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Five Reasons to Incorporate Literacy Stations in Your Elementary Classroom

Wednesday, January 4, 2017 -- McKenna Wierman

Elementary educators have the great joy of watching their youngest students crack the code on reading to begin their journey toward becoming lifelong proficient readers.Not only does sharpening reading skills build up a student’s confidence, it also helps them cultivate language skills, fluency, and writing ability. Additionally, reading exposes students to the magic of literature—expanding their imaginations, teaching them about the world around them, and inspiring them through story telling.

One great way to boost literacy in your classroom is to use a station-rotation model. Literacy stations allow students to build their reading skills incrementally through meaningful, ongoing practice and application. Still on the fence? Here are a few of our favorite benefits of incorporating literacy stations in the classroom:

1. They can be easily adjusted to target different literacy skills

“Literacy skills” is really more of a blanket term for several different skill sets, including reading, writing, listening, fluency, and vocabulary. Setting up literacy stations allows you to creatively weave these skill sets together so that students can apply their learning to access new texts and complete different reading activities.

For example, setting up a station so that your students participate in paired reading allows you to touch on listening and fluency skills simultaneously. Or, you might have your students read independently, then write a brief summary of the key plot elements, characters, and setting of the story. You may also consider creating different leveled activities available at each station for students of varying abilities to access. Use different colors to discern between each one and coach students to seek out the appropriate color when rotating to that station. It’s easy to switch things up day to day, and versatility in your literacy station activities will keep students engaged and focused on working toward the skills they need to develop.

2. They can be organized to fit your classroom

There is no set formula for literacy stations—you can set yours up to accommodate your unique classroom and student needs, making them relatively easy to manage and organize. Literacy stations can be portable, where you set them up in a different location each day; temporary, where you only set one up if your class seems to be struggling with a particular lesson; or permanent, where they exist in designated areas within your classroom. Once you’ve defined what kind of literacy stations you want to have, you can then tailor them to your students’ specific needs, and provide materials accordingly. As a part of a station-rotation model, you may even set up your literacy stations so that they can accommodate several different types of group activities in one day. The choice is yours. Just be sure to set specific expectations for your literacy stations to ensure your students are taking part in their upkeep and organization.

3. They encourage student collaboration

Literacy stations allow you to break your students up into small learning groups, which offers a great opportunity for students to develop stronger bonds with one another, and build effective social skills. Students learn to hold themselves accountable for their own work and actions, while also coming to understand situations where it is appropriate for them to ask their peers for help, or offer assistance if they see a classmate struggling.

Activities such as reading aloud in small groups and holding group discussions after finishing a book teach students about exchanging ideas while also promoting reading comprehension. Taking turns within a literacy station group can also help boost students’ confidence by giving them a smaller, more intimate setting where they can express themselves, ask questions, and share their thoughts about a lesson or story with their peers. Better yet, these interactions can build relationship foundations that continue to develop outside of the literacy station, and help your classroom function better during other group-based projects, assignments, and lessons.

4. You can integrate technology into literacy centers

In this day and age, literacy skills have come to include media and technology skills as well. Literacy centers are a great way to integrate technology into your lessons, whether it be through online literacy programs like Edmentum’s Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress, having students type out responses to readings with a word processor, or using computer programs to build slide shows or presentations as a group. This is especially useful for classrooms seeking to integrate more technology into their everyday lessons. You’ll be amazed at how many literacy-based programs and activities exist online that will help your students develop stronger reading skills.

5. Literacy centers allow student choice

One of the best things about literacy centers is that they allow for students to exert some control over their educational experience. Not only does this help to keep things feeling fresh, but also helps students build confidence by giving them some responsibility in the classroom. A great example of how to offer this kind of student agency is by allowing students to choose which stations they wish to work on in a given day or where in the classroom they wish to complete their work. These little freedoms help students feel they are more involved in their own learning process and can stimulate engagement as a result.

Ready to learn more about setting up literacy stations in your elementary classroom? Check out this short guide with tips and best practices to help you Accelerate Reading with Literacy Stations!