Managing everything that goes into your reading block can be quite the daunting task. We have so much going on, it’s easy to let the important stuff slip by the wayside. I am here to tell you that you are not alone in your frustration.
I get it…it’s not easy…so today, we are going to talk about some hacks to make juggling your most important time of the day. Teaching reading is difficult, and I want to make it easier on you.
The secret to a successful literacy block is a mix of great management, patience, and refusal to accept any less than your students’ very best.
You are going to learn:
- How to effectively plan for your reading centers.
- How to minimize transition time.
- Center organization ideas.
- How to keep your class at an acceptable noise level during centers.
- How to teach so you don’t have to redirect during small group time.
I want to give you some tools and strategies to make planning and teaching your reading block more enjoyable. So here you have it…6 Hacks to make your reading block easier.
1. Write down what you will be doing with each group for every station.
I like to know what I am doing with each group…I can plan and differentiate all I want, but until I can see it across the board, I will never truly know what I am doing. I created an “At a Glance” Template that fits right into my notebook so I can jot down the skills and activities each group will be doing at each rotation. I made it editable if you think this is something that would benefit you! Click here to get this Literacy Centers Planning Template delivered straight to your inbox!
The other wonderful thing about having these skills and activities written down is that it’s easier to go into your grade book at the end of the week and record a grade for your students!
It’s so hard when we have to remember EVERY center and activity your students did. The next piece of this is having an accountability/recording sheet where your kids are held accountable. We are going to talk about that and I am going to show you an example in hack #6.
2. Minimize your transition time.
When your students are transitioning, it’s important that they transition quickly. This involves knowing where to go (see #3) and doing it efficiently. It’s important to have a few transition strategies to get your students motivated. Click here to read 10 Tricks for Easier Transitions.
3. Have a system to rotate your students.
A great way to make transitions run smoothly in your classroom is to go virtual! This PowerPoint does all the transitions for you! You can set up your groups, arrange your centers using the clipart provided, and even alter the transition times to suit your class best! I love that I don’t have to be tied to the clock! I start the PowerPoint on any given day. After 15 minutes, it automatically rings a bell and has the students clean up and move to their next rotation.
Jenn Sego, my wonderful assistant, shared this center rotation PowerPoint presentation. We chatted about how to use it on Facebook! Click here to watch!
4. Get a handle on your center organization.
Organizing your centers is just as important as implementing them. They need to be organized for you and for your students. I came up with a system that worked because I needed to be able to easily locate every one of my centers and I also wanted to be able to rearrange them as students’ needs change throughout the year. Read about my system here: Organizing Your Centers in 3 Easy Steps
You can also organize with the file folder system. Just add your title to the front, the directions on the left side, and your pieces on the right side. Insert your accountability sheets and you are ready to go!
5. Have a way to quiet your class when things get a little too loud.
My favorite method of all time is to speak quietly so my students speak quietly. I will walk around and model exactly what that looks like. At some point, you are going to have to use some attention getters. I like to keep things novel, so I change my attention-getters often. For some fresh ideas, be sure to visit “Attention Getters to Calm a Noisy Classroom.”
6. Mirror the activities in your lesson.
Before you plan your mini-lesson/direct instruction, think about the activity you will be having your students do that day/week. When you are giving your lesson, make sure the new skills can be easily transferred so your students can apply them when they are practicing. For example, if you are going to be teaching cause and effect, and you are giving either our FREE 1st Grade or 2nd Grade Cause and Effect Center as your activity, you will want to make sure you are using consistency when you are modeling.
In the picture below, you will notice that we defined “Cause and Effect” on the white board. Our activities align with that definition. The structure of the definition is exactly the same as the activity they will be doing independently in their small group reading. This eliminates having to redirect and explain the activity when you are with your small groups.
The other thing that you will have in every center is an accountability/recording sheet. These are KEY, because you now have something to gather data and record a grade for EVERY student. You can keep track of what they did all week by glancing at their work. You can gain insightful information such as, which students are getting the concept, which students need to be pushed more, and which students are or are not on task.
We sure appreciate everything you do, so we wanted you to have these centers that are a part of our 1st and 2nd Grade Literacy Centers Bundles! Click to download the zip file and you have a complete center with directions, an accountability sheet and black and white/color options, for your 1st and 2nd grade students! Enjoy!
“BUT…I need a comprehensive set of centers!!!”
We can help with that! If you would like ready to print centers for the year, and you are a 1st and/or 2nd grade teacher, you are in luck! We did just that! We have created centers with the tools to get you organized and your reading block in order! We know you are going to love not having to think of what activities your students are going to do each week.
Some of the features of this bundle are:
- Student-Friendly Directions for Every Center
- Hands-On and Engaging Activities
- Recording/ Accountability Sheets for Every Center
- Flexible and non-seasonal centers to supplement your current curriculum
- Cohesive resource with a variety of centers to last you an entire year.
- Consistent centers so you have minimal redirection.
- Organization tools like cover sheets and labels
Thanks so much for stopping by!