When you read about guided reading centers and all of the wonderful learning that goes on in them your teacher heart automatically starts screaming YES!! But… then you think about how it would look if your students were at the centers. You might get discouraged, but it CAN be done!! Here are some tips on how to make it work…
Many books on how to run guided reading centers talk about students being independent and self-regulated enough to manage completing the centers on their own. If your students can, awesome! My students can not. Instead, I have assigned an adult to each center.
I have 3 paras and 8 students, so I set up 3 reading centers that the students rotate through every 15 minutes in groups of 2 or 3 students. To make it work and to set my students up for success, our centers are shorter than most regular ed. centers. Students are only at a center for 15 minutes and often have several short things to do at that center since they do not have long attention spans.
**Tip: if you are going to have an adult assigned to each center, have a plan for when an adult is out and you don’t have a sub. We make one of the centers a listening center when we are down a person. Students listen to books on CD or the iPad during the listening center. We also regularly practice this skill, so students can be independent when they need to be.
Planning Is Essential
Everyone involved in the reading centers needs to know their role and responsibilities to make the time go smoothly. In my classroom, we have 3 centers going. The centers are the writing center, word work and the listening center/retelling center. I post the plans (example below) in the classroom at least the week before so everyone in the room knows what they will be doing with every student that comes through their center. It also tells them the order that the students will be coming.
I have this posted in my room, but the paras like personal copies that they can keep at their center and refer to without having to leave their center.
Each para has also been given a spot in the room to store the materials that they will be using in their center. It is important that they have sufficient space to keep their materials organized. It will help the para feel more prepared and the center will run smoothly if materials are easily accessed.
Below are 2 different storage systems we use for these materials. We have tried many systems, but these are my absolute favorite. I have several of each in my classroom. I really like that they are contained and my students don’t get into all of my materials all of the time. The surfaces are easy to clean, too!
Reading and writing can be challenging for our students. Many students become anxious or automatically engage in inappropriate behaviors at the mere mention of reading and or writing. Reinforcement or well chosen motivation is a crucial component in my opinion.
In my classroom, we use a token economy system. I also scheduled our reading centers right before recess because many of my students find reading, writing and attending to text less than thrilling! Knowing that this type of center work is new to my students and that reading and writing is very challenging for them, I went for the highest level of reinforcement…. token economy system & recess.
Below are examples of our work for cards from our classroom behavior system. Click the picture to read how to make durable & inexpensive work for cards:
Need help figuring out how to fit reading instruction into your already packed schedule? Click the picture below for some inspiration: