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.”
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 disruptive..it’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.
4. My May Do Centers
- 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.
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!
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