By Gayle Solis Zavala
Special Education Teacher, Gove Elementary, Belle Glade, Fla.
CEC 2009 Clarissa Hug National Teacher of the Year
“Learning centers” can take on a variety of shapes in any given classroom. They allow students to learn and practice new skills and provide an awesome opportunity for them to sharpen their social skills (i.e., turn taking, good sportsmanship, appropriate use of materials, pragmatic communication skills, and task completion).
I have a few key considerations for setting up learning centers in your own classroom:
1) Decide what centers to set up based on classroom needs and space. Depending on the needs of your students, you will become aware of what skills to focus on. And the amount of room you have available will sometimes determine the number of centers you can practically set up.
Over the years, I have generally set up a computer center; an independent reading center (an area that includes picture books, easy reading books, magazines, photo albums, and maps); and a listening center (with a Language Master, LeapPad stories, and CD or tape player). What I expect the students to accomplish in the learning centers may change, but usually the procedure for using the equipment and materials doesn’t change. The various software programs should be modeled and monitored to ensure students are using them appropriately and haven’t wandered off onto the internet!