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Shawnee's Lit Lab Gets a Huge Makeover

Shawnee ECS has given its Literacy Lab (aka Lit Lab) a huge makeover. Instead of being on a cart that rolls into kindergarten classrooms, Lit Lab now has its own designated space. It’s also chock full of new hands-on resources and materials, thanks to the generous collaboration with the PTO.

The Shawnee kindergarten staff all worked together to create meaningful and differentiated stations to help students build literacy confidence and skills. Here’s what they came up with:

Listening Center where students listen to books read aloud by authors, artists, and sometimes famous actors

Writing Center to practice handwriting as well as to connect written letters and language to letters, sounds, and words;

Reading Center that has a mix of poetry, nursery rhymes, and high interest books. 

Work Word Center to manipulate letters and sounds to make words, recognize patterns in words, and practice phonological awareness and phonics skills; and

IPad Center where students work with the Guided Readers app to engage in literacy activities connected to books at each student’s individual level.

The Shawnee staff agrees that the reimagined Lit Lab is an awesome place. But what do the students think?


What is your favorite part of Lit Lab?
Austin:  Reading books
Archie:  My teacher
Nicole: The writing station
Emmitt:  All of it!


What have you learned in Lit Lab?
Leo
:  I can read now!
Donald and Emmy:  We can write our words!
Leah:  How to share things with my group.
King:  Snap words!


If you could add anything to Lit Lab – what would it be?
Archie
: More nursery rhymes in the puzzle station
Evan: More time in Lit Lab
Edward:  A trampoline


So the students think the Lit Lab is an amazing place too (even if it doesn’t have a trampoline).

“The goal of Lit Lab is a mastery of literacy skills and a love for reading, but it is more than that,” said Assistant Principal Traci Hummer. “The idea is to provide an experience that not only enables students to practice reading skills but to also build executive functioning skills such as independence, collaboration, problem solving and asking for help.”

To accomplish this, each station has an accompanying PAX vision board so that students can independently complete activities and abide by ‘above the line’ behaviors so that all can enjoy the designated time each day. (PAX is a set of strategies to help students learn important self-management skills while collaborating to make their classroom a peaceful and productive learning environment). 


The students utilize these vision boards, visual schedules and technology to engage in independent learning. Exit tickets or products are still required to provide an accountability piece, but students become more responsible for their learning.

The stations provide intentional, targeted learning opportunities for students, but also give teachers time for small group instruction at the specific skill level.

“We know that small group learning can bring about ‘big’ growth, so we continue to set up environments and utilize resources so that teachers can see students more often in small groups,” said Hummer. “This allows students more direct access to direct teaching, but also allows for staff to get to know more about each student as a learner and whole child.” 

And what about results? Shawnee first grade teachers see an improvement in students who participated in the rolling Lit Lab last year. These students readily transferred the skills they learned to first grade stations and independent learning. In the near future, Shawnee plans to invite the first-grade staff to observe the stations and expectations, so that they have a good feel for the exact learning that is taking place this year, and they can then use that information moving forward as they feel best.