Information provided for classroom use only; not reproduction. 2003




   Frequently Asked Questions About Centers


Because I'm asked quite often about how I run Centers, I started this page to hopefully help those who need more information.  All questions not posted in their entirety.

Q: My question is about the "must do" centers.  I have had the read the room & write the room centers in the past.  My problem is that if it is a center that they really don't want to do, they just rush through it and say I'm done within 5 minutes.  How long do you generally expect them to take?  Do you have a solution for this? 

A: You mentioned Read the Room and Write the Room after you asked about the Must Do Centers, so I'm assuming that you're using them as such.  First of all, let me say that those two Centers in my class are Can Do Centers, but that doesn't mean that they can't be Must Do Centers. 

If you want your students to use Write the Room as a Must Do Center, then you can do 3 things that might help:

1) Give a particular assignment that has to be done.  For instance, the Write the Room activity for this week is to find 10 Words around the room that begin with "th".  Or you could have them find words that have 6 letters (or whatever skill you're working on).  Then they get their clipboard when they get to that Center and go to work. This way you're defining how much you want done up-front so that they don't bother you while you're working with your small group.

2) Or if your students need even more guidance, you can provide them with a response sheet.  Make out a sheet on the computer with "th" written at the top with a place for their name and date.  Then give them 10 wide spaced lines to write on that are numbered.  Photocopy and load the clipboard.  They're ready to go.  Be sure to save your original for next year and put in a file labeled "Write the Room" and you won't have to do it ever again! :)

For that matter, you could make up a bunch of these covering skills that you've already covered and just load them onto the clipboard.  They do whichever one comes up next.

3)  They're not done until the work is complete and has been checked by someone.  If you're running a small group DON'T stop to check Center work.  I tell my kids that time belongs to the kids in the group.  And when it's their group time, it will be THEIR time.  If you don't have a TA to check work, then you've got two other choices.  One is that they will have to wait until you're finished with the group or you get a break.  That's why I have the Work Cards.  They lay their card on top of their work turned to the correct side ("check my work" or "under construction" which means they're still working don't mess with it).  When I get a break between groups or whatever, I go and check Centers.  The ones that are correct are finished, the ones that aren't have to go back and correct.

If you don't have a TA, then you also have an option of having another student check over their work.  Pick a student who is not in the group with you and you KNOW has the ability to glance at their work and tell them if it's right or wrong.  Of course, you'll go back over it again and check it, so this is just a preliminary check. 

Then have Can Do Centers open for those students who've finished their work and their Must Do Centers.  The Can Do Centers are those flexible Centers that the kids do and don't have to show their work, but you know they're still actively engaged in learning. 

If your students are finishing their Must Do Centers in 3 or 4 minutes, then you'll want to look at giving them more challenging assignments.






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