Use Powerpoint for Centers Management Made Easy

Using Powerpoint to Manage Centers Rotations

Small Group Powerpoint tutorial

Last week I shared how I use Powerpoint for my centers management for reading centers.  Students have a new rotation each day so that they work through a variety of centers throughout the week and it was taking me too much time to switch out cards every morning.  Once the work is done, it’s done.  I just open the slideshow, turn to the correct day, and project it for our entire rotation.  You can read that post (and watch the video) by clicking the image below.

Small Group Schedule Display

Math is a different story though.   I tried doing a rotation where I slid the cards down to the next center after every switch.  It did not go well.  I would blow our whistle to switch and I’d hear:


We didn’t even quite make it two weeks before we needed a new centers management plan.  I asked around if there was an app that would show the rotation.  The responses I got: Powerpoint.

It was an “Oh yeah!” moment.  So, in case you never had a similar moment, here’s how I use Powerpoint to help me with my centers management.  There’s also a detailed video tutorial at the end.

First, I created an image that I could use as the background.  I wanted it to be something I couldn’t accidentally move.  I gave it a background and title and then added text boxes for each center.  The acronym I’m trying out this year is A + Math.  We go to 3 rotations a day so it takes 2 days to go to each center.

I also give my students a clean up time so that hopefully each center gets put away the exact way we’ve practiced.  I created a second image to put on the clean up screen.  Because the slideshow is auto-timed (more on that below) it automatically signals for students to rotate and move.  With math center sI like keeping the times regimented.  With my reading centers,  I may steal an extra couple minutes with a group if we’re really working hard or in a discussion so I prefer not to have the times automatic then.

Our math center groups are organized by color.  I made a rectangle for each colored group.  I then layered a text box on top for the student names.  I grouped the two of them together and set them up with each center title.

I then inserted a text box into the right side and every two days I change out the information.  This is details on what the students are doing at each one, or what they need to bring with them to the center. This might seem like a lot of work, but it only takes me a moment to switch it up each morning.

I put three clean up slides and three center slides.  Every morning I set up the day’s three slides by moving the bottom color to the top, selecting all of the other colors and dragging them down, and then copying/pasting the slide to do it again.  I’m currently trying to figure out if it’s easier to do things with the colors rotated already and then just saving two different files (a Mon/Wed rotation and a Tues/Thurs rotation) and then all I’d have to do is change the text each morning.  I can’t decide which is really the easiest….

Every Monday and Wednesday I set up the detailed information on the side.  It literally takes me a minute to type in and then it saves SO many questions during the two days.  We do an algebraic math program on Fridays and do not do centers.

If you’d like to watch the video to see how I created the Powerpoint step by step, click below.

I forgot one step in the video.  The last step.  To get the slideshow going, you have to hit it to start.  It starts timing immediately.  There are arrows pointing to the two options in the image below.

What is your centers management structure in your classroom?  I’d love to hear some other ideas.  If you have any questions, leave me a comment and I’m happy to try and help!

Don’t forget to check out the other great bright ideas posts below!

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Small Group Powerpoint tutorial



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Hi! I'm Tessa!

Tessa Maguire image

I’ve spent the last 15 years teaching in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades, and working beside elementary classrooms as an instructional coach and resource support. I’m passionate about math, literacy, and finding ways to make teachers’ days easier. I share from my experiences both in and out of the elementary classroom.




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