Interactive Anchor Charts

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If you’re a teacher, you already know the importance of anchor charts. They literally “anchor” our learning and provide a resource for students to look back to throughout the year.

But have you ever felt like you put all this time into making a cute, pinterest-worthy anchor chart and your students rarely, if ever, look at it again? It seems like it just became a part of the classroom decor? Well, most likely, the students didn’t have a connection with that anchor chart!

 

When students contribute to anchor charts and they become interactive, yes, the charts may not come out quite as cute, but they make a connection to the chart and its content and they will be much more likely to use it as a resource.

 

Here are some ideas and different types of interactive anchor charts you may want to implement in your own classroom:

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This is a type of chart that many of us are already implementing in our classrooms. As I introduce each letter of the alphabet, I have students brainstorm words they know that begin with that letter. I quickly write the word and sketch the matching picture.

 

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I add ANY word the students think of, so long as it begins with the correct letter and is school appropriate.

 

This is a great time to build connections with your ESL students as well! If they give me a word in their home language, I will add it to the chart with a picture (Google Translate is my BFF), and explain to the class why we are adding it and what it means. It means SO much to them to see words in their own language on these charts!

 

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I use charts with sound boxes all the time as we’re learning cvc words and short vowels. The cute “Aw Man O” at the top comes from Michelle Hudgeons.

 

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Of course, I could just write words that students brainstorm on the chart, but I think it means so much more to have them help me stretch out the words and use the sound boxes themselves. We will use sound boxes all year long and I want my students to become experts at stretching out words that they’re writing, so I need to make sure i’m modeling it as much as possible.

 

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Similar to sound boxes, as we begin learning more complex phonetic patterns, I begin having my students stretch out the words and label the pictures on our anchor charts.

 

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I am NOT worried about spelling here! If they forget a phonics rule we’ve already learned I may remind them, but otherwise I let them use inventive spelling to encourage taking risks in their own writing.

 

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These charts may be pre-made, but they show students how to do something step-by-step and they should match the task exactly.

 

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This chart shows students step-by-step how to solve our addition word problems.

 

I had the steps already written on the chart, but I made sure we referred to this chart constantly as we practiced solving word problems whole group. Every time we did a step, I had a student tell me what number it was and what it said. They HAD to refer to this chart so that it would be more likely they would refer to it later on when they needed help.

 

Another example is letter writing. This time I did start with a blank chart:

 

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I only had the numbers written on here so students knew how many steps there were. Then I wrote the letter in front of the class explaining what I was doing as I went.

 

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I made sure to use different colors to make the difference in each step obvious.

 

After we finished this chart and went through the steps a few more times, I put this at the writing center. Letter writing was now an option and, because they had this chart to refer to, I expected all students to follow this format.

 

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Again, these are charts that you are probably already using in your classroom! These charts are your KWL charts, your Can, Have, Are charts, and your bubble charts. These charts are meant to document student learning.

 

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Here is a very sorry looking dinosaur Can, Have, Are chart. 😉 We completed one column every day and wrote about that part. Students were able to use the chart as a resource and were more likely to be able to recognize the words because they contributed the information.

 

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This is a bubble chart we made after reading a book about spring. The pictures help students know what the sentence is about, which helps them recognize the words because, again, they came up with the words.

 

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This last chart type is one that is usually pre-made and they can be easy for students to forget about if you are not diligent about making sure to refer to them often.

 

We used this chart when learning about character traits, but we also had a chart with even more traits I displayed on the SmartBoard:

 

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We read “Tops and Bottoms” and then used both charts to fill out this character traits sheet:

 

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I made sure that we referred to that chart often throughout the rest of the year as we read stories together.

 

If you have any great anchor chart tips, be sure to leave them below!

 

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Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week may be coming up, but really, it’s always the perfect time to let a teacher know how much they matter! I thought i’d show some of my favorite ways to celebrate the hard work and dedication of teachers.

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I’m a little coffee obsessed, so of course my favorite way to celebrate is with coffee! I like to attach these cards to K-cups and instant Starbucks coffee in the lounge for my coworkers.

For those who don’t drink coffee, I might attach these tags to tea, hot chocolate, or every teacher’s love – flair pens:

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You can get both of these notes for free here:

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I also LOVE the idea of the Staff Shout Out board from Ms. Houser! What a great idea to give staff a boost any time of the year!

