No Series: Classroom Management During Centers

Classroom Management During Centers

Lesson Objective: Learn structures and instructions to make centers successful
Grade K / Math / Centers


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How does kindergarten teacher Ryan Berger use lights and a song to transition between centers?
  2. Notice how Mr. Berger repeats instructions prior to the transition How is content addressed during transitions to make the most use of time?


  • Private message to Madison Battle
  1. How does kindergarten teacher Ryan Berger use lights and a song to transition between centers?

Ryan Berger turns off the lights and sings a song when it is time for students to stop what they are doing and prepare for transitioning centers. He shares that the purpose of this is for students to recognize that this is the designated time for transition and they shouldnt be doing anything else. 

  1. Notice how Mr. Berger repeats instructions prior to the transition How is content addressed during transitions to make the most use of time?

Mr. Berger uses repeating instructions prior to transitioning as a classroom management strategy. This ensures that the students know exactly what is expected of them during the transition. By singing songs during the transition, it keeps students focused rather than giving them an opportunity to participate in offtask behaviors during the transition.

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  • Private message to Rachel Thomson

1. How does kindergarten teacher Ryan Berger use lights and a song to transition between centers? 

Ryan Berger used lights as a signal/routine to have the students stop what they are doing at their current center. The song was used as a way for students to practice what they are learning about (money) and prepare their mindset for the next center. 

2. Notice how Mr. Berger repeats instructions prior to the transition. How is content addressed during transitions to make the most use of time? 

Ryan Berger repeated the directions in order for students to know what to focus on and complete during the next center rotation. If the students are working on a new task, it is important to go over the directions multiple times in order for students to understand what is expected of them. He includes a song to help students understand the lesson (money), and the song provides additional practice. 

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  • Private message to Regina Jefferson
  1. How does kindergarten teacher Ryan Berger use lights and a song to transition between centers?

Ryan uses light during transition to signal students that it is time to quietly stop what they are doing and to get ready for the next center. 

  1. Notice how Mr. Berger repeats instructions prior to the transition How is content addressed during transitions to make the most use of time?

During transition Ryan sings a song related to coins so the students are learning and moving at the same time. 

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  • Private message to Kimberly Lair

I liked the storyline idea.  I often want to tell a story to my class. What a great way to have a list of them!

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  • Private message to Avery Baird

I like the idea of the broken and sharpened pencil because as they stated many kids just want to get up and move around and this cuts that time in half with already sharpened pencils. I also like how before they even get to transition to the next table, he gets their attention and tells them what is expected of them during the transition. I also like how he took the time to show them what to do and what not to do. He also used a lot of repetition, which is always good at this young age. The idea to let the students reflect on how they behaved and color the face they feel like they acted is a great way to get them to be self-aware and understand if they acted correctly or not.

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  • Berger: [00:00:06] What is our rule when we’re sitting on the rug? Could you say that again Matt? [00:00:10]

    [00:00:10] We're

    Berger: [00:00:06] What is our rule when we’re sitting on the rug? Could you say that again Matt? [00:00:10]

    [00:00:10] We're not going to slide under the table. Riley would you like to move up here next to Nolin, so you can see better? [00:00:15]

    Moderator: [00:00:15] At Infield Elementary in Orland, Pennsylvania, former substitute Ryan Berger is midway through his first year as a kindergarten teacher. Ryan has asked instructional expert, Jim Knight, to observe a math lesson where students are moving between centers. Jim will be looking for general classroom management strategies that could help Ryan, whose time for transitions has been less than stellar. [00:00:36]

    Berger: [00:00:37] Boys and girls, who could raise their hand and tell me in math, what have we been studying? What have we been looking at each day? And you have a chance, each day, to earn this if you are behaving and doing what you’re supposed to. Who can raise their hand and tell me? [00:00:53]

    [00:00:55] Ryan can you tell me what we’re earning and what we’re—[00:00:57]

    Class: [00:00:56] Money. [00:00:57]

    Berger: [00:00:57] Money. What money are we looking at? Elizabeth? [00:01:03]

    Knight: [00:01:04] The superintendent said she’s seen one male kindergarten teacher in 22 years. How did you come to—how did that whole process go to be here, and what’s it like to be doing this? [00:01:13]

    Berger: [00:01:14] Well last year I started out the year in fifth grade. One of the teachers was out on maternity leave, and I had known that one of the kindergarten teachers over here was going to be out at some point. So when I finished up fifth grade, the superintendent approached me and said, “We might need another kindergarten because we have so many kids coming in for enrollment. What do you think?” I said, “Well yeah.” [00:01:38]

