Sunday, April 17, 2011

Literacy Centers

Since I just started my blog, I want to go back and put up some ideas for things that I used at the beginning of the year that I found too be really effective.  I used literacy centers at the beginning of the year while I held guided reading groups, and the kids LOVED the centers!  I have included pictures and descriptions for how I managed the class below!!

This is my management chart/student schedule that I use for managing my centers.  The numbers at the top of the chart represent the table numbers in the room.  Those numbers rotate daily.  Each table has 3 center options for the day (those centers are listed below the table number).  The students rotate on three 20 minute rotations while I am working with guided reading groups.  No more than two students can be at one center at a time.  The rotation is effective for management because the students do not spend the whole hour with the same classmates.  Also, the kids usually have at least one "favorite" center each day.  Since the rotations are based on tables, I am able to flexibly pull as many or as few students as I need based on the skill that the students need, rather than by ability.

 This is the timer that I use to let the kids know when it is time to clean their center and rotate to the next center.  If you are interested in purchasing the timer, click here.
This is the text features center in action!  Student's learn about text features that are used, and use this center to locate the text features.  I make sure that there are sharpened pencils and highlighters at this center!

Reader's Notebook Center:  I must give credit where credit is due-I got all of the ideas for the reader's notebook center from Beth Newingham, who is one of Scholastic's Top Teachers.

This is the Writing Center.  Students get a chance to work on their writing skills in a small group setting.  I make sure that there are pencils, colored pencils, makers, crayons, notebook paper, decorative paper, and magazine clippings for inspiration at this center!

This is the writing "in-progress" station.  Students can store their work that is not quite finished here, so that they may continue their work next time they are at the writing center.

Hot Dots!  Students love getting to use the hot dots to practice their question/answer skills!
At the Word Work Center, Students are using wikki stix to practice making their spelling words for the week.  They also use white boards to call each others word's for practice.  To purchase wikki stix of your own, click here.
This is our class listening center.  Until this year, I was unfortunately stuck using a tape player that I think zapped straight out of the 80's.  But, thanks to Donor's Choose, my class now has a fully functional listening center, and four of the students can enjoy books together!  Follow the link to see my current project, A Flashy New Look for our Class Listening Nook!

These girls are at the Easel Center.  My county is a "Thinking Map" County, so the easel center is used for creating thinking maps.  The studnets work with a partner to create the weekly thinking map using information from a current book that we are reading in class.
These are the notebooks that I use during guided reading for the students to document what they are learning.  I organize them by groups.  The groups change often, so I like to make sure I keep the notebooks separated.
This little girl is at the Buddy Reading center.  Student's read books together, then toss a question ball or use question dice to guide discussion of the story together.

Bucket Fillers

After looking through a lot of my favorite teacher blogs, I saw this idea of "Bucket Fillers", and thought it was pretty cute! And, as we all know, the end of the year can be a tricky time for managing the kids.  I introduced the bucket fillers during March, and started by reading the book How Full is Your Bucket?  The kids loved the book!  It talks about making sure that we lift people up with kind words instead of tearing them down.  I bought an over the door shoe holder and hung it up at the front of the room for each child to have their own "bucket".  The kids have the option of dropping in a note to their friends buckets throughout the day.  My only rule is that you must drop a kind note into a different bucket each time.....that way we avoid this becomming a popularity contest!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Imagination Station

Last Friday, the third grade took at field trip to the Imagination Station in Wilson, NC.  The kids loved it!  The museum portion of the trip was especially good.  It is a very kid-friendly museum, and the kids are free to roam and play, which is really great.  They also got to participate in an experient called "A Plant's Life".  I wasn't crazy about the experiment, but, the kids seemed to like it, and were pretty engaged.  Here are a few pictures from our trip.....

 Getting ready to leave the school! 
 Are we there yet??

 Listening attentively to our tour guide
 Can you run faster than the wild? Students raced against some of nature fastest animals!
 Where did he go?

 Generating our own electricity

 Giant Kaleidoscope!!
 Beginning of the "A Plant's Life" Experiment
 Scientists in the making!!
Our class preparing to leave the Imagination Station!  Almost 4th graders!!

If you are interested in taking your class to the Imagination Station, here is the link to their website:  http://www.imaginescience.org/