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And of course, we all love personal notes from students. This free printable from Frugal Novice would be perfect to have your child give to their teacher!

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Thank you teachers for all that you do! If you’re every doubting your importance, remember:

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Beat the Teacher: A Whole Class Incentive

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We have officially reached the time of the year where this is the constant soundtrack in my head:

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Maybe it was because spring break was so early this year, but it just feels like the summer bug is hitting us hard right now! As we’re getting ready to become first graders, I knew it was time to give us a little extra motivation.

There are variations of this incentive all over the internet, but this one works well for us! My class this year thrives on friendly competition and we have a good relationship – this is important with this incentive!

When my students came in this morning, our white board looked like this:

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With this incentive, it is important that you only choose one goal to work on. We have been on the struggle bus when it comes to sitting on the carpet peacefully, so that was our goal.

Every time I  saw students showing whole body listening, raising their hand to speak, and listening when others were talking instead of shouting over them, they got a magnet in their ten frame.

Every time students rolled on the carpet, yelled out, or talked during a lesson (sometimes i’d give a warning first), I would get a magnet in my ten frame.

I got these large magnetic ten frames from Lakeshore Learning.

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Their goal was to have more magnets in their ten frame than me by the time we were done at the carpet. If they happened to fill their ten frame, I game them an “X” on the chart and the board was cleared.

If I had more magnets or we tied, they just didn’t get an X. Nothing more than that!

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Now, for this particular goal, it is a lot of work. It was a new competition every time we came to the carpet. I would clear the ten frames after every carpet session to keep the competition fresh.

I would also have to clear the ten frames mid-lesson if the class filled their ten frame. Good thing teachers are pros at multi-tasking!

I also want to mention that this is not meant to be a long term incentive. I’m sure you could use it long term, but I think it would be most effective when it’s new and exciting.

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If students had more magnets than me or they filled the ten frame completely, they would get an “X” on this chart. When the chart is full, they get to choose one of these prizes:

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We’ll vote on which one we want as a class. If you download the freebie, an editable PowerPoint version is included so you can choose your own prizes.

By the end of the day we had 4 X’s, so it shouldn’t take us too long to get there!

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The little guy on the board was to remind us of how we are supposed to look at the carpet. I could just point to him as a reminder. I’m actually shocked at how much my students needed that visual!

I’ve included him just in case your class has the same goal, but you could use this incentive to target any desired behavior!

If you want to try this incentive in your classroom, you can grab it free here:

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How Do Butterflies Eat? A Science Experiment

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We kicked off butterfly week today with one of my favorite experiments – discovering why butterflies only eat liquids!

Honestly, it can be hard for kindergartners to understand how a butterfly’s mouth works. If we’re going to be using the word “proboscis,” however, I want to make sure it’s not going over their heads every time I say it!

The materials are pretty simple:

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-2 cups per student

-1 straw per student (I used colored straws so students at the same table didn’t mix them up)

-Cereal too large to fit up a straw

-Juice (I used fruit punch to represent nectar)

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Every student got a cup with some fruit loops, a cup with some juice, and a straw.

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I had students stand with the straw in their mouth and their hands behind their back. They couldn’t touch anything and they had to listen for each direction.

First, students tried to suck up the cereal with the straws. Obviously, this won’t work! We got a lot of laughs as some students managed to get cereal out of the cups, but couldn’t eat it.

Then students tried to suck up the juice. Of course, this time it worked!

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We talked about how butterflies also have straws for mouths (the proboscis) and discussed which one we thought would be easier for them to eat (the liquid, of course)!

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Together, we reflected and wrote about our experiment and what we learned. And then we ate fruit loops! 😉

Would your students love to learn all about butterflies? Find this experiment and much, much more in this fun Butterfly nonfiction unit:

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All About Spring!

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I LOVE spring! The days get longer, the weather gets warmer, and we get to learn about some of my favorite subjects!

I always like to talk about the season of spring the week we get back from spring break. I’m always surprised at how many of my students have no idea what a season is, but I also secretly love it because they get SO excited to learn about what makes each season unique!

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I highly, highly recommend all the seasons books in the Exploring series:

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The pages aren’t very wordy and the pictures are big and vibrant. My students always pull out so much information form these!

