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July 5, 2018

Great Ideas for Using Pocket Charts in Literacy Centers

By The Scholastic.com Editors
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    The ways that literacy centers can be organized are as varied as the teachers who manage them. In order to meet the needs of all students, the center should be a place that easily adapts to children working in pairs, small, or large groups. In her book, Literacy Centers in Photographs, author Nikki Campo-Stallone has designed literacy centers thinking about "what students need in order to be independent and successful."

    Campo-Stallone also carefully chooses the materials for her centers to ensure support for a wide range of activities. Towards this end, she finds the pocket chart to be a valuable tool with seemingly infinite applications. "Sometimes I use it as another way to support children with a word study lesson. I also use it with poetry. On sentence strips I write words or phrases from a poem we’ve read in shared reading. Students can then manipulate and read the words in poems, using the pocket chart. Also, once a poem has rotated through the poetry center, I may move it to the poetry pocket chart."

    Use the following ideas taken from Literacy Centers in Photographs to create a literacy center that maximizes the many uses of pocket charts.

    Designate an Area

    For the pocket chart center, choose an area in your room where you can hang a pocket chart that students can use daily. A pocket chart stand might work, or you can try to find a way to adhere the chart to a wall. The pocket chart shown in the photograph is drilled into the concrete wall in my classroom, but I have also stapled the pocket chart to the wall when my classroom didn’t have concrete walls. Be sure that the pocket chart is at eye level and can be reached by all students. Also keep in mind that the center area needs to have enough open floor space for children to be able to spread out the sentence strips in order to piece the poem together.

     

    Storing the Letter Cards and Word or Sentence Strips

    I have found that the best way to store the materials students will use in the pocket chart is in a manila envelope. I cut off the top of the envelope, punch holes in the corners, and use yarn or string to hang it nearby. You can also hang the envelope on a hook, a thumbtack, or a hat rack. When using the center for word study activities, you can write the directions for the activity on the front of the envelope. If students are working with poetry at the center, print a copy of the poem on the outside of the envelope. This will give your students the opportunity to self-check their work and correct any mistakes that they have made.

    Pocket Chart Rules

    With your students, write rules for your pocket chart center during shared or interactive writing. Make sure that the language is simple, and have children reread the rules each time they go to the center. You may need to change the rules depending upon what kind of activity the children are using the pocket chart for. The rules in this photo are for organizing word strips in a poem, and then finding consonant blends in the poem.

    Pocket Chart Center in Motion

    These photos show children using the pocket chart to figure out the order of words in a poem. I always encourage children to build the poem from left to right to develop reading skills. I hang the enlarged copy of the poem nearby to assist them. This also gives them another way to check their work.

    Once the poem has been completed in the pocket chart, have the children read it together several times. You can also ask children to highlight words that go along with the word principle you are working on. For instance, these students are using a fly swatter with a hole cut out of it and a pointer to locate consonant blends in the poem.

    The ways that literacy centers can be organized are as varied as the teachers who manage them. In order to meet the needs of all students, the center should be a place that easily adapts to children working in pairs, small, or large groups. In her book, Literacy Centers in Photographs, author Nikki Campo-Stallone has designed literacy centers thinking about "what students need in order to be independent and successful."

    Campo-Stallone also carefully chooses the materials for her centers to ensure support for a wide range of activities. Towards this end, she finds the pocket chart to be a valuable tool with seemingly infinite applications. "Sometimes I use it as another way to support children with a word study lesson. I also use it with poetry. On sentence strips I write words or phrases from a poem we’ve read in shared reading. Students can then manipulate and read the words in poems, using the pocket chart. Also, once a poem has rotated through the poetry center, I may move it to the poetry pocket chart."

    Use the following ideas taken from Literacy Centers in Photographs to create a literacy center that maximizes the many uses of pocket charts.

    Designate an Area

    For the pocket chart center, choose an area in your room where you can hang a pocket chart that students can use daily. A pocket chart stand might work, or you can try to find a way to adhere the chart to a wall. The pocket chart shown in the photograph is drilled into the concrete wall in my classroom, but I have also stapled the pocket chart to the wall when my classroom didn’t have concrete walls. Be sure that the pocket chart is at eye level and can be reached by all students. Also keep in mind that the center area needs to have enough open floor space for children to be able to spread out the sentence strips in order to piece the poem together.

     

    Storing the Letter Cards and Word or Sentence Strips

    I have found that the best way to store the materials students will use in the pocket chart is in a manila envelope. I cut off the top of the envelope, punch holes in the corners, and use yarn or string to hang it nearby. You can also hang the envelope on a hook, a thumbtack, or a hat rack. When using the center for word study activities, you can write the directions for the activity on the front of the envelope. If students are working with poetry at the center, print a copy of the poem on the outside of the envelope. This will give your students the opportunity to self-check their work and correct any mistakes that they have made.

    Pocket Chart Rules

    With your students, write rules for your pocket chart center during shared or interactive writing. Make sure that the language is simple, and have children reread the rules each time they go to the center. You may need to change the rules depending upon what kind of activity the children are using the pocket chart for. The rules in this photo are for organizing word strips in a poem, and then finding consonant blends in the poem.

    Pocket Chart Center in Motion

    These photos show children using the pocket chart to figure out the order of words in a poem. I always encourage children to build the poem from left to right to develop reading skills. I hang the enlarged copy of the poem nearby to assist them. This also gives them another way to check their work.

    Once the poem has been completed in the pocket chart, have the children read it together several times. You can also ask children to highlight words that go along with the word principle you are working on. For instance, these students are using a fly swatter with a hole cut out of it and a pointer to locate consonant blends in the poem.

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