Life's like that!

May 18, 2012

If I were to become a teacher or librarian again, I am going to try literacy centers in the classroom or the library with middle school students, Allah SWT willing.

Seen here:

1. At the SMART Board were two Anagram games for practicing spelling words. Each game had only five words, so they played both of them. They had done these same games a week or two earlier.
2. Sentence Revision: I wrote three sentences on different colored sentence strips. I cut the strips apart and put the pieces in a zip-lock bag. I told the students that there were three sentences in there, each a different color, and they were to figure them out and write them on a half sheet of paper. One paper per group.
3. Critical Reading: At this table was a short (3 paragraph) article, which was followed by four multiple choice questions. They were to read it aloud and decide together on the correct answers to the questions. One of the questions required them to make an inference.
4. Reading food labels: I collected some chip and Cheeto bags from the students after a recent field trip. I brought in a Coke and a bottle of Gatorade. Students had to pull data from the nutrition labels of these packages, and then answer some analytical questions about them. This center was more time consuming than the others, so students were instructed to just collect the data here and wait until they had downtime at another station to answer the questions. This worked very well.
5. Brain Gym: I have been reading some brain research over the past couple of years, and every so often I pull out a couple of exercises for the kids to try. This center had instructions for three exercises, and told them what they were good for (reading comprehension, focus, retention of information, etc.) We practiced these three exercises the day before the centers activity.
6. Prefixes: This station had a worksheet from Skill Sharpeners 3 which included 20 words with prefixes. It involved matching prefixes and definitions. The group was to do it together, only completing one sheet.
7. Cause and Effect: This was another worksheet similar to the previous one, from the same source. It was a little tricky, which made it more challenging for them. Again, they only did one of these for the whole group.
8. Greek and Latin word roots: I have made some sets of “Word Root Dominos” and we played them as a class a week or so ago. In this station they were to play the game until they had collected at least 10 connections between roots and their meanings or a word that contained them.
9. Reading a Manual: I copied a diagram of the remote control from my cable company. I asked four questions about it, the answers to which were found on the diagram.

The Results
My Opinion: I was pleased with this outcome. The students were engaged most of the period, far more than in a normal situation with me directing everything. The things that made it work (I think) were these:
* We had done all of the activities ahead of time, so they weren’t mystified by new skill requirements.
* I kept them outside the room until everyone arrived, and I got all of their attention before they entered the room, so I could explain what they would find there. This helped set the expectation for order and calm which doesn’t always happen with these guys.
* I watched the time carefully, adapting as I saw them finishing sooner than I’d expected.
* I saved time at the end for the students to answer three reflective questions about the day. This gave me valuable feedback as well as made them feel like part of the process.
* I was careful to intersperse the activities so that each station was a different sort of task than the one before it. The three worksheets did not follow one another, for example.
The students said:
* Thank you. This was really fun.
* They wanted to do it more often. (3 times a week!?)
* They needed a little more time at each station.
* They felt more confident working with their friends.
* It provided a good review.