Learning centers is certainly not a new idea. This strategy helps students by moving between small activities, all centered around specific learning goals. These tasks are differentiated, varied in delivery, and help to scaffold skills. Learning centers can often come with some costs. Attention spans, and behavior issues often distract from the learning that can take place with sound learning time. Technology is a great hook for students that will boost both of these issues into the non-issue state. With technology in mind, it has to be done right. 

With the 1 to 1 pilot that we are running in elementary schools, we have the rare, and amazing opportunities to demonstrate the power in creating digitally rich learning centers. Much of this time has been spent in math, which can often be a dry subject for students.

When I set up my centers, I choose to use 3 different stations, keep in mind that every student has an iPad. One station is working on taking formative assessments using online tools. One station is working on practicing the work that we have been talking about independently on their iPad. The third station takes a break from the screens, and works in a small group with the teacher. Each station lasts between 10-15 minutes, and we aim to switch between all of the centers by the end of the session. 

Check out some examples (the Quizizz may not be live anymore)

Tools I choose to use
  • Quizizz - Independent formative assessment tool. I can check in on their progress at any time, and see who needs more help. 
  • That Quiz - Customizable practice page where students guide their own learning. Challenge or not, they are working independently on their own learning. 
  • Aplusmath - Customizable flashcard website that works great on the iPad.
  • Math Fact Cafe - Very flexible platform that offers students many different choice to do work.

This change in math instruction has been a great showcase in the power that technology can hold. We are not doing things to kill time, or to keep students busy. We are purposefully aiming the learning at what needs to be taught, through a technology lens. Students have been raving about how much more fun this is vs doing their workbook. Teachers love how independent, and quiet their classrooms become due to this structure. 

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