Learning Centers - Organization


Technology Implementation Plan: Online Development Guide

 
Cooperative Groups Teacher Presentations Computer Lab Saving Online Information Learning Centers

Learning Centers

Organizational Issues

     By nature, using learning centers requires a more open classroom in which many different activities can be taking place at the same time.  If you have not prepared properly this can easily lead to chaos in the classroom which can interfere with the learning process.  Here are a few things you can do to keep things organized while utilizing learning center:

  • Activity Charts - These are wall charts that display the days of the week and the assignments for each group on any given day.  Setting up a chart like this allows the students to quickly determine what they should be doing and which station they should be at when they first come into the classroom.  This may seem like a minor point but it can avoid wasting valuable time when students first arrive and need to begin their work.  It also conditions students to start their tasks as soon as they arrive.  Here is an example Activity Chart:

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Group #1

Car/Ramp Experiment

Research

Practice Data Analysis Sheets

Collecting Internet Data

Whole Class Presentations

Group #2

Collecting Internet Data

Practice Data Analysis Sheets

Research

Car/Ramp Experiment

Whole Class Presentations

Group #3

Practice Data Analysis Sheets

Collecting Internet Data

Car/Ramp Experiment

Research

Whole Class Presentations

Group #4

Research

Car/Ramp Experiment

Collecting Internet Data

Practice Data Analysis Sheets

Whole Class Presentations

  • Student Instructions are important to develop since they are often not included with Internet-based projects.  When working with Learning Centers the need for student instructions becomes even more important.  As we have mentioned, you will not be able to be at each station all of the time so you will need to provide students with detailed instructions on what to do at each station.  If you do not include these instructions or if they are not detailed enough students will reach a point where they do not know what to do next.  They will then have to pause and wait for you to assist them.  If you are working with another group at the time the students will simply waste time just waiting for your assistance.  This can easily lead to a lot of chaos as you will loose the students' attention and they may begin to do other things.

  • It is critical that all students have the necessary prerequisite skills when using learning centers.  Each group must be fairly equal in their ability at each learning center.  If not, one group might complete their lesson well ahead of the others and thus have to sit and wait for the others to finish.  In addition, you do not want a group to get stuck on something basic and then have to wait for you to come around before they can move on.  A good example is with computer skills.  If one group is not familiar with how to use a web browser then it might take them twice as long as an experienced group to complete the computer/Internet task.  By providing basic Internet training prior going into the learning centers you could avoid this problem.

  • Selecting Group Members - This is mostly common sense but should definitely not be overlooked as it is very important.  Simply allowing students to self-select their own groups never works well.  Try to select students who will work well with each other and who are at about the same academic ability. Once you select groups do not feel that you have to keep them, if problem arise switch groups members around to eliminate problems.

  • Student Behavior Problems - No matter what type of classroom structure you have you will always have to deal with student behavior problems.  When using Learning Centers, student behavior problems and more severely interfere with the instructional process then when you are working with the whole class at once.  Because of this it is very important that you set up a specific rules and policies for the students that clearly spell about what is allowed and what is not allowed.  It will then be very important for you to enforce these policies.  One useful technique is to not allow students who have violated the policy to work with their groups.

 

Cooperative Groups Teacher Presentations Computer Lab Saving Online Information Learning Centers

Copyright 2002 Stevens Institute of Technology, CIESE.  All Rights Reserved