One Solution: Stations!

Posted by Megan Smith on August 26, 2012 in Class Routines, Learning Stations, Most Popular, Teacher Problems

Published on: Aug 26, 2012

During my first two years of teaching a language, I noticed some patterns.

1.) Although I had big classes (around 30), about 5-10 students did the majority of speaking in class in the TL.

2.) Students got bored easily. I needed to change the activity/task every 10-15 minutes (especially with level one students) if I wanted them to stay engaged. I was always trying to stretch it out so more could participate.

3.) Some students were finishing tasks much faster than others, and would then be a distraction to those still working.

Have you seen these things in your classroom?

Have you wondered… “How do I fix this?”

One solution for me ending up being STATIONS! In the next few posts I’m going to show you what they look like in my classroom, each station’s purpose, and ideas of what students can do to learn in each station.

I have several set stations that I always include – what varies is the task.

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Click a link below to read more:

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34 comments for “One Solution: Stations!”

  1. Sonia says:

    I’d love to incorporate stations as I multi-level student in Spanish class.
    My class has native speakers (varying degrees of proficiency, non-natives, and students who had 1/2 semester of Spanish) What a mixed of abilities!

  2. Kaci says:

    I’m so excited that you will be discussing stations. I plan on using them much more this year, especially with a class I will be co-teaching with a colleague for the first time. Any and all ideas will be so helpful.

    1. Megan says:

      Having 2 teaching for stations is my dream! One needs to be a conversation station where you simply chat with a small group! They need that extra attention! Take advantage of this!!

  3. barb jacobs says:

    I would like to use stations, but am struggling with how t do this with 5 other schools who I broadcast to ( via ITV) besides the school I am at. It is especially difficult to keep those students at the other sites engaged, practicing, and still have some control with all the noise coming from 6 classrooms at once. Help!

  4. Madeleine says:

    As a former 2nd grade elementary dual immersion teacher, I love the idea of bringing stations to the high school. I now teach Spanish 2 and 4. Stations will look very different at this level and I can’t wait to find out more from you! Millón de gracias por todo lo que escriben aquí. ¡¡¡Son muy generosas y he aprendido montones!!!

    1. Megan says:

      I don’t know much about elementary stations but I bet it is very similar. Any tips or advice thta helped you with running stations with the little ones?

      1. Dawn Carney says:

        Having done stations both in Gr 2 immersion and middle grades level 1 courses, the key is having students understand expectations for work, behavior, TL use and product. What I learned in gr 2 that worked well with middle grades is to introduce the concept of stations on one day and then introduce each station to the whole group over a week: one station a day. this sets up the station and then it is only the specific task directions that change. In gr 2 immersion the directions had to be in TL, in middle grades I used English (in writing) to facilitate much of the directions, esp at beginning of year.
        Hope this helps!

        1. Megan says:

          Thanks Dawn! Great advice!

  5. Susan says:

    I have used stations before and they are great. I have had them record themselves using the old tape cassette player, a reading activity, white boards (tableros blancos), foldable study guide station, dice game, tic tac toe (tres en raya). I am trying to get my kids to learn for the sake of learning (we talk about it) however it seems that if they don’t get points, they don’t try as hard. It is still early in the year so maybe it will change. I can’t grade 112 papers everynight so one new thing I am trying this year is a scantron for homework points. Maybe 5 or 6 questions worth two points each & then have them write an answer or two in Spanish on the back of the scantron so I can see how they are doing with sentences. They need so much practice with writing sentences but again, it is difficult to grade all of them. Thanks for your blog, I love it!

    1. mmeg says:

      I’m doing something new with grading… a green pen check. I got three or four packages of green pens and pass them out as we get out homework. The students check their own homework off the board. They miss points if they don’t catch their own errors and have to correct them on their own and turn in the next day. I also sometimes have 2 students go around who finishes early and check the first 5 answers on the assignment as kids get started. They mark a ‘bullet” next to the correct answers on the starting questions. The kids can see if they are on the right track and both techniques reduce/speed up my grading and their learning. With one class, they started switching to their pencils on the sly so they aren’t allowed to have pencils even on their desks. It eliminates the ethics of switching papers too. I’m swamped too… hang in there! I’m going to try the scantron for my warm ups and a few early unit ideas.

  6. Jen says:

    I love love love stations and would be happy I share what mine tend to look like! Cannot wait to hear what yours are!

    1. Megan says:

      When will you be doing stations next? Will you take pictures of what our classroom looks like in each station so we can share it on the blog? It’s so much easier to get ideas when you can see an idea in action!

  7. Megan Green says:

    I used stations at my old school, where i had four computers and tons of room. I would do a listening station, reading, writing, speaking and a skit (5 groups of four). Now I am in a tiny room, no computers and 30! Looking for ideas!

    1. Megan says:

      Do you have a teacher computer?

  8. Julia Spencer says:

    I’m on a cart moving from room to room (all in the FL wing fortunately!) but will still implement this idea to help keep the students moving from task to task. As always, can’t wait to see what you recommend!!

