Thursday, April 25, 2019

Holding Students Accountable During Math & Literacy Centers

One of my favorite ways to keep up with grading & checking work is by going paperless. Let's be honest, there's been a few times that I've taken a stack of completed worksheets or recording sheets from centers and just tossed them in the recycling bin.
I know, I know. That's terrible. But if we're being honest, it's really hard to keep up with it all! That's why I decided I'd share with you a little bit about how I maintain center accountability without having to throw away work.

The big question: How can I reduce the amount of work I have to grade/check while still holding students accountable for centers?

The solution: Take pictures!

Here are examples of some of the times I have students take pictures rather than turn in work into the turn-in bin. Note: Students took these pictures so the quality isn't great, but I do love the messages they add for me to see!
My students love math puzzles and matching activities, and it's so easy to just let them snap pictures to show what they've completed.
 Any time we do practice work in our interactive notebooks, I have students take pictures to show me. This student worked on the interactive notebook puzzle above for an entire week before he finally mastered it.
During word work, I always have word sorts available, and this is a great way to show the sort. You can also have students take pictures of any pocket chart activities they complete!

Because I'm sure some of you are wondering... YES, my students do complete worksheets/recording sheets with their center work. I manage this a few different ways. If time allows, I laminate the recording sheets for students to use with a dry erase marker and take a picture. However, when I don't have time, I just make the copies like normal and still have them take a picture.

Now you just need to have students submit their work to you. I use the free app Seesaw so my students can upload their work. I know some teachers use ClassDojo, and I'm sure there's many more options out there!

Want to share/collaborate with other teachers about holding students accountable? Join our free Facebook group, just for elementary teachers - Simply Creative Teachers!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Effective Word Work Centers & Activities for Phonics Instruction

When setting up your word work center, there's lots of things you need to consider. In my classroom, I want my word work center activities to match the phonics skills we are working on. 
I also wanted to make sure that my students could do these activities independently! That's why I keep the activities veeeerrrryyyy similar, but I change out the skills in my word work center.

First activity: Word Sort - In this activity, students sort the cards depending on the skill. For example, they might sort by putting all of the AR words in one column and the OR words in another. 

To differentiate, I include various sorting cards. Some students will write the entire word with a dry erase marker, some will write the missing phonics skills, and some won't write anything and will only sort the cards.
Activity Two: Puzzles - My students LOVE puzzles, so I LOVE to include various puzzles with our phonics skills! Sometimes they're simple two-piece matching puzzles, and sometimes they're puzzles with multiple pieces. No matter what kind of puzzle it is, it's a super easy activity to include in my word work center because students know what they have to do!
Activity Three: Dominoes - I love letting my students match the dominoes end-to-end! It's another super engaging activity for students to practice phonics & word work skills! 
Activity Four: Task Cards - Task cards are great to include in your word work center. My favorite task cards are the ones where students use letter magnets or letter tiles to build words. It's a hands-on, simple way for students to continue practicing these skills. 
Activity Five: Paper/Pencil Practice - While you've probably noticed that the first four activities were worksheet-free, the final activity I'm including is worksheets. While I don't always love paper pencil activities, I do believe students need some practice with it!
If you're in need of word work centers that match the phonics skills you're working on, you can find them below!