Today’s post will be the final one of my “Getting Started with Math Stations” series. As the finale, I want to share all of the reasons why I love using stations in the classroom and answer a few burning questions that I receive regularly from teachers. The illustration below shows five reasons that I love using math stations.
As I close out this series, I would like to address, or readdress, a few of the questions that I receive the most regarding stations:
1. How do I ensure that my students are working and not just playing around?
2. Using stations is an overwhelming task for me. How can I make the process flow more smoothly?
3. I don’t have time to make new resources every week, what ready-made or easy to implement resources can you recommend?
Because I view stations as an opportunity for review and practice, I do not grade station tasks. This does two things. It lessens the grading burden on me and allows the students to enjoy the station tasks without worrying about a grade. I purposefully create tasks that the students may not finish so that they have no excuse to stop working. Since some students work more slowly than others, knowing that the task has to be completed for grading purposes creates unnecessary anxiety. However, if you would like students to have more accountability, using a short formative assessment afterwards to assess the station rotation’s included skills and content may provide more beneficial information about the students’ understanding for both you and the students. Read more here.
Station rotations can be used in many ways throughout the learning process. In fact, they can replace something that you were already planning to do. For example, if I am teaching a lesson on multiplication and division of larger numbers, I can replace the independent work time with a station rotation. Or, I can teach students the multiplication and division strategies over a few days and then use a station rotation to provide independent practice. In this case, my stations may include basic algorithmic practice (using VersaTiles), a game with multiplication and division word problems, fact practice on the computer, and a teacher time activity involving estimation and assessing answers for reasonableness.
In addition, I love to use stations to review. In fact, a few years ago, I created a massive station rotation to prepare for our state test with about 16 stations that reviewed all of our grade level content and skills. After I assigned each group a starting location, groups then worked at their own pace to complete the tasks to earn a completion sticker. Each station also included a multiple choice question that would better help the students prepare for the state test. The students had a week to work on the stations and collect the completion stickers. They loved it and I had the opportunity to float around and see how the students were doing. I called it the the Amazing Race: 5th Grade Math Edition! Read more here and here.
If you have specific questions regarding how to use stations in the classroom, please post your comments in the section below. I would love to offer you more specific advice.
New Product Alert! I will be launching my Tools for Organizing Math Stations pack in late December. You can be the first to know when it’s available by going to The Routty Math Teacher Store on TeachersPayTeachers and clicking the green star under my store name.
See this series from the beginning! Click here!