Monday, March 19, 2012

Literacy Centers: More Than Just a Choice

It is quite a powerful thing to give the reins to a child to steer their own education. Or at least they think that is what they are doing!

Literacy centers are commonly used in elementary classrooms. To supplement literacy instruction, literacy centers are created as stations that allow children to practice a certain skill that they are working on while still doing meaningful, worthwhile work.

By giving children the choice to choose, you are letting the children gain confidence in themselves and teaching them important skills for the future such as concentrating on a task of their choice for a certain period of time. Even though they feel they are in total control of their learning, the teacher has laid out an important framework consisting of key skills that need to be learned and practiced in the centers developed. This is a win-win for both sides of this equation, with the teacher providing high-quality practice in the classroom while still allowing children to have some control over their learning, thus producing more competent and confident learners.

So what makes a great learning center? There are several key ideas to keep in mind while creating a literacy center for the classroom:

  • Put serious though and intent behind your learning center. Does the center reinforce concepts talked about during class and seen in the classroom?
  • Do the materials appeal to the children? Can children work independently and in small groups with this work easily?
  • Does the station provide a non-threatening environment for the child to practice and perfect their literacy skills?
And of course, it is important for the teacher to float between the stations to encourage children and use their knowledge to prod children in the right direction. Children may become very engrossed in their work and their effort should be valued. Providing several opportunities to finish their work in the future is also useful for making the children feel that their work is valued and important as well and reinforcing concentration skills and perseverance.

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