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open-ended questions

starting-a-learning-centre

The Thinking it Through document has great examples of classroom centres, reflective questions, ideas for materials, and documentation and assessment ideas to capture what the children are learning.  Some of the biggest huddles in getting started are; “Where do I start?, How do I make it happen?,and What should it look like in my classroom?”  I have organized some ideas below to help you get started.  For Grades 1-3, Primarily Play is a great document that describes how to set-up learning centres for independent inquiry and documentation.  http://earlylearningcentral.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/settinglearningcentres.pdf .   

Where do I start?    We need to begin from where the students are at.  Sometime this is difficult, so we need to get them started.  I am going to refer back to my idea of the “Community and Environment”.  This is discussed in the curriculum expectations and is great to start off the year.  So, how do we incorporate this Big Idea into a centre? 

Making it happen:  Organize and place the materials in the Science Centre from the walk or some items that children brought from home (rocks, leaves, sticks, pine cones etc).  You will need to tell the children your expectations for the centre before they use it, introduce what they will find, and also add items like books, paper, crayons, magnifying glasses.  Dedicate some wall space to hang their writing, pictures, and add your photos and some of their oral conversations.  Prepare how your going to document the learning that is happening. http://earlylearningcentral.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/documentingthroughplay.pdf    

What should it look like?   As facilitators, you can invite children to sort the materials and explain their thinking, use open-ended questions to stimulate their creative thinking, and allow them to share and talk! Some learning outcomes could be; their ability to sort (Math), development of oral language/vocabulary, and Science-explore and investigate. While they are exploring the centre take your clipboard with you and document what they are saying and take pictures.  You may want to use a checklist.  You may want to prepare 1 or 2 open-ended questions before hand and sticky note them to your clipboard this way both educators can capture the learning at anytime.

opportunity-to-engage-in-centres

Play is critical to learning. Children learn best when they can play, explore their world and  interact and talk with adults and peers. From personal experience, I have seen some students disengage with mindless tasks quickly and you may even see some different behaviours.

Centres are an excellent way to share the oral language experience, see their personalities and creativity, and to collect great assessment information.  I often carry around a clipboard with both blank paper, and paper divided into  squares where I can record a child’s name.  You just never know what is going to happen as you share…..

When planning a centre think of these:

  • What is my big ideas, my goal that I am trying to achieve?
  • What are my open-ended questions (2 or 3) so I can begin the conversation? Oral language assessing?
  • Do I have enough materials that they can explore?
  • Pause and Reflect on what you see and hear from your students?

Listeded below are some links within this site that discuss the importance of play.

Colouring sheets to materials that will explore their creativity……..

Research on play vs worksheets http://ultimateblockparty.ca/home/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Play-or-worksheets.pdf

Playing is learning http://ultimateblockparty.ca/home/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Planning-for-Play.pdf

The importance of play http://earlylearningcentral.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/importanceplay.pdf