Empirical research informs us that students retain more information when performing hands-on tasks and getting actively involved in the learning process. Active learning increased student engagement, student learning outcomes, and helps students develop teamwork and collaboration skills. Creating and utilizing literacy centers is a great way to engage young students in active learning. Center work allows students to be more autonomous, problem-solve, and to self-direct all under the watchful eye of the teacher in the classroom.
Here are five ideas for literacy centers for your classroom:
- Reading Center
This first center is exactly what you think it is. Reading. Nothing more, nothing less. There is no need to get fancy or overly creative with this center. Students do need leveled books for them to read and to enjoy on their own and without the help of an adult. Books that are too hard will frustrate students, while books that are too easy will cause for students to be disengaged. Students should be assessed throughout the year to ensure that they are reading the right level books.
- Reading Response Center
After the Reading Center, students can transition to the Reading Response Center. Here, students can respond to the book they just read. Ensure that students can respond using several different methods. Here are a few suggestions: draw a picture of a character or event in the book; if you didn’t finish the book, predict what will happen next; answer another student’s question or write your own for another student.
- Word Work Center
Students will then transition to the Word Work Center. For Kindergarten students, start out with name work, alphabet letter/sound work, and phonological awareness work. As students progress through the year, they can transition to sight words, vocabulary building and partner word work. Students in grades 1-3 can start the year working on sight words, vocabulary, and partner word work from the word wall.
- Listening Center
Students love listening to books being read to them. Without pictures, students use their imagination to picture the story in their minds. Students will also enjoy learning about and using technology to start playing their story. Many classrooms have old CD plays, but using online technology and programs like Audible will give students access to newer books and stories. Make sure each child have access to their own headphones.
- Writing Center
The Writing Center is the final destination for students. This center should allow students to chose their writing project. Ideas for the youngest students include letter / number tracing and writing as well as simple word work. For older students, projects include writing an article for the class newsletter, composing a letter to a friend or relative, creating a how-to book or a brochure for the classroom / school, or interviewing a friend.
Dr. David Franklin, CEO of The Principal’s Desk, is an experienced teacher, school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at http://www.principalsdesk.org.