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The standard of teaching practice as elaborated by the Ontario College of Teachers states that

Members of the Ontario College of Teachers

-integrate a variety of teaching and learning strategies, activities, and resources.

Depending on the students' learning styles and other factors, a teacher uses different teaching strategies. There could be an individual or independent method which works best for a particular lesson or there could be a teaching method where students work together to reach the answer. Out of many individual and group teaching and learning strategies, learning centre approach is comparitively a new one. Learning centre approach is a group strategy which helps the students learn by hands on experience in a group by discussion and working together to accomplish a specific task. The activities done here reinforce learning.

During the course, we learned and shared our experiences with learning centers. Folllowing are the exeperiences shared by me on learning centres.

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"I have some experience with the learning centres. Now when I go for supplying, I find that teachers have incorporated the learning centre idea in their classsrooms almost everywhere. From my little experience with learning centres and from what I have learned so far I can say that when we talk about a learning centre for the junior learners, we have to make sure that the students are introduced to the learning centre approach gradually and the students must have a very clear undersatnding about what they would do in the learning centres. Learning centres may become noisy and just a chatting place easily if not guided and monitored properly. Having said that, learning centres are a very good tool to enhance learning in students. Teacher in this case acts as a guide who helps the students to come to the solution of a problem where the students solve it themselves by various trial-error methods and discussions. An experienced teacher can handle this well.

I had done a math actvity with grade seven students where they had to create a math game in small groups. They had a schedule when the groups could work at the centre etc. I must admit that during the activity, the class used to get somewhat noisy, but at the end of the day, I was surprised to see how students had come up with wonderful ideas to present the games. The key to a successful such group activities is that the teacher has to constantly participate and monitor the students as they discuss and work.

Right now I am supplying in a class where the teacher is absent for more than a week. It is a grade eight class.The students are doing a literature circle and they had their 1st meeting for the literature circle yesterday. (I had a talk with the teacher over phone and he had giuded me what to do during the meeting, other grade eight teachers helped me too). It did not go too bad actually. Now that the students know me from more than a week, they listened and followed instructions as per my expectations. So, basically this was my first experience with a learning centre in true sense where the students had a project to do and they were marked for their participation, work etc.

The other day I was supplying for a grade 4 class. I saw that the teacher has very well incorporated the guided reading program in her schedule. The students are made into small groups and every group has a different reading to do according to the reading level of the students. I was impressed to see the students working quietly together. The students had their instructions clear so even as a supply I didnt have to worry too much. Another teacher had a reading centre with small sofa etc in her classroom. It was a grade three classroom. It was not exactly a learning centre but a reading area where the students were allowed to do paired/group reading and later write a journal entry.

The idea of a science centre fascinates me. How I wish I had a Science centre in my classroom when I was a student. (Science has been my favourite subjects always) The Science centre to do simple experiments in the class...I would have loved it. (An experiment guide with materials required should be made available). I want to have a Science centre in my classroom when I have my own. "

 

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Manoshi Chatterjee