Simplifying Stations with Templates

Posted by Kara Parker on February 28, 2015 in 1 Planning, Learning Stations

When I first started doing stations, I found that it was a lot of upfront planning, and even longer than planning a traditional lesson. Now I’m finding that I can plan them pretty quickly. It all comes down to having generic templates and picking a simple set up. I will share my process including examples and a download to help you use stations and spend less time planning.

I want to note that I put my stations’ directions in TL for my classes. This gives students the opportunity to figure out new words and reinforce others. Generally, I will not use an activity as a station if we have not done it at least once as a whole group. In this post, I am including some examples in English so all can understand. Look familiar SWCOLT teachers? 😉


I realized that I usually have a station for each language mode/skill. I made a template for each one plus a few extras. I printed these on card stock and folded.


Mixing it up!

Since they were so nice on card stock, I used post-it notes to add the instructions.


Writing Station Template


Then I noticed that I have about 3 activities that I go to for each mode/skill. So I typed up a template for these activities. I made the directions really generic, where I can just add in any specific information.

For the listening station, I simply replace the QR code each time. Real-life cut and paste style!


Generic Listening Station

Reading station… just add an authentic resource and done.


Reading Station with Tweets

Here’s a set of stations about music (front/back). Notice that I have written in the specifics on the instruction side. It took about 20 minutes to find my authentic resources and add specifics the first time I used the templates. These music stations took about 2 class periods to complete.



Finally I reflected on the fact that I’m doing a a lot of the work – finding the authentic resources, writing questions, thinking of the categories, etc. “The one who is doing all the work, is doing all the learning.” Well, I decided to let them do more. In the chat station, I would give them the questions. Now they write their own questions. They think of their own categories for vocabulary sorts. They find their own authentic resources (homework maybe??). I believe it is important to model a few, especially for novice learners, but let them explore as soon as they can.


Chat Station – Teacher provides questions


Chat Station – Students write questions


Last tip I want to share is how to set them up. I’ve found that simple works. To save some money and card stock, now I just put a printout over a card stock tent. Once I just hung them on the walls. Both are great for cart teachers too.


Create, print, hang on wall, done.


Card stock tent to put paper on

I hope this helps you plan and use stations. “Like” if it did! Here is a download with the generic templates in English so all readers can use it. Translating it should go quickly for you. Have some fun spicing it up with some fun fonts!

Visit el Mercado for the templates.

Station Templates in English for PDF, Keynote or PowerPoint (I use a Mac, so some fonts and formatting may be off. Sorry!)

Plantillas de Estaciones en Español para Keynote o PDF

Please share any tips you have to plan stations efficiently!

Want to read more about stations??

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17 comments for “Simplifying Stations with Templates”

  1. Kate says:

    ¡Muchísimas gracias! I love that you shared this template– I have been trying to incorporate stations for the last year or so after discovering your blog, and these tips and shortcuts are wonderful!

  2. The link is a tutorial about how to disable the home button! You lock kids into the app you want them to use so they aren’t wandering on the internet!

    1. Kara Parker says:

      Thanks for sharing Calli!

  3. This is just wonderful.

    Just WONDERFUL 🙂

    I am so thankful for your help. As a first year teacher, I am so thankful that there have been people who have already done this and who are sharing it for me. I can’t express how much help you have been! (Sorry if this seems overly dramatic, but you really have no idea…)

  4. Ashley says:

    This is awesome! Thank you for sharing. I have been wanting to use QR codes in my classroom more often and this is a great way to do just that. I was wondering if you are able to get through all stations in one period or is this over a couple of days?

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Kara Parker says:

      Welcome Ashley! The timing/pacing depends on many factors like how many stations I set up (I usually do 3-7) and how much they have to do a each station (just a quick activity or they are finding resources). I have had stations that last 30 minutes to 4 days. It’s not a specific answer, but I hope that helps. That’s what I love about stations is how they can be adapted.

  5. Helena Curtain says:

    These are wonderful templates and wonderful ideas!!! Thanks so much for all the helpful, creative awesome ideas you share!!

  6. Jessica says:

    This may be a silly question, but can you reply or post about your organization? You guys are so creative and have so many different activities and resources, how do you keep them all organized? New teacher here, still trying to figure out how to stay organized.

