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Learning Centers: Where Fun Meets Function

Posted in Ed Tech 101 on March 20, 2014 by

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Learning centers, also called “learning stations,” are used within classroom settings to help complement the main curriculum and enhance student learning. Students can rotate through learning centers in groups or individually. Meanwhile, teachers can move through the room and assist individuals, or meet with designated students for one-on-one or small group meetings.

In this way, learning centers can help facilitate differentiated instruction — a “way of teaching that respects the different learning needs of students and expects all students to experience success as learners.”

By affording the opportunity for independent work, learning centers teach students how to take responsibility for their own learning. They can deepen the learning process and further engage students by introducing hands-on explorations of relevant subjects. Learning centers can also give students a chance to practice skills and participate in activities that may be outside their comfort zones. For students who may not want to work on something new outside of school or under the scrutiny of the entire class, learning centers can provide a safe space for exploration and growth.

Learning centers are most commonly seen in elementary and preschool classrooms, but they can be effective through high school. In primary education, learning centers may be the “main event” in a classroom, while in secondary education they may be used more for enrichment (for example, if a student finishes a test or assignment early).

Some learning centers might allow students the opportunity to use technology to enhance instruction, while others use art, music, or movement to provide a different perspective on class material. Some common learning centers include a reading or library center, an art center, and a computer center. Here are some other good examples of learning centers that could be used in an primary school classroom.

Some topics related to learning centers include:

Student-Centered Learning

Classroom Management

Differentiated Instruction

Student Agency

Multiple Intelligences Theory