Where Rigor Meets Engagement

Making Math Stations Great: 8 Tips

on Aug 10, 2016

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It’s hard to beat math stations for hands-on, active, differentiated learning.  Stations mirror attention spans…by the time a bit of restlessness creeps in, it’s time to move to something new!  And novelty tweaks brain interest, memory, and attention.  Stations also appeal to varying learning styles – students may sort at one, write at another, practice with a partner at station 3, and play a card game at station 4.  Learning and student autonomy can thrive in station teaching…but not all stations are created equal.

8 tips for implementing masterful stations:

  1. Every rotation should serve an explicit purpose in meeting today’s learning target(s).  By the end of the learning episode, visible progress should be evident on today’s target(s).
  2. Differentiate stations.  For example, learners might chose between two writing topics or select problems that interest them.  Scaffolding – differentiation by process – should be present.  For example, a “cheat sheet” of perfect squares might be available.
  3. Weave varying math learning styles into stations.  Some love to collaborate on problems, so one station could incorporate cooperative learning, such as rolling cubes.  Others like to defend their positions – so a sometimes-always-never or fact/fib will get them moving.  And your writers will enjoy math RAFT’s.
  4. Incorporate an accountability piece.  A graphic organizer with station names may serve this purpose., or students may simply accumulate work from each station that they will employ for their final formative assessment at the end of class.  Or…students can take pictures of their work on their phones.
  5. Consider time and movement.  What will the traffic flow look like?  If some students finish early (always happens!) would an anchor activity be helpful?  Organizing rooms is always a challenge – consider having desks in a semi-circle against walls and corners and one in the middle.  Place numbers at stations with instructions.  Model first, showing students what this will look like.
  6. Typically, math stations include a teacher station.  This provides critical time to work with a small group, often using individual white boards.  Great practice and highly encouraged, UNLESS this is your first time to implement stations.  If so, consider waiting on this.  Why? This will allow you to float between stations, encourage proper traffic flow, and establish routines.
  7. Group thoughtfully.  Six reluctant math learners in one station? Probably not a good idea.   Consider having a leader at each station and a materials organizer.  Utilize current classroom data.  Groups today probably won’t look like groups tomorrow.
  8. How do you know stations worked well? If you are floating between stations, it’s easy to see their progress and provide real-time feedback. During the close, the final formative assessment can incorporate something from each station.  These responses can be on sticky notes. So, we open with our explicit learning target and end with measuring student progress on the target…How’d things go?

Get busy creating stations at www.mathinfastlane.com.  If you don’t have your account, go to “Getting Started” at top of page.

Stations are the perfect blend of active learning and needed classroom structure.  Go forth and create!