My Guided Reading Centers

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Once students reach “upper elementary,” centers drastically change. Sight words fall off, Playdough letters are gone, and testing concerns get real. BUT keeping centers engaging and effective is a MUST. This time is critical to enhance independent practice.

That’s why I’m going to share what I do for my literacy centers. I want this blog post to serve as a place where we can collaborate and share ideas, because quite frankly…. upper elementary centers AIN’T EASY.

1. Must Do, May Do

I use a weekly checklist. I assign specific “Must Do” tasks and then they go onto their “May Do.” On Friday, I quickly check over their centers and approve their “Must Dos,” if they are all acceptable, the students may have “Free Friday.”

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2. Free Friday

I’m pretty strict with Free Friday. My students must have completed all their work putting in their BEST effort. During Free Friday, I let them play educational games (online or board games), study for spelling (whiteboards, word search, etc), read, draw something they learned this week, free write, etc. As long as it’s educational in some way and not too’s a GO.

3. My Must Do Centers

The reason you’re probably here….

  • Fluency & Comprehension: My students practice their fluency with a partner. Then they answer questions about the story. These questions are aligned with our weekly skill (point of view, main idea, etc).
  • Writing: This center changes depending on what my students need. Usually my students receive a short, mediocre paragraph and their job is to revise, add detail, and improve that paragraph. They’re essentially rewriting the paragraph and adding significantly more detail. Other days, I have them answer a prompt, free write, or edit grammatical errors.
  • Google Classroom: We have a weekly EQ that all of our stories are based around. For example… “How do you make friends feel welcomed?” During that week, we read A Cricket in Times Square and At the Library. On Fridays, students will go onto Google Classroom and answer the essential question using text evidence to support their answer.

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4. My May Do Centers

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  • Vocabulary – I am in LOVE with this vocabulary bundle. I keep a folder with all the different options and my students PICK what vocabulary activity they want to complete.


  • Independent Reading – I usually ask for a quick write up, summary, or application the skill we’re working on. But I also just let them read and enjoy it 🙂
  • Test Prep – This center changes constantly… it should really be called my review center. I put a variety of different activities to review previous skills. For example, I may include a text evidence, color by question activity, or figurative language.
  • Task Cards – Students complete task cards online or quietly at their desk. I also provide students with an answer key to check their answers when they’re done.
  • Lumos Learning – A recommendation from my district. It asks students PARCC simulated questions. I allow students to pick what practice test they want to work on depending on what they need help with.

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In the beginning of the year, I introduce all of these centers one at a time. I keep everything stored in nice folders where they are readily available for students. To prevent interruptions while I’m meeting with my groups, I choose two “helpers” and also abide by the “Ask 3 Then Me” policy.


Throughout the week, students store all of their work in their “Center Folder.” I keep all my center folders in one specific spot. On Friday, it’s their responsibility is to make sure all of their work is on the right side with their check list on top!

Products used in this blog post  *Amazon Affiliate Links



Astrobrights Paper



Teaching Point of View

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We recently started Point of View in my classroom and I decided to REVAMP my lesson this year. I wanted to make sure I did a thorough job of examining all aspects of POV.

My Objectives:

  1. I want students to accurately identify point of view.
  2. Then be able to asses the speaker’s thoughts and feelings of the characters, situation, etc.
  3. Evaluate how the point of view affects how the story is told/what information is received.

We started off with Flocabulary’s Rap. It has such a catchy beat that we didn’t need to spend too much time reviewing 1st person is I, me, my, etc.


Afterwards, we made an interactive anchor charts in our notebooks. My students LOVED these. Something about flap books always gets kids excited. They had fun matching the different point of views while singing Flocabulary’s Rap.

This flap book is available in my Point of View Bundle

Next, we listened to the story of the 3 Little Pigs and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. as told by the wolf. We discussed the different perspectives that each story had. This is a perfect mentor text for identifying the different perspectives and is an adorable read aloud.3 little pigs.jpg

I typically use two types of writing prompts when discussing point of view. 1. Rewrite the story from another perspective and 2. How does the point of view affect the information the reader receives?


Finally, I nail down the skill during guided reading centers. My students practice point of view using task cards (also available digitally on Google Forms). It’s a great way to asses any students who haven’t mastered the skill.

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*Teacher Hack – Using task cards on Google Forms is an incredible way to get concrete data on your class. It can tell you who hasn’t mastered a skill yet or what question is really tripping students up. It can be an indicator of something that YOU missed, OR something wrong with the QUESTION.

Task cards are available in my bundle or can be purchased separately.

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Growth Mindset

Why your Students Should be Writing a Power List

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Once everyone returns from winter break, teachers will be asking students for their New Year’s Resolutions! New Year’s is the prime time for a fresh start and new goals. HOWEVER, I would encourage this “goal setting mentality” all year long.

In the beginning of the year, I ask my students what they want to accomplish this year, whether in school or their personal lives. I always receive answers like “I want straight A’s” or “I want to make Honor Roll.” Which is FANTASTIC, but I always explain to my students that this is a marathon not a sprint and it’s going to take dedication. I want my students to learn that if they want something in life, they have to work hard and not give up.

When my students are talking about their goals for the year, I follow the SMART goal outline. You can grab it for free in my store. 🙂 Click the picture below!

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Everyday students should be working towards their goal, but throughout the year we often get into a ‘flow’ and for some of our students old habits die HARD. Also working hard doesn’t come naturally to many of our kids. Unless their parents encourage and model this at home… then working hard isn’t habitual.

That’s why I adopted Andy Frisella’s power list in my classroom! (If you have time, definitely listen to his podcast – MFCEO project – it’s not appropriate to play in front of your students… but all of his points are applicable to the classroom).

The power list is a list of 5 critical tasks that students need to get done. When they are all completed, students have “won the day.”

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Now I know some of you are thinking…”whoa that’s a lot for our students to handle and a little too intense.” But is it really? We want our students to be SUCCESSFUL and completing tasks that are in line with our goal IS how you become successful. This creates a HABIT for our kids. GET THINGS DONE. I’ll give you an example using school only… (their list may include outside activities as well).

  1. Read for 15 minutes
  2. Study 20 minutes for social studies test on Friday
  3. Write down all my assignments for the week
  4. Complete vocabulary center
  5. Ask Miss. B for extra help on Inferencing

My students have their Power List velcroed to their desk. They write on it using dry erase markers so it can be used and reused all year! Another great option would be writing it in their homework planner! Click on the picture for a power list FREEBIE


Overall, the Power List is encouraging our students to take responsibility and increasing their productivity. My students feel SO PROUD once they’ve completed their list. I also encourage my students to pick tasks that challenge them. After all, it is about GROWING and IMPROVING. 😉