Stations are one of my favorite things to do in class, and I try to incorporate them at least once every other chapter. They’re a great tool to use, keep students moving, and provide a lot of opportunities to practice! However, if you’re not careful, stations can easily become a logistical nightmare. Here are some of the things I have learned over the past few years that have made implementing stations way easier than what I was doing before:
Watch the Video
One Sheet Station Tracking
Give students one sheet to record and complete from station to station. Previously, I was copying and cutting out little things for each station to “save paper” and I was wasting!my!time! gasp! Students had to carry around all of the slips and I had to make them all and UGH. (and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t actually less paper in the long run. sigh). Make ONE sheet for students to record things on. Lately mine have looked something like this:
The tracking sheets vary depending on each station, but there’s space to record for each activity, as well as a space for the student to record a reflection after the stations are finished!
Double Loop Your Stations
One of the things I would always get hung up on was the need to make enough stations to split my classes up into manageable groups that would allow them to focus. I always need like 7-8 stations to have reasonable (3-4 kids) group sizes! That’s a LOT OF activities to prep. Rosalyn Rhodes posted about doing FOUR stations, and running two circuits simultaneously. WHAT. MIND BLOWING BRILLIANCE. I designate my kids into BLUE or WHITE stations (or whatever colors of paper I have on hand) and remind them when they rotate to stay in their colors. Half my class is blue, half is white, and now I only need to come up with four activities! (Bonus- four is a magical number that allows me to designate one station each to reading, writing, speaking, and listening activities. LOVE).
PS. Doing 4 stations allows this to be a single day event. 7-8 stations are either REALLY fast rotations or it becomes a multi-day affair.
Objective Sheets at Stations
Each station has one sheet with the Skill, Goal, Directions, and Technology Guide. The very first job when they get to a new station is to read that sheet out loud to their group so everyone knows what’s happening. I try to write the goal as clearly as possible so they know what they’re supposed to practice and what they should get out of their time at that station. The technology guide makes expectations crystal clear. If something is allowed, it is pictured. Check out the example below:
I generally rotate my stations every 7-8 minutes in our 48 minute class period. The expectation is when students rotate they move on from the previous station- even if they didn’t finish! I build in time at the end of the class period for one last rotation. During this last time chunk, students wrap up any activity they need to, complete a station reflection, then turn in their station sheet.
I have them reflect on how well they worked, the 4 skills/learning targets, letting me know how things went in general. The reflections are always really enlightening.They usually wind up telling me they feel it’s a really efficient, effective use of class time that keeps them on task, highlights what they need to work on, and keeps them moving. when THEY say stuff like that? Worth. it.
How do you know what activities to do at each station, and how much time it will take them? Same way you plan in class! You gradually get a feel for how long each practice will take students. Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic trick for this, but I want to encourage you not to be afraid to tweak things! Sometimes I try a station with one hour and it takes them way more or less time than I estimated! Whoops! We just tweak it for the next hour and learn from it.
Here’s my Pinterest board with a few ideas for station activities!
Additional Resources / Sources of Inspiration
Here are some more links to resources I have found incredibly helpful about stations:
Presentation by Rosalyn Rhodes
Example Stations from Rosalyn
Path to Proficiency blog post
Do you use stations in your classroom? What’s your favorite trick to help them run smoothly? Tell me in the comments!
Srta. Libertad (Erin) says
I’m so happy I found your blog! I also teach in IL, so while I love to incorporate novels, and proficiency based activities, I still try to align with our (outdated?) standards. Your blog helps me to do that & keep things fun!
I love this station idea! I don’t know why I didn’t think about 4 stations and 2 groups either. Do you think you’d make a TPT product that has an example stations answer sheet? Do you grade the stations answer sheet? Thanks for sharing!
Ashley Mikkelsen says
Oh hurray!! I’m so happy to hear that! If you look towards the bottom of the post where I cited some of my inspiration, a few of those have examples! I made mine in a Google Slides, but I used a lot of the same formatting from the examples I linked. Often I’ll pick and choose just one or two stations to grade, depending on what other assessments have happened that chapter! I hope that helps 🙂
Yvonne Thomas says
Hi, I love these ideas and tried them this first six weeks. I would totally buy all that you have on TpT, but can one edit them after purchasing? I teach German. But I am also certified in Spanish, so I could translate it to German. Thanks!
[email protected] says
Hi there! I’m glad to hear that you love these ideas! Unfortunately I don’t have any editable stations on TpT. Thanks for asking!
Hello! Just wondering how often you do stations?
[email protected] says
Hi! I usually do them about once a quarter, no more than once a chapter.