Secondary teachers love their content and are already struggling to cover the curriculum in the time they have. Sometimes that means they worry about sacrificing precious class time for students to engage with content in a way that allows for a more differentiated learning experience for each student. So what can secondary teachers do to effectively set up meaningful learning centers where they aren’t directly involved in the teaching but can feel confident students are still learning the content?
Break down different aspects of what students need to learn to be successful. Offer multiple ways to access and engage with the content.
Solicit ideas from the students about how they prefer to learn and incorporate their ideas in the centers.
Create a reflection and self-assessment routine that allows you to have evidence of student learning from each center.
When not working directly with a small group, record observation notes on the efficacy of each center with a physical clipboard or a tablet. Don’t disrupt students needlessly while you observe; just watch and listen.
Continually reflect on how well the centers are working so you can revise and adjust as needed.
If we want students to stay excited about learning our content and keep talking about that learning all day long, we need to meet them where they are and invite their ideas into our co-constructed learning spaces. Why not give learning centers a try in your classroom and see if they help students actively engage with the content and each other? You will love the outcomes.
To learn more about the promise of Learning Centers with secondary students, grab a copy of Hacking Learning Centers in Grades 6-12.