How To Manage Your Centers During Guided Reading
Welcome to the final post in the blog series! I hope that you have gotten some ideas for guided reading for this school year. The last important thing to talk about is different centers to keep your students engaged. If you haven’t read any of the blog series, head here to get started!
Visual Center Rotation Schedule
It’s important to display your center rotation for your students to see. Kids like to know what is happening next. They will know what to expect when it’s time to clean up the current center. This is what I used this past school year. I put magnetic tape on the back of the group cards so they stuck to my white board and could easily be moved. I had a “center leader” who looked at our schedule and moved the groups to the appropriate place.
Transitioning During Centers
Transitions can be hard so it’s important to have a plan in place for transitioning during centers. It should be the same every day and part of the routine. You could play a song that is about 2-3 minutes long (if you think students can clean up and move to the next center within that amount of time) and by the time the song is over, students should be in their next center. I gave my students a five minute warning before playing a song so that they knew it was coming.
Explicit Teaching & Modeling
It is extremely important to model and teach each center explicitly before letting students do them on their own. Following a gradual release of responsibility model will make them more successful at completing their centers independently, which means you get to teach in guided reading! When teaching each center, you should model model model! Then, you should have each student practice that center. Have them practice multiple times. It will probably seem redundant, but it truly is necessary.
Management in Guided Reading
There are a few behavior management things you will want to teach your students. They are:
- What to do if they have to use the restroom: I taught my students to walk up, wait until I make eye contact, and show me the number 1 with their finger. When they did this, I knew they needed the restroom and would simply nod yes at them to go. Teaching them to make eye contact with you will minimize the shouting out, which in turn will interrupt your guided reading group.
- A signal to not interrupt you: I have used different things in the past. One year, I wore a purple feather boa. I quickly got rid of that because my school had no air conditioning and it was in the midwest in September. Bad combination. I also wore a Frozen princess tiara one year. The past few years, I used a light up button. When the light was on, I was off limits unless it was a true emergency (you must teach them the true emergencies too). When I was off limits, they had to ask an expert in the classroom, which was someone who could help with things around the room with different centers or technology.
There are a lot of different centers you could use. I modeled mine from The Daily Five. Here are the ones I found the most success with:
- Read To Self: Students read to themselves in bean bags and comfy chairs in the classroom library. At this time, they have their book bins. Their book bins have 6 books in it.
- Read To Someone: Students read to a friend in their group. They either choose from their book bin or a big book.
- Listen To Reading: Students have a computer or iPad and listen to books through Epic!. I really love Epic! because it has so many books that students can listen to and see digitally. There are many popular titles that kids love like Pete The Cat, Fly Guy, National Geographic Kids, etc. You can even assign books and make comprehension questions for your students. For example, I assigned books about simple machines and made some comprehension questions when we were learning about simple machines. I don’t get paid or anything by telling you how much I love Epic!- I just really love it!
- Word Work: Students build words. I will explain my word work more below, but you can find what I use here.
- Writing: Students write different pieces of writing. I will explain my writing station more below, but you can find what I use here.
My word work center has had a lot of changes throughout the years. This past year, I noticed my kids were least productive at this center, as well as very chatty. I wanted all of my guided reading centers to be useful and thoughtful. So, I created a word work resource for every month. Every month has relatively the same activities, but they change according to the season and holidays. It can be easily differentiated among the different needs in the class, which is good since normally I have a wide range in my classroom. You can find my word work here.
Work On Writing
My writing center is one of my favorite centers! I also have it change monthly because I feel like it keeps students more engaged. My writing center has many different components that align to the Common Core so that students are constantly practicing different types of writing since I don’t have a lot of time to fit writing into the day. You can find my writing station here.