Learning Centers: Strategic Planning, Management and Careful Design
Like textbooks, Learning Centers prove useful, or not, depending on who uses them.
Learning Centers provide opportunities for hands-on, engaged, collaborative…learning activities that target higher-order thinking skills. If learning activities activate Multiple Intelligences; and if the centers are not too much trouble to create and maintain, teachers and students reap benefits.
Learning centers remained a fad for a number of years. But, whether the work it takes to setup and maintain these centers pays off (in terms of increased learning) depends on the activities built into each center.
Hands-on learning activities, even of poor design, outperform Industrial-Age teachers’ talk. (Teacher Talk: education “On the Cheap,” a less than useful instructional strategy.)
When Centers produce more learning than classroom lectures, the investment in time and effort (to build and maintain the center) covers the cost. When the time spent on center activities distracts students from higher-payoff activities, the investment sours.
Business professionals and project managers call this negative phenomenon “Opportunity Cost;” that is, if students gain by doing something, then that activity comes at the cost of not doing something else.
However, the type of Learning Center that Classroom Toolkit propose delivers powerful, beneficial and measurable results.
What has to happen before Learning Centers add value to your students’ school day?
If the Learning Center focuses upon a change of pace (from ordinary drill and practice); so that students can tolerate more drill and practice (by stretching and walking around), then the learning outcomes become whatever enhanced rote activities produce.
What kind of Learning Centers work?
Learning Centers to pay off, if the following occur:
- Students receive immediate help and feedback for all their instructional tasks
- Students engage in tasks that are neither too easy or too difficult
- Centers avoid Drill and Rote Memory tasks. (Busy work is still busy work, whether conducted as a whole class, or distributed in Learning Centers)
How do I manage Learning Centers?
The central question…
Developing centers represents a huge commitment of time and resources.
But, we cannot tell you if this investment will pay off for you. You need to test strategies and options until you “Get it Right.”
Learning Centers Pre-Configured Research