Applying Learning/Interest/Activity Centers in the American Sign Language Classroom? [Infographic]
Prior to starting my degree with University of the People, I did not know much about classroom activity centers. I have mainly taught a class as a whole or had students work in partnerships. However, I am now eager to use centers in my future classes!
Specifically in my milieu of teaching languages (such as sign languages), I imagine activity centers could help students engage in discussion in the target language. For example, in my sign language classroom, perhaps I could have the four centers shown in the infographic above.
Utilizing activity centers is not common at all at the university level. In fact, nearly all of what I read online spoke of elementary or secondary school locales. However, I believe that these can be extremely helpful in breaking out of traditional lecture-centric and stadium-seating classrooms found in most universities. For courses with two hour long periods, students could transfer between centers multiple times within one class period. For courses with only 50 minute long periods, activities could be spread over a week or two allowing for students to explore one center every other period.
The greatest impact activities could have in the university venue is to allow for positive group work. Hilberg, Chang, & Epaloosse (2003) explore teacher-led instructional conversation centers and independent centers led by peers (p.3). As college-level courses are often quite teacher-centric, I believe that peer-led activity centers could be a way for group work to happen without all of the stress, chaos, and frustration that is typically felt by many students when long-term group projects are assigned “because of lack of participation, slackers, flakes, [and] unequal work” (Scott, Taylor, Lemus, & Oh, 2008). This alone is a good enough reason, in my opinion, to make centers a more common practice at the university level.
Hilberg, R.S., Chang, J., & Epaloosse, G. (2003). Designing effective activity centers for diverse learners: A guide for teachers at all grade levels and for all subject areas. http://manoa.hawaii.edu/coe/crede/wp-content/uploads/Hilberg_et_al_20031.pdf
Scott, W., Taylor, A., Lemus, D., and Oh, J. (2008, April). Navigating Conflict in Student Teams. Symposium conducted at Faculty Development Series, California State University Northridge, California. http://www.csun.edu/afye/Six-Keys-to-Creating-Effective-Group-Assignments-and-Team-Projects.htm