Learning stations can be highly effective…but they come with challenges.
First, the good news: Learning stations have the potential to build student autonomy, increase authentic student engagement, and build critical thinking skills. In addition, they align with what we know about the attention spans of not just our students, but adults as well. Even high school students max out at about fifteen minutes of focused time, so ten minutes per station is just about perfect. Students then move to another station, which can pique their interest. Plus, learning channels vary, which can increase not just interest, but memory. Students can sort at one, write at another, watch a video at one, practice at another… Stations are something that should be in every teacher’s tool kit.
Now for the challenges: First, every station should explicitly build to mastery of today’s learning target. Sometimes, in an attempt to create activities that students can do on their own, lower level thinking activities that are marginally relevant can creep in.
A second challenge is the role of the teacher in stations. If a teacher station is present, we are locked into that spot…teacher monitoring and feedback become limited. We may not even know that students at a station yards away are struggling…or that one station might be too easy. But without the teacher station, we lose time with students who might need personalized instruction.
Some solutions: Student grouping is of paramount importance, especially if a teacher station is employed. Modeling stations first is critical, as well as instructions at each spot. Student leaders are helpful as well. Answer keys placed a few feet enable students to self-check to get on the right track. What’s in place to monitor student success? Consider what visible learning students will show to gauge their progress on their learning target.
With key components and thoughtful actions in place, learning stations can be highly effective. The question is: What’s in YOUR stations?
Great news: Math in the Fast Lane has just about everything you need to create masterful stations: sorts, error analysis, RAFT’s, cubes, bow ties, Fact/Fibs and they all build to mastery of learning targets.
Get working at www.mathinfastlane.com.