Applying What I Learned From My Data

I will apply what I learned from my data to my teaching by planning and implementing learning centers on a regular basis. Before I started my data collection, I loathed learning centers. Every time I had learning centers I would be anxious and frustrated. I didn’t know how to plan them or why my students were always interrupting me when I was trying to work with individual students. I wanted to desperately buy into the myth that learning centers are outdated and need to be discontinued. Many people believe that they take away from direct instruction time. I have a friend who is a firm believer in learning centers and she would ask me every week how my centers were and what my students were doing for activities. Almost every week I would tell her that we didn’t have time for centers because we have half-day kindergarten and I only get two hours of instructional time in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. That was my excuse.

I learned that I could successfully have learning centers and love it. I was very anxious in the beginning, but my data started to show that I was not being interrupting as often as I felt. My anxiety made it feel like it was more often. I also learned the importance of planning my learning center activities around my curriculum. On the days that my students were highly engaged, I did not have as many interruptions. Further, I was able to pinpoint what the interruptions were and who was doing the interrupting. There were some surprises in this data because my most frequent interrupter was not a student with frequent behavioral issues, but it is clear that she needs more practice working independently.

I will take what I have learned and apply it to my classroom by having learning centers more often. They are great for reinforcing skills and concepts that we are working on in all subject areas. I also will remember to set specific rules for learning center time, to help my students become and remain independent. One thing that I found helpful was having them rely on their partner for help. It built friendship bonds and allowed my students to be helpful, which they love. For my students that are struggle with independence, I can help them one-on-one by focusing on one thing that they need to work on and improve. For example, I will remind my student who interrupts the most that she does not need to ask if she needs to use the bathroom since we have one in our room. I will also have my students fill out self-assessments more often because they really helped with behavior. I have a few students who have asked if they could do self-assessments after math, which surprised me.

Others can apply what I learned by doing periodic observations and address the issues they have in their classroom. They can also see that it is not difficult to align learning centers to the Alaska State Standards. Another thing they could do is use self-assessments, it is clear that kindergarten students were able to fill them out correctly and they are very easy to make.

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13 thoughts on “Applying What I Learned From My Data

  1. I am right there with you about hesitating to do centers, but my hesitation is mostly due to the time it takes to set them up. Did you find centers to require more planning time or was it a trade off for something else that demanded more of your time (i.e. grading papers)?

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    • I have to say that after having centers every day for a couple weeks, I have a lot of fun centers that my students love. It is so easy to set up centers now. I can do it in less than 5 minutes because I have my centers organized and I have many center ideas to pull from when I need them. If I am here next year (I’ll find out on Friday), I am going to organize my math centers. Our math curriculum comes with a TON of centers for each unit. Now, I can say that grading takes much more time than centers, but that was not the case in the beginning.

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  2. Oh my goodness, I will have to take notes and pay very close attention to your presentation! If you have cracked the code to figuring out learning centers, I cannot wait to hear about it! I do them occasionally, but I do not like being interrupted while trying to work with a small group as you mentioned, and I just fear that some students may not being using the time appropriately, and that potential waste of learning time for me is a real concern. Can’t wait to hear more!

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    • Setting realistic ground rules helped a lot. I found that releasing some of the control I kept in the classroom made a huge difference. I let my students go to the bathroom or get a drink of water without asking permission. I reminded them to ask three before me. I put a lot of thought into who their partners would be each day AND I had them fill out a self assessment. They monitored their own behavior. We also use volume level numbers at my school (I believe it is from CHAMPS) so all I had to do was put up 1 or 2 fingers and my students would readjust their volume.

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  3. What a great success story. It sounds like centers are something you’ve wanted to try, but been reluctant for a variety of reasons. This class has pushed me out of my comfort zone and caused me to try some new and painful things too. I’m so happy to hear the centers went well for you, as I think they are a powerful learning tool for all ability levels. I remember feeling like my class was on the edge of control when engaged in center activity, mostly because of the high noise and activity level. That was my perception. I also remember being amazed at the work output and level of peer-teaching that happened in centers. The kids enjoyed the process and were more engaged because it was fun. That was their perception and the one we need to focus attention on more often. Good work!

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    • Centers scared me to death. I felt that I needed to be in control and there was no way to keep control. It was very difficult as a new teacher. I was a student teacher in 6th grade last year and had never had centers. I never even saw center time before trying to have it this year. It was very intimidating, but I’m so glad I chose to get out of my comfort zone and do centers for my research. It is really worth having centers. If you ever need any help with centers, let me know. I’m far from an expert, but I have a better handle on it now.

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  4. So great to hear you are now a believer! 🙂 I think you’re right about releasing some of the control. If we ever expect children to do things independently, they need to know we trust them and believe in them, and they need to be able to practice the behaviors we expect. Of course there’s going to be times when they don’t do what we hope, but they’ve got to be given the opportunities. I switched my centers to a Daily 5 style a couple of years ago and have been really happy with it. Although, looking at my data from my project, I am rethinking the way I have done the word work “center” so that it’s more engaging. I found my students were most disruptive when they did word work.I think they are just getting bored with it and I need to mix it up more.

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  5. Great success story! Just curious – did you have students work with the same partners every day, or did you switch them daily or weekly? I am wondering having the same partners would be a part of the daily, expected routine with centers? Or if switching partners would benefit students by adding variety and helping to peak interests.
    I like your idea of self assessment, even with such children. I hope you include this in your presentation so we can get a stronger idea of how you did this.
    Good work!!

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    • I had some students who wanted to work with the same person some days, so I let them. I let them know that if they made a good choice, then they could work with that partner again. I did not to pair my two lowest students together because I knew that they would end up off task. I did have two students who I learned can NEVER be partners again. They did not share well with each other, but they work well with anyone else in the class. I like to switch up my partners because it allows students to make friend connections and in my classroom, we are all friends. Thank you so much for your encouragement, I am way out of my comfort zone with this project.

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  6. I am so glad that centers worked for you. When my son was in kindergarten, the teacher did a great job of utilizing learning centers. I imagine that the next school year that you are in the same grade level, it will be much easier to implement and set them up because you already have some. I find that to be the same with things I do in my math class. When I want to change, I spend a lot of time looking to how I want to change something and prepping for it. However, when I find something that works, it is great to have that same resource in future semesters.

    You will be a great resource to those you work with.

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  7. I also rally liked your idea of self assessment. To be honest, I wondered how it would work with kinders, but am glad to see they went well and that some want to use them for other things.

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