Work Center Organization!

I get a lot of questions about my work centers.  I did an old post about work centers HERE... but I wanted to show you my new centers for this year as well as elaborate more on what activities we do at each center!

***I have three rotations during work centers.  I have three table area's (separate from student desks) that are clearly color coded.  Each table has a label on the table in addition to clearly marked spots for the students to sit.  The red and blue table have colored shapes taped to the table (with shipping tape).  I love these because I can easily assign students to a spot... as they will often times fight for a particular spot!  Click HERE to read more about my green table... AKA technology center.

Above each table, I have a colored lantern hanging with the label "blue table" "red table" "green table."Aren't they cute!? My FB friend gave me the idea :)

When student's check their schedule, it says "work centers."  They then know to collect their working card and follow my prompt of "Make a choice."  Some kiddo's do this independently, while other's are dependent on adults to help.  Either way, I prompt them to make the choice on their own to promote independence.  

They get to pick a preferred activity/toy from the folder.  I change the choices in the folder to keep the student's motivated.  I also know my kids well enough to make sure there are a few things they would enjoy.  I have one kid that is ONLY motivated by sitting outside... SO... I have a picture of the bench for him to choose.... whatever works right?


I keep my working cards in a magnetic basket on the top of my whiteboard JUST out of reach from my kiddo's.  These are easily assessable for me and my staff.  I also keep the token economy folder clipped to the white board with a magnetic clip. (not pictured)

***So for the rotations:  Once all of the student's have their working card, they follow the color schedule on their card.  Each working card has the colored tables in the correct order for them to follow.  Each group stays the same, and each group visits the tables in the SAME order every time to promote independence.   If the student works hard, they get a clothespin.  If they get all three clothespins, they turn their card in for their choice toy/activity.

***Work centers are about an hour long from beginning to end.  Students visit 3 tables with their working cards.  Each center is about 12 minutes long after the transitions.  12 minutes is just long enough for them to work on a writing worksheet, play a math game, do a pocket chart activity, read a few adapted books, etc.  After the three rotations are done... aprox. 45 minutes have passed.  That leaves my students 15 minutes to play with their earned preferred toy/activity.  If a student did not earn a clip, they need to return to the table to finish their work.  When I send a kid back to the table, I modify the task and try to promote success.  Of course this is not always possible as sometimes they are in full blown tantrum mode.... in this case I usually pull out my calm down kit!

***In my class, we do rotations twice a day.  Once in the morning after morning meeting and a second time in the middle of the day after recess but before lunch.  Here is the work we complete at the centers this year... you can be flexible and change it for however is best for you!

Morning Rotations
red table: IEP Goal tubs/life skills
blue table: math
green table: technology (ipods, ipad, language master, computer)

Afternoon Rotations
 red table:writing/independent work
blue table: reading
green table: technology (ipods, ipad, language master, computer)

After lunch we have our specials: APE, OT, Speech groups.  Because we have a bunch of small groups coming and going in the afternoons with staff members, I am left with small groups.  During the afternoons I teach science as well as complete task boxes and art projects!  The afternoon is like an intricate puzzle, rotating through everything while the kids come and go! Some how... we get it all done :)  We do not do science every day, we do science about twice a week.  I split the class up into groups between science, task boxes and art depending on the day, behaviors and specials!  

What is the ONE question I get the most?

It's simple.. really.  For the first few weeks, I do not worry about academics.  We go through the motions of work centers, they choose their toys, get their clips and everything.  At each table is fun activities like play doh, dot markers, puzzles, toys, sensory boxes etc.  Once the kids have learned the "idea" of rotations, I slowly begin to introduce academic tasks.  

Check out my post HERE to learn more about my IEP tubs/goals rotation.

For reading I incorporate many different activities.  I use adapted books, social stories, big books, pocket chart activities, thinking maps, hands on books, interactive books, site word fluency, etc.  I usually only have 3 kids in a group.  With this, I usually have one student work independently on something while I focus on the other two.  I am sure to rotate who works independently so that it evens out over the week.

For math I incorporate fun hands on games that I have bought over the years from lakeshore and other teacher stores.  I am sure to differentiate for the kids, for some they identify quantities while others identify numbers.  We also do games such as bean bag toss... a simple game where they roll the dice, say the number, and throw in that number of bean bags in the basket.  Simple games like this make math more fun.  Like I do during reading rotations, I usually have one student work independently on something while I focus on the other two.  I am sure to rotate who works independently so that it evens out over the week.

For writing/independent work, each student has their own folder that I set up.  It is individualized worksheets/ laminated pages for students to practice their IEP goals.  Many of my students are working on tracing/drawing lines and shapes.  For this I make lots of copies of practice worksheets in advance to my aides can just pull out each kiddo's writing folder.  I also have students do tactile writing such as sand writing, play doh writing, dot marker stamps etc.

This is a really short summary of some of the activities I do.  I can never sum up everything we do in a blog post.  Once the school year is back in full swing, I will be sure to take pictures and write posts about different work center activities we do!

Phew...... that was a LONG post! I hope this helped :)

Here are some of my products I use to make work centers run smoothly!

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