  7. Kara Parker says:

    It’s a constant battle!! I was a cart teacher for 2 years which REALLY taught me organization. In our categories, we have “Organization” (toward the bottom, Usually I have a small table reserved for each prep I teach to keep all current unit resources/activities/etc. On the cart, I had one large crate for each one. After the unit: If I have an electronic version of it, I recycle the extra papers. I put everything else in one hanging folder. Read this and the comments for some good info! Post and picture:

  8. Stephanie says:

    What is your experience with test re-do’s?
    Do you allow them to re-do? If so when and why? Does it work?

    1. Kara Parker says:

      Hi Stephanie!
      I allow retakes on unit performance assessments (and once on a final assessment but that was a really special situation that still brings happy tears to my eyes). My experience is very few students ever retake one. It’s really difficult to change your proficiency level by studying for one more night. I’d say 4-5 students retook a assessment in my 7 years of proficiency-based teaching. I ask them to come after school or during a study period. I will ask them to explain/prove quickly what they did to practice.

      They like knowing they can retake if something happens. I saw a lower amount of test anxiety. I credit this to they already know if they can accomplish the goals at the targeted proficiency level before they take it. I give them the Stamp Sheets (list of goals to assess) so they know exactly what they need to do and we have been practicing it in class along the way. MY favorite part is that it is all about the learning. If a student wants to improve, I want to give him/her a chance. It’s like the ACT/SAT tests, even if they do well, they can retake it (as many times as they want) to show they know more.

      Are you allowing retakes? What are you experiencing with them?

  9. Bianca says:

    My classes are huge, 33-35 students in each class, how do you organize the room to create productive stations?

    1. Kara Parker says:

      I had similar numbers at one school (usually 31 students) and I asked for tables instead of desks. When I just had desks, I usually pushed 4 together (facing each other) to make a table. Some of the stations I would tape everything on the wall so no seating required. Megan had a small sofa next to her bookcases that she normally used as a reading station. I’ve seen teachers use a carpet or bean bags for a similar reading area. I had 2 desktop computers and printer that I put 5 chairs at that was always for a techy station. Another option that I used when I was on a cart, was to put all the station materials in a bag, grouped the students and let them pass the bags around. This was also nice because I could make two of the same station so groups that finished quickly could move on to the next bag.

  10. Gabriela Almeida says:

    Kara, your station system is extremely clever. Not only that, but your prompts incite critical thinking and are aligned with 21st century skills. I am “borrowing” it! I love the idea of students finding their own resources. Are you referring to songs and texts? Logistically, how do you suggest we do it? Since songs could be inappropriate, maybe we could provide a list for them to choose from at home. For texts, I’m afraid the “printing at home” could be an obstacle. Also, do you time your stations or students move freely around the room? Please send me suggestions. Thank you!

    1. Kara Parker says:

      Borrow, adapt and share back! I “borrowed” from Megan and added my touches. Stations are not a new thing but it’s nice to see how they can work in a WL class. I always thought they were only for elementary classes but my high school students did well with them.
      Resources can be a lot of different things – articles, websites, infographics, ads, cards, videos, social media, comics, etc.
      Finding resources… Know your students (and their parents). Maybe ask their parents what they would prefer in a letter home. I’ve been in different schools that have very different climates, so I understand your concern. Safe search! Turn these features on everything. And yes, you can always give them a list to choose from. Although I’d say that takes a lot of time of you doing the work. Maybe just skip that or keep the list short (choosing from 3 would be enough). Songs are ones I would avoid if you want to be cautious. was a safe one that we used.
      Printing… if that’s a problem, do it in class or take them to the library. At one urban school, in class we discussed ways they could get around it if they have problems (go to the library during lunch/after school/before school, ask a friend, at least save the image on device, etc.). I feel like this is an expectation if they go to college or at a job. I didn’t assign printing outside of class a lot, but I guess I’m a “no excuses, figure it out!” kind of teacher. As we used more technology like iPads, there was little printing, but lots of researching/saving/creating.
      I found I had to adapt every lesson especially when I was at a different school. For the other questions, check out this 8-post series about stations – lots of ideas and answers there:

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