We put it all into a bubble chart:

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From there, I tasked my students with choosing 3 things to write about spring. They could be things we added to our chart or things they already knew.

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They then added a cover and made tissue paper flowers to complete this cute writing craft!

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You can find these in my All About Spring unit:

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From there we moved on to insects. We read about different types of insects using these pages, again from my All About Spring unit:

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Of course, insects are one of those topics that certain students will already know A LOT about. 😉 So I let them add their information to our discussion too.

Then students each chose 1 of the 5 insects to write about. We ended by making this cute directed drawing craft inspired by Doodlebugs Teaching:

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And, of course, we couldn’t talk about spring without talking about the changing weather! We actually are required to cover weather the entire second quarter in STEM, so we were already weather experts, but we spent some time talking about storms – a big deal this time of year in the midwest!

We started with what they already knew about storms:

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And then we added our new learning after reading a few nonfiction books:

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If you think your students would also love learning about spring, insects, plants, weather, and more, be sure to check out All About Spring and then let me know some of your favorite topics to teach in the spring!

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Number Bonds for Number Sense

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Honestly, there was a time when I hated number bonds because I didn’t understand them or how to make students understand them. Obviously, I don’t feel that way anymore!

Now I LOVE number bonds because they are such an easy way to expand students’ number sense and help them decompose numbers. This is one of those skills that I cover multiple times a year and build on as our math experience grows.

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This is the anchor chart that I used to introduce number bonds. I also have the exact same thing in a SMART board file so we can practice number bonds digitally.

I did not have the addition and subtraction problems on there the first time I introduced number bonds! Like I said, we revisit this skill multiple times throughout the year, so once I had introduced addition and subtraction, I went back and showed my students how they can turn a number bond into an addition or subtraction problem.

If you want anchor charts you can print off or display on a screen, you can grab them free by clicking on the pictures:

 

This is also when I introduced Turn-Around Facts, which I will show you later on in this post!

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When i’m introducing number bonds, I like to use different manipulatives as the parts to keep engagement high. They are also easy to move back and forth from the parts to the whole, so students can really see how the parts make up the whole.

Besides counting bears, I like to use playdough, mini-erasers, counting chips, and little toys I get from Dollar Tree. Basically anything to make it feel new and exciting!

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Having student physically swap out one manipulative for another and changing the parts is an easy, concrete way to show them that there are different ways to decompose a number.

You can get this mat as a freebie by clicking on the picture:

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Once we begin addition, we will use this mat to come up with all the different ways we can add to get a certain number:

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Another great way to practice making number bonds is with dice:

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Just roll 2 dice for the parts and count the dots for the whole. I like to have my students color-code just to reinforce that the dice are making the parts.

You can get this recording sheet as a freebie by clicking on the picture:

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I also like to use dominoes:

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These are what I use when I introduce Turn-Around Facts:

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It’s super easy to turn the domino around and show that the parts may change places, but they still make the same whole!

Do you have any great ideas for teaching number bonds? I’d love to hear about them!

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How To Make Worksheets For Your Classroom (Or TeacherPayTeachers)

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I’ve had numerous people ask me recently to teach them how to make worksheets for their classroom and products for TeachersPayTeachers. Being a visual learner myself, I decided to lay it out step-by-step in the hopes of making it as simple as possible!

Yes, there is a LOT of information included, but I tried to make it as simple as possible. There will be variations if you have a different version of PowerPoint, but it shouldn’t be too hard to modify the steps. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask them below!

Step 1: Open PowerPoint and click “layout.” Select the blank layout.

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When I started creating, I used Microsoft Word. I can’t even tell you how overjoyed I was the day I learned to use PowerPoint instead! It is SO much easier to move things around where you want them!

Step 2: Select “Slide Size” (usually in the Design tab) and set a custom size to your page size.

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You can definitely set it to 8.5 x 11 or 11 x 8.5. My school’s printer doesn’t like to print all the way to the edge of the page, so I always set my size to 10.75 x 8.25 or 8.25 x 10.75.

Step 3: Add borders.

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You can find all sorts of cute borders on TpT and insert them following the clip art step below. I personally like to make my own borders by inserting a shape.

