by Dr. Ashley Stanley
Engaging and motivating students in the elementary library can often be a challenge. One way to do this is to implement learning stations in the K-5 library classroom. Library Learning Stations allow students to work collaboratively or independently on various library skills that support student learning. It takes some creative planning on the Library media specialist’s part, but the rewards are worth it! Students love and look forward to completing learning stations on a frequent basis in the library, and ultimately think it is fun! Both students and the library media specialist can benefit from the use of Library Learning Stations.
There are many advantages for students who participate in the use of stations in the library. Student benefits include the encouragement of collaboration and cooperation among students, the opportunity for students to have a choice in what station to complete, the allowance for differentiated instruction for varying student abilities, the facilitation of student engagement and motivation, the chance to incorporate movement around the library, and the opportunity for student-directed learning.
There are also advantages for the library media specialist when incorporating Library Learning Stations in the K-5 library classroom. Library media specialist benefits include a way to have students apply skills learning in the library, the chance to connect to classroom learning in the general education classroom, the opportunity to extend learning opportunities related to library skills already taught, a way for students to creatively try new things in a small group setting, allows the librarian to fit more content into a limited time frame, encourages a positive learning climate in the library through cooperation and collaboration, and permits more one-on-one time to connect with students.
Library media specialists who would like to incorporate the use of Library Learning Stations would need to plan both whole group learning time and learning station time with their K-5 classes in order for learning to be successful in the library. Here is an example “ideal” schedule a Library media specialist could follow:
- Whole Group Instruction: this could include time for a read aloud, the chance to teach library skills, and a time to teach AASL standards.
- Learning Station Time: this could include time for students to visit Library Learning Stations collaboratively or independently. Students could choose what they want to complete, or you could assign students a center and rotate them and allow time for them to complete another station in a future library class.
- Book Checkout Time: to utilize time in the library efficiently, checkout time could happen at the same time learning stations are taking place.
Library Learning Stations can focus on library skills, literacy skills, and problem solving skills. All types of stations can highly benefit students in all these areas, and are fun for them to complete as well!
Some examples of stations focused on Library Skills include:
- Vocabulary & Content
- Jenga Game Center (using vocabulary word definitions and questions)
- Crossword Puzzle Center
- Research Skills
- Question of the Week Center
- Did You Know? Center
- Resource Centers: GoPebble, BrainPop, BrainPop, Jr., National Geographic
- ABC Order/Dewey Decimals
- ABC Order/Boggle
Some examples of stations focused on Literacy Skills include ideas related to reading and writing:
- Independent Reading Time
- Author studies; Genre studies
- Time to Read/Listen to Pop-Up Books, Big Books, Magazines, eBooks, Audiobooks
- Make your own book
- Book starters
- Write a poem/letter
- Write about a picture
- Book review
- Write a social media post related to a book/topic
Some examples of stations dedicated to Problem Solving Skills include:
- Puzzles Center
- STEM/STEAM Activities Center
- Engineering Center
- Coding Center
- Board Games
Why not begin incorporating Library Learning Stations today? You and your students will be glad you did! If you need more ideas, please feel free to contact me via email for free handouts, resources, and more ideas you can use to incorporate these in your library at email@example.com.
Dr. Ashley Stanley is an Assistant Professor at Lincoln Memorial University in Knoxville, TN. She is an instructor in the graduate teacher licensure program there, and has a passion for teaching preservice teachers how to incorporate hands-on learning in their future classrooms. She has 17 years of total experience in education ranging from elementary school, middle school, to higher education. She has frequently presented at TASL conference the past few years, as well as has presented in other various literacy conferences.