Listening Center is a great place for students to enjoy stories they love being modeled fluently. When I have a story that my students really enjoy, I tend to put it in this center for extra practice. Students become really motivated to listen and respond at this center when it features a beloved tale. Responding to a text is something that we really have to work in in Kindergarten, as it is a skill that will be honed throughout students’ educational journey; letting them enjoy responding to a text is an easy way to expose them to this skill.
My Set Up:
I have a CD of Jack and the Beanstalk (but, before I got the CD, I used to record myself reading the story). I also have a “lift-the-flap” book that goes along with my CD- I love this because I can have one student turn the pages and the other can lift the flaps!
*In the past, when I didn't have a CD, I taped myself reading the story so I could serve as their familiar and good example of fluent reading.
Students will listen to Jack and the Beanstalk and will follow along, tracking the print.
If Jack and the Beanstalk ends and students feel they aren't completely comfortable with it, they are allowed to listen to the story again, one more time.-- This practice builds self-monitoring skills while also encouraging them to retain information.
Once the story is completely over, students will discuss the story with their partner
(I think it is important for students to practice their speaking and listening standards in this center more than any other! So, part of this is re-telling the story and then giving your opinion on the characters. I like to make sure students are working on listening to the story and also working on listening to each other, while gaining knowledge through both!) I think it is only to our benefit to have students talk through and really respond to Jack and the Beanstalk.
Students will then complete their response sheet, based on their opinion.
(If students need to go back through Jack and the Beanstalk in order to build their opinion, that is encouraged. I like to make sure that students know they must use the story, not to write from, but to build the background for their opinion.)
For this particular story, my response sheet was about whether students thought Jack was smart or not when reading the story. I loved this because it encouraged students to put themselves in the shoes of the main character. This really allowed students to think back through the story before writing!
I check students’ papers for the following:
A complete sentence or complete sentences.
Sentence(s) being with a capital letter and end with a sentence.
Handwriting is neat.
The student’s opinion makes sense and is backed with a reason.
(Also, I really try to listen to students as the discuss at this center. This can be hard, as I am working with small groups, but I always make an effort to try! Informal assessments can oftentimes lead to many teachable moments!)
*** Sometimes, I might differentiate my response sheets. So, with this particular story and center, I may provide a different sheet if needed. Some additional examples are:
The main character was ____________________ (and students must describe and explain, while supporting their opinion with information from the story),
My favorite part of the story was ___________ because _______________,
or I agree with or disagree with ________ because _____________.
This activity is really easy to change and to mold to meet the needs of my students and/or the books or topics we are covering. At the beginning of the year, I might have students just draw the sequence of the story, then I might have them label characters from the story, and around mid-year, I begin having students give their opinions with reasons from the story. I like to really build students' skills as we move along throughout the year. Listening center can seem monotonous (since students know they have to listen every time), so I really like to make sure to add different types of response sheets.
Not only is it important to differentiate the response sheets, but I also think it's important to make sure students enjoy the process of being at this center. Even at listening center, with a familiar story, I like to provide students with necessary help or guidance when possible.
I have a few students who are unable to form their own ideas based on a text, so I have two supports in place for them.
1) If someone is working very fast, I have them help their partner with their writing.
2) I may need to provide a response sheet that I have already filled out for students to trace and then illustrate to match, like the one shown here in this Response Sheet Pack.