in the center. (These are shorter books and strictly for the purpose of engaging the students!) I choose about 10 books a week to put in a basket in this center. The students choose a book, then read and do the response. We are encouraging students to think about their independent reading when we do the Reading Response Center and most of the time they partner up to work on their discussion skills.
Reading Comprehension Center:
While in the Reading Comprehension Center, students are reading short passages and answering higher level comprehension questions, or they are completing an activity over a comprehension skill. I don’t think students should have a passage each week to read in this center, that doesn’t show variety. However, I do think students should be working on those comprehension skills as often as possible! I love giving the students different ways to do this!
The writing center allows students to practice multiple types of writing, conventions, and grammar! With a new skill each week, the students are mastering and reviewing important writing concepts that will help during classroom writing.
In the end, making sure your students are engaged, learning and having fun is most important. Making that job easy on YOU (the teacher) is next important! Stay organized, keep a variety going, and meet the standards. If you do these things…you will have mastered Literacy Centers.
To check out my literacy centers that I use for my students, click the link below that matches your grade level!