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    Chap ter Ten

    Hooray for Literacy Centers!

    Chapter 10: Hooray for Literacy Centers

    Literacy Centers (Work Stations) Definition: A literacy work station is an area within the classroom where students work alone or interact with one another, using instructional materials to explore and expand their literacy. It is a place where varieties of activities reinforce and/or extend learning, often without the assistance of the classroom teacher. It is a time for children to practice reading, writing, speaking, listening, and working with letters and words. Literacy Work Stations: Making Centers Work by Debbie Diller. Copyright 2003. Stenhouse Publishers.

    Getting Started In full-day kindergarten, we begin our literacy center rotations after most of our whole group lessons. It gives the students a chance to move around and it gives the teacher a chance to do reading groups during this time. The center chart is set up with about 12 different activities. Each group has two to three members, with varied ability levels. By having small groups of students at each center, you find that it really reduces the noise level. To begin centers, a mini-lesson is given on each one explaining the procedures, tasks, learning goals, and clean-up procedures. The students then rotate through about two to three centers per day, which lasts about 45-60 minutes for one period. Each center task must be completed before the student can move to the next center. The teacher gives a signal (bell, train whistle, clap, etc.) and the students clean up and rotate to their next center. Later in the year, you may allow students to move at their own pace through cen- ters, not as a group. All center tasks are multileveled and allow for differentiated learning for student success.

    Student photos and icons are posted on our literacy centers chart in front of the classroom in easy view for all. Students refer to the center chart to find their next learning activity. Although the main titles of each center may only change occasionally, the tasks change every five to six days. This allows each student a turn at each center. Partners are changed every three to four weeks.

    While students are engaged in center work, I work with my guided reading groups. Early in the year, I monitor each center and act as a facilitator. By November, I am able to take individuals or small groups for alphabet reinforcement. In our class, I do not begin guided reading until January. By this time, the students are mostly able to manage their center tasks indepen- dently.

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    Chap ter Ten

    Hooray for Literacy Centers!

    RPDP offers the one-credit class titled, “K-1 Literacy Centers.” In addition to classes and books, there are many free online resources available for creating center activities. Some of these are listed below.

    Literacy Organization/Management Links abcTeach: Center Signs - has printable signs for centers

    A to Z Teacher Stuff: Literacy Centers - Lots of links

    Alphabet Learning Centers - Just the abc’s

    CanTeach: Literacy Center Ideas - Ideas listed

    Center Photos - A teacher shares photo ideas from a Linda Holliman workshop on literacy centers. A photo is worth a thousand words!!!

    Classroom Centers - Gr. 3 centers

    Hubbard’s Cupboard ABC Centers - Nice listing of centers, each with a small description and photo

    K-Crew’s Units & Centers - Ideas for centers

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    Chap ter Ten

    Hooray for Literacy Centers!

    KinderKorner: Literacy Centers - Many ideas available here.

    Learning Center Ideas - Wonderful ideas for K-2; photos and descriptions of where to get materials.

    Literacy Centers - This Quebec school has uploaded wonderful materials to share with us, including center labels and signs, and center activities.

    Literacy Centers - A listing of what she includes in the many literacy centers she uses; no descriptions or details.

    Literacy Centers - Photos and short summaries of basic centers.

    Literacy Centers in Kindergarten - Three teachers collaborated to create this literacy center concept for their school; photos.

    Literacy Work Stations - Debbie Diller’s book and task cards available for purchase.

    Literacy Work Stations - There are different stations listed in the left hand frame; select one to see list of ideas for that center plus photos of what it might look like.

    Mrs. Bonthuis’ Literacy Centers - Several ideas.

    Mrs. Pohlmeyer’s Literacy Work Stations - Great, practical explanation of how to organize literacy centers for kindergarten. Over 30 station ideas with photos! Excellent!

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    Chap ter Ten

    Hooray for Literacy Centers!

    Management • Introduce each center individually. This takes forever but will save you from having to answer the same questions repeat-

    edly. It will take several days and it will leave the kids super excited to try them out! • When they have seen each center, tell them it is finally time to try them out. Explain that when they use centers, you will

    be teaching small groups and you will not be able to help them. Tell them that because they are still learning, for the rest of the week (or so), you will be walking around to answer questions, but once small groups start, that’s it. Allow the whole class to go to centers simultaneously so that you can give your full attention to monitoring. Look to see if the materials are being used correctly and if the children are on task.

    • As a class, discuss the procedures for handling questions or problems at centers, while the teacher is teaching small groups. Here is what to do: 1) Ask your partner or someone near you in a whisper voice. 2) Ask a grownup (if aides or volunteers are available for help). 3) If you still don’t understand, just do the best you can. Repeatedly emphasize that it is okay if they were not using the center exactly as the directions said - as long as they were working and practicing literacy skills, they were doing the right thing. You may also want to remind them to stay at their center unless they are supposed to move around the room for a specific center activity such as “Read the Room.” Wandering around the room is not an option. It distracts small group instruction and others who are working. Make sure you have a plan of what the kids are to do when they are done.

    • Be extremely detailed and assume students have no knowledge of centers. For example, if you have a sandwich bag with pieces in it for one of your centers, model putting the bag back and ask if you forgot anything. Someone will notice you did not shut the bag and can explain to the class why it is so important to always close the bag. If you skip this step, you might pay for it later!

    • If possible, have directions and sample work posted at the centers for parents and students to refer to.

    Center Activities - Big Book The students really enjoy this center because there is a book in the center that they can actually “read” such as, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Chicka, Chicka Boom! Boom!, and There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly. Due to the cost of the big books and the limited number of choices, you may chose to put only one book on the big book easel for this center instead of allowing students to choose the book on their own, in the beginning of the year. It is important to model and practice with them on how to care for the books and how to use them.

    • Set the book up on the easel. Students can take turns using pointers and turning pages.

    • Small sticky notes can be added to the back inside of each book cover labeled with words from the book. The students can find the words in the text and cover them with the sticky notes.

    • Write sight words from the text on 3x5 index cards. Ap- ply highlighter tape over the words on the cards. After the students have read the book, they can take the word cards and find the words in the text. Once they’ve found the words in the text, they can cover the words with the highlighter tape.

    *Have an adult check for accuracy after the activities are completed.

    *Make your own highlighter tape using see-through cling-on book covers! Just cut to the size you need. Make sure you purchase a solid color such as pink, orange, or yellow.

    *Buy large canvas tote bags from Oriental Trading Company. The tote bags have several pocket