Successful learning centers begin with a planning and goal setting. Understanding what you want your students to accomplish and master in each center is essential to figuring out how to structure center time and activities. This tip comes from Cathy, a Really Good Teacher, who wants to help others understand that there is success to be had in a learning center classroom set-up.
Setting Up a Learning Station
Each year, I set up and maintain five workstations: computer, listening, spelling, writing and phonics. I stock the stations with online computer reading activities, writing prompts, graphic organizers and Really Good Stuff® learning games. I change the activities in the stations on a weekly, unit or monthly basis depending on the time of the year and the skills that are being reinforced..
Each morning, students put yesterday’s station number on their desk and walk to get their new number. (I choose partners ahead of time to ensure working compatibility.) Students spend 30 minutes per week at each center with a partner, during which time I conduct small reading groups. I also give a behavior ticket to one station’s workers each day to encourage positive workstation habits.
By organizing things ahead of time and planning out what’s going to happen at each center, the students are able to complete the activities with their partners and independent of my help. This makes small reading group instruction flow smoothly. It’s a successful approach that’s worked for me for years!
Do you have a center management system that you like to use? Share it with us in the comments below or on the Really Good Teachers forums!