Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Transformation Tuesday: Getting Started with Math Stations- When to Use Them and How Often

Math Stations. One of the current hot button topics for educators and the sessions with the longest lines at any math conference. They are everywhere and gaining popularity. Math stations are not only fun for students but they can be adapted to address a whole host of learning styles-- more than we can typically address in a whole class setting. However, using math stations effectively in the classroom can seem like an overwhelming endeavor for beginners. 

To support those teachers who have been wanting to get started with math stations and to share some of my favorite tips and techniques with beginners and novices alike, each Transformation Tuesday post in November will feature the 5 Ws of math stations: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Today's post will emphasize when using a math station format in the classroom may be most beneficial. 

One of the greatest benefits of using math stations is their versatility. They can be used in a variety of ways to meet a variety of needs. However, the first and most important thing to do is identify your goal. What do you want to accomplish? Answering this question will help you determine when a station rotation model may be more appropriate than a whole class direct teach. Stations are most beneficial when you want to review previously learned content, focus on new content in a small group setting, provide multiple activities for intervention and/ or challenge, and to reinforce/ practice a new skill in a variety of ways. I know what you're thinking-- Yes! Stations can be designed to suit multiple goals! Here's a little more about each one: 
  • Preparing for a test? Compile a few activities that review test content and allow students to work on them in small groups to review instead of using a review sheet.
  • Believe it or not, there are some teachers out there who teach the entire year's worth of content through stations. They meet with each group regularly and teach their content to the group at this time. The other stations would then be used to support this new learning or review previously learned material. 
  • Because students are grouped, stations allow activities to be focused on a specific student need. For example, stations may be created to reinforce feedback/ data received on a recent assessment. Those students needing intervention can complete a specific set of station activities while those who do not need the intervention can complete challenge activities at each station. 
  • Stations are great for independent practice! Imagine a set of stations to review each of your measurement skills, such as solving problems involving time, money, area, perimeter, and volume. Look at that-- reviewing five skills at once. Wow!
Once you've determined the purpose of your station rotation, the next question to answer is related to the frequency of your rotations. Stations can span from one class period to multiple class periods. For example, if you are reviewing for a test, a station rotation may be designed for a single class period or two; however, if the stations are being used to respond to assessment data, they may be used for one or more days weekly. 

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. In the meantime, check-out my Math Stations Board on Pinterest.

Sound Off! When do you use math stations? How often do you use them?

Up Next: What Structure to Use?

1 comment:

  1. Excellent and very helpful blog post. Thanks so much for sharing this.