Welcome back! Today’s post is a continuation of last week’s post and is actually a series of videos to help you prepare math stations for the first few weeks or the first few units of the school year. Through this series, I’m sharing my tips and techniques for designing ready-to-go stations using an easy five-step process that you can use over and over again. While I have presented the basic steps here, in order to get the most from this post, I encourage you to watch each day’s video. With all of the logistics out of the way, let’s begin!
Don’t see the video? Click here to check out the entire video series.
Day One- Create a Plan
For the first day, the action item is to take your district scope and sequence and map out your first grading period. You can use your lesson plan book or record the information on a separate calendar. I like to see my units at a glance so I would use the calendar method to record the information, but, it’s certainly a personal preference. After you’ve recorded the units for the first grading period, you’re done with today’s action item!
Day Two- Decide on a Structure to Use
For the second day, the action list includes making some important decisions based on the units that you’ll be teaching. For me personally, since it’s the first round of math stations, I’ll use a simple structure to give the students an opportunity to get acclimated to the process. Here are some important things to consider:
- Purpose: What are we trying to accomplish, i.e. practice, review for assessment, intervention, extend and challenge?
- Frequency: How often will the rotation occur, i.e. once a day, once per week, once per unit?
- Station Time: How long will students spend at each rotation? Caution: More time means more activities! Fifteen to Twenty minutes is usually enough time.
- Number of Stations: How many stations will you include? This answer is really based on your purpose, the frequency, and the station time.
- Themes: What stations will you use, i.e. Teacher Time, Math Facts and Computations, Tech Tools, Learning Game, At-Your-Seat, etc?
Since it is the beginning of the year, I would recommend getting started with a super simple rotation– one 20-minute rotation each day of the week for four days (Idea: Our weeks are busy and you may need a day for some other required task. If not, use the extra day for a quick graphing activity!) to provide practice and intervention. The themes will include Math Facts and Computations, Learning Game, Problem Solving and Critical Thinking, and Tech Tools.
Once you’ve decided on the essential elements for your structure– you’re done!
Day Three- Choose Your Resources
For the third day, the action item is to choose your resources. This is where you scour your resources, including the resources you use within each unit to “fill the buckets.” Use your station themes to determine a resource for each station during each rotation. Remember, the best resources are simple ones. Think about reusing games that you use during the learning cycle, vocabulary activities, problem-solving challenges (Have you seen my Solve It series?), card and dice games, etc. The basic idea here is, the more variety, the better! Once you’ve decided on and recorded the resources you plan to use, you’re done!
Day Four- Prepare Your Resources
For the fourth day, the action list includes preparing any materials you will need for your station rotations. Use the planning guide you created yesterday to go down the list and prepare each resource. (Yes! This task is lengthy but will pay-off in the long run.) While you are preparing your resources, be sure to consider creating station task directions to guide students. You will need to gather any necessary game boards, activity/task cards, and recording sheets. You will also want to gather any picture books, activity books, manipulatives, or any other essential materials. When you’re done– celebrate!
Teacher Tip: I like to create a standard game directions page to include with any game that I use for stations, i.e. card and dice games, board games, etc. On the game sheet, I include the following: Concept/Skill, Number of Players, Materials, Objective, and Procedure. Taking the time to create these from the start makes it easier for students to get started right away.
Day Five- Make a Plan for the Logistics
For the fifth and final day, the action list includes ironing out some important details, such as the location of storage containers, rotation order, student groups, and tub components.
- Location of the Storage Containers: This is where you want to consider where the storage baskets will be housed. I like to store mine on top of the cubby area or on a counter. When space is limited, I have been known to just stack them in a corner. Because I label my tubs, the students know how to just grab them and place them on the desired table.
- Rotation Order: This is essential to helping your stations run more smoothly. You can post a rotation board or a wheel to help students know where to go next. This is also helpful when a rotation spans a few days and students forget where they were supposed to go next.
- Student Groups: Just like with the rotation order, it’s helpful to post something so that students know what group they are assigned to. This is helpful for absent students and also the forgetful ones. I typically post my groups right next to my rotation board so that students only have to refer to one place for the necessary information.
- Tub Components: This is where we want to consider what general items need to be in each tub. This will vary from theme to theme, but each tub does need a set of task directions. (Teacher Tip: I like to copy the task sheet on colored paper so that it stands out among the other materials. Even better, when I am using different-colored station baskets, I copy the task sheet on the same color paper as the basket. I know– I’m completely over the top!) Other items you may want to include in your station tubs include scratch paper, extra pencils, or dry-erase materials.
Congratulations! You’ve just completed your first set of station rotations. Now you can sit back and revel in your hard work. When you’re ready for the next set of stations, just repeat the process. Happy Rotating!
I hope this has been a helpful series. Again, I encourage you to review the videos as well as I demonstrate how to use the G-Suite, Google tools, to accomplish the same goals.
I would love to hear how this process worked for you. Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.