Literacy Centers can be a challenging part of the day, but they have so many benefits! In this post, I’m sharing four reasons why I love centers in the Kindergarten, first and second grade classroom!
Center time in the K-2 classroom….Does the thought of it make you cringe? If so, you’re not alone. Many find centers to be overwhelming to plan and difficult to manage. While it certainly does take time to organize, prepare and teach students the routines for centers, I must admit…I love them. In fact, they are my favorite part of the day!
Now don’t call me crazy, not just yet! I’ve got my reasons and I hope you’ll hear me out! Today I’m sharing four reasons why I think centers are the best part of the school day.
Why I Love Literacy Center Time
1. Centers Allow Time for Small-Group Instruction
When my students are engaged in their center activities, I am able to pull small groups of students for targeted small-group instruction. This time is so valuable! With a small group I am able to focus on each student and their understanding of skill being taught. I notice right away if they’re struggling to understand something and can intervene immediately, instead of noticing they need more help AFTER they’ve already turned their work in!
Teaching in small groups allows me to perform informal assessments and collect data that helps drive my instruction. I can watch as they attempt a task and get a clear sense of their understandings and misconceptions.
Finally, students love their time in small groups. Of course, they love having your full attention. The immediate feedback you are able to give helps to build a connection and can really boost their confidence.
2. Centers Allow Students to Work Collaboratively
Knowing how to collaborate is so valuable, both in and outside the classroom. I love that centers offer students the opportunity to practice this important skill. And because I want to be able to give my full attention to my small group, it’s important that my students know how to work together to solve problems and complete tasks without my help.
Of course, young kids don’t automatically know how to collaborate with each other. It is something I explicitly teach them. I give them specific strategies for how to solve problems that commonly arise such as deciding who goes first, how to remind each other of the expectations, and how to ask a peer for help, etc.
I also am deliberate when I select which students will work together. I match students by strengths and weaknesses and intentionally mix academic ability and social capability to ensure a group is set up for success.
3. Centers Provide Students with the Practice They Need to Master New Skills
All too often we underestimate the amount of time it takes for our students to master new skills. We can’t teach something once and expect it will stick. In his book, A Fresh Look at Phonics, Wiley Blevins states that a new skill should be systematically and purposefully reviewed for four to six weeks after being introduced for the first time and reminds us that once you introduce a new skill you are “in it for the long haul”.
Centers offer just that! By choosing center activities that reinforce the skills you have taught you are giving students the review and repetition they need to ensure mastery.
4. Literacy Centers Offer Students Choice
Choice is highly motivating for students. When students have some choice in what task they complete – or how they complete it – they are more likely to take ownership over their work and will perform better on it.
That being said, I am always careful not to offer TOO much choice. For example, if my students are working on Writing Picture Prompts they can choose a picture that interests them, but they must write about that picture in the genre we are working on at that time.
Stencil Stories are another great option for a literacy center activity that offers students choice. They get to choose whatever stencil they want to trace and write about, but you determine the genre in which they write!
Are you ready to have consistent success for you and your students with literacy centers? I have great news! I have been working for almost a year to create an online professional development course, SUCCESS WITH CENTERS, just for YOU!
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