Making Reading Centers Work in a Combination Class

Hi! It's Sarah from Learning is for Superstars! I am teaching a combination first/second class in central Virginia this year. This post is about how to make reading centers work and function in your classroom.
I am a fairly organized teacher, with tubs labeled with my materials and activities, as well as binders organized by unit, season, and holiday. But when I found out in August about the combination class, I didn't feel at all like I was an organized! I was very overwhelmed and didn't feel like I could figure out how to make this work. One thing I have learned this year is that I needed to have different color binders and tubs for each grace. I can then quickly identify which color goes with which group. I don't lose valuable and precious teaching time to find the right materials. 

Pictured here are one of the skills the second graders have been working on. Everything, including any copies, are in the envelope. I pull the envelope out for the week to use and then place it back on the shelves at the end of the week.
It took me until second semester to figure this out. My second graders are all reading on the same grade level so I put them in one group. They meet first with the reading specialist, who is Andrea Crawford from Reading Toward the Stars!, and then come to me for reading group. With me we spend thirty minutes working on a second grade skill for about ten minutes and the rest of the time is spent reading. We are currently going through Frog and Toad. This is something the rest of our second graders read, but I'm going at a much slower pace and doing serious comprehension work on each chapter.
Last week the second graders took a break from Frog and Toad to read The Missing Mitten Mystery.
 While this is happening, the first graders come to me first and then have centers. Their centers are on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. They get to all 3 centers with 1-2 partners. Each center has a recording page with their activity. We all know that without some kind of accountability, they will play and not be as serious without it.

Here's some of my centers from last week. When they finish, everything goes back into the baggies and drop into the pink tub.
 Thursday's center is a review from our whole group reading lessons and on Fridays we do not have reading groups. This allows me time to prep centers for the next week. Once I've pulled from my tubs, everything goes into the basket for the next week and looks like this. I use the orange tub to prep and when I remove the centers from the week before, everything gets moved over.
The most challenging part of teaching a combo class is to include the standards in instruction for both groups. This is the main reason that I have grade level small group reading to ensure each group is receiving what they need.

If you teach a combination class I would love to hear from you!

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