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Many thanks to those who responded!

My principal said that she would like me to set up my library in literacy
centers for next year.  For example, I would have students working in groups
of 4 at computers, in listening centers, independent reading in a cozy
corner, and at a research station. I have always done whole group read
alouds and library skills instruction with time at the end for book browsing
and check out. I am wondering what that will look like and how I can teach
the children to work independently in here  when I see some of them once a
week and some only once every other week.  Does anyone here teach library in
literacy centers or stations? What grades do you teach? How is it working
for you? How do you teach the children to use them independently?

when I was at the elementary schools,I had centers for the little guys with
some worksheets from commercial books on letter recognition and letter
reproduction. This is good for fine muscle development,too. You can always
have a coloring station of  pictures from the author's website. I also had
Arthur (fromT.V.)card games and a set of 25 piece puzzles of scenes from the
books. I bought these at Target ,but I had similar stuff about Clifford from
K- mart. You can,of course create your own puzzles and card games from
pictures in the books. If you have older kids ,they could help you. they
enjoy doing things for the little guys. what I found when i intoduced the
games that MANY children are clueless about jig saw puzzles, any kind of
card game and have little knowledge of cooperating with each other. A few
knew how to play "concentration" type matching card games, but Go Fish,etc.
were strange to them. I also had the same type of games and puzzles for the
older kids,but 100 piece puzzles,instead. Once in a while you can work on
sequencing,either from a pre-bought workbook or from pictures or sentances
from the day's story. If you get American Girl Magazine, they used to have
paper dolls that made a nice center and Zoo Book magazine and natinal geo.or
Si for kids can be cut up and a game involving match the word or sentance to
the picture can be created.  once you start thinking these ideas will tumble
out. change them often though.

I saw your post on LM_Net and thought I'd respond. I work at a school that
is very into the literacy center idea. I realized that it would be a great
way to utilize all our resources. I would never have 30 computers - I only
have 8, 30 encyclopedias, or 30 dictionaries all at once, etc. So I split
the class into 3 - 4 groups, and assign each child a number 1 - 8. I assign
2 students to be "cleaners", 2 to be the one to ask questions, and 1 to be
captain. I have them practice the first day - moving around, cleaning up,
using comps, etc. This has worked really well with my 5th - 8th kids, and my
younger students do group work in class anyways, so I would talk to the
teachers and see if they have routines that you can follow or modify. It's a
LOT chaotic the first 5 - 10 minutes of a class, but usually settles down. I
also use "checkout" tickets - so that they have work to do, and aren't
constantly asking "when can I check out?" The checkout ticket basically
means they can get up and checkout, and after they check out the book (with
me, at the computer), they pass on the ticket to someone else. This has
worked really really really well with 1st - 8th. It keeps from having 20 -
30 kids all up at once, and they quickly understand that no ticket, no
checking out, and to wait your turn! I work at an inner city school in
Chicago, and I learned that having routines and procedures really helps them
understand how to behave, and that it rotates groups, but the basic idea
doesn't change week to week. I hope this makes sense and hope it helps ;) If
you want more examples or other help, please let me know!

We started centers this in the library, and the kids love it.  I decided to
run centers once a month, as it was a new idea.  I have four centers:
listening center, computer center, partner reading or individual reading,
and finally word work.  I highly recommend you look at the book “The Daily
Five” by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser ISBN 1 57110429 1.  Available from
Stenhouse Publishers at  It gives great ideas on
independent center work and how to introduce it.  Before you start, make
sure you demo each center.  For the listening center, I gradually instructed
the kids, to become independent users.  Obviously the younger kids needed
more help, but now even the first graders know how to put in a tape/CD and
push play, or at least stop and rewind.  The computers are a bit harder, but
it is a great way to introduce computer skills and basic research and search
terms.  I started by just finding a web site of the week for them to find
and check out what is offered at that one site.  Partner and silent reading
is outlined well in the book above, but is always a favorite. For word work,
they could complete word searches, trivia sheets and tie in with the
computer web site, or other worksheets tied into your library theme for the
week/month.  Let me know how it goes.  We liked it so well that some weeks I
just added another center time. Good luck

I am a high school librarian but when I was planning lit. center in my 7th
grade language arts classroom, I talked to several elementary teachers who
used centers and read all I could about centers in upper elem. grade.
Here’s what I learned for the classroom:
 It takes at least one quarter to teach students how to use
centers—procedures, manners, working independently, where to turn in work,
Introduce each center/skills separately.  Work on the procedures/skills as a
whole classes and then in groups.
It takes longer than a person thinks to train the students
It is time consuming to develop centers
It is time consuming to change centers.
They are great when they work well, but that doesn’t just happen.  It helps
to differentiate for students.  It gives the teacher time to meet with small
When applying this to the library and once a week meetings—Can you get the
teachers help training the students to use centers?  If the students use
centers appropriately in the classroom, the procedures should transfer.The
centers need to be simple and changed easily. Do you have different grade
levels in the same day?  If so, more changing.  How much prep time between
classes?  <joke> I and the teachers I talked with recommend you start
small.  Work with only one teacher or one grade level.  Have the same
objective, but at different reading levels.--

Valarie Graham, Library Media Specialist
North Bend Elementary Middle
Lockerman Bundy Elementary
Baltimore, Maryland

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