Saturday, September 8, 2012

Easy Station Activity

This activity is one that I use often and can be used with literally anything and set up in minutes.  It's a version of stations that usually goes over really well.  I used this one on Friday with my 9th graders to get an idea of their problem solving skills and how they approach problem solving.  I wanted them to work together so for the first half of the period we played the Scavenger Hunt Bingo game as an icebreaker since they don't really know each other at all.  It got them talking and they seemed to enjoy it.  It was cute to hear them yelling things like, "Who has a pet fish??"

For this class I used some problems from Fawn at Finding Ways to Nguyen Students Over.  I used the first three of her Algebraic Thinking problems.




I printed them on some colored paper and put one on each table.  Each kid had a sheet of paper that they kept with them as they moved that I collected at the end of the period.  The problems stayed on the tables and the students moved like this:


I like this better than just giving kids the three problems because it is more interesting for them.  Instead of a long assignment, I find that the kids are more engaged when they are up and moving every few minutes.  Every time they get up and move to a new table it's like a fresh start and a new challenge.  Since we did the Bingo game first, this was done in the last half of the period so the stations were kept pretty short.  I used my Sand Timer app projected on the board to keep track of time, giving them 7 minutes at each problem.  I had started with 5 but it wasn't quite enough so I adjusted.

I also did stations with my 10th graders but instead used some equation scale problems and had three at each table so this is really something that can be switched up so easily.  For them, I talked for the first half of the period about ISNs and went over the Prezi so I needed something to break up the rest of the period and get them active and this worked.

I like setting a lesson up into stations because of how versatile it is.  I have tried different numbers of stations and just found that I personally like three best.  If stations are my plan for the entire period, I create activities that are a little more involved and give kids ten minutes at each table.  They are actively engaged for the entire period, but are always amazed at how quickly the period feels.  With a longer period, doing more than three stations would also be great.

Here are some other ways that you could easily use station activities:

  • Before an assessment, use stations to review the different topics.  Each station could be problems on a different topic that has been covered.
  • Take one topic and create three different activities that relate to it.  One station could be a game, one could be an ISN left side page and one could be some problems to work on as a group.
  • Have different stations use different types of media.  One station could be some type of pencil & paper type activity, one could be computer based (an especially good idea if you only have a few computers/iPads), one could be a teacher led mini-lesson.
  • Differentiate using stations.  Make one circuit easier problems and one more challenging and group students accordingly.  
These are just a few ideas, and you could really mix and match any of these ideas to create something that works for you.

So if you'd like to set something up with stations, here's some ideas you could pick from.
These are some mini-activities that you can put at a station:
  • Some cut up worksheet problems
  • A card sort
  • Teacher mini-lesson
  • A game
  • A puzzle
  • A computer/iPad activity
  • A word problem
  • A foldable
What else? Give me more ideas in the comments to add to the list!

1 comment:

  1. I love the stations idea! When I was in school I liked doing these exactly for reason you said, I wanted to move around! I'm blanking out right now on someone's post about setting up stations into a circuit so that they must get the correct answers at each station in order to "complete" the circuit. When I taught science, I did set up stations often, main reason was this cut down on the materials and lab set up time.

    These problems worked really well with my kids too. Turned out many used guess-and-check, so I hinted them to a strategy without doing that, and they got a hang of it. Love it when different strategies were shared. Thanks for the mention, Sarah! Doubles the joy when I know we can share stuff.

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