I use the rectangle to make my outline. In the Format tab (this only appears if you click on the shape), I choose the white center and black border and then click on “Shape Outline” and “Weight” to make it thicker.

I didn’t even think to add this as a picture, but you can easily make your border centered on the page too! Just go to that Format tab and click where it says “Align.” Click “Align Center” and “Align Middle” and it will be perfect!

Step 4: Insert text boxes wherever you need them.

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You can do this with the Insert tab, but if you look at the Home tab, there is a box with all the shapes and a text box. It will also keep frequently used shaped here.

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You can find all sorts of fonts on TpT! Remember: some of these are free for personal use in your classroom, but if you want to sell your work, you’ll have to buy font licenses from each seller (if the font was free).

Some of my favorite font sellers are: A Perfect Blend, Kimberly Geswein Fonts, Cara Carroll, and  Babbling Abby.

If you want to sell on TpT, you will also want to make your copyright (your name or the name of your store) very small and place it in a corner. I generally set mine to pt 8. This will make sure your work is always credited to you!

Step 5: Insert clip art.

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Again, there are a lot of options for free clip art on TpT. You want to download them and save them to your computer. Then you can open your folder, right click the image and “copy,” then paste onto your page.

Many clip artists will include both JPG and PNG images. I personally like to use PNG images. These will have a clear background instead of a white box behind them.

If you do decide to sell your work, make sure you create a credits page showing which clip artists you used! There are many great examples online, or even in TpT products you own.

 

Step 6: Insert any shapes and lines. You will use the same steps as making a border, but I will show you how to format it so it is the perfect size and in the right place.

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Format the color of your shape:

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There is nothing that bugs me more than when a shape is not perfect! This is a little trick I learned to make sure it is the right size:

Go to the Format tab. On the right, look at the sizes for the height and width. If you need a shape to be a certain size, you can change these. To make a circle perfectly round, make sure both the height and width are the same.

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Ok, you got your shapes together, but they’re not in the right spot. You don’t have to move every piece individually!

Click your mouse and hold it down as you go over and around the shape, just as if you were making a text box or square around it.

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Let go and all of those pieces will be selected together and will move together. You can click one piece with your mouse and move the whole thing. You can also use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move it, which is helpful if it’s something so small your mouse can’t click it properly.

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You can duplicate the shapes by having them selected and clicking “Ctrl+D.”

If you want them perfect lined up, just move it around. These handy red guidelines appear that will show you when it is aligned to another shape!

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And now you’re done! At least with the PowerPoint section. However, there are a few more steps!

Step 7: Save as a PDF.

This will ensure that your fonts and layout will look the same, even if you are on a computer that does not have the fonts downloaded or has a different version of PowerPoint.

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At the top, click the File tab then click “Save As.” It’s not a bad idea to save your PowerPoint as a PowerPoint too just in case you need to go back and edit (I generally do this right at the beginning and save throughout in case my computer suddenly shuts down!)

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Name your document and click “Save as Type.” Select “PDF.”

If you are just wanting to make worksheets for your own personal use, then you’re done! You can print and go.

 If you want to sell your work, then after you have added a cover,  you have a few more steps to make sure your work is secure. I will show you how to secure your PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro. This is a paid program; if you aren’t wanting to spend the money right away, I believe they do offer a free trial.

Step 8: Open your PDF and select “Protect.”

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If you don’t see this option to the right, you can go up to the top and click the Tools tab.

Step 8: Password protect your document.

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You will click “Restrict Editing” and put in your password. Make sure it is something you can remember easily but can’t be guessed easily.

Step 9: Change the security settings.

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Click “More Options” then click “Security Properties” from the drop down menu.

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When this box pops up, click “Change Settings.”

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Click “Changes Allowed” and choose “None” from the drop down menu. Then click “OK.” Make sure that you don’t change the printing option!

Step 10: Save your secure PDF. You’re ready to sell it!

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Click “Save” and when the box pops up, select the same folder you saved it in before. It will say another document has the same name and ask if you want to save it still. Click yes.

You are officially done! I hope this tutorial was helpful to you – whether you want to make worksheets for you classroom or TpT. Again, if you have any more questions or want another tutorial, just let me know!

