Friday, January 23, 2009

First Grade Independent Literacy Centers

First graders have been enjoying learning through independent literacy centers. All three 1st grade teachers have developed common centers which promote independence, creativity and problem-solving. Students look forward to “center-time” and the chance to express their individuality as they learn.

A favorite center for many students is called “squiggle.” Students are given a squiggle line on blank paper which they turn into a fully elaborated drawing. For example, different students might take the same squiggle line and turn it into a snail, a snake, a girl’s hairdo or a lollipop! The second part of this center requires children to write about the drawings. The amount and sophistication of writing required of each student differs according to individual ability. A student from Mrs. Makuch’s class says, “In squiggle you can use your imagination and write about your imagination.” Another student says, “It could help you be an artist one day!”

Another favorite is called “Top Ten.” Students create a list of ten items in response to a question such as “What are your favorite foods?” or “What are some ways to warm up when you are cold?” The lists can be serious or silly! One student says, “You could look at books to find ideas.” Another comments, “You can draw pictures and write sentences to go with your list.”

These centers, and others, go a step beyond a right or wrong answer. They encourage students to stretch their thinking, use their time wisely and apply learned skills to express their individual ideas.