Since Literacy Centers are self directed, it is vital to the success of the students that each center is accessible to them. I read some articles and texts on differentiation in literacy centers and it has become clear what is essential in creating differentiated centers.
The Key to Success
- Continual assessment
- Gradual release of responsibility
- Open ended or modified tasks
- Visual and written instructions
- Small group work
- Meaningful activities
While focusing in on differentiation I noticed many of the positives of literacy centers go hand in hand with differentiation if done right. Like stated in my first post, thoughtful consideration need to be taken when planning groups. Rotation group can be set up like Alison stated in her webinar but when making instructional groups it is important to group them in same skill groups. This allows for targeted instruction that will help the students build up their literacy skills and receive modified instructions for when they are in different literacy centers. These activities can have the same construct for the whole class but the supplies (worksheet, sight words, books etc) and sometime parts of the criteria may be different. The initial lessons will be done with the whole class, then they will do it in their small groups with teacher support with the specific literacy level changes and then once they are ready it can be put in the literacy centers. To go along with this, groups supplies can be codes by colour, number or (my favorite) images to allow students to know what activities are at the their level when going through the literacy centers. Another important thing it to have is the instructions and criteria, either at the centers or on anchor charts, with both images and words to help all students know what is expected during their literacy block. I want to stress, that in Leach writing she pointed out that this does not mean preparing hundreds of centers that get changed out every week for each level student, but instead it is important to have good quality activity that go along with many different books, sight word, etc. so that the activity its self may not change to often but the words and text do. Allowing the students literacy skills to go deeper into concepts.
Over all in my research I learned that differentiation in literacy centers is not just having student book bins with leveled books for each student. It is a comprehensive process that addresses multiple different literacy skills to create students who are proficient in all areas of literacy. Concepts are introduced through activity that allow students to explore each area of literacy with the class, in their small groups and as an individual. By differentiating materials in the small groups students can feel confident in their tasks and are able to explore concepts deeper. Most importantly to do any of this, assessment of the students must be done and each students needs must be identified. This area is so important my next post will be dedicated to looking deeper into how to assessment with relation to literacy centers.
Here are the two readings I primary used in the creation of this post
Leach, M. (2011). Liven up literacy centers. [online] Tvschools.org. Available at: http://www.tvschools.org/docs/Liven%20up%20the%20Learning%20with%20Differentiated%20Literacy%20Centers%20K-3.pdf
Southall, M. (2018). How Does Differentiation Work With Literacy Centers? | Scholastic. [online] Scholastic.com. Available at: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/how-does-differentiation-work-literacy-centers/