Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Transformation Tuesday: Getting Started with Math Stations- What Resources to Include

Last week, I shared the WHAT of station rotations with a few structures that could be implemented. (Missed the post? Read it here!) Today, I want to continue the WHAT of stations and share some of my favorite activities and tasks to integrate into station work. I mentioned in last week's post how I theme my stations. This allows me to just search for specific types of tasks, such as a game or a technology tool, to fill the basket. The beauty of using stations is that once the structure and organization strategy is in place, the only aspect that changes is the activities and tasks that students need to complete. 

Depending on the number of stations I am using, I typically include the following themed station activities: 
* Games
* Hands-on Activities
* Independent Tasks
* Computational Fluency
* Problem Solving
* Math 'n' Literature
* Technology

The chart below shows examples of station tasks that I may use to fill a particular basket. For example, for an independent task, I may choose to fill the basket with a VersaTiles activity that reviews a skill on which we have been working. You'll also notice the "Tech Tools" box. Whenever possible, I try to have a "Tech Tool" station where the students use a computer or some other technology tool to complete a task; however, if I do not have a station with this theme, I try to include a technology task (usually an online game) for the students to complete. Check out my favorite online games here.  

At times, the activity types may overlap, such as using a game during a computational fluency station; but that does not supersede the themed-station task. It may just mean that the students get two games during that set of rotations. 
Clipart by Phillip Martin 
I have many station-ready resources in my File Cabinet. Check it out here! In addition, you can find resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Be sure to sign-up for my monthly newsletter, "Teaching Tidbits, where I include free station-ready resources. 

Guidelines for Station Rotation Resources

1. Use ready to go resources- I keep a variety of ready-made card and dice games, tiling task cards, file folder games, critical thinking tasks, and board games available to use. Note: Finding, assembling, and laminating station materials is a great parent volunteer or summer work task. The best thing-- once it's done, it's done! 

2. Use familiar activities and tasks- Using games and materials with which students are familiar allows them to start working immediately and cuts down on off-task behavior. I use a lot of games during lessons. Therefore, once it's been used with the class, it's likely to show up as a station task.  

3. Use routines that allow stations to run more smoothly- In order to help students gather resources more quickly, I keep common game materials in school boxes in a place where students can access them quickly. Read more about how I organize station materials here.

Getting Organized

One the biggest challenges of station rotations is staying organized. With multiple tasks and a short period of time, organization can make or break your success. Here are some ways that I stay organized: 
  • Create a rotation chart so that students know where to go. This helps them stay on track and know in what order to rotate.
  • I post a grouping chart so that students can remember their group members. This is especially helpful when I conduct stations over several days because some students tend to forget their groups. 
  • I buy colored baskets and use them to separate the stations. I don't always label them because I frequently use the same baskets in other subjects; however, I always know what basket goes with each task. If you choose to use the same color baskets and you have a rotation theme, label each basket with the correct task type, i.e. games,  computational fluency, etc.
  • I place most of my games in plastic bags so that they can be transported easily. If a task requires several different materials, I place them in plastic bags as well so they can be located easily. 
  • I laminate as much as I can for durability.
  • I keep miscellaneous paper, such as notebook paper, scratch paper (the backs of extra copies, unused worksheets, old school announcements/ advertisements), graph paper, and drawing paper in a central location.  
  • I store items like dry erase materials in table tubs. Each table has its own tub of materials and depending on which table the task is assigned to, my students know to go and grab that particular tub. See the picture below. 
  • Station tasks are always completed in the same location. When station time begins, students pick-up the correct tub from the shelf (if they're not out already) and take them to their station location. 

This picture shows my colored station baskets and dry erase tubs. 
Want more organization ideas, check-out my Math Stations Board on Pinterest.

Here's a challenge for you: As you read through this series, think about a time when a station rotation can be used to replace something that you are planning to do in an upcoming unit. 

Sound Off! What resources do you use for math stations? 

Up Next: Who Participates and How to Manage Them?


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