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Literacy Learning Centers

Creating Learning Centers in a Blended Literacy Classroom

Feb 23, 2018 2018-02-23


Originally posted on web20classroom.org Saturday, October 28, 2017

Written with Shaelynn Farnsworth, post is sponsored by ThinkCERCA, an online platform designed to empower teachers to personalize literacy instruction across disciplines.


There has been no greater impact on differentiation and student achievement in recent years than the effective integration of technology in the classroom. Traditionally, literacy educators spent long hours gathering resources, developing tasks and extensions, and reading and analyzing assessments to determine if the instruction was meeting the needs of students. Now imagine doing this same routine three or four times over to cover all Lexile levels in one classroom—exhausting. Technology has not only provided text access at students’ differing instructional levels, but it has also streamlined formative assessment and given back precious time to teachers to work with small groups and individuals.

The most effective blended learning model that literacy classrooms can utilize to meet the needs of all readers is the “rotation model’ in which online engagement is embedded within a range of face-to-face forms of instruction. While this blended environment could look many different ways, we believe that the workshop framework provides the instructional vehicle that makes differentiation most successful. Technology or a blended model is not a component of the workshop framework, but when a skilled workshop teacher utilizes platforms such as ThinkCERCA, and understands each student as a reader, achievement is maximized.

In a workshop framework, there are three main components: mini-lesson, independent practice, and share. The mini-lesson is whole group instruction. The teacher targets a learning objective, models it with a mentor text, actively engages students in similar work, and then sends them on their way to apply the new learning to their own independent books. It is during the independent time that teachers experience the greatest challenges and largest gains made by their young readers in the form of conferring. At the end of the time, the whole class is once again gathered to partner share or large group share the important work they did during the day.

The question we often receive is centered on the independent practice. Teachers witness the benefits of small group instruction but are less certain about the learning taking place by the rest of the class. While there are many different ways to implement and manage independent routines, it is here where technology can best support young readers. During the independent time, centers are one way to keep students learning, not just completing busy work. Literacy centers infused with a blended environment is an example of rotation model at its best.

Centers
  1. Student-centered, active inquiry, open-ended
  2. Purpose is to learn, offering opportunities for a variety of levels
  3. Center should be applicable to what you are teaching and what students are learning
  4. Established routines, organized materials, and dedicated space

Centers for the Early Grades Centers for the Intermediate Grades
Independent Reading
accesssible text at independent reading level, epubs, books and articles online
Independent Reading with Reader’s Notebook
accesssible text at independent reading level, epubs, books and articles online, digital reader’s notebook
Listening Center
tablets, laptops, ipads, ipods
Multimodal Center
devices and examples on one topic in multiple modes, consumption, and creation
Word Work
active, and able to manipulate like a drag and drop option, text to speech, videos, word games
Beautiful Lines, Interesting Words, Author’s Craft
accessible poems online, apps, resources, tools, publishing and sharing platforms
Writing Center
comprehension checks, graphic organizers, student-created graphic organizers, video and audio, publishing and sharing platforms
Writing Center
comprehension checks, graphic organizers, student-created graphic organizers, blogs, video and audio, publishing and sharing platforms
Wonder Center
virtual reality, videos, infographics
Wonder Center
virtual reality, videos, infographics
Poetry Center
accessible poems online, apps, resources, tools, publishing and sharing platforms
Book Clubs, Literature Discussions
accessible text, discussion forums, real-time chats and video options
Partner Center
accessible text, audio and video
Drama Center (Reader’s Theater, plays, speeches)
accessible text, discussion forums, real-time chats and video options

Managing independent time in the literacy classroom is an area that teachers must address directly. Independent time, centers, or stations should not be busy work or only used sporadically. It does not have to be an either/or in regards to technology. Rather, it is BOTH and supports students with all types of reading and writing they will consume and create in their lifetime. It is a time for students to take ownership in their own learning. Integrating technology into independent time routines or centers is advantageous for both students and teachers, and helps move all readers forward.

Want to learn more? Check out the Personalizing Literacy Through Blended Learning from ThinkCERCA! There is also a webinar on crafting Scalable Blended Literacy Programs worth a watch.

References
Blended Learning Models (Friesen, 2012)
Guided Reading, Fountas & Pinnell

Shaelynn Farnsworth is a Digital Literacy Expert in Iowa. You can follow her on Twitter @shfarnsworth.

Steven W. Anderson is a Digital Teaching and Relationship Evangelist. You can follow him on Twitter @web20classroom.

Reading/English/Language Arts Blended Learning Digital Literacy Technology Academic Achievement

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