If you’re like me, I learned how to plan lessons using a day-to-day, period-by-period schedule. Lessons were chunked into 40-50-minute segments on Monday through Friday schedule. The Literacy and Learning Center model, and most student center pedagogical frameworks, are not conducive to this more traditional lesson plan format. Instead, think of a Literacy and Learning Center cycle as a “chunk” of instruction. As you prepare for a Literacy and Learning Center cycle, it is not unusual for the instruction and student activities to last over several class periods on several days.
As I have worked with teachers and classrooms all over the country on Literacy and Learning Centers, I developed a planning template that is discussed in greater detail in the attached eBook. The lesson planning template is built on the Gradual Release of Responsibility model which promotes Guide Instruction (teacher modeling), Guided Practice (paired or small group work), and Independent Practice (centers).
The lesson planning template begins with the first part of the cycle, a mini lesson which is teacher directed. During the mini lesson, the teacher demonstrates a new skill or introduces content. The students observe and learn the new skill or content through teacher modeling. Mini lessons should be about 15 minutes and the students are learning through observation of the teacher. Next in the cycle is the Guided Practicewhere students may work independently, in pairs, or maybe a small group, practicing the newly learned skill or applying content. The cycle ends with the Independent Practice in the Literacy and Learning Centers with clearly articulated focused activities. Here, students can practice and refine their skills.
When we change practices and implement new content or strategies, planning can require even greater demands. The attached eBook includes a sample planning template and a sixth-grade Literacy and Learning Center cycle sample to support your efforts with the implementation of the Literacy and Learning Center model.
Dr. McKnight is an author, educator and consultant. Her career in education began as a high school English teacher in the Chicago Public School system more than 25 years ago. She received her B.A. degree from George Washington University, her M.Ed. from Northeastern Illinois University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently serves as a Distinguished Professor of Research at National Louis University. She travels worldwide as a professional development consultant and a sought after speaker in the fields of adolescent literacy, inclusive classrooms, Common Core State Standards, Interdisciplinary literacy, and integrating technology in the 21st century classroom.