Hello! One of my favorite classroom routines is stations! Over the years, they have become a staple instructional strategy for me and I utilize them frequently in a variety of ways. I love using stations with my students and I blog about them often. As we prepare to head back to school, I want to encourage you to implement stations this year. With that goal in mind, I have two weeks of station-focused blog and video posts to share with you. This week, I will share four reasons to add math stations to your classroom routines this year. Next week, I will show you how to create ready-made stations for the first weeks of the year in five days. Yes, that’s right—five days! Let’s get started!
Using math stations allows teachers to provide multiple learning experiences to help students be successful with grade level content and skills. Because the general station rotation has three or more station tasks, students will have multiple opportunities to work with the skill and demonstrate mastery. Having multiple tasks also allows for a varying level of tasks, such as basic practice, more advanced practice, real-world connections, and critical thinking challenges. For example, if my students are working on finding the volume of three-dimensional shapes and solving volume problems, I may have tasks that involve finding the volume of rectangular-prisms labeled with the dimensions or where the unit cubes are visible, solving real-world volume problems, and solving more challenging problems, such as problems where the volume and the area of the base are known but the height is not. The fourth station would either be an intervention task with me or an additional challenge such as having students build figures with a specific volume and/or dimensions.
When a variety of tasks are included in the station rotation, teachers are able to address multiple learning styles. For example, I may include an activity sheet where students use a set of manipulatives to complete the task, a math audio book where students listen to a story and complete an activity page to emphasize the learning from the story, an internet game or iPad app to review a skill, an activity where students are creating a product and have the freedom to use markers or colored pencils to complete the task. There are many ways to address learning styles through the station rotation so that there is an activity that appeals to all of the students.
With a variety of ability levels in every classroom, differentiate for each students’ needs can be quite the challenge. With a station rotation, tasks can be differentiated to meet a variety of needs. For example, I can include leveled tasks for each station, such as word problems that require only one-step to solve the volume problem for my students who are still working toward mastery and two-step word problems for my students who have already demonstrated mastery. From there, I can either assign certain groups to complete a specific task or I can allow students to select a task that meets their needs and ability level. (Honestly, I prefer the first method; however, the second method allows for some voice and choice for students.)
In terms of classroom management, station rotations can be designed that include cooperative learning tasks that require students to work together to successfully complete a task. During this time, students must also self-monitor their own progress and behavior. When I design cooperative learning tasks, I assign each student a role so that they all have a level of accountability in completing the task. I also expect that they work together to address concerns when questions arise. In this way, students are not only responsible for the learning of the group but for their own learning as well.
Like any effective routine, students must understand the expectations and have an opportunity to practice the routines. Once students understand how to perform the routine successfully, with a few gentle reminders from time to time, math stations will become the students’, and teachers’, favorite part of the day.
I’m so excited about next week’s five day challenge! I will post a new video each day with a step-by-step activity to complete that will help get your stations ready to go for the first grading period. I look forward to seeing you next week!
Sound Off! Why do you like to use math stations?