Classroom management is essential for successful literacy centers. I start from the very first day teaching the procedures and expectations for centers. I start with modeling and practicing movement around the classroom. Once the class can do this quietly, we talk about voices levels in the classroom and how they help or hurt each other. As I am teaching behavior expectations, I am also teaching the skills needed for each center. We do every center as a whole group activity to teach the product I expect.
After I've taught each center and the expected outcome and norms for center time, I start the first rotation of centers. Students are placed in pairs. I might place two similar level students together, or a high and a low student together. The partners change each time we do centers so that the high student is not always helping the lower student. I also think students will "rise to the occasion" when paired with a student slightly above their level, instead of way above their level.
To keep track of the centers each student has completed, I put the name of the center on top of this chart and the students name down the side. I mark an x on the chart when they've completed the center.
I assign the student to the center by putting their name in the pocket chart next to the center name. I am able to strategically place students in specific centers. For example, a student who might have reading intervention in another classroom will only complete the centers geared towards their needs.
I start off the first rotation two or three weeks into school. During the first rotation of all the centers I am available to answer questions and guide students in the right direction. After that, students know they have to ask their peers for help because I am conducting small group reading instruction. Students will complete 1-2 centers each day depending on the schedule. The complete rotation usually takes 1-2 weeks depending on how many centers they do each day. If they do 2 consistently, we can finish in one week.
Only having taught two years, this is still a work in progress. I have had centers run like a dream that made me want to cry, they were working so well. I've also wanted to tear my hair out several times! With patience and lots of practice of the norms and behaviors Literacy Centers can work really well. My teacher colleague really helped me with some of the finer details that aren't necessarily spelled out in the book. Since using her tricks (many you have just read about!) I was extremely successful with Literacy Centers in my classroom.
In the next few weeks, I will be continuing to talk about the specific centers and how to manage them without too much prep work!
P.S. I've created labels for use in your pocket chart or to label where your centers are located in your room. Those are available in my TpT store for only $1. I will be glad to personalize them, so feel free to comment if you would like anything different.