Hello Techie Teachers!
As we enter August, I have been in full on planning mode for September! One area that I struggled with the most last year was planning small group work and center time. This year, that is going to be one of my main focuses! I’ve been trying to research efficient ways to create my groups and plan which center each group will get, but I found nothing that will suite me, so I decided to make something!
In my school, we begin our day with Center Time for about twenty minutes. During this time, I have four things happening in the room – I am working with one small group, another group is on technology, a third group is doing a collaborative problem solving activity, and a fourth group is working on fluency. This can get crazy because center time isn’t necessarily for what I’m teaching the whole class that day, it’s to bridge the gaps of previously taught standards. I try to keep it to a standard a week and rotate the same groups throughout each of the different centers.
The Problem: Grouping
The issue I was having last year was that when I created my groups for each week, I was looking at a list and crossing out names as I put them in a group. This posed as an issue for me because I would STILL leave students out! The day would come for them to be in a group and I wouldn’t have anywhere for them to go. I wanted to create a digital way of grouping for this year where the students are pre-populated and I can just rearrange them.
I created a Google Sheet with my students names on a class list and on the side are the four groups, color coded. I can cut and past the students names in each group, and when their name is cut I know they’re already in a group! I also plan to color code the students names for my high-medium-low groups when I meet them and get a chance to review the EOY data from fourth grade. This will help me to ensure all students have a group each day in the week. I also plan to keep students in the same group all week because, let’s be honest, changing them daily is way too time consuming and the standard to work on is the same all week anyway!
The Problem: Planning Activities
Last year when I was planning activities for centers, I would have my bin separated by skill/standard and just give them to the kids if we were working on the standard. This became an issue because I wasn’t entirely organized about giving out the center and some students got stuck doing the same center more than once, which isn’t exactly meaningful work. I mean, some centers can be repeated throughout the year, but not in the same week. This was where I was really struggling last year, so again, I did some research for ways to plan and was inspired by a few blogs, but nothing worked directly for me. We do center time, but it isn’t exactly Guided Math or Math Workshop, because we still have a whole group mini lesson, independent practice, and math journal every day after centers.
The solution to this was to add another sheet to my workbook on Google Sheets. The second sheet was to plan my activities and which group will be doing them and what day of the week. I can copy my groups right into the boxes on this sheet to know which kids are doing what and when. This will help me to see what centers I need for the week and I will keep making copies each week. I may even add a yearly plan to this, but I haven’t thought about that yet.
What do you think? How can you use this for your classroom?