Improve Reading Skills with Literacy Centers

Oct 18, 2023
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Looking for a new strategy to help students that are learning to read? Try setting up classroom literacy centers!

This method is easy, adaptable, and reusable, allowing you to incorporate all aspects of reading and the English language arts into your curriculum.

Follow these seven steps to get your centers up and running in your classroom!

1. Give each station a focus

An innovative literacy program comprises of all five aspects of reading and the English language arts:

  • Independent reading
  • Partner reading
  • Listening
  • Writing
  • Word study

Assign each station a specific aspect to emphasize before determining what activities and tools to use at each one.

2. Keep reading centers simple

There’s no need to make more work for yourself by creating over-the-top stations. Instead, focus on the basics.

Make sure that each station has the right amount of space, whether that means a cozy chair for independent reading or ample desk space for a writing station.

Keep the scope of each of the stations’ activities manageable so that there is no need for lots of supplies cluttering the space. To create unique experiences, dedicate supplies exclusively to each station.

3. Engage with technology

Online programs such as Reading Eggs offer a huge variety of e-books, audiobooks, and other interactive literacy activities like puzzles, games, and more. Make use of these programs to provide fresh, engaging activities tailored to your students’ individual reading levels.

4. Encourage collaboration

Literacy stations can provide a great opportunity for your students to practice reading and working together.

Partner reading activities can help students learn to recognize when and how to help their peers, all while reinforcing and building confidence in their own skills.

Students can also practice valuable listening skills by taking turns reading and then retelling a story to one another.

5. Set realistic expectations

It will take time for young learners to grasp the rules of each literacy station—don’t expect the strategy to work perfectly the first time!

Have your classroom brainstorm what the expectations are for each station to increase chances for success. Create a list or visual of those expectations that can be posted in the classroom.

Then, observe what happens in each station. Make note of what is working well, reinforce positive behaviors, and don’t hesitate to change up stations that seem to be problematic.

6. Foster independent reading

Literacy centers offer a great opportunity to give your students the independence they desire and to teach them the essential skills to be self-directed learners.

Let them choose which books they want to read and which topics they want to write about. Working with materials that students picked out themselves will help them build excitement for reading and gain confidence in their skills.

7. Document and share student work

Let your students be confident in their progress. Offer them various opportunities to document and share the work that they do at the literacy centers. Examples include:

  • Keeping student notebooks and journals at writing stations
  • Log reading and write book reviews with customizable and printable bookmarks
  • Incorporating a “word wall” or magnetic letters into word-study stations
  • Providing art supplies like colored paper and markers so students can illustrate their stories
  • Encouraging students to share their work with the class
  • Creating student portfolios that can be displayed during parent-teacher conferences or open houses

This post was originally published October 2014 and has been updated.

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