If you are teaching upper elementary math, you know that math centers are a great way to keep your students engaged and learning while freeing up time for small group instruction. We need to manage your math centers so they don’t destroy you. Trust me – that can happen very very quickly.
But what happens when those centers become unmanageable? Here are some tips for keeping your math centers running smoothly.
Tip #1: Keep it simple
When it comes to math centers, less is more. You want your students to be able to move quickly and efficiently from one center to the next. This means that each center should have a clear purpose and focus. For example, rather than having a “practice” center where students can work on any math skill they want, consider having specific centers for things like mental math or place value. This will help your students stay on task and avoid getting overwhelmed.
A key to success with math centers is being mindful of how much you assign your students. It’s important that you don’t overwhelming them by setting up too many activities at once. Determine how many can be done in the allotted time and limit yourself to that amount. Focus on activities that are related to the lesson topic, so your students can practice skills they’ve already worked on and explore more complex problems if they’re ready for them.
Be sure every center has a clear goal, clear instructions, and required materials so all students can stay engaged and on task as they rotate around the room. Finally, a manageable math center means monitoring progress closely – use checkpoints to ensure all students understand what they should be practicing or have finished their work successfully.
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Tip #2: Make sure your centers are well-stocked to manage your math centers
Before you open up your math centers for the day, take a few minutes to make sure that everything is in its place and that there are enough materials for all of your students.
Nothing is more frustrating than getting to a center only to find that there are no pencils or that the manipulative you need is missing. A little bit of advance planning will save you a lot of headaches down the road.
You can also make sure that you have your centers prepped (printed and/or cut) before the week.
Tip #3: Create a schedule
One of the keys to managing successful math centers is creating a schedule that everyone can follow. This doesn’t mean that you have to time every minute of the day, but it does mean having a general plan for how long each center will be open and when students will rotate to the next one. Posting the schedule in a visible spot will help keep everyone on track.
If you are searching for ideas for your math block and maybe scheduling your math block – check out this post.
Math centers can be a great way to keep your upper elementary students engaged and learning, but they can also be a source of frustration if they’re not managed properly. By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that your math centers run smoothly and efficiently all year long. And guess what – you will be able to manage your math centers!!
If you are searching for your own math centers to use in your classroom, check them out here!