How do I hold students accountable in a center based classroom?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I receive a phenomenal question by Caroline on the Center Based Classroom's Facebook page. She asks:
"I really like the idea of a complete center based classroom, but the problem I seem to have doing centers (which I love to teach this way) is holding them accountable for the work that they do. I can not grade everything that they do? Advice please!"
Thanks so much for asking this Caroline!  
Math Centers
My classroom is a mix of centers and workshops. This definitely helps me stay on top of things. To get a feel for my math workshop, please check out the blog post I wrote about how it worked last year! 
In math, I easily hold all the kiddos accountable for their practice book center. They complete the page during their rotations and I correct their pages during my special. This helps me to see if they are doing their work, who needs more help, etc. Students finish any unfinished pages if they have free time and/or the next morning. On Fridays we have "catch-up" day. Students work to make sure each page is completed and correct. Anything that isn't is sent home as homework over the weekend. Kids who still aren't working have to stay with me to finish their pages during recess (on top of missing our "Fun Friday" activity) this quickly remedied any problems!
The technology center is their favorite and I do not assign them anything that I need to correct. I rarely give them anything written at the game center either. They love the games and they are really engaged. I am able to get a lot of valuable information from the teacher group (I take notes), so I feel I don't need to add any more correcting to my extremely long to do list!
Reading Centers
Again, for reading, I use a workshop/center approach (the best of both worlds in my opinion!) The beginning of my reading block focuses on reading workshop. I begin with a 10 minute read aloud/mini lesson, followed by reading workshop. During this time I am able to conference with my students and discuss their books (I make sure to meet with each student at least once a week). This keeps them on track and working hard. 
We also do a modified version of the Daily 5. If you haven't read the Daily 5, it's fabulous! You can find out more about it here

I tweaked it to fit the needs of our classroom. I combined read to self and read to someone into one center because we already have reading workshop in our classroom. We do the rest of the centers normally (listen to reading, word work, and work on writing). Instead of having students visit each of the centers daily, they visit one center each day, Monday-Thursday, and we do another "catch-up" day every Friday. 

The "catch-up" day runs very similarly to our math workshop. Every Friday, students visit any of the centers they were unable to finish during the week. Upon completion, they must get their word work, work on writing, and reading log checked. The reading log is for read to self/read to someone and only keeps track of the book title and number of pages read. Students who do not finish their work take it for homework over the weekend.

Having Friday as our "catch-up" day and having some centers that do not require written work allows me to hold all students accountable for their work, without overloading myself with correcting! I've never had to take home any of our center work to correct - it can all be finished within our catch up time!

That was a lot of information. I hope it makes sense! Caroline, or anyone else who has any questions, comments, thoughts, or other ideas for holding students accountable, please share! 
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New Classroom!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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Today was our first day! I was very nervous, but it turned out wonderful! I think I'm going to love fifth grade!

I've been dying to share my new classroom with everyone! I've been so busy with making sure everything is ready and with PD that I didn't get a change to post this before we went back to school. I also wish I remember to take some before pictures.. it wasn't pretty!

I am most proud of my classroom library! I am only beginning my third year as a classroom teacher and I think I have a great collection so far! I spent a lot of time organizing the books, labeling, and color coding by genre. 

See that?!  I have an Epson! Woo, I love technology!

My room doesn't have much on the walls or bulletin boards (YET). I'm kind of a less is more kind of gal. I LOVE anchor charts though, so they will soon be filled with the charts we make together during mini lessons! Much more meaningful than throwing up posters in my opinion!

I was originally going to do a board game themed classroom. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to move into my new room early enough, so I didn't get to follow through on that theme! I decided I would stick to bright colors with my new theme: "5th Grade is Bright!"

My Monday through Friday buckets (I've never come up with a better name..) are the one thing I cannot live without in my classroom! I'm a planner, so I like to have pretty much everything ready to go. I keep everything I'm going to use for each day (homework, games, papers, etc.) in the buckets. It definitely helps me keep organized! 

I wish I had taken a picture of the computer tables before. They were a mess.. not strong enough.. an abomination! Ripped, floral contact paper straight from the 80's. Huge thanks to my parents for spending hours with a tablecloth and a nail gun! 

I used a behavior clip chart last year in third grade and it worked out really well. I'm hoping it will work this year! If not, I have already signed up for Class Dojo!

I can't wait to put this into action! The kids absolutely flipped out  when they saw this. We're going to use this as a place for students to put their exit slips. It's perfect because we will be switching classes for math and science. I even let the kids make up their own Twitter handles, which was so much fun! 

Did you take pictures of your classroom this year? Leave me the link! I want to see what you've all done! 
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