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Student Accountability in Math and Literacy Centers

Have you ever wondered how effective your centers are? Teaching is an incredibly reflective occupation. When it comes time to look at the effectiveness of centers, it's no different. Sometimes, students give us profound and exceptional answers and we know our goals have been met. Other times, the student tells me that one plus two equals potato and I wonder where I went wrong. This is why accountability in math and literacy centers matters!

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Why Accountability in Centers Matters

Students are being asked to learn a variety of concepts all year long. When you ask students to work on an assignment, there are a few ways they can get that done. The first way is to simply do what is asked of them while following all the necessary steps. The second way is to ask a friend. The third way is to ask Google. If either the second or third choice is happening, no learning is going on. We live in a world of instant gratification, and students have access to information at all times.

When you use centers to review or enrichment, you're making sure students understand a concept and are ready to move on. If you don't have accountability measures put in place, you'll never know if mastery has been reached. Because a process will be repeated or needed when you move to the next piece of content, it's important for students to show their work and be accountable. This is especially true in math and science centers. Therefore, showing student work for accountability will be a lifesaver in the end!

The Dangers of Students Not Showing Their Work

We use math and literacy centers to add enrichment and to review. If a student is not capable of completing a task within the center framework, then the concept has not been taught thoroughly enough. Therefore, if we don’t require students to show their work, then we will not know where our “red flag” areas are until it’s too late. Going back and retracing your steps is way more difficult than grabbing the bull by the horns and taking care of it right then and there.

Methods of Accountability in Math and Literacy Centers

When you use accountability in math and literacy centers, it should become a part of your center expectations. There are several ways you can ensure your students are being held accountable for the work they do. From using exit slips to simple screenshots of center work, there are several options for students to show accountability.

Keeping Students Accountable with Exit Slips

Exit slips are simple pieces of work students complete as you end one lesson and move on to the next one. What you use as an exit slip can depend on what you are working on. For example, you could use a journal if you are reading a story and working on making inferences. At the end of guided reading time or at the end of silent reading time, ask your students a question that will make them think about what might happen next in the story.

You can also use a worksheet that has three to five questions on it. After a student is done with a math or literacy center, have them show accountability with a simple worksheet. This worksheet should mirror what they were just working on. By having them turn in a worksheet, they are showing that they did the work. When they show their work, they are more accountable for the time spent in the math or literacy center. Have students turn the exit slip into a simple turn in basket. To take away a common frustration, have students highlight their name so they remember to put it on their paper. I always kept my turn in basket next to a cup of pens and highlighters in case they forgot to write their name on the assignment.

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Student Accountability in Digital Centers

Living in a world of technology, students showing their work becomes so much easier. You can have accountability in math and literacy centers with tools like Google Classroom and Seesaw, you can keep everything in one place. If a student is working in a digital center, you can have her take a screenshot of what she is doing. Then the student can just upload that image to whatever online forum you use for your classroom and you can see where they are. Showing student work in this way keeps you and your students accountable. It keeps students accountable on their devices which are filled with distractions because they know you will be checking. It keeps you accountable because you’ll see any red flags or holes in students’ understanding.

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Student accountability in math and literacy centers will help with the overall mastery of key concepts. In addition, keeping students accountable for their work is a soft skill they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Grab a center checklist and add accountability to it! You can learn more about how to keep your kids accountable by checking out the Learning Centers Made Easy Masterclass. It’s starting soon so make sure you add yourself to the waitlist to get great information not only why learning centers rock but also how to keep your students accountable!

Until next time.

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