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When most teachers think of learning centers, they think of “stations” in K-3 classrooms. While that’s certainly a useful application, the early elementary classroom isn’t the only place learning centers can be used to build literacy skills and content knowledge.
Don’t believe me? I’ve used learning centers in middle school and high school classrooms all over the country – in public, private, and parochial schools; in rural, urban, and suburban districts. I’ve used them with gifted students, high-poverty students, students with special needs, ethnically diverse students, and English language learners. I have yet to find a situation where learning centers aren’t effective. It may be tempting to dismiss something new out of hand, but please don’t assume that centers won’t work for you!
There are some tangible advantages to including learning centers in the classroom. Experience has shown that students actually tend to be more engaged when they work in centers. The combination of self-directed activity and short, specific task lends itself to the natural strengths of the developing adolescent. Students with special needs, in particular, report that they feel “safer” in these small groups. They are often able to learn from and with their peers while finding it easier to concentrate – especially in inclusive classrooms.