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Home : 2004 : Feb : 14

    By Cathy Craven

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    I am using centers in my room for the third year. You have to build upon the number each year. First I started out with only two. Now I use a writing center, math center, computer center, reading center, take to your seat bag center, take to your seat folder center, listening center, and hopefully when I find an inexpensive microscope- a science center. My kids love it. It takes practice, practice. It took weeks to just practice on how to go to the centers, use them quietly, clean up, and return to their seats when the timer went off. I purchased a stop light to go in the middle of the classroom and it helped a little. It takes practice and the students knowing that if they don't keep the noise down that their center time will be taken away for that day.
    I have collected books (from yard sales, give aways, and some I bought) to create my reading center. I was given an old set of encyclopedias and thus-Research Center for science projects. I bought headphones and walkmans from Walmart for $5 each to help with my listening center. Try recording your own voice reading books to starat your book collection for the center. My spelling center is an oil pan ($7.95) painted a primary green and mounted to the lower part of my wall. I purchased some magnetic letters. The students go here to practice their spelling list. I purchased a center book (language) for $15. It took a long time, but I now have 12 take to your seat centers in a folder for the students that they have to respond to by manipulating the contents and turning in a worksheet. The bag centers I purchased three years ago from Mail box. I think they were about $45. I have used them for at least 4 years and they are in great shape. It was worth the investment. In my computer center I searched E-bay, yard sales, and used word of mouth to get the educational programs that I use. The cost was almost nothing. Getting more than the one computer that I am given in my room was, however, another story. I revamped old computers that others said were no good anymore. With the help and guidence of a fellow teacher---we got three that were able to be used as stand alones ( not hooked up to any network). You can use your computer to print out word families, chunks, etc. Laminate, cut, apply the magnetic tape and you have center material. Even if the center is the back of your filing cabinet. Hope this has helped.

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