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Stations for Student Engagement

Several years ago I tried using stations in my classroom.  The students loved the idea of rotating around the room and completing a variety of activities. I thought it went pretty well, but when reflecting on the stations themselves, I realized I needed to make some changes. One of the challenges with stations is making sure that each activity takes the same amount time as the other activities.  You don't want one group finished when another  just started.  You also need enough stations so that none of them are too crowded.  

This time I started preparing three weeks ago!  I decided that six stations would be a good number. We just finished reading chapter 4 of The Outsiders, so most of our stations focus on the novel.

If you are thinking of trying this, make sure you have each station labeled with all necessary items handy for students. Also, I made several copies of the directions for each station and put them in sheet protectors.  Finally, you really need to walk around and check in with students. For example, I found it helpful to touch base with the group reading the article and provide them with a little background knowledge. I also modeled using the sentence starters for the discussion group.  I did not have students rotate as a group. I allowed them to choose their next station.  I wanted them to have the opportunity to work with a variety of students.

Station 1-Graffiti Wall-Students selected two quotes from The Outsiders that addressed our essential questions for the novel. They had to write them on the "wall" and then respond thoughtfully to two other quotes.  

Station 2-Group Discussion-I made copies of the essential questions for the novel, as well as sentence starters for them to use during the discussion. Afterwards, they had to write a reflection on the discussion in their notebooks.

Station 3- Tableau- This was a student favorite. Each group had to choose three scenes that they felt were important from the novel and create a frozen tableau depicting the scene.  They had to take a picture of each scene and post it to our class Padlet with an explanation of their scenes.
Planning their Tableau

Station 4-Non-fiction Article/Found Poem-Students read a heartwarming article how a football team from a private school embraced a football team from a juvenile detention center. This article complements the novel perfectly.Then they cut out words from the article to create a poem that captured the message/essence of the article. The station did not allow enough time for them to finish (which I knew would be the case) so I provided envelopes for them to put their words in when it was time to rotate. We finished this activity as a class.
Student Sample of Found Poem

Station 5-"Nothing Gold Can Stay"- This poem appears in our next chapter. I wanted kids to have a little background knowledge before seeing it in the book. They watched two videos. The first video set the poem to music with images that help interpret the literal meaning of the poem. The other video took them through a five minute analysis of the poem.  Finally, they had to draw an image which they felt symbolized the deeper meaning of the poem.

Station 6-Subjects and Predicates-Students watched a short Schoolhouse Rock video on subjects and predicates. I asked them to take a few notes. They then played a game on Quia which is a bit like Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  

Once we finished, students completed a Google Form reflecting on each station and how they felt about the stations. Almost all gave positive reviews. A few said they didn't have time to finish everything at the station. 

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