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Learning Centres

  • Learning Centres

The following blog post was written by Val Baggaley, a faculty member at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement.

A colleague and I have decided to bring our two classes together to participate in weekly learning centres.

Our classes are a Phase I Adequate class and a Phase II initial class with oral skills ranging from CLB 0 to CLB 4. Most are around a CLB 1 or 2, but a few have only the oral English they have learned over the past two weeks when school started.  

We are using learning centres much like those in primary school. Familiar self-directed activities are set out at stations and learners rotate through the different activities, moving as a group from one station to the next when directed by the teacher.

  • Before class, we divided the learners into six groups of four or five learners and compiled a list of the groups and the activities.
  • Then on Friday, we brought our two classes together, did a warm up activity, helped them find their group and set up the 6 stations.
  • We briefly explained that they would have 10 minutes at each station and then move to the next station when directed.

The stations consisted of:

  • smartboard memory games
  • spelling flashcard words with letter tiles
  • free reading
  • speaking practice (we had a volunteer at this station who talked to the learners)
  • word shapes and word search 
  • jigsaw puzzles

All things considered, it worked very well. Learners had opportunities to help each other, work with people from a different class, try new activities and learn how to move from one station to the next.

For most learners, this was a new experience, but one they readily adapted to. The station changing got smoother each time. Most learners remained engaged with their tasks for the entire 10 minutes. I also observed learners helping other learners, either by showing them what to do or by explaining the instructions in their first language. Often the most complex part of a task is the instructions, so having the instructions in their first language made the task doable for some of the learners.

For many learners, this was their first experience putting together jigsaw puzzles. I have puzzles ranging from 4 pieces to 20 pieces. I feared that there would be some learners who would find them too easy, but even the ones with the most experience still found the 20 piece puzzle challenging. Just to be prepared I picked up a 48 piece puzzle this weekend.

Here are some of the things we need to adapt for next week:

  • Only one station, the word shape and word search station, had a worksheet. But that worksheet kept reappearing while they were at other stations. Typically literacy learners don’t like to leave an unfinished worksheet, so we found them continuing to work on their worksheets while at other stations instead of doing the task at hand. I wonder if we can have all paperless stations instead. Or if any of you have any other ideas, please share them with me.
  • Speaking station: our volunteer can’t always be there during our time slot.
  • The Smartboard had technical issues we hope will be resolved for next week.
  • A small number of learners were disengaged at a few stations, but no particular station was disengaging for everyone.

In summary, I think the learning centre activity went very well, and I can’t wait to try it again next week. We have lots more ideas such as vocabulary board games for future learning centres. I would love to hear any comments or suggestions you might have for our learning centres.  

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