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English Language Arts Blog

The home of Vocab Gal and other educational experts K–12 resources

May 30, 2016 CL Teaching Strategies Pro Reads, ELA PD - Literacy, ELA K-5, ELA Focus - Reading, ELA 6-8, ELA Resources - Tip Sheets, ELA Focus - Writing, Core Literacy

The Four Foundational Centers: Teacher Led, Vocabulary, Read Together & Writer’s Craft

In the previous blog, “Learning and Literacy Centers: An Effective Instructional Model for Meeting the Needs of All Students”, we examined why this model is effective for older students, specifically those in grades 4-12. Now I’d like to talk about the skills that can be addressed in Learning and Literacy Centers (LLC). In particular, I want to share what it might look like in the content-area classroom.

Using the Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) model (Fisher and Frey, 2013), you’ll want to include three steps: I do, we do, and you do.

Step One: Teacher Led

Begin with a teacher led lesson or mini lesson in which you’ll instruct and demonstrate a new skill or procedure. This is the “I do” step, so be sure to model skills for the students as the GRR model promotes.

four-foundational-centers-literacy-center.jpg

Step Two: Student Practice

This is the opportunity for students to work in pairs or possibly small groups with teacher assistance – the “we do” step. During this time the students practice the skill or discuss the content that was introduced by the teacher in step one. The idea is for students to have ample practice time to develop skills and absorb content knowledge. (Allington, & Gabriel , 2013)

Step Three: Center Time

Once the students have completed steps one and two, it’s time to work in centers. There are four foundational centers that I recommend in addition to content specific centers for English language arts, social studies, mathematics and science.

The Four Foundational Centers: Teacher Led, Vocabulary, Read Together and Writer’s Craft

Teacher Led Center

In this center, small groups of students are able to meet with the teacher. This is an excellent opportunity for teachers to provide descriptive feedback on student work, reinforce a particular skill, provide additional support for mastering a skill, or offer enrichment opportunities for academically achieving students.

four-foundational-centers-classroom-centers.jpg

Vocabulary Center

In this center, students focus on activities that develop academic and content-specific vocabulary.

Read Together

Students read content and develop their close reading skills in the read together center. Depending on the subject area, you can consider offering novels, articles, scientific reports, primary source documents, narratives about real-world problems, government documents, etc.

four-foundational-centers-reading-classroom-centers.jpg

Writer’s Craft

In this center, students have the opportunity to work on writing skills that are applicable to content-area study.

I recommend starting with these four foundational centers. But remember, there is no one who is better equipped to analyze the needs of students than the teacher. If you need to change the centers or the tweak the model in your classroom, do it! Go ahead, add an extra vocabulary center or allow additional time for writing practice. The LLC model is a systematic and malleable approach that allows us to provide ample practice for literacy skill development and content knowledge. Most importantly, it’s grounded in research-based instructional models that are proven to foster literacy skills and content knowledge.

The eBook includes resources and ideas for the different foundational centers as well as advice about getting started.

 literacylearningcenters-bigkids-ebook-750px.jpg

Reading-Strategies-Download-Now

 

 

 

  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. 

Selected Bibliography

Allington, R., & Gabriel, R. (2012). Every child, every day. Educational Leadership. q, 69(6), 10-15.

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2013). Better learning through structured teaching: A framework for the gradual release of responsibility. ASCD.

McKnight, Katherine S. Common Core Literacy for ELA, History/social Studies, and the Humanities: Strategies to Deepen Content Knowledge (grades 6-12). San Francisco: Jossey Bass, (2014).

McKnight, Katherine S. Common Core Literacy for Math, Science, and Technical Subjects: Strategies to Deepen Content Knowledge (grades 6-12), San Francisco: Jossey Bass. (2014).