    Knight: [00:01:39] So what was it like to go from fifth grade with all these little kids—[00:01:42]

    Berger: [00:01:42] It was stressful. It was very stressful. My biggest thing back then, and I went right to my teammates. In fifth grade, I was able to take things like centers and write it up on the board and have directions so that they could always just go up. [00:01:57]

    Knight: [00:01:57] Right. [00:01:57]

    Berger: [00:01:57] Well you come to kindergarten, they can’t read everything that you put up there. So that was a battle. How do I make sure they know where they’re going each time? [00:02:06]

    [00:02:07] At the yellow table. The yellow table is Nathan, Jack D., Sophia and Mara. I will bring you your center in just a second. [00:02:21]

    Knight: [00:02:24] Well there so many little things here I saw that worked really well. Like the sharpened pencil and the broken pencil. Cause what can happen is kids spend eternities sharpening their pencil. In fact, sometimes I think they’ll break their pencil just so they can go sharpen their pencil. [00:02:39]

    Berger: [00:02:39] Yeah. [00:02:39]

    Knight: [00:02:40] Did you make that idea up? [00:02:41]

    Berger: [00:02:42] Yeah that’s something I brought down from when I taught fifth grade before. I noticed just kinda like what you were saying that the kids at the older grades were much more social, so they would go to the pencil sharpener, and I would see there would be two friends over at the pencil sharpener together. So I always said they had to have three pencils; one to use, one to lose and one to break. [00:03:00]

    Knight: [00:03:00] Right. [00:03:00]

    Berger: [00:03:01] And then I also had the bin, so then the older kids, at the end of the day, I had somebody responsible for sharpening the pencils. [00:03:08]

    Knight: [00:03:09] I see. [00:03:09]

    Berger: [00:03:09] But with the younger kids, they can’t quite sharpen their pencils, so it’s just up to me at the end of the day to make sure there’s enough pencils in there. [00:03:17]

    [00:03:16] How much is a penny worth? Who can tell me? [00:03:19]

    [00:03:22] Caitlin? [00:03:22]

    Class: [00:03:22] One. [00:03:23]

    Berger: [00:03:23] One cent. So if you had seven pennies, how many cents do you have? [00:03:27]

    Class: [00:03:29] And penny? [00:03:30]

    Berger: [00:03:30] Seven cents. [00:03:31]

    [00:03:33] How many pennies do you need Riley? [00:03:36]

    Class: [00:03:37] Five. [00:03:37]

    Berger: [00:03:38] Five—you need five pennies to equal what? [00:03:40]

    Class: [00:03:41] A dime. [00:03:42]

    Berger: [00:03:42] A dime? [00:03:43]

    [00:03:45] What is a dime worth? [00:03:45]

    Class: [00:03:47] Ten cents. [00:03:47]

    Berger: [00:03:47] Ten cents. So do we have—we have one, two, three, four, five. That would be worth how much? [00:03:56]

    Class: [00:03:57] Five cents. [00:03:58]

    Berger: [00:03:58] Five cents. What other coin is worth five cents? [00:04:01]

    Class: [00:04:03] A nickel. [00:04:04]

    Berger: [00:04:04] The nickel. Okay? [00:04:06]

    [00:04:13] All right. It looks like we are ready to move. Do not go please until we start our song. Remember, the green table, you will come up front with me. The group that is with me, you will go to the blue table. Blue table is going to the red table. Red table you’re moving over to the yellow table. And then the last, the yellow table will come up to the green. Please don’t start going until we start our song. Remember you’re going to repeat after me. Make sure your chair is pushed in. Stand up, push your chairs in. And repeat after me. Penny, penny easily spent. [00:04:58]

    Class: [00:04:58] Penny, penny easily spent. [00:05:01]

    Knight: [00:05:01] How would you sum up what you saw? [00:05:03]

    Berger: [00:05:05] I think it was successful overall the lesson, the transition seemed to work pretty well. Using the lights to turn them out, I think is easy for them to see. They know when the lights go out. [00:05:17]

    Knight: [00:05:16] Right. [00:05:17]

    Berger: [00:05:17] Then just repeating. Okay when the lights go out, this is what you are supposed to do. [00:05:21]