If you do decide to start selling your work on TeachersPayTeachers and you found this tutorial helpful, please consider signing up through my referral link (this provides me with a small commission, but does not take any sales money from you):

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Signup/referral:nburszty

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Transitional Readers in Kindergarten

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If you’re a kindergarten teacher, you know that every year is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get. Every year I have kiddos come in who range from not knowing their own name to knowing a few letters to being able to read and comprehend chapter books.

Today i’m going to talk about what you can do to meet the needs of those high students without cloning yourself… because let’s be real, sometimes it feels like you need to if you want to fit it all in! And these ideas aren’t just for kindergarten – many can be used with any primary grade level!

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I’m going to start with talking about guided reading. Right now I have a group of kiddos who read and comprehend at a range of levels M-U (3rd-5th grade levels). The word comprehend is so important because it doesn’t matter if a student can read a higher level text if they don’t understand what they read.

Sometimes that can be difficult to explain to parents why I have their student at a lower reading level when they’re convinced they can read every Harry Potter book back-to-back, but what’s the point of reading if you don’t do anything with it? (Does that make sense? I’ve got spring break brain, HA!)

We’ve been working all year, and one area I found my kiddos struggled in was retelling nonfiction.

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I LOVE these Scholastic Kids newsletters! Yes, they’re a lower reading level, but they are laid out perfectly to show my students how to pick out the main idea and supporting details.

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After reading a few times, I have my students fill out this graphic organizer. You can find it here. If it was a magazine with 4 points, i’d either have them just choose 3 or add another on the back.

On day 2, we would put this into paragraph form, which was definitely a challenge as they had never done that before! First, I had students write a topic sentence using the main idea, then put the 3 details into sentences, then write a closing sentence. I taught them that they could just reword the topic sentence to write the closing sentence (So “There are dangerous animals in summer.” might become “Those are some of the dangerous animals of summer.”)

Then, because I do want to push my students further, I have them go back and add more to each detail (this extends over multiple days – so a day for the graphic organizer, a day for writing, a day for adding more details, etc).

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Students use sticky notes to add on to each detail. Often they want to say “But there’s no more here!” and I have to make them go back and read because of course there is. 😉

Now, this step is extra, but  I wanted a way to make the structure more visual to them.

 

First, I had my students cut apart their paragraph. Then they glued it down in order, this time adding in those expanded details with the post it notes.

Then, they wrote their paragraph again and this time illustrated it:

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Pretty impressive! Now that they understand the structure of a paragraph, we’re working on writing multiple paragraphs about an animal they’re researching. Once they’re done, we’ll learn how to type it up and they will get to present to an upper grade class (they’re dying to do this!)

Again, those graphic organizers can be found here. Honestly, I use them every day for any skill I think we need to work on – making connections, predicting, retelling, and more!

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What about literacy centers? If you go back to this post, I show you how I differentiate my literacy centers to meet the needs of all my students:

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This group is my purple group, so they know that they can choose any basket with a purple ribbon or any purple folder.

Some centers are very easy to differentiate because I just need to change up the sight words. For example:

-Read it, Make it, Write it

Mystery Sight Words

-Sight Word Stamp

-Roll and Write a Sight Word

I also like to have them do research and write as a basket. One basket contains a bunch of Scholastic Kids magazines and the same graphic organizer so that they can get more practice even when they’re not at my table.

I LOVE the PBL projects from Digital Divide and Conquer! I sometimes start these with the students and then make them a basket.

I also put out these animal research tab books out and let my students choose an animal to write about. You can try the lion tab book out for free here:

 

I hope these ideas were helpful to you! Do you have any great ideas for meeting the needs of your higher students? I’d love to hear them!

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Story Problems Made Easy

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I’m one of those weird people who LOVE word problems. Probably because I’ve never been great at math, but reading has always come easily. So reading and math? Oh, yeah!

But if you’ve ever tried to teach kindergarteners to follow multi-step directions, you know just how difficult word problems can be to teach! And what about those kiddos who don’t read yet? Never fear – i’m going to show you how I taught word problems in a way that ALL of my kiddos were able to work a problem independently.

It started with this chart:

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Right now i’m ONLY teaching addition word problems. Once we have a good grasp on that, i’ll go back and make another chart for subtraction.

