Saturday, February 2, 2013

Saturday Centers, Assessments and a Little Rant

Whew, what a week!  I feel mentally and physically drained!  Our report cards are due next week and I've been dealing with a lot of absent students.  I still get overwhelmed at the amount of assessments we need for each student.  It really doesn't stop all year.  As soon as I turn in this report card I will begin DIBELS testing, then begin assessing for the next marking period.  I typically only have 1 week between report card periods where I am not assessing.  Is it me or is than INSANE?!?!?!

We had a faculty leadership meeting this week and the frustration on everyone's face was clearly evident.  Everyone is tired of testing.  I don't remember chosing to enter this field because I couldn't wait to test the heck out of kids.  I wanted to enter this field because I love working with little ones, I love taking information and breaking it into pieces, I love watching those "light bulb" moments.  When did it all change?

I truly wish the powers that be could spend time in a classroom!  I wish they could see how much time, energy and STRESS gets placed on testing from students and teachers alike.  Maybe it's just me being overwhelmed but it's just simply exhausting!

Okay, enough of that!  We finished up Day 6 of our centers rotation yesterday which means it's time for new centers.  We currently work on a 6-day rotation of 4 centers per day.  We use center "maps" which are outdated were designed years ago.  I am not a fan of them at all.  On these center maps, kids visit the following centers:  Math, ABC, Writing, Listening and Browsing Box.  The Browsing Box is a reading bin full of leveled readers the kids have completed during Guided Reading.  If you do the math you'll realize we get approximately 13 minutes with each reading group and each group of students visits the same center 3 times during a rotation. 

The reason I am not a fan of this for Kindergarten is there is no room for exploration.  What happened to building blocks, Art, Dramatic Play, etc.?  In addition, the teachers have to play 3 different centers for each subject for each 6-day rotation.  The kids get confused over which activity to complete when they get to that center as well.  I plan to work on changing steps :)

This is my "solution" to try to make it a little easier for my kiddies to understand. 

I purchased these organizers for each center and labeled them 1-3.  If it is their first day at the center they complete the activity in drawer #1, etc.   I use the bottom drawers to store center supplies.

Last week our centers for Math were:

       #1  Geoboards:  I found these cards years ago for free somewhere.  (If they are your's please let
                                  me know so I can give you credit.)  The kids practice making numbers 1-20
                                  with rubber bands.  This is a good activity for fine motor and number

       #2  Roll and Record:  We just finished up our Arctic Animals Unit.  The kids roll the dice, add
                                   the numbers and cover the space.

       #3  Dominoes:  I place teen number cards in the center with the dominoes.  Students practice
                                 identifying the teen number and counting the dots on the domino to find a
                                 match.  This allows practice for number identification and one-to-one
                                 correspondence.  I have them ask a friend to check their work.

Over at the "ABC Center" I introduced a game that I usually complete during whole-group Shared Reading. The kids LOVE this game. 

             #1: "Mix and Fix."  The student makes a sight word on the cookie sheet, shows their partner 
                    the word then scrambles up the letters.  Their partner has to "fix" the word.  This is a
                    great activity for practicing spelling and reading sight words.

              #2:  Whiteboards:  I know this seems like a blah centers but this is SUCH a treat for my
                      kiddies!  They usually practice sight words but we are also working on taking our
                      time and forming letters correctly.

               #3  The last center is the "Sight Word Popcorn" game.  This is another favorite among my
                      kiddies.  I like the game because their are words we've already learned as well as
                      more challenging words.  I love that 5/6-year olds are so eager to help out their friends
                      with a new word. 

The Writing Center has our weekly practice sheets.  On the first day we practice writing our sight words in different ways (write them, trace them, etc.)  On the second day we practice previous sight words in fun ways (they can use colored pencils for rainbow writing, highlighters, markers, etc.)  On the third day they build sentences with sight words.  As you can see I forgot to take pictures of these centers.  I keep these centers in the same format both for consistency and because the kids really like them.  This is the center they really feel most independent with.

This is a "transition" week / rotation for my centers.  We just finished Arctic Animals and Groundhog's Day center and it's too early for Valentine's Day and the 100th Day.  Those will be the next center activities so stay tuned!  Sorry for the long post but I hope you enjoyed reading :)  Have a great weekend!!!


  1. I completely understand your exhaustion/frustration due to assessing kids. I feel the same way. When did teaching become pouring knowledge into kiddos and then pushing them to put it into an assessment? Isn't teaching supposed to be exciting, engaging, and the ever so terrible word "fun?" I am saddened by the fact that kiddos are not kiddos anymore but are grown ups in little bodies filled with unnecessary stresses and anxiety. :(


    (Your centers look great! I may have to borrow a few of those ideas! :))

  2. Thanks for sharing about your centers. I am always gathering information about centers and how to do a better job. The rotation sounds confusing to me, I'll watching to see if your organization ideas work! :)

  3. Erin ~ Amen! I'm so sick of teaching something quickly because an assessment deadline is quickly approaching. What's the point?

    Carrie ~ If you want me to clarify the centers just e-mail me at and I'll give you the scoop. Thanks for reading ladies!

  4. Sounds like NC. We are too busy testing to teach!!!!!

  5. I agree Susan! Something needs to change! Lawmakers need to spend a few days in our classrooms to see how their "expert" decisions actually affect children!


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