Replicable Practice

November 10, 2011 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

Another old post that never got its wings…. until now.

My school started a new approach to professional development last year which was to identify a “replicable practice.” A “replicable practice” is an instructional strategy that produces measureable results in student achievement and that can be shared with other teachers. Instead of asking teachers to name an instructional weakness that they’d like to work on, my administration asked teachers to name a potential area of strength that they would like to develop further.

I think this is a really empowering way to put a positive spin on professional development, and I am embracing it wholeheartedly. In fact, I have been planning to use my blog as a part of sharing my replicable practice with others. So, I am not only happy but compelled to tell you about…

Wait for it…

Centers.

Okay, let’s all take a deep breath here.

I mean, 32 students moving around the room at the same time to places where they will be unsupervised to work independently? It is a lot.

But before I say anything I must say that I am incredibly grateful to have had another teacher in the room for half an hour with each class every day. My partner teachers will remain nameless because this is supposed to be an anonymous blog, but WOW. Working with inclusion partners made my particular version of Centers possible this year. I definitely feel like I got twice as much out of Centers as usual.

In previous years, I did Centers by myself, and there was still a huge benefit to having a regularly scheduled time to work with students in small groups. There are many different ways to arrange Centers, depending on the number of students, the number of teachers, the space and the resources. Over the  years, I have tried:

Three stations with one teacher

  1. Independent Work Station
  2. Game Station
  3. Teacher Station

Four stations with one teacher

  1. Independent Work Station
  2. Homework Check Station
  3. Partner Station
  4. Teacher Station

This is the simplest way to do Centers. Each group of 8 goes to each station for 12 minutes each day. You put a basket at each center with the materials students will need for that day.

Four stations with two teachers

  1. Independent Work Station
  2. Game Station
  3. Teacher 1 Station
  4. Teacher 2 Station

Five stations with two teachers

  1. Independent Work Station
  2. Computer Station
  3. Art Station
  4. Teacher 1 Station
  5. Teacher 2 Station

The set-up you choose depends on what you want the students to do and how many resources you have. For example, I wanted the students to work on computers, but I only had four. So, I set up a system where four students got to use the computers each day. When they weren’t on computers, they were at the art station.

For the purposes of my “replicable practice,” I’ll begin by sharing how I did centers last year, which is the last setup I mentioned above. Since it does require such complicated planning, I’ll just start with…

THE SCHEDULE

Basically, there are four centers over two days. We do this because I only have a partner teacher for half an hour with each class.

THE SETUP

My partner teacher takes her group to a free classroom while I manage the other three groups in my classroom. There are two tables in the back for one group to share. Then one group is with me, and another works independently.

This is just one idea of many. I’ve done lots of variations, and they’ve all been great.

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Making Best Practices Automatic How much of a class should be conceptual and how much should be procedural?

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