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Math Station Rotations: Getting Started

One of my favorite classroom routines is math stations! Over the years, they have become a staple instructional strategy for me and I utilize them often. I love using math station rotations with my students. In fact, I blog about them often. In today’s post, I’ll explain what a math station rotation is and why you need to implement them in your classroom.

The Basics of Math Station Rotations

What is it?

This is an example of a station game in a set of math station rotations.
This is an example of a math station game.

Math station rotations include a set of four to six activities students completed individually or in small groups. Students rotate through the activities in 15-25 minute intervals of time. Station activities can include cooperative learning activities such as games, problem-solving and critical thinking challenges, task cards, self-checking activities, or computer games.

Typically, stations would be used to review content that was recently taught; however, I have used math station rotations to provide multiple opportunities to practice a skill on which we were currently working. I also use math stations as a spiral review when we prepare for our state test. I even use math stations to teach new content when I am short on time and need to both review old skills and teach news skills at the same time.

Why we need them?

Besides the fact that math stations are the ultimate student engagement tool, there are four reasons to implement math station rotations in your classroom.

Provide multiple learning experiences at one time

ath stations 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.

Varying level of student needs can also be met through math stations. Tasks may include basic practice, advanced practice, real-world connections, and critical thinking challenges. For example, station activities for students working on volume of three-dimensional figures may include:

  • finding the volume of rectangular prisms labeled with the dimensions or where the unit cubes are visible
  • solving real-world volume problems
  • solv challenge problems, such as those where the volume and the area of the base are known but the height is not
  • guided intervention task or an additional challenge such as building figures with a specific volume and/or dimensions.

Address multiple learning styles

There are many ways to address learning styles through math station rotations. When used in this way, there is always an activity that appeals to each student’s learning needs. For example, a rotation may include:

  • an activity sheet where students use a set of manipulatives to complete the task
  • a math audiobook 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 create a product and some choice in how they complete the task

Differentiate tasks for ability levels

With a variety of ability levels in every classroom, differentiating for students’ needs can be quite the challenge. With a station rotation, tasks are 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 for students who are still working toward mastery and two-step word problems for students who have already demonstrated mastery.

Certain groups are then assigned to complete a specific task or students given the option to select a task that meets their needs and ability level.

Develop cooperative learning skills

Station rotations designed to include cooperative learning tasks that require students to work together to complete a task are ideal for building communication skills. During this time, students must also self-monitor their progress and behavior.

For cooperative learning tasks, assigning roles helps students have a level of accountability when completing the task. Students also expected to work together to address concerns when questions arise. This way, students are not only responsible for the learning of the group but for their own learning as well.

Next Steps

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 station rotations will become students’, and teachers’, favorite part of the day.

Resources that May Interest You

Sound Off!

What do you enjoy most about using math station rotations? Respond in the comments below.

Shametria Routt Banks

Shametria Routt Banks

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