Getting your whole class working independently during literacy centers when you’re trying to teach small groups can be frustrating. Below, I am going to give you some simple ways to keep your students on track so you can actually (gasp!) teach.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
I spend about 6 weeks at the start of the school year “training” my students for centers. It is so important that they can work independently while you are teaching your small groups. We learn how to do each center separately and practice, practice, practice! We build our reading stamina for read to self and read to someone slowly until they can do it for 20 minutes. I use this Reading Stamina Chart to help give them a visual.
Read to Self
This is the one we start with! When we talk about Read to Self, we discuss 5 things that they need to be doing.
- Get started right away.
- Reading the whole time.
- Read using whisper (3″) voices.
- Stay in one spot.
- Thinking about your reading.
We practice this every day! We start out by trying to do this for 3 minutes. We slowly move up in minutes. If anyone, at any time, isn’t doing these 5 things, then we stop for the day. I have a whole outline of how I teach Read to Self in my Facebook Group! I would love to see you there!
Read to Someone
This is the second center that I introduce. We basically follow the rules of Read to Self but I also teach them 3 different ways to read to someone.
- One students reads a book, then other student reads a book.
- They read the same book together.
- They read the same book and one student reads one page, then other student reads next page.
Again, we build our reading stamina as we “train” during the first 6 weeks.
Raz-Kids and EPIC
We use Raz-Kids to give students some books to read. I love that they can record themselves reading too! EPIC is also a great FREE resource to allow students to read and listen to many books. We practice how to do Raz-Kids and do the quizzes.
Read the Room (differentiated)
I have weekly phonics Read the Room center. I LOVE that it is routine, easy to set up, and differentiated! Students know exactly what to do when they go to this center. Again, we practice this a few times before they are ever expected to do it independently.
I keep my writing center super SIMPLE! Basically, I allow them to work on skills that we are working on during our writing time. Each student has a writing workshop folder and they work on writing narrative, information, or opinion pieces depending on the time in the school year.
I used to do my center rotations using a pocket chart and center cards. I’ve recently gone digital with my Literacy Center Rotation Board. I have my pocket chart cards for FREE if you want to check them out!
I hope this helps you with getting your students independent during your center time so that you can work with your small guided reading groups! Here are some things that might be useful! For additional center ideas, check out this blogpost!
- Facebook Group– Centers and Guided Reading: Join the group and go to the files section to get detailed plans of how I run my centers!
- Center Rotation Board FREE
- Digital Center Rotation Board
- Reading Stamina Poster