    [00:05:23] And moving from one group to the next group, I think went well. And I was looking at the groups, and as a whole they were sitting down at their—at their tables and they seemed to be on task and doing what was asked of them. [00:05:35]

    [00:05:35] Can you take your coins out of your bank Avery? [00:05:36]

    [Class working at tables 00:05:36 – 00:06:00]

    Berger: [00:06:01] I still hear some noise. Thank you. [00:06:04]

    Knight: [00:06:05] Now I kept track of the time for the transitions. [00:06:07]

    Berger: [00:06:07] Okay. [00:06:07]

    Knight: [00:06:08] Do you want to hear what? [00:06:09]

    Berger: [00:06:09] Yes. [00:06:09]

    Knight: [00:06:09] basically it was 28 minutes total, time in transitions. You add it all up—[00:06:14]

    Berger: [00:06:14] It’s a lot of time. [00:06:15]

    Knight: [00:06:15] Twenty-eight minutes, but on the other hand it’s seven transitions. I timed it from when you flicked the light until when you sat down with the kids and said okay pull at your legs. [00:06:25]

    Berger: [00:06:25] That’s the next sentence. Okay. [00:06:26]

    Knight: [00:06:27] So in that time, there’s some good learning going on. It’s not just transitions because you have them recite their—their song and that sometimes will take a minute or so. [00:06:37]

    Berger: [00:06:38] All right, remember before we move, we’re gonna say our song one more time. I will say it and then you repeat. The next time I wanna see if you guys can do it with me. Quarter, quarter big and bold. [00:06:51]

    Class: [00:06:52] Quarter, quarter big and bold. [00:06:54]

    Berger: [00:06:55] You’re worth 25 I am told. [00:06:57]

    Class: [00:06:58] Your 25 I am told [00:07:00]

    Berger: [00:07:01] Excellent. I’m looking to see who’s quietly moving to the next center. Remember you still can earn money during centers. So I’m looking to see who’s doing the right thing. Let’s switch to the next center. [00:07:15]

    [00:07:19] I would like you to count all your pennies. And if you know how many pennies—if you know how many pennies you need to turn in, you can let me know. [00:07:32]

    [00:07:38] I’m always interested when I so centers to see what are the other kids doing at the other centers. [00:07:42]

    Knight: [00:07:41] right. Right. [00:07:42]

    Berger: [00:07:42] I’m not there to monitor them to see are my directions clear. Were they clear enough for ‘em? And then are they on task with what they were doing? [00:07:51]

    Knight: [00:07:53] If it’s a new activity, maybe you have five centers, and you don’t leave one. So you can make sure they’re good on the activity. [00:08:00]

    Berger: [00:08:01] And just kind of monitor them, all of ‘em. [00:08:02]

    Knight: [00:08:02] But I think the power of you being there and being able to adjust with them what’s going on is really powerful, but maybe you can sort of combine it where, “Just for a minute I want you to take your money out and count it. Then I want you to see if you’ve got any pennies, nickels or dimes, and if you have a penny, put it here. If you have a nickel—if you have five pennies, put it here. If you have ten, put it here and I want you to do that, and then I want you to think about how you’re gonna—you know spend your money on Friday.” So they’ve got it right—they’ve got something to do. It’s gonna take them just a minute or two while you can go check in with the other groups. [00:08:32]

    Berger: [00:08:33] One thing you can do is raise your hand. What else? Quietly write and where are our hands? On the side of your laps. [00:08:40]

    [00:08:40] Kailey? And how do I know you’re listening? [00:08:46]

    Knight: [00:08:47] Just as I was watching the kids today, I was thinking about one of my favorite ideas is just the idea of using stories. So when you’re talking about the coin song, you know you might make a story up that captures all the key things. Then you go to the song, and you say here’s how it is. [00:09:01]

    [00:09:02] So there’s a thing you can do. You just draw a line like this. This is when you were born, and this is today. Then up here you put all the people you know. Down here you put all the events in your life. Think of all these different stories, and I just fill the page with all the possible stories. Then I take that page, and I put it somewhere. Then could be in a notebook or something, and you probably want even bigger than this piece of paper. Like a construction paper, but—and then every day before I’m gonna teach my class, I look at the page. I look at all the stories, and I think well maybe I could do that one about the time I got locked in the car. Or whatever, and you—or the time we went skating and my sister fell down. [00:09:45]

