After just four weeks in the classroom, the students and I discovered what works best for us. It’s not, me standing in front of them for 45 minutes; lecturing, modeling, demonstrating, asking questions and trying to get a few students to raise their hands. What works best for us, is small group instruction.
In the younger grades they call them centers. in our classroom we call them either rotations. Every year it surprises me how much individualized attention these upper elementary school students want. they want to spend time with their teacher in a small group. They want to be able to ask questions in a small setting without the judgement of 20 other students,and they want the automatic feedback. This allows us to build a positive relationship. Plus, the amount of engagement is at an all time high!!! Win-win!
With anything in education there are pluses and there are deltas here are the things that make small stations difficult….
1. There is a lot of forefront planning and prep for each station. * once the planning and prep is over, you are set for the entire year.
2. It takes a lot of planning to get the kids trained for each station. Classroom management is a MUST! * prep students through practice, practice, practice
3. There must be a way to hold each student accountable for each station. There has to be a product. * these products can be in many forms!
Now here are the wonderful things about stations in the upper elementary…
1. once the preplanning is over each station is done for the rest of the year.
2. If you allow the students to make their station choice, there will be a lot of student Buy in and fewer classroom behavior problems.
3. Stations allow for differentiation.
4. Stations allow for multiple intelligences in the classroom.
5. If you go over the rules and expectations of a station every day for one week, they’ll be able to do complete stations independently. This will give you the opportunity to meet in small groups with your differentiated lessons.
6. Stations allows you to cover everything in the curriculum expectations.
7. Students are engaged because each station only lasts for about 20-25 minutes. they are allowed to get up and move in between the station, and the students are very focused on the task.
8. Stations allows for the students to create products from all intelligence levels, all media styles, and even allows students to be creative.
I truly believe this is bang for your buck. Invest in this classroom style. Stations has always been no way for me to organize my classroom in a task oriented way where students feel engaged. they feel special, and they feel that there’s no time that’s being wasted. Every station is purposeful, meaningful and the students really are engaged.
In the pictures above, I have my students in their four rotations. The first one is vocabulary, where the students are working on the vocabulary Greek and Latin roots for the week. the next one they are watching a video on the Internet and taking a quiz on the Internet. The results are sent straight to me, so I can check their understanding right away. the next picture, they’re working on grammar mountain language. it is a paper- pencil product , but after checking their work, I know what our grammar lesson will be over the following week. the very last station, they are reading and blog posting their reading responses in a writing format that gets posted to me through our Kidblog account.