  9. Megan says:

    I love the idea of stations, but need some logistical help! #1) How do you keep kids on task? #2) I do not have computers in my room… There is a computer lab next door with 20 computers and my classes are generally around 30. #3) Where do you “keep” the stations? My room is not large! Thanks!

  10. Tamarie says:

    I am a HS teacher with 6 classes of approximately 30 students in a small room with no computers. I use stations several times a year. I find them to be very labor-intensive for me but well worth it for the students. They enjoy them and do indeed learn from the activities. They especially enjoy the change of pace. I am looking forward to seeing what ideas come out of your series, and I appreciate the ideas you and others generate on this blog.

    1. Megan says:

      Zero computers? Do you have a school laptop to teach with during class?

  11. Because my classes are so large, I usually use stations at the end of the unit to review. I alternate skills. Reading, writing, listening, speaking, games, manipulatives.

  12. Stephanie LInt-Perez says:

    One of my goals is to incorporate more station hands-on activities this year…looking forward to your ideas. My initiative has begun with purchasing the “elementary plastic bins” that are in all elementary classrooms. I have five total–one in each color. I am hoping to generate 6 kids per station. I thought that these would serve as the “place” to put all the materials needed for that station…plastic baggies full of cards, markers, colored paper, or what not!

    So…what I’ve don in the past is use games–dice game for grammar review, REALIA–I try to have something TANGIBLE and physical that they can actually HANDLE–ie: cerreal box in TL with a handout for questions/discussions.

    I really like this! Looking for things that will go with the THEMATIC UNITS NOW! THis is my mission!

    LET’S CHANGE IT UP!
    🙂

    1. Kara says:

      The pins are great! Also love the cereal box “reading”. Somewhere in my teaching life, I was told that groups should not be larger than five. Large groups naturally split into smaller groups. I have noticed this happen even in social situations. Groups of 6 split into 2 groups of 3. Something to consider…

  13. Ryan says:

    I’m a new teacher and am curious about the use of stations. I have a full class and not much room, so I’m not sure how to organize them.

  14. Erin says:

    I love the ideas of stations, but what sort of assessment would you use for the stations? How do you know that they’re retaining the information? These are some problems I’ve run into in the past. Also, set up : materials, preperation, etc. So excited to hear more!

    1. Megan says:

      Good question! We’ll hopefully have suggestions for your situation soon!

  15. Karyn says:

    I use stations a lot, but my problem with them that I have seen is that they tend to get too loud. I also have trouble with time limits because we only have about 40 minutes of classtime (less after the five minutes it takes to get settled and complete the journal). What I would suggest is making ground rules for the class when doing centers and discussing this the day before. That way, when they come in to class, they know where to go and what to do immediately rather than waste time doing other things. I am using centers again within the next week or two with my 6th and 7th grade classes, so I can post on here what happens and what worked.

    1. Kara says:

      Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  16. Kathie Wilson says:

    I love reading your blog! I have gotten so many great ideas! MUCHISIMAS GRACIAS! As far as stations go, I love to use them but do find that they take careful planning to make them work. I am a floating teacher this year, so not too sure how I can make them work. I will look forward to hearing your ideas!

    1. http://www./ says:

      ReneeJ That was really fun last night, Ryan! Thanks for taking the time – you must REALLY love us to take an hour away from MNF… It was good to see you again..

  17. Lori says:

    I see friends/family who teach in the elementary school using them. Anyone have ideas as how to use them in high school?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Please let me know when you post ideas on how to use stations in a foreign language class!
    Thank you!

  19. How early in the semester can one use stations with 1st year students? How much language do they need to stay on task?

    1. Megan says:

      I use them right away- first week. I use the same modes each time so they know what to expect (listening, speaking, reading, writing, games…) but change up the activity to match the unit goals. Novice beginner students can complete novice tasks. When reading they find 15 cognates or tell the main idea or article. Listening might be a few youtube videos with introductions and they try to figure out how to introduce themselves (before the “lesson”). Writing might be creating a poster introducing themselves (hi- my name is ______. I like music!) in the target language then take a selfie with it and print or post to the class website!
      Stations are all about giving them input thru authentic resources and them letting them show what they learn. They can be any activities you do in class! Hope this helps!

  20. Nancy says:

    How long do each stations last within a class period? Do students rotate within that time? Love all the ideas here. I think this would be great in keeping them engaged. I have large classes and am trying to figure out how to make it work. Thanks!

    1. Megan says:

      I have 70 minute class and I have found a few ways that stations work best for me…
      1.) I teach a small lesson at the beginning of class (20 min) then I have my students go through 3 stations 10-15 minutes each. Then we come back together the last few minutes for a quick exit slip/formative assessment.

      2.) I share the goal for the day and quickly explain the 5 stations. I put a timer up for 10 minutes (with about 2 minutes transition time between stations) then we come back together at the end for assessment/formative assessment.

      3.) I teach/we work together the first half of class (30 min) Tues-Thurs. The second half of class students do 2 stations each day.

      Next year, there is talk we are changing to 50 minute classes so I’ll probably have to adjust things but these options have all worked well for me!

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