Monday, February 11, 2013

A quick introduction and literacy centers in the upper grades!

Well, hello!  Welcome to my brand new blog!  I decided to take the plunge into teaching blogs after having been a running blogger for the last few years.  Like most teachers, transitioning into Common Core has eaten up a lot of my free time and so I've decided to move my running blog to the bottom of my priority list (not running itself though.  I'm still in {love} with running!) You might think that starting a second blog would not be the smartest move, but I'm hoping to connect with some other fifth grade/upper elementary teachers to improve  my practice for next year!

So who am I? I'm in my eleventh year of teaching.  I work in a big city, many stops away from all the fun tourist hot spots.  ;-)  I taught fourth grade for a few years before moving up with one of my classes and becoming a fifth grade teacher.  For the last two years, I've taught the ELL class.  It was an eye opening adjustment, but I really love working with ELLs!

When working with a group of English Language Learners, you will have an incredibly diverse classroom in terms of prior knowledge and abilities.  In September, I had students with reading levels from E to Z!  I've found literacy centers to be really important in my classroom in order to meet everyone's needs.  I'm actually really fortunate that in my school we have several pull out programs during the morning literacy block.  Some of my students go to Intervention and others go to ESL, leaving me with a nice small group of 13!  {And don't I wish that was my class size all day!!!}

I use my lovely SMARTboard to help students find their center assignment for the first rotation.  Ideally, I'd like everyone to read during Guided Reading, but instead, I use part of that time for students to work on spelling, vocabulary, grammar and writing.

I drag their names to their center so they can see where they need to go.  I love that it doesn't take up any wall space, and I can clone the page over and over so I have a record of where I've sent them!

Here are my four favorite centers that I think work really well for kids who struggle in the upper grades:

1.)  Contraction Cupcakes - There are many versions on TpT.  I made my own based on some worksheets I found on  My students liked the Contraction Shrink Ray Sheets and with the cupcakes, they were able to self check their work.  Students self checking = less work for me!

2.) Working with prefixes, suffixes and root words- I make up cards for the students to use with dictionaries.  It isn't the most thrilling work, but I've actually found the kids to be really engaged with working dictionaries because the words sound very sophisticated to them.  The best part about this center is that they can visit it several times before they really finish all of the work.

3.) Sorting Activities - We've sorted types of sentences, simple/compound/complex sentences and verb tenses.  The first step in this center is to sort the cards, then the students have sentence practice worksheets.  As long as the cards are cute, the kids are productive!  Funny, isn't it?

This student is sorting verbs by tense.  After she completes the chart, she will have some sentences to write and a paragraph to edit.  Don't you love her neat and organized little piles!

4.) Making Words - I get the words from Month by Month Phonics and I changed the name to Magic Word.  If you aren't familiar, it's one longer word scrambled and the kids write three letter, four letter, five letter and six+ letter words.  They can sort the words they've written into groups that rhyme.  If they figure out the scrambled word, then they've figured out the magic word!
The kids love this activity, so I use it as an incentive to finish the less fun center work first.

So that's my little introduction into my classroom!  If you read through all this, please say hi!  And tell me about centers in your classroom :-)

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to blogging Sarah! I hope you love it as much as I do. I am also an ELL teacher.

    It is wonderful that you are doing literacy centers with your kiddos. Your contraction game is so cute. =)

    I am happy to be your newest follower. I would love for you to hop over and visit when you get the chance. =)

    Heather's Heart