Literacy & Learning Centers

Literacy & Learning Centers™ Tools, strategies, and downloadable lessons adapted specifically for the Literacy & Learning Centers model. Everything you need!

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Learning centers (often known as "rotations") are common in many primary level classrooms. But intermediate, middle and high school teachers have unique challenges, so Dr. Katherine McKnight has developed collaborative learning centers designed specifically for grade 4-12 learners.



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Literacy & Learning Centers for Grades

Literacy &
Learning Centers

for grades 4-12

Imagine your classroom as an interactive, collaborative meeting space where learning thrives. Your students actively and willingly participate in activities that develop content area knowledge and literacy skills simultaneously. You facilitate learning and cover more content in less time.

What is the Literacy & Learning Center model for
grades 4–12?

A Literacy &
Learning Centers

  • Consists of a mini-lesson, guided practices, and centers
  • Is built to develop clearly articulated learning goals and specific content knowledge
  • Provides students plenty of individual and small group practice time.
  • Works in conjunction with gradual release of responsibility
  • Allows students to make choices
  • Integrates formative assessment and individual attention into daily routine
Essential Questions


Essential questions are BIG questions that require a student to explore a topic and reflect on the meaning of texts and content. Essential questions are not easily answered. In fact, essential questions often don’t have one right answer.
Group Practices


Students break up into pairs or small groups to practice and review the lesson that was introduced during the mini lesson. This step can include a brief formative assessment in which the teacher determines if additional examples or extra instruction is necessary.


The topic refers to the specific skill or content that will be taught in a Literacy & Learning Center cycle. This correlates to a curriculum. Some examples of topics might include social studies, literature/ELA, science, math, and/or biology.


The mini-lesson is designed to introduce a particular skill or important content information to a large group or whole class. Mini-lessons should be a truly mini; break down the content into the smallest possible “chunk.” Mini-lessons are most effective when they are 10 minutes or less.
Foundational Centers


Centers provide students the opportunity to practice their skills in clearly focused, articulated activities. The teacher-led center facilities formative assessment, tiered interventions, and small group instruction.


In order to develop student literacy and provide adequate teacher support, foundational centers are almost always included in a cycle. Optional supplemental centers include: Grammar, Speaking & listening, and Creative Learning. Content-specific centers should be added as needed.

Reading Together

Reading Together

Writers Center

Writers Center



Teachers Center

Teachers Center

Teachers Testimonials

What teachers are saying

Teachers like you describe the difference Literacy & Learning Centers have made in their classroom and talk about how the website helped make this “game changer” easier.

Literacy and Learning Centers Implementation Stages

How to begin implementing the
Literacy & Learning Centers model.

  • 01 Adapt the
    Physical Environment
    Physical Environment
  • 02 Introduce Activities
    that Increase the
    Cognitive Load
    Cognitive Load
  • 03 Assessment
    and Feedback
    Assessment and Feedback

I’m really impressed. There was so much more [student] engagement!
I’m feeling like this is a game changer.

– Stephanie Allen, 7th grade ELA teacher in Kennewick, WA

Tools, downloads, and strategies for educators

The Engaging Learners website is your source for lessons that have been specifically adapted to the Literacy & Learning Center model. Here you’ll find:

  • Tools and activities for the supplemental centers
    • Grammar
    • Speaking & Listening
    • Creative Learning
  • Tips for creating your own teacher-led mini lessons and center activities
  • Literacy & Learning Center planning templates
  • Sample mini-lessons for large group instruction
  • Tools and activities for the foundational centers
    • Reading Together
    • Vocabulary
    • Writer’s Craft
    • Teacher-led

Improve student literacy and engagement by incorporating Literacy & Learning Centers in YOUR grade 4-12 classrooms

Contact us for information about bringing an Engaging Learners team member to your school for step-by-step support!

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