I Don't Do Literacy Centers...

Okay, are you over the initial shock of the title yet? If not, don't read on until you are :) This is my post to add to Patton's Patch's linky party for today!

It's true - we don't do centers. In my school, we tried centers and guided reading the traditional way, but it just wasn't working for our kiddos, and our scores were showing that. So, our principal and reading guru headed out on the road to visit different schools to see how they do it. We are a Title 1 building with an ELL center, as well. We have a pretty diverse community and we have several families who move in and out over the course of their K-4 education. When looking for a fix to our problem, it was important to find a school that was similar in demographics to ours so we'd be comparing apples to apples. Long story short, we found the fix! We've been doing reading this way for several years now, and we are performing in the top 5% of all Kansas schools, so I'd say it's working! :-)

Here's what our literacy looks like:
*1.5 hours of Storytown Reading Series (whole class)

*30 minutes of writing (Storytown writing mixed with a district written curriculum - whole class)

*30 minutes of Storytown Guided Reading (small groups)
             Each student sees a teacher for this time, and we have 10 adults available during this time (3 first grade teachers, 2 reading teachers + their 2 paras, 1 SpEd teacher, 1 ELL teacher, 1 teacher aide), so the groups average about 5 kiddos each. We use the Fountas & Pinnell leveling system, so all of our kiddos are in groups with peers on the same reading level. These are flexible and kids move as their abilities change. The whole grade level moves kids at the same time for this, so, for instance, I only have 1 of my homeroom kids in my group along with 2 from each of the other first grade classes.

*30 minutes of Intervention Groups (small groups)
             Here's where all kiddos see an adult for another type of reading group! Once again, the kids are all shuffled and are grouped with like-ability peers. However, we don't do more guided reading at this time. This group works on a specific part of literacy that the kids need a boost in (phon. awareness, phonics, fluency, etc.). The teacher plans lessons based on the kids' needs and uses DIBELS to monitor progress to see if the kids need to move to another group!

*30 minutes of Tier 3/Title 1 time (small group, some students only)
            While most of the first graders head back to class for a read aloud and snack, the kids who struggle the most see our reading specialists for another dose of reading instruction and snack.

While it took some getting used to, we have found that the results FAR outweigh any uncomfort on the teachers' parts to get rid of centers. Our kids are getting instruction all day tailored to their needs. My strugglers aren't floundering out there in center time clueless and lost. It's great! :-)

Hope that all made sense!!



  1. Great post. Thanks for sharing. I know how hard it can be to go against something you think works but bravo for really taking your kids needs into account. I'm so glad it worked out for you.


  2. Wow! That's great that you all found something that really works for your kiddos! I haven't heard of storytown before, I'll have to check that out. Thanks for joining!

    Colleen Patton
    Mrs. Patton’s Patch

  3. 3.5 hours of reading/writing? 2 hours of small group time targeting things directly at kids' instructional level? Wow! That's a LOT of time! You also have a lot of adults available to help! I imagine we'd all love to do this if we had the time and personnel available. Great job making the best use of your staff.

  4. Good for you guys!! Now I'm curious what KS district you are in! I'm also a KS teacher!


  5. This sounds fantastic! Wow.

    Ms. M

  6. Great job on tailoring instruction to your kids' needs! Awesome!

  7. I haven't heard of that kind of program yet in my elementary education courses. It sounds like it works great for your class though.

  8. And I thought we were lucky to have a teacher to do DIBLES testing and monitoring! Sounds like you have a whole crew to make this work.


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