Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Organizing Math and Reading Centers

Hi, it's Jennifer again!  I've posted a few times about math and reading centers on my blog, Elementary School Garden.  Over the years, I have received a lot of questions about their organization so I thought I would share a little about them today.

How do you organize your centers?
I use center wheels for both reading and math.  Since I hate sorting through center cards each day I use a center rotation wheel for each subject.

A few years ago I started out with a huge wheel that contained 2 centers for each group each day.  Now I've toned things down a little bit and just have one center for each group each day.  I've had a 6 day rotation (back when I only had 4 Kindles and couldn't have more than 4 students at a station).  Now I have a 5 day rotation which is the easiest given the 5 day week.

The colorful bins below the wheels are for students to turn in any work.  I love them because I can quickly see if students have turned in their work by counting to see if there are 4-5 worksheets in each bin (based on the number of students in that color group.)

How do you group students?
I group students heterogeneously.  The center work I use allows for differentiation regardless of student groupings.  I find it best to have a true mix of students within a group so that they can work together and help one another.  I also take into account who works the best together in each group.  I pull students for guided reading and math needs groups based on daily need regardless of what center group they are in.

How much time do you spend on centers?
We normally spend about 25-30 minutes separately on both reading and math centers.  In reading, we read independently and then begin centers after sharing as a group.  In math, students start their centers after they complete their exit ticket.  I use the center time to pull guided reading groups, conference with students, work with needs group and individuals.

How do you integrate technology into your centers?
We use Kindles, computers, and a Smart Board to integrate technology into our daily center rotation.  Students use the Kindles to play various free games and math fact apps.  On the computer they watch videos on Brainpop and Brainpop Jr, play math games on Hooda Math, and practice math facts on Xtra Math.  I use a variety of math games from Lakeshore Learning on the Smart Board.

How do you organize and store center materials?
I also have labeled bins spread around the classroom that contain center work and materials.  I like to spread them out so that when centers begin students are collecting their material in different locations and not bumping into each other.  It also helps keep our transition to center time quiet and organized.  I switch center materials every Friday.

How do you organize centers in your classroom?


  1. Jennifer,

    Very interesting set up! Your system looks simple and manageable. You mentioned that, the center work you use allows for differentiation regardless of student groupings. I'm wondering how you mange this. Where the ideas come from and what materials you use. Thanks for sharing.