Monday, July 16, 2012

Middle School Centers???

I am thinking about doing centers in my math room this coming year.  I am not sure how this is going to work out with middle school kids, but I am anxious to see.  I am going to design my centers around the big topic we are discussing.  Last year, I was able to have a laptop cart in my room, so we had some laptops for the kids to use.  They were used every single day.  I have a class wiki, and they are responsible for doing different things on the wiki.  I am hoping that I get laptops again!  Oops....I got off track a little bit.  Back to the centers!

I am wanting to get away from regular book work.  Now, I have always incorporated projects and activities, but there are some good problems in certain books/workbooks.  I have never believed that kids need to do 100 problems over a certain topic.  If they cannot do 10, then 100 is not beneficial, and if they can do 10, then they can probably do 100. Anyways, I have always chosen certain problems from the book.  I have learned that I must give my kids a time limit.  I set a timer, and at the end of the allotted time, we go over the problems (so they get instant feedback).

Now that I have set up the background, here is what I was thinking for the criteria for my centers.

  • I want to have 5-10 different stations (depending on how many laptops are set up).  
  • They will rotate through the stations in groups of three (I am big on partner work).
  • They will get 15-20  minutes per station (different topics may require more time).
  • This could take two-three days to complete the Centers.
  • The kids will have a log sheet for all the centers.  Since we are just practicing skill, I am not really concerned with a certain grade for each activity.  Many of the centers will really be focused on practice and a daily grade for participating and completing.

Here are the centers I want.  Again, this will be focused on a particular topic.

  • Smartboard activity over the topic
  • One-two laptops used for a wiki discussion over the topic.  This may in the form of a discussion post or a project on the wiki in which students will build upon what the other students have already written.
  • Word problems (5-10) on cards.  This center will involve a hot dot pen in which the student will use the pen to select the answer.  The pen will tell them if the answer is correct or incorrect.  
  • Skill/word problems (10-20) on cards.  One student will read the question and be in charge of the answer.  The other two will have buzzers.  They will buzz in when they know the answer.
  • Two-three laptops set up for online practice from qtopia and similar sites.
  • Book work (I firmly believe paper and pencil is still crucial).  5-10 problems from a book or workbook.

All of the centers will provide instant feedback.  At the end of the Centers, I will give a short quiz to assess and see if any reteaching needs to occur.  These are my thoughts so far.  The first big topic we go through is Proportions.  This includes: scale factor, similar figures, and proportional relationships.  Hopefully it will come together.  It all sounds great in my head!

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