Monday Mapping: Centers in the Secondary Classroom

Tips for setting up effective centers in the secondary classroom.

School has started and you are determined to make your middle or high school classroom different than the rest.  What do you do?  Easy!  Transform your classroom from the desk and chair lecture monotony to an interactive walk through history or set up intriguing Centers, archeological digs, response group lessons, or other fun, engaging activities.  

While elementary classrooms have utilized centers activities for years, it has been a foreign concept at the middle and high school levels.  Many classrooms still focus on the instruction gathered through the use of textbooks and lecture notes, while students grow more and more apathetic and disengaged by the minute.   

Change that!

Some may argue that with all of the content secondary teachers are challenged with presenting in their curriculum, it is virtually impossible to create, set up, and assess centers activities without giving up your entire life.  This is a valid consideration, unless you choose to NOT reinvent the wheel.  Find already created centers activities, either from my TpT Store or from other curriculum based programs.  These lessons will not only provide the content standards to your students, but they will make your classroom one that is fun and engaging.

Finally, follow these tips to make setting up and maintaining your centers a snap from year to year:
  • Laminate everything!  Once you find great resources to use in your centers, laminate them to preserve their use from year to year.  Use a strong card stock and print at high quality, and your savings will stack up as the years go by without having to replace your resources. 
  • Set up after school.  Every morning is stressful, and finding that you are missing something for a center can throw your day completely off.  Set up in the afternoon before you leave for the day, allowing yourself time in the morning to relax before you start the lesson.
  • Cluster desks together in the corners of the room for the centers.  Allow students to sit on the floor in the center of the room to start and finish the lesson.  I called this "carpet time" and always had big, high school boys running to get the best spot on my rug!
  • Organize and store center stations individually.  Use file folders or ziplock bags to place all needed materials in individual bags (and then into the master bag or folder).  When setting up, each is already sorted to help with classroom organization.
  • Recruit students to set up the activity.  Offer a few bonus students for students willing to stay after school to set up your activities.  You'll find that they will read and view the materials as they set up (without realizing it) and the real bonus may be with their content retention!
  • Use OnlineStopwatch.comThe website has a number of options for keeping time and calling times up!  Project the stopwatch onto the board to keep students on task and using their time wisely.
And then HAVE FUN!  Walk around as your students work, ask them questions, and share insights with them as they investigate the information at hand.  Also throw in off-topic conversation to help build the rapport and classroom environment where your students will want to come in and learn.

Your classroom will be one that is loved by all!

Try these great Centers or other Interactive Lessons from my TpT Store!

And many more...

Michele Luck

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