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    questions about centers
    By Karen

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    I teach 3rd grade and have centers in my classroom. I think that everyone has a different system as to when to use them, what activities to use in them, and how to assess them (or not to assess them depending on the case).

    Personally I do center time as a rotation during my guided reading time. Everyone in my class reads for 20 minutes. Then, on a rotating basis, 2 groups go to centers, 2 groups do a reading activity, and one group reads with me at the back table. The centers in my room are not graded and are done on an individual basis or with partners. This is my schedule Monday through Thursday. So, the students go to centers about 2 times per week. Perhaps you could incorporate centers into the reading and writing block you mentioned and rotate the students.

    In regard to grading the centers, I do not believe you necessarily have to. With all of the grading we have to do anyway it's just one more thing to grade (just my personal opinion).

    I will tell you how I manage centers (even though I am sure there are many other ways). I have a posterboard with pockets. Each pocket has the name of the center, for example, Math. I have 2 craft sticks in the pocket which means 2 students can be in that center. The students take the sticks with them to the center. The other students know that if there aren't any sticks in the pocket then it's full and they have to choose another center.

    The activities I plan relate to what we're studying in class. I have file folder activities, games/activities with shower curtain liners, word finds/crosswords/other puzzles for the overhead, etc... The centers in my room are: computers, language arts, math, science, spelling, listening, read around the room, library, art, and games and puzzles.

    A good way to get started is to go to an education store and find a book about centers and center activities for your grade level. Then, plan a couple of activities and develop a rotation system (or just let everyone go to centers). You don't have to have many centers. Why not just start out with 3-5, see how it works, and then go from there. Everyone has a different way of doing centers - I hope I've helped a little bit. Good luck!

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