As we transition into 21st century learning, I see a purposeful trend emerging…. real “center” work. There are critics of “center” work because they feel that teachers can not control the learning. They claim that the variables are increased once the teacher is not at the center (no pun intended) of the instruction. I see something very different.
Purposeful centers in elementary school allow teachers to differentiate learning, integrate technology, and even reach the goals of the common core. As teachers circulate throughout the room, or conference with individual students the learning opportunities become magnified. Students can work on projects collaboratively while other students could work on remediating their skills, while others can make connections to prior knowledge. To the casual observer, it may appear that the teacher is not “teaching” when in reality there are more engaged learning because it is personalized.
I do feel that whole group instruction is essential but I do not feel that teachers need to spend the entire lesson being the focal point of the learning. By empowering students to own their learning, and providing opportunity to do so in a purposeful manner, breaking students into “centers” can be an excellent opportunity.