Learning at a the Primary Pond Webinar by Alison (specialist and consultant), allowed me to see how to set up and implement literacy centers in my classroom. It also provided me with strategies on grouping students and how to keep the students accountable for the work they are doing. Literacy centers are great in a classroom setting because it allows students to; try out new literacy skills, take part in solo learning and interact with literacy in different ways. For teachers literacy centers allow time to meet with students both individually and in small group to provide support or introduce new idea/center activities.
Setting Up Literacy Centers
- What centers should be provided?
- Are the centers going to be fixed (staying in one place) or flexible (can be done anywhere)?
- What order the centers should be done in, to set the students up for success?
- How many center rotations should be in each literacy session?
- How are you going to transition between centers?
(All of these questions and answers depend heavily on the teacher and their teaching style, so she recommend using trial and error to find out what works for each individuals classroom. But that being said, she does provide example of what has worked for her in the past to aid in the early stages of planning. )
- Read to Self
- Reading Response
- Word Work
- Partner Reading
- Drama/Music/Art (especially for Kindergarten)
In Alison’s class she had three rotations every day, each being 15min long. Before the students would start the rotations Alison would have a mini lesson/ review to get the students minds focused on an aspect of literacy*. She would set the timer and when it went off the students would put their hands on their heads and look at the rotation cart to see where they need to go next. Before they go to the next center the teacher would name the students she would like to meet with next , then all the students would rotate. The rotation chard had the students split into groups of 4-6 students, preplanned by the teacher**, each group was assigned to a different station. Students have both a book bin and and a literacy folder that they take to each center, and add to over time. She stresses to only teach one new thing a day so as to not overwhelm the students***.
*One recommendation she has is to introduce the new topic/activity in small groups a weeks in advance so that the students get familiar with the ideas before they work with it in larger groups during the mini lesson. This also go for new activity for centers.
** She set up partner groups with one similar skilled partner and one varied skill partner. For example if each number symbolized a student in my class and their level, 11223344, the teacher would put 1133 together and 2244 together so the gap is not to large, allowing some peer support but, not creating dependency on their partners.
*** Make a chart to help you see what new center activity you will be introducing. ex. Monday-Woodwork, Tuesday-Independent reading, Wednesday- Reading Responce, Thuursday- Writing, Friday- Partner reading.