Implementing Math Stations

I'm a big fan of Dan Bowdoin. His blog: "Technology Integration for Math Engagement" has some great ideas. Recently, I was inspired to trial math stations more systematically after his post: Ownership of learning during math stations

I've done some station activities in the past, but I've struggled with the classroom management of them so the class does not seem to resemble "total chaos". Mr. Bowdoin has some ideas for stations that I've already done at some level, just not all at one time. I took some of his ideas and made the lesson plan for my investigation on "Interpreting Tables and Graphs" while learning about functions.
  • Station #1 – Review-Finish missing homework, watch any videos from your Holt Online
  • Station #2 – Modeling-Debrief Homework White boarding activities with Mr. J
  • Station #3 – Independent Practice-Individual, pair or group work on lesson worksheet objectives
  • Station #4 – Application-"Focus on Problem Solving" Make notes on poster sheet to present to the class
  • Station #5 – Content Creation-Record yourself solving a problem, Blog Post Title: "Exploring the Coordinate Plane"
Station 1 activities are generally for novices, beginners or for students who might need a little more support and front loading before independent practice. However, I am encouraging students work at a station that they feel ready for, and are engaged to explore. For example, a student that struggles in math might prefer to start at station 1 or 2 and work their way up. A high flyer might start at station 3 and work their way up, depending on their level of interest. Although these stations are labelled in the class, the activities may change from lesson to lesson. For example, the station on modelling might involved pattern blocks, or modelling scales for the next lesson, and so on.

Near the end of class, I administerered a formative assessment that links to educational objectives. I've recorded the students working as seen below:

Tips for Implementation
  1. For Independent Practice: Consider having the answers on hand. As I was station #2 helping students with modelling, the students need to know whether they got an answer correct or not. I have the answers posted on a bulletin board for reference. 
  2.  Emphasize that all stations don't need to be visited. Some students tear through independent practice, some need the entire period. Stations can be visited as based on interest. 
  3. Encourage all students to stay on task. With either content creation or application problems, some of my students were weary of working on those particular problems as they felt their work would be scrutinized by others so some students were "standing around" until I reminded them that there were other projects on which they could work. Blog projects seemed less threatening for students that don't like public speaking.
  4. Give about 40-50 minutes. Most of my students wanted more time to work today and time is necessary to debrief and share experiences and clear up misconceptions on what was learned during math stations.
  5. Consider front loading (flipping) assignments prior to math stations. The jury is out on flipped instruction, but I like them personally as it limits the amount of teaching in the beginning of a lesson. However, some students still don't do the work, but station 1 and 2 are a nice option for these students that need a lot of support.
Although some parts of learning should be systematic, I personally like learning environments that encourage students to take risks, and push the boundaries of their comfort levels. Station activities can be awesome as they offer differentiated tasks and roads to understanding which support struggling and gifted learners in an heterogeneous class population. I don't anticipate working in math stations every single class period as there is slightly more preparation, but every 2 or 3 lessons using it as a format for students to learn through many different pathways.

Related Posts
Formative Assessment Ideas for the Math Classroom
Morphing into a student centered environment
Flipped Lessons
Making Flipped Lessons Meaningful

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