Friday, August 24, 2012

Classroom Centers to Roll Out Rituals and Routines

Like all teachers, my co-teacher and I spent time preparing and organizing our classroom for the arrival of new students this school year. We set the room up strategically as we thought through our systems. Making sure the learning community was set up to promote the growth of independent self-directed learners was our priority. Explaining these systems to students and our expectations was necessary but we wanted to strike the perfect balance between telling and allowing them to explore during those first few days of school. 

We decided to cover a few of the essentials that students always ask like,  When are we going to lunch? When is recess? Where is the bathroom? Beyond that, we decided to let the students do some exploring. Nine stations were set up throughout the classroom to cover and explain elements like 1) Lost and Found & PTA Bins   2) Recess materials   3) Math Games and Manipulatives   4) Science Jobs   5) Tray Material Retrieval   6) Materials Bins   7) Class Bank and Store   8)  Research Library   9) Laptops and CPS Clickers. An explanation was hung with each station number and students in groups of three to four visited each station. 

Embedded within the explanation were questions for the students to answer, and a few of the stations had a couple fun activities like voting on a name for our classroom fish and guessing the number of cookies in a jar. 

We broke the stations into two different segments during the day, so it wasn't too much reading for the students, and when we finished, we quizzed the kids on the material and handed out skittles for correct answers. It really was a great way to cover some of our rituals and routines without having to bore the kids with too much talking. We will certainly do it again next year, and might even add a student recording sheet to help with student participation and accountability. 

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