Center Time

Hey Everyone! 
So we are at that point of the year where both the students and us teachers are itching for Spring Break and the end to be here. It seems as though those routines and procedures that we've spent hours, weeks, days, and months practicing have suddenly been forgotten. Some days are better than others and if you're like me sometimes you feel like you're on Survivor. Just keep on hanging in there, Spring Break is right around the corner, if it's not already here. 
As teachers we have a problem where we have "teacher brain" and we just can't seem to turn it off!  I just happen to be on Spring Break and it's a whopping 30 degrees outside so inevitably my teacher brain has been in full swing. I've been reflecting on the last few weeks prior to break and the first thing that came to mind was... centers being a"a hot mess!". It seemed as though my firsties had suddenly forgotten how to rotate in a timely manner, clean up their work spaces, and everything else. So here I am, coming up with a game plan to solve our center problems and put in effect when we return to school on Monday!
 Even though we have gone over our expectations, practiced them, taught each other them, practiced them some more, modeled them, and practiced them over and over for the first few weeks/months of school, we are at that point of the year where my firsties need a little extra reminding.
When we return from break we will be talking about our expectations for centers as a class. It is crucial for my firsties and my sanity that we revist these expectations again. Taking the time to go over them will ensure that our center time will go smoothly for the remainder of the year. Revisiting our expectations will not stop here. During center time I use a rotation chart I created via PowerPoint. Today, I edited my center rotation chart to include our expectations. I'm hoping that during centers this will serve as a constant reminder for my firsties.
Another issue that I've come across with my firsties is that they are not always on task during their center. Lately, I look up from my guided group and find my firsties snickering and looking completely guilty. So, I of course have to use my "Teacher Look" to get them back on task. 
Last week, I attended a PD session on technology in the classroom. During the PD session the presenter talked about an app called Seesaw. I personally have never used it but as she was describing it it made me think of ClassDojo's student story feature. She spoke about students being able to take a photo or video of their work and share it with their teacher & families. ClassDojo is a FREE app that I use every day to communicate with parents and track strudent behaviors. However, I have not yet introduced my students to the student story feature. I'll be honest, I had every intention of  it introducing them to it at the beginning of the year but then life happened and I never got around to it. #okayteacher But with being on Spring Break I've had time to play around with it and I feel like it is the PERFECT solution to holding my students accountable during their centers. 
Image result for class dojo student story
Here's How It Works: 
1. You have to sign up for a free account, create your class, and add each of your students
2. Click the "student mode" icon at the bottom of the page.
3. Print and display your class code for students to access. 
4. Students will then use a QR code scanning app to scan the QR code and select their name. 
This will allow their photo/video to be uploaded to their student page ONLY! Upon teacher approval!
My plan is to have my students use a class iPad to upload a photo or video of their center work once it is completed. This will allow me to quickly scan their work and know who has been on task and who hasn't. I can then give them immediate feedback as well as award behavior points from my phone or iPad.

My students are going to LOVE this adjustment and so will their families. 
I've admitted to you all before that I am a little type A when it comes to my classroom. When I see pencils laying on the floor, seats not put away properly, and center pieces missing their homes it drives me INSANEEEE! Especially since we've gone over these procedures a million times before. 

 Our pencils even have their very own home, yet they are still found all over our classroom floor. 

I mean come on now! How could they not put their pencil(s) back in the correct spot when it is PERFECTLY labeled!

Well.... the sad reality is, it is very easy for them not to put them back even though that system has been put in place in our classroom!


Insert Crazy Eyed Teacher Emojii here!
My plan to help this "hot mess express" involves two simple fixes/additions to our center time.
#1 Adding a "clean up" slide with a 2 minute timer into my center PowerPoint. 
Adding this clean up slide with a timer will allow my students to have a specific amount of time designated to CLEAN UP their work space. This will keep them from just rushing on to their next center. This idea was sparked by the amazing Teach Create Motivate. In her tpt store she has editable PowerPoint slides with timers as well as a FREEBIE of a 20 minute timer slide!
#2 Create a "Center Inspector" job! 
As teachers we create and have jobs for everything and anything. I don't know why I didn't think of creating a job for center time before. But my center manager will be responsible for checking each center area before students are allowed to rotate! This will allow my students to be held accountable for their workspace while allowing a student to be in charge and take on that responsibiltiy.
I'll soon be creating a cute little tag for my center inspector to wear! I just haven't gotten that far yet! When I do I'll be sure to post it here for you to use if you'd like!

Thanks so much for reading my blog today. I hope that this post helped you to realize that it is okay for your classroom to not be perfect. But at the same time it is never too late to take back control of your classroom and revisit and reteach expectaions and procedures. I'd love to hear from YOU!

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