I only recently, a few years ago, began using learning centers in my classroom. I had always wanted to do some type of center work but I was not sure how to manage the students during center time.
I observed different classroom settings and talked with teachers that use learning centers successfully. I gave them a try. Now learning centers are used in my room on a weekly, almost daily, basis.
A learning center is an activity or group of activities that demonstrates, reinforces, or practices a specific skill. During learning centers, the students are basically responsible for their learning. During center time, teachers monitor and facilitate.
For learning centers, students are divided into small groups. Each group is given a different task to complete. The tasks are then rotated among the groups throughout the week.
At center time, students may work at their own pace, independently, or within a group.
The students are not required to finish their work at the same time. Nor are they asked to be on the same step of the activity at the same time. Students may refer to others in their group if they need help. However in most cases, they are not required to work as a team.
Centers can be created around certain skills, subjects, or themes. Some teachers prefer to have a center for math, writing, art, and reading. The centers can be as complicated or as easy as needed.
There are no age or grade level limits to creating centers. I can see how learning centers could be successful in grade kindergarten through eighth. I feel that students at any level enjoy the independence and cooperative work that centers provide. Learning centers give the students a feeling of control over their learning.
Learning centers can be a great experience for both the learner and the educator.