Literacy & Learning Center Planning Template

The topic refers to the specific skills or content that will be taught in a Literacy & Learning Center cycle. This correlates to a curriculum. Some examples of topics might include: our state's pre-colonial history (social studies); narrative texts (literature/ELA); water cycle (earth science); graphing proportional relationships (math); metamorphosis (biology).

Essential Question
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. Examples of effective essential questions include: Why are some stories worth telling more than others? (literature/ELA); Why do people create governments? (social studies); What does it mean to be alive? (biology). To learn more about essential questions, read Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTigue.

Teacher-Led Mini-Lesson
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 truly mini; break down the content into the smallest possible "chunk." Mini-lessons are most effective when they are 10 minutes or less.

Pair/Small Group Practice
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.

Foundational Centers: Reading Together Vocabulary Writer's Craft Teacher-Led Center
Centers provide students the opportunity to practice their skills in clearly focused, articulated activities. The teacher-led center facilitates formative assessment, tiered interventions, and optional 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. (Examples: Coding, Map Reading, Graphing, Figurative Language, Illustration Station, etc.)

Free eBooks!

My good friends at Sadlier have recently released four of my ebooks as part of their Professional Development Series. These FREE ebooks are a great introduction to Literacy and Learning Centers, the highly successful instructional model that: increases engagement with peer-to-peer learning, allows teachers to cover more content in less time, and automatically aligns instruction to standards/skills based assessment – all while giving educators the opportunity to devote more attention and personalized instruction to students who need it.

And for those of you who have already been to one of my Reading2Learn Conferences or attended one of my in-school PD sessions about Literacy and Learning Centers, these ebooks will be wonderful companion documents.