One of my colleagues, Jaime Bierwagen, created an awesome video sharing how she used centers in her counseling lessons so she could stop planning and start playing. I loved it so much, I asked her if I could share it here with you!
- Whole Group mini-lesson for 10-20 minutes and then transition to learning stations
- Create routines for entering the classroom and transitioning into mini-lesson
- Keep it simple with K-2 lessons and 3-5 lessons
- Create routines for transitioning into centers
- List the centers visually along with a maximum number of students per station
- Leave time for cleaning up and lining up
- Create stations tubs or baskets ready with all the materials you need
- Use a bell to stop the class and maximize teachable moments
- Create routines for behavior management - Jaime uses a three strikes model
- Keep station locations and titles the same, switch out a few items when a refresh is needed
When creating stations, think about skills or strategies of social emotional learning that kids might need. What activities might allow students to practice these skills? Some ideas: Problem solving station can have puzzles and combination locks. Mindful coloring or journaling station can have drawing, coloring, and journaling activities. Social skill play incorporates board games and counseling games like feelings go fish. Creation station allows students to create something from their imagination and problem solve when their plan doesn't always work out.
When it fits well, you can create a mini-lesson station that incorporates the skills taught in the mini lesson. I could imagine reading a book about integrity and having the character ed booklet, integrity flowers, or character ed DIY posters as stations. This integrity series could last several weeks as kids get to experience many ways to understand integrity.
Check out the video to get some more ideas about planning mini-lessons! Jaime includes some great ideas for free ways to read books and incorporate technology into your lessons.
So what about you? How many lessons do you teach? Do you use centers or learning stations? I would love to hear about what works (and doesn't work) for you! Get ready to be Productive. Organized. Effective.