Learning Stations: One of my Favourites from 2015 - Room 213

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Learning Stations: One of my Favourites from 2015

Learning stations are perfect for engaging middle and high school students in real learning
One of the biggest changes I made to my routine in 2015 was to use learning stations in my high school classroom.  The first one was created out of necessity.  I had been sick for a number of days in September and felt like I hadn't given my students enough direction for using their reader's notebooks.  I decided to make some stations to get them focused, and we all liked the activity so much that I went station crazy, and made a whole lot more.

Every time I create a new learning station, I think about a skill or concepts that I want my students to work on or understand. Then, I break the skills or ideas down into chunks to create the task cards.  For example, after we finished Macbeth, I wanted my students to organize all of their notes in terms of character development and theme.  Each station had them focus on either a major character or the themes of the play.  When they were revising essays, we had stations that broke down the revision process, so at one station they looked at their essays to see if they had variety in their writing, while at another, they looked at their word choice, etc. This worked really well, because it slowed down the process, one that they often rush through.

Using learning stations takes a little organization: I group my desks so we have one group per station and divide my class number by the number of stations. So, if I have six stations and twenty-four students, six groups of four will move through the stations. When I design the tasks, I do so in a way that order doesn't matter. so the groups just start at one station and then after about ten minutes or so, they move clockwise to the next one. I always reserve time at the end of the class (or during the next one) for students to go back to stations that they did not finish.

I LOVE them for a variety of reasons:  
1. Each station focuses students' attention on a specific task, and because they have limited time at each one, they know they have to get the job done before they move on.  I have a chatty class, which is good when I want them to discuss things, but isn't so great when I want them to settle in to do some written work. They can still chat at the stations, but they do so to help each other with the task. I am always pleased to see how well they work when we do stations, and I really believe it's the fact that the work is divided into small, timed chunks that does the trick.

Learning stations for discovering theme

2. Learning stations give students an opportunity to get up and move around during class.  Left on their own, many will just meld to their chair and zone out, but when they have to move every ten minutes or so, they lose that option. Plus, movement helps the learning process and stations are another strategy I can use to get more action in my classes.

3. It's a great way to add variety to your lessons and procedures.  Routine can be good, but so is variety. Even if you are asking the students to do the same work they would be doing in their seats, just by changing things up with stations you will get more engagement from your students.

4. My students love them, probably for all of the same reasons, and that's a good thing.

As much as I love stations, we don't do them every day.  I like to mix things up, so this is just one of the tools in my toolbox.  It's one I go to when I know it's time to buckle down and focus on certain skills or ideas, or to review and organize notes, as we did with Macbeth.

I now have quite a variety of learning stations available in my TpT store.  You can check them out by clicking the links below:





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13 comments

  1. What was your favourite lesson or strategy last year?

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  2. It's nice to see learning stations work for secondary students! I kept seeing them talked about everywhere but mostly with elementary kids so I wasn't sure I'd be able to use them successfully. Thanks for sharing this post! I hope to try this out this semester. ~Stephanie's History Store

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    1. You're welcome, Stephanie! I'm sure they would work really well in a history classroom. Good luck with them!

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  3. I keep thinking about incorporating some type of stations into my ELA classroom, but I'm not quite sure what to focus on. I have my kids for an hour. Would you mind emailing me or writing an additional post explaining a bit more of what you have yours kids do at the different stations, how long they're at each one - or is it self-directed, do they move through every station each day or is it over a certain number of days, do you have them do stations every day? These are just a few questions I've been thinking about. Thanks for your help!
    Janie
    Are We There Yet?

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  4. Lots of great questions, Janie. I revised this post and hopefully answered most of them. Let me know if you have more.

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  5. Stations are a great idea. I've tried them a few times, and usually like them. I just don't do them very much because I always feel so rushed to get through them and all the material in them. Maybe I'll give them another try!
    ~Julie

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    1. I try to keep the material focused enough that it's doable in one or two periods. It helps to build in time for them to go back to ones they didn't finish.

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  6. Having moved from elementary to middle school I was curious if stations could be transitioned as well... Thanks for the great blog post. I'm very excited to try it in my room next year.

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  7. They sure can. My high schoolers love them!

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  8. Hi! Could you share how you would use your learning stations with dystopian literature? I need some help!!!!

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  9. Hi, Luvlit. Can you send me an email at room213custom@gmail.com?

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  10. Thanks for learning stations post and all pics fabulous.

    Regards
    Jessica

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  11. Stations are an extraordinary thought. I've attempted them a couple times, and normally like them. I simply don't do them particularly in light of the fact that I generally feel so raced to overcome them and all the material in them. Possibly I'll give them another attempt!

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