A learning center may refer to the physical space where students engage in a variety of learning experiences. It may also refer to the set of activities provided. In this article, the term “learning center” will refer to the set of activities.
There are three basic types of learning centers:
- Enrichment Centers,
- Interest-Based Centers, and
- Skill Centers.
The Create-a-Center units fall into the first 2 categories.
Enrichment Learning Centers
Enrichment centers are usually used after the teacher has introduced the subject, most often near the end of the unit. Tasks should extend and enrich the students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject.
The teacher may focus on one learning center at a time or may provide several. The multi-subject set-up is often used when the teacher is responsible for more than one subject.
Interest-Based and Exploratory Learning Centers
Interest-based learning centers are designed to capitalize on students’ interests. In this approach, a variety of centers are made available so that students can choose an area of special interest to them. The subjects addressed in the learning centers may or may not match those being studied in the class.
This strategy works especially well in classes for gifted students. In fact, the Create-a-Center units described in this article were originally created for this segment of the school population.
Specific periods of time should be set aside to work on the centers. You might also want to allow the students to work on the tasks during free time at the beginning or end of class or when they complete their classroom work ahead of the rest of the class.
Skill centers are primarily used in the elementary grades. Teachers use them after the skill has been introduced and instruct the children which tasks to work on in order to reinforce what is being taught.
How you set up the center area depends on several factors:
- how much space you have for the display(s);
- how much space you have for furniture;
- how many centers you want to make available at the same time; and
- storage options.
Possibilities range from simple table-top displays to elaborate furniture arrangements. If you want to provide a selection of centers from which the students can choose but do not have the room, it is always possible to keep the tasks in large manila envelopes. While it is nice to have the centers on display, the activities are what really count!
There are 8 social studies and 10 science centers for intermediate and middle-grade students and 4 centers for the primary grades.
The activities in these centers…
- expand students’ knowledge and understanding;
- develop important language and literacy skills;
- encourage critical and creative thinking;
- help develop important problem-solving skills; and
- foster independent learning.
You may also use the centers to provide opportunities for the children to work together in teams or small groups, which can improve their social skills.
Each intermediate and middle-grade center focuses on one subject area. Primary units include multiple areas of interest.
Activities expand students’ knowledge of the subject and help develop important higher-level thinking skills.
Each center is divided into 6 strands or sub-categories.
There are a total of 90 tasks based on the original Bloom’s Taxonomy with 3 tasks for each level of the cognitive domain.
One or 2 additional activities, such as a word search or crossword puzzle, are also included.
Instructions on how to set up the center are provided.
Bloom’s Taxonomy was created in 1956 under the leadership of educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom. The committee first identified three domains of educational activities of learning: the cognitive, or mental, domain; the effective, or social, domain; and the psychomotor, or physical, domain.
The taxonomy deals with the levels of the cognitive domain, which comprises knowledge and the development of intellectual skills.
According to Bloom, there are 6 main cognitive levels:
- Synthesis, and
These levels are hierarchical. In other words, learning at the lower levels must come before learning at the higher levels can be achieved.
Save hours of time with these ready-made learning centers!
Your students will love working on the tasks!
Barbara Peller, AKA Rebecca Stark, Author of the Create-a-Center Series, Published by Educational Books ‘n’ Bingo