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What role to centers play in an effective literacy block?

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What role does literacy centers play in an effective literacy block?

Centers are one part of an effective literacy block. If our goal as teachers is for students to be able to confidently and competently read, understand, and produce complex texts, then we need to read, talk about, and model complex texts.  To this end we start with modeling (“I do it”) provide opportunities for guided practice (“We do it”), before we ask students to

demonstrate independent practice (“You do it”).

Activities in centers are tasks that have been modeled as a whole group first.  Tasks in literacy centers provide opportunities to practice new skills while interacting with peers.  On an axis of gradual release of responsibility, modeling literacy skills lies on one end of a continuum, with the highest level of teacher support and the lowest level of student independence.  If we situate the other literacy practices along this continuum, the other end of the continuum would be independent reading. 

It is guided practice which makes the difference between effective and ineffective literacy activities. Assigning tasks to a child does not mean that learning happened.  It is the modeling, guided practice, and the interaction with others that helps children build knowledge. The way centers are situated in literacy practice can leverage this learning engagement as an opportunity for modeling and guided support.


 Activity Use the text rendering protocol to guide the discussion, read and discuss the text PKK-3 essential practices or 4-5 essential practices.

Participants can break into grade bands and select relevant text using discussion protocol

Map out which of these practices happen during whole group, teacher-facilitated small groups, independent activities

Optional For a deeper dive, review this text about balanced literacy to consider how centers fit within this instructional framework.  


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These tools were created as part of the Literacy Improvement in Rural Education through Collaboration (LIREC) project funded by the U.S. Department of Education