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by Debbie Diller
Excerpted from Literacy Work Stations: Making Centers Work by Debbie Diller
A literacy work station is an area within the classroom where students work alone or interact with one another, using instructional materials to explore and expand their literacy. It is a place where a variety of activities reinforces and/or extends learning, often without the assistance of the classroom teacher. It is a time for children to practice reading, writing, speaking, listening, and working with letters and words.
Instructional materials already used in teaching go into the work stations. The idea is for the teacher to model how to use the materials first, using them with the students to be sure they understand how to use them, then moving these materials into the work stations for independent practice.
Choice is an important feature in making literacy work stations successful. A station should include a variety of things for children to choose from, but there shouldn’t be so many choices that the children feel overwhelmed. Aim for what I call “controlled choice.” Provide several choices of activities within a work station. Any of the activities there should accomplish the practice the child needs, but allowing the child to choose the activity will enable him or her to learn more.
The emphasis at literacy work stations is on practice— meaningful, independent practice. It is a time for children to practice all that the teacher has been modeling. Thus, activities placed at the literacy work stations grow out of what the teacher has done during read aloud, shared reading, modeled writing, shared writing, small-group instruction and so on. Things aren’t put into the work stations just to keep children busy.
Word sorts are great activities for a spelling work station. Spelling Connections provides a variety of differentiated word sort options—both on the interactive white board and with Word Sort Cards— that students can do independently or with a partner. Students may also choose to practice their spelling words with such activities as one of the game mats or flip folder, or work with Spelling Connections Online.