Literacy Centers Quick Set Up Guide

Literacy centers or stations are ideal areas in the classroom for bilingual students to develop language skills. While these literacy stations support language development, they also integrate other skills.

You might often use these methods in your classroom already, such as anchor charts and modeling transitions.  Planning and organization of literacy centers are crucial to learning success. 

Purpose of Dual Language Literacy Centers

Guided reading methods encourage students to begin reading and emerge as fluent readers. However, that is the only section of students that you instruct.

You still have the rest of the class to make sure they keep on learning. Many literary examples suggest you use one particular method more than another.

But what works best in your classroom? Only you know what will accomplish your learning goal for your students.

So, take into consideration the purpose of dual language literacy centers and the reasons you’re using them. Most likely, it would help if you plan, organize, assess, and monitor your guided reading group and the rest of the class. That is why setting aside time to prepare will create a streamlined workflow for your students to follow.

In helping students achieve those learning goals, you might have to seek out grade-level learning materials, post anchor charts with instructions, and differentiate instruction.

For instance, using a teacher planner helps you stay organized with not only lesson planning but with learning objectives. Utilize a paper or digital planner to map out the lessons and objectives according to testing, events, and conferences.

Next, develop strategies that will maximize a specific learning objective. Then, schedule those goals based on the days you plan to use guided reading. In that way, you’ll have a set of lessons for your guided reading students and the rest of the class.

Similarly, the rest of the students work on the station rotation of literacy centers. Setting up these literacy centers ensures student engagement and learning. 

Setting Up Literacy Stations 

When you start to think about setting up your literacy stations, you might need to consider your classroom space, transitions, and learning materials available.

For example, if your classroom has enough room for your guided reading space and two stations, then map out your room that way. Ideally, you want to add three literacy centers. In each station, you could have a writing component, independent reading, and differentiated instruction.

  • In a writing station, use various writing tools, papers, and templates.
  • Create ways that students practice writing short sentences and answering brief questions.
  • Also, incorporate different technology tools to practice writing and reading.
  • Within an independent session, of course, you want to offer a variety of literary texts to enrich the vocabulary and Spanish terms.
  • Examples are poetry, informational books, science articles, and folktales.
  • At this station, encourage students to make their own choice of reading based on what they learned or daily life experiences.

Another way to use literacy centers is to differentiate learning materials.

  • In this way, you ensure students acquire various language skills.
  • For instance, when you use Spanish sight words as a way to add vocabulary, and activate reading strategies, differentiate each part with color or shape.
  • By using different shapes or colors to designate various levels of Spanish sight words, students will know which words to work on and move to on more challenging ones.

Other ways to support your students during literacy centers are using anchor charts.

  • Posting instructions or reminders on how to complete specific tasks are useful for students to achieve success.
  • Besides allowing them to stay focused and engaged, anchor charts help students to own their learning.

When students accomplish a task on their own, they will feel more confident and self-aware. In this way, they feel secure to tackle more challenging reading goals. 

literacy centers

Building Literacy Centers Routine

While planning and organizing literacy stations are essential parts of student success, establishing routines are even more critical. Without having a precise method that students follow every time you do guided reading, they will not be able to know what comes next.

Of course, even before you want to implement a new station or center, you have the plan and materials. However, consider spending time creating routines. These practices between stations establish expectations for future learning.

Ways you can implement routines are to take five minutes to model with student volunteers and to use hand gestures or icons as signals.

Students can also watch videos of other children transitioning from one station to another. Another way to use video is to watch other kids use the learning materials as examples. 

literacy centers infographic

Criteria for Learning Materials

One of the most time-consuming ways of planning literacy centers is seeking learning materials. While you want to offer the best choices for your students, this task doesn’t need to overwhelm you.

  • Look for resources that achieve multiple standards or learning objectives.
  • Having a variety of resources ensures your students learn from different texts.
  • For instance, using Spanish sight words in a dual language class can consist of learning the specific term, writing the term, and learning the word in context.
  • Bilingual stories or informational texts in English and Spanish also refines and further develops reading in context.
  • Aside from using printable stories, you can use digital formats made for Chromebooks or iPads.
  • Another significant perspective in looking for learning materials is to consider whether they adhere to standards.
  • To help you decide whether a resource is a good fit for your class, look for Common Core standards or other specific standards. Do they meet the criteria?
  • Many resources may meet one specific standard but not others.
  • So, in the end, you might have to use more than one source to accomplish that learning objective.

This instructional task is time-consuming and takes away from your teaching. 

Literary centers require your full attention to planning and organizing. Achieve success when you create ways for students to accomplish goals on their own and challenge them to go beyond critical thinking.

The possibilities are endless when you can create a workflow for your students to follow every time. 

Barbara Mascareno

Barbara is an educational writer, teacher, and instructional designer. She loves to write K-12 education content, teaching strategies, bilingual education approaches, and foreign language.

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