Literacy Lab off ers opportunities to all learners
Southborough – Looking around the room you'll see some children playing a game of hangman, one child may be sitting silently in a rocking chair with a magazine, some are huddled together wearing headphones and sharing a book, and others are acting out a skit for an audience of their classmates.
Although each of these groups is busy with a different activity, they are all working toward achieving a single goal: improving their literacy skills.
The Literacy Lab located at the Margaret Neary School in Southborough is a centerbased room that off ers several literacy activities to help students improve their reading, writing and spelling skills.
But rather than creating a place where students in need of additional help can go in small groups, the lab is designed in a way that an entire class can enjoy it together.
"Teachers who have a concern about a few kids can bring their entire class here, where there are all diff erent levels of activities," Southborough K-5 reading coordinator Mary Ellen Shields said. "The kids don't look and see that there may be fewer words on their page than on someone else's because the activity they're involved in is engaging enough that they don't really notice."
"At this level kids really start to understand how they learn and we need to give them an opportunity to practice in their level to their strength," she said. "Knowing the type of learner they are will help them to advocate for themselves as they move on from here."
The goal of the Literacy Lab is to be whatever each child, each class and each teacher needs it to be. While some teachers may send their children to the lab to work on a single grammar lesson together, others use the lab as a free period for their students to engage in any of the activities available to help strengthen their skills.
Only in its second year, the lab has proven very popular among the entire school community because, if for no other reason, it off ers a change of scenery.
"When you get out of your own space it just helps to motivate you and it makes it more special," Shields said. "It's a place where everyone can come and we can focus on individual needs, a place where there's something for everyone."
Although it's mostly used for direct classroom/teacher assistance, the Literacy Lab is also available to individual students during their recess time.
"I can't really read a book outside because it could get dirty or I could lose it, and we don't really have indoor recess that much, so if I'd like to read a book silently I can go to the Literacy Lab," fifth-grader Olivia Santamaria said. "Or you can play games with your friends and do plays with them and act out what you're reading."
By offering the widest range of literacy-based activities possible, Shields said, she's hoping to hook even the most hesitant readers.
"We want to create lifelong learners, lifelong readers and instill the idea that reading is something that is fun, that it can be broad and diverse, and that anyone can do successfully," she said.
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