Saturday, April 5, 2014

Trying Centers (again) Part One

So the first time I tried centers it was a DISASTER. I'm not being melodramatic here; it literally was the worst class I have ever taught. The students ran around the room like crazy people. They tore up one activity so that I couldn't have used it again even if I had wanted to. It was bad, very, very bad. I cried in the bathroom after it was over and  swore I would never do centers again.

But upon further consideration I realized I had made a few mistakes...

Mistake #1 - And this was my biggest - I tried centers with one of my toughest classes to control. I barely made it through a regular lesson without issues so this was not the group to experiment on.

Mistake #2 - They weren't comfortable enough with the language they needed to be set free on their own. The SMART board was down that day as well so there was nothing up for them to reference to HELP them use the language on their own.

Mistake #3 - I didn't explain my expectations clearly enough. This particular class when they were confused on what to do would just goof off instead.

So it was very hesitantly that I decided I might try again this year with a new group. Because of mistake #2 I did push it back one week than I originally planned because I wanted the students to be comfortable with the language and I still have some things I would change but overall it went MUCH better this time around.

I had three game centers on Mi Familia that had students speaking, reading, and playing on the computer. It took 2-3 classes for everyone to get one rotation at each center while I walked around and made sure everyone was on track. This time I explained and modeled each game as well as left written instructions in each box. I also explained what the signal to change would be and how they should switch. And then I took their feedback at the end to see what they thought worked and what didn't. I got surprisingly good and honest feedback.

I had two classes that went perfectly, one where they got a bit loud and one where they had trouble following directions and staying on task (but that's pretty normal for both of those classes.)

In my next post I will outline each center in detail, what I would keep and what I would change.

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