In case you are late to the party, I have been sharing how I run literacy centres in my classroom over the past few weeks. You can find out how I start centres in this post, how I organize them over here, and see ALL of the centres I have posted about so far by clicking here.
Today I will be writing about my students' most FAVOURITE centre. You may not have heard of "Écris la salle" (Write the Room) as a centre before, but let me tell you - it is a HIT! I have run this centre in my classroom for the past four years, and it is always the most popular. I love it, too - it is easy to set up and explain, it keeps my students busy the whole time, and it gets them moving! You can also run it with very few materials - just a pencil, paper, and clip board for each group member if you want. Here is how to do it!
DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT YOUR STUDENTS TO WRITE
Sight words? Letters? Student names? Thematic vocabulary? Sons composés? The choice is yours! Écris la salle is essentially a scavenger hunt, where you send your students all around the room looking for whatever you like. When they find it, they write it down. What you want them to find depends on your particular group of students and where they are at.
When I start Écris la salle, I start with letters. I tell them to either walk around looking for letters that they know, or I give them a target letter to find (if I give them a target letter, I put a flash card of that letter in the bin as well). Sometimes, they will write numbers or pictures that they see alongside the letters that they know - that's fine in the beginning!
Once we are used to walking around and writing things down, I challenge them to find their peers' names. My students' names are alllllll over our classroom - on duo tangs, reading baskets, clothespins, tables, the word wall, everywhere! My kinders love, love, love finding, identifying, and writing down their friends' names.
PROVIDE A BIN WITH EVERYTHING THEY NEED
Your students will be walking all over the classroom during this centre. One way to help make sure they stay on task is to provide them with evvvvverything they need in one place before they even get started. I use a big, white bin (no idea where it is from - sorry! It has been in my classroom longer than me) with one of the labels from my TPT store.
(The bin is empty in this picture because we hadn't started this centre yet when I took it!)
I use plain dollar store clip boards, as pictured above. I put one for each group member in the bin. You could buy decorative, fancy clip boards to make it extra special - I just happen to have about 20 of those plain brown ones in my classroom already. You also should provide a few writing utensils. I use pens. No, they can't be erased if a student makes a mistake, but... they are special! Also, I don't have to sharpen them! Écris la salle is the only time my students ever get to use pens. It's the little things ;) You will also need to provide paper in the bins - list paper, plain paper, lined paper, whatever you prefer!
MODEL, MODEL... AND MODEL SOME MORE!
As with anything, this centre takes practice! Students are so used to being told to stay in one place during this time, that an invitation to move around the room could lead to chaos... if you don't spend lots of time showing your students exactly what you expect. I show my students how to walk allllll around the classroom and I model looking in all kinds of interesting places - up high, down low, under things, in things - letters and words are everywhere! You should also show them where not to look, if you have some off-limits places (for example, my students are not allowed behind my desk. Ever!). I model how to walk around without distracting other groups, and explain how there is no need to talk during this centre. Even though they technically have a partner, this centre is to be completed independently.
MAKE IT SEASONAL - IF YOU WANT!
Once we have the routine and behaviour expectations down pat, I love using Écris la salle to get my students writing seasonal vocabulary. I "hide" labelled pictures all around the classroom with seasonal words on them, and provide my students with a sheet that has a black and white version of each picture and space to write the word. Their job is to try and write as many of the words as they can. I don't actually have any Écris la salle sets in my own TPT store, but I buy them from Penny's Primary Printables. There are other TPTers who offer them, but hers are definitely my favourites! Her sets have lots of words - more than enough to keep my students searching and writing for the whole rotation. There is also a lot of value in her sets, as they come with colour-by-word sheets and puzzles that feature the same vocabulary. I even use the colouring sheets as part of my Écris la salle centre - after everyone has had a turn to find the words once, I add a marker (normally by taping it to the wall haha) beside each of the words featured in the colour-by-word sheets and my students walk around and look for the colours that they need to complete the sheet.
If you decide to make your Écris la salle centre seasonal and use vocabulary words, make sure to review the words with your students multiple times - before sending them off to find them, and a few more times as well. Otherwise, they are basically just writing gibberish! We want them to be thinking about each word (en français) as they are looking for it and writing it down, and hopefully noticing how the letters that they are writing contribute to the word as a whole. I also suggest that you model writing the whole word - some students may try to get away with just putting a check mark or writing only the article ;)
As you can see, there are LOTS of ways to make Écris la salle work for you in your classroom! While it can seem a bit counter-intuitive to encourage your students to walk all around the room during centre time when you want them quiet and focused, it actually works out very well. Depending on your group size, there will only be a couple of students at this centre at a time, and students LOVE scavenger hunts! The more engaged they are, the more focused they will be. You could even tap into their natural sense of play and provide them with magnifying glasses or detective badges to really sell them on it!
Do you use Écris la salle in your classroom? How long have you been doing it? What do you have your students write? Is it the most popular centre in your classroom, too? Let me know in the comments below!
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