Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Topic: Learning Centers

10-second review: A definition of learning centers. But what is the Purpose?

Title: “The Learning Center in the Secondary Schools.” T Olsen. English Journal (November 1975), 76-78. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary/Quote: What is a learning center? “…a place for using and storing materials that relate to a special interest or curriculum area; a place where students may go to work; a place where ideas, materials and activities are presented to a variety of levels of difficulty.” P. 76.

Comment: As a K-12 language arts supervisor, I saw learning centers sprouting up almost everywhere, but mostly in the elementary schools. They were often attractive and students dutifully used them. Why? For activities. Why?

The purpose for learning centers as for all other individualized techniques was to teach students how to learn. That was not the case in any learning centers I saw in action. They were sources of activities to keep children busy.

I think if there was one thing I would change in my teaching career, it would be to emphasize the purpose for activities. I would spend at least a class period at the secondary level explaining why we are going to engage in this activity. And I would never let students forget that purpose.

In my teacher education classes, “objectives” were dull things that had to be in plan books. But they had no life to them. If I could do it over, I would change my attitude toward objectives for activities.

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