Unfortunately many people assume that literacy centers are only for elementary students. However, middle schoolers benefit greatly from independent, small group instruction. Especially for reading and writing. So this post takes a deep dive into effective 6th grade literacy centers ideas. These stations will help your students grow stronger with their ELA skills in no time!
Plus, you can grab some free reading and writing activities to use in your classroom.
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What is Literacy in 6th Grade?
According to a study on struggling readers conducted by Renaissance, 82% of sixth graders who fail ELA do not graduate high school.
Reading and writing increase in complexity once kids hit middle school.
And the stakes are high for these students.
Literacy in 6th grade includes inferencing of much longer texts and writing longer passages with more details.
In addition to this, Grade 6 students must also master:
- identifying Greek and Latin roots
- citing text evidence
- analyzing more complex plots, settings, characters, etc.
- grammar skills that include reflexive and intensive pronouns with their antecedents
- AND MORE!
So, making sure every student gets targeted practice on what they need becomes critical for middle school ELA teachers.
Which is why I highly recommend literacy centers in 6th grade!
Breaking students into small groups allows them to have hands-on practice with various reading concepts.
Let’s take a closer look at some centers ideas for sixth graders.
But Wait…Aren’t They Called “Literacy Stations?”
For anyone who is hesitant to try literacy centers in 6th grade, some of that relates to the word “centers.”
Since most early elementary teachers use centers, the assumption is that older students are too big for that.
As an upper elementary teacher, I still call them literacy centers.
However, if that seems too babyish for your big kids, feel free to call them literacy stations.
That doesn’t change how you will set them up or organize them in your classroom.
The Plot Flip Book–6th Grade Reading Centers
Since literacy in 6th grade includes a lot of analyzing, this activity will build up that skill.
The Plot Flip Book can be used with any book and it requires students to identify plot summary and supporting details.
6th Graders need to fill out sections in their flip book with the following:
- a brief summary
- supporting details for setting
- OR supporting details for characters
They also must write a few sentences telling how the settings or characters impact the plot of the story.
This reading comprehension skill shows up in my state academic standards, including Common Core.
The fact that you can use these plot flip books with any story makes them great 6th grade reading centers.
You don’t have to switch it out for a different activity every time you have a new story to read!
Greek and Latin Land Maze Game–Word Work for Big Kids
Socializing is a big deal for middle schoolers!
So, when you gameify your 6th grade literacy centers, students will stay engaged longer.
That’s what Greek and Latin Land offers: a fun, small group game where sixth graders get to practice their root words.
Here’s how the game works:
- Players spin (using a spinner that you provide) on a game card that has Latin or Greek prefixes and suffixes.
- Then they move their “game piece” on the board with Latin or Greek root words.
- Students must combine the affixes with the root word to form a new word, then use it in a sentence.
The student who forms the most words using affixes and roots wins.
An interactive game like this provides word work practice for big kids that they enjoy. Which is a win-win for you and your students!
Sentence Flippers–A Writing Center for Middle Schoolers
Since a lot of 6th grade writing involves longer paragraphs and essays, it’s helpful to work on building good sentences.
Not only that, but students need to know the difference between simple, compound, and complex sentences for grammar standards.
That’s where Sentence Flippers comes to the rescue.
It’s another partner game, but can still be used for independent practice when needed.
6th graders have a piece of paper that’s the card deck holder. The three “card decks” are:
- Sentence Types
Students flip over one card each and must form a sentence based on what the cards show.
For example, let’s pretend the noun card says “dog,” the conjunction says “but,” and the sentence type says “compound.”
Then your students would need to write a compound using using the words “dog” and “but” in the sentence.
Students have a recording sheet where they write all their sentences, making it easier for you to take this center up as a grade.
You can even encourage students to make it competition with their partner by turning the cards over quickly, then “racing” to see who can write their sentence first.
It’s Time For an Argument–6th Grade Writing Activity
Several states have ELA standards for 6th graders to use persuasive skills in writing:
- Common Core–Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
- TEKS–Analyze characteristics and structures of arguments by identifying the claim.
- VA Core–Present a convincing argument.
So this writing activity can be used with whole group lessons or with your other 6th grade literacy centers.
Students are given two topics. They must choose one and present the case for why one is better than the other.
This writing assignment comes with graphic organizers that help 6th graders form their arguments.
Some of the topics included are:
- Xbox vs. Nintendo Switch
- Minecraft vs. Fortnite
- Emojis vs. GIFS
- Instagram vs. Snapchat
- Floss Dance vs. Infinite
- E-readers vs. Printed Books
- Dab Dance
- Netflix vs. YouTube
- iPhone vs. Android
- School Uniforms vs Regular Clothes at School
There are also blank copies that let students come up with their own two topics to debate.
In addition to this, pages with sentence stems are also included for students who struggle with writing.
This allows them to still work independently while getting the extra support they need to be successful during center rotations.
How Long Should 6th Grade Literacy Centers Last?
Now that you have ideas for the types of literacy activities to do with 6th graders, let’s talk about planning your centers.
The frequency and amount of time for your centers will depend on several factors:
- the total periods or classes you teach each day
- how many students are in each class
- what types of centers you’ll be using (some take longer to complete than others)
On top of this, you will also need to determine how many days of week you will have centers and whether you will do rotations or not.
If you want more nitty-gritty details and tips on how to set up your literacy block, I have this free guide.
It breaks down different time frames and what you could do during each block of time:
The best part about this guide is that I put the information on bookmarks that you can laminate to keep as a handy reference when planning your 6th grade centers.
Free 6th Grade ELA Activities
The ideas shared above are just some of the centers or stations you can try with your 6th graders.
If you want to test the waters with some free inferencing, writing centers, and reading activities, grab these free ones from my TpT store HERE.
Please be sure to let me know your thoughts on the freebie by leaving a rating on them.
Speaking of thoughts, comment below on the center idea above that you’re most interested in trying with your 6th graders? 🤔