The beginning of the school year has come and gone in one way or another. You’ve introduced and established procedures, routines, and expectations for your math and literacy centers and practiced them all the first few weeks of school. So, you’re good, right? Wrong! While you definitely have all your math and literacy center routines down, you need to make sure you are reviewing them consistently throughout the year.
Why Practice Math and Literacy Center Routines
While you have already set up great expectations for your math and literacy centers, you want to make sure those expectations are clear and never waiver. Therefore, you’ll want to practice voice levels, the overall “flow” of centers, set-up routines, as well as what cleanup looks like. Taking the time to practice these little pieces will make a big difference in the long run.
Keeping Interruptions in Mind
Beyond practicing regular expectations, you want to make sure you are going through math and literacy center interruption routines that don’t happen very often. We know there are going to be interruptions. The fire alarm is going to go off. Someone’s lunch isn’t going to sit right and you’ll have a mess to clean up, a surprise assembly will spring up. A student’s device dies in a digital center. The list of what could happen really goes on and on. You already know this which is why you have interruption instructions for your students. Even though you have the instructions, you really need to practice them because those “odd ball” interruptions don’t happen every day. Therefore, it is extra important to practice these whenever the opportunity arises.
The Big Question…When
Practicing your math and literacy center routines can be a challenge. Why? Well, to put it simply, there is only so much time in a day. However, there are snippets of time you can use to help students keep math and literacy center routines fresh in their minds.
Practicing Math and Literacy Center Volume in Every Routine
An easy practice to do is volume control. It is so easy, especially when you are a center yourself, for the volume to get out of control while you are doing centers. However, this is a simple skill to practice. You can practice center volume while you are lining up to leave the room or transitioning to another subject. Keeping the volume at a certain level provides peace for you and practice for your students. If you use any kind of “hint” whether a sound, a saying, or a visual representation for the noise level, make sure you use them as you practice.
Keeping Clean Up Time in Mind Between Subjects
A huge time killer in any school day can be clean up and transition time. Whether you’re going from one center to the next or from one subject to the next, there is always time that needs to be taken to transition. Because of this, it is easy to practice your clean up routines for each subject. I would recommend using a time. Set it and watch as students work to meet the challenge of getting something done in a timely manner. How much time you give students might vary depending on what they need to accomplish. However, if your framework has a two minute clean up time, you need students to stick to it so you don’t go over your allotted math and literacy center time. By using the same amount of time you give students to clean up a center, you will give them an overall feel for how long that length of time is and create muscle memory.
Walk the Math and Literacy Center Routine Walk
One of the biggest pieces of practicing your math and literacy center routines is walking the walk. If students don’t know where to go or what to do, chaos will ensue. Therefore, it’s important to practice the path students are expected to follow from one center to the next. This can be done when you have those random few extra minutes. Have your students show you what it looks like to start a center in their group. Then have the students move from one station to the next. When you do this, have them use the lanyards and other materials necessary to move from one station to the next. This doesn’t mean break out all the pieces, but at least provide the basics for practice.
Whether you are just starting using math and literacy centers or you have been using them all year, it is vital that you practice your math and literacy center routines to ensure your center time is running like a well-oiled machine. The wonderful double-edge sword that accompanies this is you create consistency in your classroom which is huge no matter what you are doing. So, find the time before lunch, recess, music, art, etc. to practice your routines. If that doesn’t work for you, incorporate your math and literacy center routines into your everyday activities.
Until Next Time
Keep Being Educational Rock Stars