Literacy Centers for Reading Growth
The beginning of the school year is an exciting and sometimes scary time. One way to set your students up for year long success is to set up literacy centers. Not only do literacy centers foster student choice and independence, they also set up consistent routines you can return to all year long. Most importantly, they build student independence, confidence and motivation while allowing you to target different skills. (Daniels & Bizar, 1998) Here are three keys to set up successful literacy centers in any classroom.
1. Start with the data.
Students’ needs change as they grow in their confidence and skills. Collecting weekly fluency data to track student speed and accuracy with words correct per minute is one way to see which students are progressing and which may need different interventions. It is also important to listen to individual students' reading to identify where there may be individual needs, as well as overall trends to address for the entire class in literacy centers. One way to collect this data and more is to use a tool like Readlee.
2. Keep it fresh with student choice.
Routines are critical to successful literacy centers so keeping 1-2 of the stations the same is important, especially with only one instructor in the classroom. Having stations that incorporate technology is a way to allow students do something they enjoy doing, use technology while developing a routine for at least one of the stations. With a tool like Readlee, the ability to upload many different texts for students to choose from will not only allow them to have a routine they know, but also motivate students to succeed by offering choice. In all stations, offering a broad range of topics and text types will keep all students engaged and motivated.
3. Practice makes perfect.
Even the best practiced activities sometimes come across students who are stuck or may have a question. One of the major benefits of centers is that the teacher gets to work with a small group of students while others are focused on their various tasks. That’s what makes them a great place to foster supported student independence by developing routines for students follow when they get stuck or have a question. This will look different depending on your students, their age and the set up of your classroom but may include asking 3 friends before asking the teacher, writing their question down to ask later or appointing a question master to answer student questions. Most important is protecting the small group time the teacher spends with their group while giving students what they need at the other stations.
Daniels, Harvey A. and Marilyn Bizar. “Methods that matter : six structures for best practice classrooms.” (1998).