Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Math Center Makeover

Last year my math centers were an absolute mess.  So this summer I have been working on revamping them.  Up to this point, that has just included thinking about them.  But this week I actually buckled down, wrote some notes and came up with a pretty good plan (hopefully), so I thought I would share it!

First, let me explain what I did last year (and why it didn't work).
I had two rotation charts, one for my reading centers and one for my math centers.  When the students finished their work they checked the math rotation chart, got that center and found a spot in the room.  Seems all fine and dandy right?  Nope!

One of the main problems was that all of the students wanted to sit on the rug.  Which meant noise, chaos and a big mess.  Another problem was that I got lazy.  Yep, l.a.z.y.  Which meant I hardly ever changed the centers. The third problem was that there were always those one or two students that got confused about which rotation chart they were supposed to be looking at. 

So this summer I wanted to find a way to fix all of those problems and I think that I have finally come up with a solution that will solve all three:
I am going to put a math center at each of my reading centers.
This will fix the issue of all of the kids piling on the rug because  the students will have a designated area for their math center each day.
This will also fix help with the issue of me being lazy.  Since I change the reading centers at the end of each week, I can easily switch out the math centers at the same time!
Finally, it will help those two students who just seem to be in la-la land because I will only have one rotation chart!  During reading block, the students will check the rotation chart, go to their center and complete the reading activity.  During the math block, the students will check the same rotation chart, go to their center (the same one from reading) and complete the math activity.

So here is what my centers will look like:
Center #1 - Computer Center
Reading: The students read a book and take an AR test.
Math: The students complete an activity on Compass Math (a program that my district purchased).

Center #2 - Chalkboard Center
Reading: The students retell the story from the week on the chalkboard.
Math: I am working on making cards that look like this:

These cards will have magnets on the back of them and the blank square in each equation will be cut out.  The students will then put the cards on the chalkboard and use chalk to fill in the missing number.

Center #3 - Writing Center
Reading: The students practice writing sentences using their high frequency words.
Math: This is going to be a fluency center.  The students will use a timer and complete addition speed drills.

Center #4 - Library Center
Reading: The students read a story.
Math: This center will have a math game that reviews skills that we have already learned.

Center #5 - Pocket Chart Center
Reading: The students sort pictures based on their sounds.
Math: The students will complete a sorting activity that reinforces the skill that we are currently working on.

And just because you have stuck around and continued reading this long, click on the picture below to grab the pocket chart center that I made for the first week of school!  (:

 For this center, I would put the numeral across the top of the pocket chart.  The students would then take the other cards and sort them under the corresponding numeral. 

Phew!  I am hoping that this will help make my math centers run smoothly this year (hoping being the key word!)

A few things I am still thinking about:
A) I might get adventurous and even add a writing center to each of these!
B) I am not exactly sure how I am going to organize the materials at each of the centers.  At this point, I bought some tubs from Ikea and am thinking that I might get the zipper pouches for pencils.  I could get one color for math, one for reading and one for writing (if I get crazy!).   Here is what it looks like in my head:
A student goes to center #2 (Chalkboard Center).  There is a clear tub with the #2 on the outside.  The student opens the lid and pulls out the green zipper pouch (for Math) with the word 'Math' also written on it and completes the activity inside.

One issue I am having though, is that some of my centers have papers.  I don't want to fold the papers to fit them into the zipper pouch.  Maybe a ziploc bag?  I'm not sure -- any suggestions??

I'll let you know how it works out!

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