How many students should work together at a center?
The smaller number of students working at a center, the better. This will helpwith discipline problems and noise level issues. Two students per center would beideal but most teachers find themselves having to put groups of 3-4 studentstogether. When at all possible, keep the number of students working together toa minimum. You might want to think about adding centers in order to keep thenumber down.
How many work stations should I have?
The more centers, the smaller number of students at each center. Many centersare ones that will be used all year long (i.e., reading, library, computer, writing,word work, spelling, etc.) and don’t require you to change every week or centerrotation. If space is an issue, remember that some centers can be in a tub thatstudents take to their desk or the floor, or the side of a file cabinet, or a pocketchart. A variety of centers keeps the students’ interest high.
How often should I change centers?
Many centers will be permanent for the entire year. However, you will need tochange out some of the activities so students do not get bored (and we all knowwhat happens when students get bored!) For example, at the writing center, youwill always have the standard materials for students to practice their writingbut you might change out the paper to go with a particular holiday or season. TheLibrary and Listening Centers can also be permanent centers but changing thereport form and, of course, stories will keep students interested.
How long should I plan for students to be at a center?
Most students get restless with an activity after about 15-20 minutes. Youngerstudents would probably be shorter. If students stay too long in one center,behavior problems begin to appear. Keeping a timer can help the busy teacherknow when it is time to change to a different center or different activity. Whenthe timer rings, students automatically (because of repeated practice at thebeginning of the year) clean up and begin moving to another center or activity.Many teachers let students work at two or three centers a day for a total offorty-five minutes to an hour. Of course, it takes a while to build up to thatamount of time.
Frequently Asked Questions about Literacy Centers