If you entered our class, you would find the students roaming around the room choosing (yes, choosing) which activity/station to complete. There are many different ways station teaching can be organized in a classroom, and we have taken a very UDL (universal design for learning) approach to station learning, in which each station is presented in a different way, however, the content is ultimately the same.
When I first sit down to plan a station lesson, I look at exactly what content needs to be covered. After I have identified the main takeaways from the lesson and the overall content, I brainstorm ideas as to how I can divide the material into different sections. Ultimately, I create 3-5 different stations, all which at first might seem unrelated but actually have the same objective and target similar content. I then decide how each content/station should be taught.
There are always three stations that I have when creating the lesson; a reading, video/audio, and visual. By having these stations, students can easily go to the station where they feel most comfortable while still all receiving the same instruction. I found that by creating the differentiated stations, students feel more in control of their learning and therefore are more motivated to participate in the activity.
Sometimes I do require students to complete 75% of the stations, and if this is the case, I usually differentiate the texts if needed to assist the struggling readers. Since students have the opportunity to choose the order in which they complete the stations, when they arrive at a new station which might be more challenging, they already have a solid understanding of the content. Therefore, they are better able to comprehend the new material at the more difficult station
Finally, after the students have finished the stations, I always have them complete a one-page graphic organizer to summarize what they learned that day. This step is critical because it allows students to digest the activity and to pose any questions to the teacher or class that they might have. This also provides an opportunity to have share-outs and quick group discussions in order to share their information.
At first glance, one might think that when creating a station activity for the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas, you would have three stations arranged. However, since the goal is to have similar information at all of the stations, if the stations were arranged in that manner, students would only learn about one, maybe two of the civilizations. Instead the stations are arranged according to political, economical, and social impacts/effects. This way, each station touches upon most of the main takeaways for each civilization at each station, and anything that students might have missed will be targeted during the share-out at the end of the period.
Since students were required to complete at least two stations, they all were able to gather information regarding the main takeaways for each civilization in order to fully participate in the share out activity.
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