    Berger: [00:09:46] When I taught third grade, we were doing—in science we were talking about watering and how water flows and if it’s going downhill or affecting 09:55. I had told a story about going camping with my family when I was their age, and how we didn’t know what we were doing. We camped at the bottom of the hill, and the water came right through—right through our tent. And they thought—they thought that was funny. I said, “That’s not even the best part.” I said, “I woke up, my dad was sleeping in the car, and left the rest of us in the—“[00:10:15]

    [00:10:16] So they then remembered that, and—[00:10:19]

    Knight: [00:10:18] That’s the thing. [00:10:19]

    Berger: [00:10:19] They were in fifth grade last year when I was in fifth grade, and they still remembered that little story. So do you remember when you got wet from camping? I said, yeah. But then—[00:10:28]

    Knight: [00:10:28] And they’ll remember that 20 years from now. They’ll say, “Oh I remember that camping story.” [00:10:32]

    Berger: [00:10:32] And I never thought of doing and putting down, but I do like that idea you know then seeing, okay what am I teaching today. Do I have anything here that will relate? [00:10:40]

    [00:10:41] Green table and red table, you need to please put your worksheets in your mailboxes. [00:10:48]

    [00:10:50] People at the yellow table, if you could please start collecting all of the letters. [00:10:56]

    [00:10:58] Green table, Audrey and Nolan, could you help the yellow table start to clean up? [00:11:03]

    [00:11:07] If you guys can put all these coins back into the tins? [00:11:10]

    [00:11:12] Ryan, could you help take all these pieces of paper off the table by taking the tape off of them? [00:11:19]

    [00:11:23] Thank you Vera. [00:11:23]

    Knight: [00:11:24] You probably don’t know everything you need them to do to clean up, but if you watch them you can say, oh if they didn’t do this. Like for example, one person picks it up if it’s on the floor. [00:11:34]

    Berger: [00:11:35] Actually I never thought of sitting back and kinda watching them clean up. [00:11:39]

    Knight: [00:11:39] Right. [00:11:39]

    Berger: [00:11:40] I’ve always been trying to help out where I can, but maybe just stop doing that and seeing—[00:11:46]

    Knight: [00:11:46] How are they with wastepaper? [00:11:46]

    Berger: [00:11:47] Yeah what are they doing then, and then instead of me going to help them clean up, put all the ownership on them. [00:11:53]

    Knight: [00:11:53] Right. [00:11:53]

    Berger: [00:11:53] And let them go and do it. [00:11:54]

    Knight: [00:11:55] Then when you teach it, just—just the way you taught the centers, but you’re just really, really clear. This is how we do it. Let me show you. This is not what we do. This is how we work together. You know even model it for them. Make a big mess on your table and clean up the mess and show them how quick it can be done and all that stuff. If you give them a non-example and an example and they kind of nail it. [00:12:15]

    Berger: [00:12:15] They would go home and tell their parents, “Mr. Berger was cleaning up and making a mess. [00:12:18]

    Knight: [00:12:18] Right. [Laugh] [00:12:18]

    Berger: [00:12:19] Might not be a good thing that they go home and tell their parents that I was dumping things on the ground and—[00:12:22]

    Knight: [00:12:23] Right. [00:12:23]

    Berger: [00:12:23] But I think that would then stick with them. [00:12:25]

    [00:12:26] What I want you to do once you have finished the top is fill in—color in with any color you want one of these faces to tell me how you think you behaved today during centers. If you think you did a great job, I want you to give yourself a smiley face. If you think you did okay, but you could have done better, use the straight line face. And if you know you could have behaved a whole lot better, and you weren’t doing what you were supposed to—[00:12:56]

    Knight: [00:12:56] It was just a great, great day. It was so much fun to watch you with your kids. I think it’s awesome you’re doing what you’re doing. We you know your—kindergarten is such an important part of every child’s career. I mean it sets the stage for what they do to have you committed to it, and doing it wonderful, and they see you as a role model. I love watching your kids, and I loved their conversation. I’m just grateful that you let us in, and grateful that we got to have this talk. [00:13:21]

    Berger: [00:13:21] Well thank you for coming in. I appreciate all the help and you know ideas that you gave to me. It’s been a great day. [00:13:26]

    Knight: [00:13:27] Well I learn from you, so it worked out great. [00:13:29]

    Berger: [00:13:30] Thank you. [00:13:30]

    Knight: [00:13:31] All right, hey thanks. [00:13:30]

    [Video ends 13:53]

School Details

Springfield Township Elementary School-Enfield
1118 Church Road
Oreland PA 19075
Population: 405

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