Changing up my Center Work and Chinese New Year for the Upper Grades

I've been thinking about centers in ELA for my middles lately.  I love doing centers with my ELA class.  But I have 80 minutes and a huge amount of standards to get through, and it is a tough job.  I'm not ready to abandon it, but I do know that based on the recent benchmark testing, I need to make changes.  Changes that might not fit with what else is being done in my middle school.  I may have to go a bit rogue.....Making this change came to me while reading Catherine's blog... The Brown Bag Teacher.. Have you seen her blog?  Go {HERE} and check it out!  Just like Catherine, 5 day centers are NOT working for me.  I can't fit it in, and I spend way too much time trying to find things every week that are on level for my smarties.  Catherine blogs a lot about her centers, and I love that she uses 9-15 centers at a time depending on what she is doing.  Hello?  Knock Knock?  Why didn't I think of this? So much easier to manage!

At any rate it is worth an attempt as I start a new novel with my students and we practice our close reading strategies.  So starting this week I'm going to put my kids through a 10 Center rotation instead of trying to squeeze 5 centers in one week.  The 10 centers might take us 12-15 days, because inevitably something will interrupt us, but I figure it's worth a shot.
I made a bookmark for them to keep track of what they are doing.  I don't assign my smarties specific centers each day.  Sometimes they will have to do a center with their triad group.  This is a group that I am using with our Lightning Thief novel.  I plan to mix these up throughout the unit.  I like them to have a choice as far the activity that they complete for the day.  It makes them feel less like they are in elementary school, and I have not had many issues so far with this.

I used my new laminator... George..... don't ask me why my children named it.. but I will call him George..and I will love him.. and squeeze him, and pat him and pet him... and I digress..... to make my center cards a little more durable.

 I noticed my smarties needed some Word Work practice, and we are still working on pronouns, so I laminated my Chinese New Year Pack and have it ready to go.  We don't study Chinese New Year in middle school, and ancient China isn't in my social studies curriculum, but I thought my smarties might still enjoy a little learning on the subject. I'm going to integrate the different centers between this rotation and the next.  Stop by soon and see the centers I chose for this rotation. I'll be posting pictures soon.  Meanwhile, think about going a little rogue with your teaching, and mix things up a bit.  It may help you get through this Long Cold Winter!


  1. My teaching partner-in-crime and I use centers and rotations at our middle school. Our colleagues think we are crazy. But that is a lot of centers to get through.

    How long are your rotations? Are most of your centers for reviewing and practice? How often do you do whole class lessons? I have a lot of questions:). I am thinking about throwing another set of rotations into the mix:)!

  2. Thanks for another terrific post. My ELA6 class is only 55 minutes so we are busy bell to bell. I like the idea of a longer rotation schedule too!


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