On this chart, I put step-by-step how I wanted my students to go about solving their word problem and proving their answer. I color coded it so it would be as simple as possible to follow the directions. In fact, with my kiddos who have a hard time following directions, I made them color-code their work with crayons so that they HAD to look at this chart.

No, not all of my students can read yet. As long as they follow these steps, they don’t need to. Along with “more,” I later added on underline “all together.” I just didn’t want to overwhelm students right away.

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We practiced, and practiced, and practiced together on the interactive board. I constantly referred back to the anchor chart and had students tell me the next step. Honestly, I think I could put any work onto the board and my students would become instantly more engaged.

The sheets we were using were from my Addition Word Problems pack. I think its important that, whatever you are using, your practice matches exactly what the students will be expected to do. You may have noticed that these also match my anchor chart.

Last, students completed a word problem themselves:

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As one of my little boys would say, “Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezey.”

Find addition and subtraction story problems here!

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Differentiating Literacy Centers For All Learners

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Differentiation is important in every grade, but I think it is especially important in kindergarten. We really have no idea who will walk through our door on the first day of school, but I can guarantee they won’t all be in the same place academically.

This year alone, I had students who started in February not knowing their name or any letters, students slightly below level, students slightly above level, and students reading at 3rd-5th grade reading levels (really).

So how do I meet the needs of all of my learners? Well, I got the inspiration for my current center set up from Mr. Greg at the Kindergarten Smorgasboard, and i’m lucky to have the space this year. If you don’t have this space or you just don’t want to give as many options, Deedee Wills also has a great post here.

First off, here is how I organize my centers:

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I have 5 colors which are for 5 different groups with pink being the lowest and purple being the highest. Each group has 6 baskets to choose from and 4 folders that they can choose paper options from.

Isn’t it a lot of work to prep all those centers?!

Ok, i’m not going to lie – at first it was until I got the hang of it. Now I only switch out 2-3 baskets each week and I just move them from one color to another. For example, I might take a beginning sounds center from the green group and give it to the yellow group.

The only groups I have to plan separately are pink and purple, and that’s because they’re on such different levels from everyone else. Still, all the groups have centers that never really change, like my Mystery Sight Words center and Roll a Sight Word.

How do students know which color to choose?

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I laminated the different color paper at the beginning of the year and wrote names with Vis-à-vis markers. I can easily erase and move students around as needed.

We also practiced a lot. Like, to the point where I think they thought I was ridiculous, but I wanted to make sure our year would go smooth. So we practiced finding our color, getting out the right color, putting it back on the right shelf, and making sure everything in the basket is put away where it belongs.

Do you have any other centers or just these baskets?

I have a writing center that also offers a lot of choice. I started the year with just 3 choices, but eventually bumped it up to 5. All the activities and vocab cards are from my monthly writing center bundle. That bundle actually offers enough activities that I can switch up those options throughout the year to keep it fresh.

Obviously I need to refill some of the options! This is a favorite during Friday Fun so we’re always running out.

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I also have a library, listening center, and computers.

How do students know what center to be at? Do you do rotations?

When we were learning how to do each center, we did rotate. By October, I had done away with rotations and gave my students choice. I got this idea from Mr. Greg again, but mine is digital on the SMART board:

Picture1.png

I made it by typing all of my student names into a circle partitioned into fifths and saving that as a picture. Then I inserted that into a SmartNotebook document and put my center clip art around it like Greg’s wheel above. I can just tap the wheel and use the green circle that appears to rotate it, which I love.

What are your rotations?

I have a 5 day rotation and I never switch it up because I have a lot of students who are dependent on routine. The rotations are:

library/listening center/baskets

writing center/baskets

library/listening center/baskets

write the room/baskets

computers/baskets

The baskets are always an option because they allow for so much choice.

What about students who can’t handle the choice?

I do have a few who either don’t have the stamina or aren’t able to make a positive choice right now. For some of them, I made a picture schedule. Instead of rotating on the wheel, they follow their picture schedule which usually goes – basket, library, basket, writing center, computers. Computers are last as an incentive to get it al done, but if they don’t get there, we just celebrate what they did get done.

I also have one student who just couldn’t be safe around other students, and it was disrupting my guided reading groups. He has his own work that has some choice, but not as much as others unfortunately, and his own set place to work that is right next to my table.

I hope this was helpful to you! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below and i’ll answer them to the best of my ability.