5 Little Tricks for More Productive Centers

Making Centers More ProductiveSeems like an elusive goal at times, doesn’t it?  We want our students to be independent, have variety in their learning experiences, and let’s face it, maybe have time to ourselves for some data input *wink.*  What if I told you you can fit math, english language arts, science, and social studies into your center time?  You totally can!  Here’s how:Create a ThemeLook at all your students need to learn for the year, and see how many objectives can be grouped into themes. Having a theme for the week keeps you focused, and exposes your students to a potentially complex topic for a longer period of time. Pam uses our Daily Concept Builders™ resources because they offer a word each day fitting with weekly themes. She uses the calendar as a starting point and follows up with the books in her reading groups.New August Calendar-2.pptxaugust ELA books.pptxUse Strategy When Choosing BooksIf you’re not committed to a certain reading program, get a little creative with the books in your centers. Choose a science or social studies theme for the week. Choose some appropriate level books to fit your theme and choose a list of focus words for your kiddos. You can use word study strategies for the focus words in context, and if you photocopy the books, kids can highlight focus words like “word detectives.”Write About Your ThemeIn your writing center, have students journal about the theme of the week. Use prompts that get students thinking about the theme. A simple science prompt would be: Choose an object and write about it using 4 of your senses.  Obviously you wouldn’t want them using the sense of taste.  It’s important to encourage pictures as well.  You can even get a little out of the box and have students come up with a play, dance, or other type of display that represents their writing.  Which brings me to my next point:Make It RelatableOften science and social studies themes can seem boring or confusing because students don’t understand how it relates to them. One of the September Daily Concept Builders™ themes is Quality Students and how being a quality student makes you a good citizen. So let’s say your word is citizen. You can ask something like, what is something you can do in the classroom to be a good citizen?  You explain to your students that being a good citizen is the same as being a quality student.  Tell them to think about what behaviors make a quality student.What About Math?So I’ve covered reading and writing, how the heck am I going to tie science and social studies into math? One simple way is to have themed manipulatives. If your theme is weather, use suns, raindrops, clouds, etc. You can also reverse the process and put math into science time. Have students graph the weather, then ask math-related questions. How many days were sunny? What type of weather did we have the most of?Well, that’s all for now.  Feel free as always to share comments below with how our tips are working in your classroom.

Have a great week!

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