A few weeks ago, I had my 5-Day Centers Challenge, which was SO fun! Tons of music educators from all over the world participated, and shared tons of ideas for creating and implementing centers. (To read the summary, click here.) Throughout the challenge, I heard several questions and concerns about centers, so in this blog post, I’m dispelling some myths about centers in the music room, with some solutions for common problems.
Myth #1: “I can’t do centers, because my lessons are too short.”
If you have 30 minutes or less with students, you may have worried that this is just not enough time for centers. However, with some restructuring, I believe centers can be quite successful!
For 30 minute lessons, you might try:
- Spreading out the centers over two lessons (two centers in one lesson, two centers in the next)
- Only doing three centers (instead of the typical four)
- Having students choose their centers, and when to switch (like in this blog post) so you’re not so worried about how many centers your students are going to
Myth #2: “I can’t do centers, because I have too many students in my class.”
If you have more than 30 students in your class, it can be pretty tricky to do centers. Having more than 6-7 students at one center can be a bit chaotic. If you have large class sizes, I would suggest one of the following:
- Duplicate centers, so there are two centers that have the same task, two other centers that have another task, etc. That way, you can keep the number of students at each center down to a manageable level.
- Have students choose centers, like described above, but ask students to not have more than 5-6 amount of students at any given center
Myth #3: “It will take too long to create the centers.”
It does take a while to create centers, especially if it’s your first time. However, after you’ve created them, you have them for as long as you are teaching! Here is a YouTube video I created with ideas for organizing your centers, for easy access in following years.
Also keep in mind that with centers, you could create a small amount of materials, instead of enough for the entire class. So if you have six students at one center, you could create six sets (instead of 28, or however many are in your class), or you could create only three and have students work in pairs at that center!
Myth #4: "It will be too noisy."
I admit it. Centers CAN be noisy.
However, most students will be used to centers, because their classroom teachers are likely using centers pretty often in their classrooms.
Think about your set-up, so that if you have two noisy centers, they can be placed as far away from each other as possible. (Check out this blog post with more thoughts about noise.)
If you have students with sensory issues, I suggest having headphones available. You can also suggest telling any students who are overwhelmed by the noise that they can choose a different spot in the room (preferably a spot far away from the noisiest center.)
Myth #5: "My Students Will be Too High Maintenance."
You might be worried about students asking too many questions. However, if you set up centers in the right way, they should be pretty comfortable with what you’re asking them to do.
I suggest having centers that have material and activities familiar to the students. For example, if they’ve played “I have/ who has” as a whole class, you can easily do it as a center, because students are familiar with the game. Even if it’s something you’ve explained to the whole class and have only had a few volunteers try, students will know enough about the game or activity to not be confused when doing in centers.
You may want to have yourself be available, instead of being anchored to a center, so that students can ask you questions and you can assist as needed.
Myth #6: "My Students Will Be Off Task."
I’m not going to lie. This does happen. However, I find that the students who are sometimes the most off task during a whole group lesson are actually participating and behaving really well, especially if they have the autonomy to choose their own center! Because centers lessons are less rigid–especially if you are incorporating choice–students are often more on task than you'd expect!
Looking for ready-made centers materials? Check out these bundles; you can also buy the individual sets separately.
Any other centers myths I missed? Feel free to comment below. Happy planning, and happy teaching!