K-1: Play-Based Literacy Learning Center
A play-based literacy learning center can be based on different themes, for example, the grocery store. Children are given access to multiple objects representing different foods, drinks, shopping baskets, and other things that can be found at a grocery store. Individual learning objectives include learning words through play, identifying objects, and word repetition. The materials needed include play food, baskets, paper and pencils for grocery lists, and labels. The activity is performed by placing play foods and drinks on tables and instructing children to make shopping lists. Then, they will “shop” by putting each item from the grocery list into their baskets.
K-2: Independent Reading Center
In the independent reading center, students will be given a simple text to read as well as cards with several questions or prompts that encourage them to think about their reading. The students will write down short ideas about the text they will later share with each other such as “Here is what I predict will happen next:” or “I liked the story because…” Short texts must be given to allow students to process information. Individual objectives include Independent Reading improvement and reading comprehension development. Materials needed are papers with prompts and sheets/books with the stories.
K-3: Technology-Based Application Reading Fluency Center
In the technology-based learning center, children will practice their reading fluency using the Fotobabble application. They can take a photo of the text that they are reading and record independent reading audio to measure fluency. The application is adaptable to any device; the most convenient is to take students to a computer classroom with the application installed and their texts downloaded into the application. An individual objective is an improvement in reading fluency. Computers or tablets and phones, as well as the application download, are the only materials needed.
When developing the learning centers for grades K-1, K-2, and K-3, it was important to consider cultural and developmentally-appropriate characteristics. First, each activity aligns with the stages of development as appropriate to each grade: while the first-grade activity is based on a game that encourages vocabulary acquisition, the third-grade activity is technology-based and requires higher levels of comprehension and vocabulary.
As suggested by Zhoggen (2018), an interactive game has shown to aid language acquisition because they encourage communication exchanges between students as well as aid individual skills development. Choosing universal themes, such as grocery stores, facilitates the improved understanding of the subject matter, as well as familiarity with the vocabulary (Darling-Hammond et al., 2020). A grocery store, or a market, is something that is common in many cultures and backgrounds, which makes the activity widely-applicable in the K-1 setting.
The suggested technology-based learning center enables children to use interactive tools to aid in their learning. Fox (2014) states that students could widely use applications to practice their reading and writing skills, and the level of entertainment they provide increases achievement and skill acquisition. The proposed learning center encourages learners to approach learning fluency from the interactive perspective: it is not solely about reading but also about engaging with technology that acts as a facilitator of knowledge improvement. There are no limitations to using the application in the classroom, and by using it at home for self-study, students are expected to increase their fluency safely, with no pressure placed on them.
Darling-Hammond, L., Flook, L., Cook-Harvey, C., Barron, B., & Osher, D. (2020). Implications for educational practice of the science of learning and development. Applied Developmental Science, 24(2), 97-140.
Fox, L. (2014). Effects of technology on literary skills and motivation to reach and write. Education and Human Development Master’s Theses, 522. Web.
Zhonggen, Y. (2018). Differences in serious game-aided and traditional English vocabulary acquisition. Computers & Education, 127, 214-232.