Literacy Centers in the Classroom


Literacy centers was my absolute favorite time of the day when I was in the classroom! It's the perfect time to sit down with my struggling kiddos and focus on exactly what they need. It's also the perfect time to sit down with my high kiddos and push them to their fullest potential.
I've always worked at a Title 1 school with inclusive classrooms. What does this mean? ALL OF MY STUDENTS were at different levels! I've had ESOL students, gifted, students with IEP's and 504s, and all the things in ONE classroom. This calls for some serious differentiated instruction!
So, throughout my teaching career I learned to spend less time on whole-group instruction and more time on DI. 
I'll give you a glimpse of what my Literacy Centers looks like. 
Planning & Set-up of Centers
First off, I group my students based on abilities. I usually use test scores, teacher judgement, or just a specific skill the group might be struggling with. I change groups around every quarter or on an as-needed basis. I give each group a name that matches the theme of my classroom. Since last year's theme was travel, our center groups were names after continents.
(Make sure to display the group names and members somewhere visible in my classroom.)

I use a piece of velcro to move the groups around the centers.
I've also used this template for centers:


Next up-- decide how often your groups will rotate and what kind of DI plan you want to put in place. 
In my case, I usually see one to two groups a day. Some teachers choose to see three groups and just spend 15 minutes with each group. I rather see less groups and spend more time with each one.
It's totally up to you!

My literacy centers are: reading comprehension, teacher-led, word work, and technology.

 Here's a glimpse inside my DI lesson plan:



This template shows one rotation a day. (Fridays are consumed by testing, which doesn't give us much time for centers!)

You can grab this template along with the Literacy Workshop board in my TPT store.
I use this template on the weeks that i've decided to do two rotations.

DOWNLOAD this template for FREE:

Choosing Activities for Centers:
I have SO many center games, task cards, and resources that i've gathered over the years! (The majority of them are from TPT or hand-made resources) They're organized in bins and ziplock bags for easy access!


My DI plans are created based on specific needs I see in my class or skills we're working on. For example, if a group of kiddos bombed a cause/effect test the previous week, we'll focus on cause & effect in our teacher-led center the next week. If we're working on punctuation during whole-group instruction, i'll create a punctuation activity for our word work center. 

I LOVE incorporating task cards in our comprehension center! The kiddos love working with one another and helping each other out with our weekly comprehension skill. I differentiate the independent centers as well. Each group has a different set of task cards depending on their level. (multiple choice, fill in the blank, & 'create your own' options) 

I usually assign a group 'leader' for the month. This person is in charge of making sure everyone understands the activity and is on task. The kiddos know they are not allowed to come interrupt my teacher-led center unless their head is on fire. Literally. 

An anchor chart like this one from @miss2ndgrade would really help. 😉

Word work center is usually the most engaging one! I try to include hands-on activities like this one. We used lucky charms as punctuation marks (each bag was labeled with the punctuation mark it represented) The kiddos had to read the passage together and decide which mark belonged at the end of each sentence.

We also work on vocabulary, spelling, and grammar skills in our word work center.

Our teacher-led center is where the true differentiation magic happens! Every group has a different activity based on their needs. In this case, this group needed some extra TLC with their text-based writing. We used the RACE strategy to identify the components of a paragraph.

We also use leveled readers, work on debriefing cold read passages, and play comprehension games during teacher-led. I try to switch up the activities so the kiddos are always excited to come to see me. 

And that's about it! Literacy centers can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but I promise that once you get into the routine, it's a piece of cake! You'll see the most learning and growth when your kiddos are engaged in the proccess. 
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