Guided Reading: Centers

While I was student teaching many years ago, my supervising teacher incorporated guided reading in her 2nd grade literacy block. I was amazed at how students were able to work independently during centers. When I started teaching, I began using centers within my classroom routine.


There are a few things teachers must set up in order to be successful.  First, students need to know what you expect from them. Establishing routines and procedures during the first few weeks of school will save a lot of headache later in the year. At each center, I use a “direction page” where students will find what they are suppose to do (in kid friendly language) and an example they can use if needed. You can differentiate this direction sheet  depending on your student’s needs. In the past when I taught Kindergarten, I used picture directions until the students learned to read. Also, students need to know where they are suppose to go. In my classroom I have a pocket chart with each student’s name listed. I rotate the centers each day and students use the pocket chart to see which center they will be completing that day. Additionally, students need to know where each center is located. I have done this several ways. Years when I have had a bigger classroom (or fewer students), I have designated areas within in my classroom for specific centers. This year, I have different colors of baskets that contain different centers. I place the basket on the student’s desks instead of having designated areas for centers around the room.

Next, you need to find quality centers that will engage students that also matches what you are teaching. This step takes work and often centers are trial and error–what works for some classes may not work for others. Be cautious when using resources from Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest–these sites often have great ideas, but are not rigorous enough for students.  I personally believe that students need to produce something while in their center. Currently, I am using the following centers within my guided reading:

-Listening: students listen to a book on tape and then complete a flow map of the beginning, middle and end.

-Writing: in this center, students have a choice to write about whatever they would like. I include about 5 pictures, sentences starters, and vocabulary words to help students that struggle with coming up with something off the top of their heads. Students write in their writing journals, which I check on Fridays and also use for parent-teacher conferences.

-Build a Sentence: Each of my reading groups receives a different sentence to put together based on the phonic lesson they are learning for the week. (I write the sentence on a sentence strip and then cut it.)  After students put the sentence together, they write the sentence on the bottom of the paper.

-Reading: This is the only center that I do not require students to produce something. I let students choose a book to read from the read aloud bucket. I use this center so that students can learn that it is important to read for fun.

-Pocket Chart: After practicing our poem of the week during Morning Message, students put together the poem at this center. After they have put the sentence together, students can write the poem, respond to the poem, or write an extension to the poem.

Below I have included a few resources that might be helpful if you are interested in starting or revamping literacy centers in your classroom:
Reading Rockets: This resource provides examples of centers for elementary and secondary grades.
Busy Teacher Cafe: This resource also gives specific examples of literacy centers. As always, make sure to review them and make sure they are appropriate for your students before implementing them.
Read, Write, Think: Another resource for getting started with guided reading. I would recommend this to beginners who want to start implementing literacy centers.

Do you teach guided reading? What literacy centers do you use?


One thought on “Guided Reading: Centers

  1. The Third November 24, 2016 / 12:08 pm

    Dear mereadair87,

    As a teacher who has no prior experiencing teaching elementary school students, the idea of centers was vague; however, your post above has allowed me to enter into the centers through the eyes of children! My daughter who is in kindergarten has shared with me about her favorite centers but I didn’t know how it worked until I read your post. Of all the centers you mentioned, I think my favorite stations are reading and poem center. I like the reading center because I don’t necessarily have to “produce” anything in particular yet be grounded in the habit of reading and feel good about reading with peers around me. I would definitely enjoy the poem center simply because I know I am not a poetic person and it will push me to be out of my comfort zone. Thanks for sharing your post on the stations!


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