L i t e r ac y Ce n t e r s F ac i l i t at o r : D awn L e o n ar d o
What are they good for anyway!?• Having centers is a useful classroom practice that enables you to do any type of small group instruction or assessment, but the time children spend in centers should be focused, productive, and dare I say… INTERESTING! Centers are for the student to practice skills; instruction happens in the small groups that meet with the teacher during center time.
Two things are necessary to make centers work in any classroom:• Planning for a preparing center activities and materials in advance• Good management skills
Setting the Stage• Make enough room and materials for either independent or small group learning activities
Setting the Stage• Each center should be neat, clean, and organized• Areas should be well- labeled
Setting the Stage• Activities should be rotated weekly or biweekly• Center rules should be posted and discussed daily
Setting the Stage• Centers should be introduced by the teacher, who models and explains each activity (some teachers introduce one at a time others introduce them all at the start of the week)
Setting the Stage• After use of the centers, all or most of the students work should be posted in an organized, planned and attractive display• Student groups should be multi level or heterogeneous groupings so that more advance students can help struggling learners
Setting the Stage• Some type of recording or assessment piece should be used for the students’ use of centers• Centers should have a rubric or control posted so children can check their own work
Management Tips• Centers are not a free for all. Students should be on topic.• Center management is a classroom management. This should start on day one. Spending the first several weeks of school modeling and practicing classroom routines will give you months of engaged, rewarding learning• Model, model, model! Students need to see and clearly understand what is expected of them• Make clear signs• Have a sign at each center indicating how many students are allowed to be there. Encourage students to self monitor.
Management Tips Cont.• Rotate centers weekly or bi-weekly. Always model each new activity – young students are still learning about how to translate skills and behaviors and need your guidance.• Make sure each center has simple directions• Make sure materials have clear storage spaces so students can clean up after themselves• Label, label, label. Use pictures for pre-readers.• “I’m done, what do I do now!?” Establish activities for students to do when they have finished their center work (i.e. read, draw, write a letter to a friend, etc.)• Aim for rigid routines and save the creativity for the activities .
Three Steps to Teaching Classroom Procedures From Harry and Rosemary Wong’s The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher• Explain• Rehearse• Reinforce
Explain• Define the procedures in concrete terms• Demonstrate the procedure; don’t just tell• Demonstrate a complex procedure step by step
Rehearse• Have students practice the procedure• Have students repeat the procedure until it becomes a routine• Have students perform the procedure automatically without supervision
Reinforce• Determine whether students have learned the procedure• Do they need further explanation, demonstration, or practice?• Re-teach the correct procedure and give corrective feedback.• Praise students when rehearsal is acceptable. “I like how you did that.”
Assigning Students to Centers• The teacher may assign small, heterogeneous groups of children to each area using a schedule. These groups should be rotated through the different centers throughout the week.• A choice time may be established once the class is accustomed to the center routine. Pocket charts, pinwheel diagrams, clothespin lines with children’s name can be used to show students the area to which they have been designated
What’s Happening? How do you know if work is happening in the centers?• Each center activity should be designed with some level of accountability: For grades 1-2 students should produce some kind of finished work, this is not necessary in K.• Students should be given the chance to check their own work: Sometimes putting a control at centers teaches the students to self monitor and avoid interrupting the teacher.• Noise Level: It is ok if there is noise and students are bustling about! The sound of effective center time is work not chaos though. It is a time for the students to work together on a similar task, they need to be able to talk. Just make sure to have a system in place to regulate the noise level (inside voice, 2 inch voice, etc)
Integrating Curriculum• Each new unit of instruction offers specific language experiences that extend a students knowledge and understanding.
Things to Remember• Prepare a system to assign students to centers• Decided how you will you will introduce the centers• Model activities with students• Review rules• Model how to use the materials• Model how to begin and end each center• Model what to do when you are finished• Incorporate some elements of the curricular into the center to give students hands on experiences with the content
Work Center Ideas: Writing Center• Purpose: To provide students with the opportunities to express themselvese through writing. To explore the writing process and to se writing as a means of communication• Materials: A common table for students, name chart, alphabet chart, Word Wall, writing tools, various types of paper, index cards, folders, book making materials
Writing Center Cont.• Literacy Based Activities: All Writing Center activities should be purposeful and provide authentic writing experiences. Students can: – Write responses to books read aloud or to personal experiences – Retell stories or tell their own versions of stories. This encourages students to incorporate book language into their own language use. – Write letters – Make lists – Make books – Contribute to a weekly class newsletter – Write emails of stories if your class has a computer – Respond to open ended questions – Write their favorite words
Work Center Ideas: Language Arts/ Word Study/ABC Center• Purpose: To promote recognition and usage of word building and decoding principles, to study language use in different contexts• Materials: Magnetic letters, alphabet books, matching and sorting letters, writing materials, word building games, rhymen games, color games, word cards, parts of speech cards
Language Arts/Word Study/ABC Center Cont.• Literacy Based Activities: – Word Building practice with a buddy – Making words with a letter set – Sorting words according to specific criteria – Sequencing activities taken from books to practice retelling – Match cut out words to a sentence strip. Then they can use the word to write new sentences – Tongue Twisters – Genre Study Exercises
Work Center Ideas: Reading/Writing the Room• Purpose: To expose students To the carious forms of print including environmental print• To foster independent reading of meaningful print• To encourage a love of reading• Materials: A classroom loaded with print – word charts, name charts, poems, favorite stories, words wall, graphs, pointers, clip boards, writing tools
Reading/Writing the Room Cont.• Literacy Based Activities: – Baskets of pointers should be available to the students near the materials to be read. Effective pointers might include rulers, dowels, chopsticks, oversized pencils, etc. – Students use a pointer and independently read all of the print displayed around the room. They can read their own group written versions of favorite stories of their own posted work. – Students can work in pairs, with each student listening as the other “reads” the room.
Work Center Ideas: Art Center• Purpose: To allow students the opportunity to express themselves creatively and to experience literacy through art.• Materials: Crayons, pencils, paint, colored paper, felt, magazines, markers, scissors, and any material that will help students create artwork related to classroom literature and curricular themes.
Art Center Cont.• Literacy Based Activities: – Create illustrations for familiar stories – Create a mural that tells a storyy or that illustrates a read aloud – Let students create drawings, paintings, or collages to illustrate their own stories (maybe ones that were done in the writing center)