AVID, Classroom Strategies

Metacognition Hyperdoc

This year I’m doing something entirely crazy with my AVID class–I’m going (mostly) gradeless! It’s a bit scary, seeing as I have to report grades each six weeks. So, my solution is to have students keep a portfolio, then reflect on their progress and effort each six weeks. It’s not perfect, but we’re all in it together.

That leads me to ask, how do I get a group of squirrely and wonderful 8th graders, and teach them how to reflect on and assess their own learning?

Teach them about metacognition!

I started the school year by having my students learn about their learning through this Metacognition Hyperdoc. Huge shoutout to Hyperdocs for the rad template! I appreciate these templates; they’re a great starting point to plan our learning journey.

I guided my students through the Hyperdoc, and scaffolded quite a bit of work, especially their time management.

Learning to Think about our Thinking

Metacognition Hyperdoc

During the Explore phase, I put up a timer for 15 minutes, just for exploring the linked resources. Then, I put up another timer for 5 minutes to allow them to synthesize what they learned into their own definition.

Together, we moved onto the Explain phase, and read the article Metacognition: The Gift That Keeps Giving together. Before we read, we brainstormed strategies that good readers do, then used those strategies when working. Students came up with things like: skim the text to see the structure, including headings and pictures; highlight main ideas; write notes in the margins.

When we read the article, we “talked to the text” (learn more here), as it seemed like our best strategy for practicing metacognition. It felt very natural for us to practice this as we read! I modeled the first few paragraphs, students worked in partners for a couple more paragraphs, then finished by talking to the text on their own, and sharing their notes with another partner.

Go, Learn a Thing!

Finally, we introduced their project in the Apply phase. Students committed to spend a few days learning something completely new to them, and reflecting on their learning process. I borrowed this idea from my friend, Doug Robertson, who does a lengthy Learn a Thing project with his students (scroll through his Twitter & Instagram for pics and info). Together, we created the rubric and set of criteria they would use evaluate their peers’ project.

Students had a blast finding something new to learn! A couple chose to learn magic tricks, one wanted to learn different knot types, and many chose to learn a new language. Our goal wasn’t mastery, but more to feel the feelings of trying something brand-new, and how our brains react to the excitement and challenge.

We all agreed this could be a much longer project! After our short two days, students presented their learning journey (not final result) to a group of 3 peers. Their small audience filled out a peer evaluation (read more here) after the presentation.

I’m grateful we started our school year off talking about metacognition, as it has been an anchor for many of our discussions, goals, and projects throughout the semester!

[And, we were having SO much fun with this, I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures of us in action!]

 

 

 

Classroom Strategies

Be an Ally!

September 24-28, 2018 was an incredibly important week, and I didn’t see much in the EduTwitter world about it — it was GLSEN’s Ally Week!

According to GLSEN, “an ally is a member of a privileged group who advocates against oppression. An ally works to create social change rather than participate in oppressive actions.”

Being an ally

Part of being an ally means speaking up and standing with the oppressed group, but not speaking for them. We recognize that each individual’s experience is unique, and part of a complex web of intersecting identities (including age, race, religion, culture, region of the world/country, etc.).

As a cisgendered heterosexual individual, I have not experienced oppression based on my gender expression and sexual orientation. (Cisgendered = my biological sex and gender identity match; heterosexual = attraction to opposite gender)

How can we, as educators, be allies to our LGBTQ+ students?

  1. Use inclusive language. Examples: “y’all” “friends” “students” (instead of “you guys” “girls” “boys”)
  2. Respect preferred gender pronouns (read more about pronouns here)
  3. Confront anti-LGBTQ+ behavior, bullying, and language. For example, if a student says “that’s so gay,” respond by asking them what exactly is bothering them, and help them pick a different description word, such as “that’s so boring.”
  4. Post a safe space sticker and/or poster in your classroom, office, or workspace. Download yours here!
Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 6.19.56 PM
Inclusive question on a recent school-wide form. Categories brainstormed by our GSA members.

Awareness is our first step, and is always a growth process. Little things, such as making inclusive and non-gender-binary questions on forms go a long way for supporting our students!

Remember, if a student shares information with you, it’s confidential. I know I have students who are more open about one or more of their identities at school, but cannot safely tell their families outside of school.

Celebrating Ally Week at school

My school was on Fall Break for Ally Week this year, so our GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) had our Ally Week celebration early, during our weekly lunch meeting. Thanks to the support of a GLSEN San Diego friend and recent grad of our local high school, we had some teacher resources, stickers, buttons, and ideas to plan our party. Students brought an ally friend, and my co-advisor and I brought snacks. We defined allies and how we can be upstanders at our school, then enjoyed spending time together!

Our Ally Week celebration!

The next day, with teachers we hosted a similar lunch club with snacks! After discussing how to be an ally, we went through some gender and sexual orientation vocabulary, including playing a vocab matching game from the GLSEN teacher guide. Overwhelmingly, our teachers appreciated this learning opportunity, and are already asking when we’ll host the next one!

For both groups, we used these slides to share some basics and lead our discussion.

This is one of those times where I know I’m not the expert in the room, yet I’m not going to let that hold me back from supporting my students, colleagues, and friends. Because that’s what an ally does: we advocate, support, listen, ask questions, and unconditionally love. I am constantly going back to the GLSEN Teacher Resources to make sure I’m using the correct language, and making my classroom an inclusive and safe space.

If you are a GSA advisor or work with LGBTQ+ youth, I’d love to connect via Twitter & email!

 

 

Classroom Strategies, Technology

Class Introductions with Flipgrid

One of the biggest lessons I learned in EDS 250, one of the first education courses I took as part of my Masters/Credential program, was the value of names. Our professor, Dr. Luz Chung, read us a poem called “T-shirt” from a selection called My Name is Jorge: On Both Sides of the River. The lesson in this poem is that George finally stands up for himself, and tells his teacher that is name is Jorge (Spanish, pronounced HORhey).

My Name is Jorge: On Both Sides of the River by Jane Medina

That distinct moment imprinted on my heart, always reminding me just how essential it is to pronounce a student’s name correctly.

The beginning of the year can be stressful for teachers, with many new names to learn, and not all of them are familiar to us. However, each name is special to the student and their family, and deserves time and respect to say it right.

As I go slowly go through my roll on the first few days of school, I try my best to pronounce everyone’s name correctly. I’m often asking, “say it again for me, please,” because “close enough” isn’t good enough for me. Other times, I push a little and ask a student, “how does your family say it?” because that will tell me if they truly are a George or a Jorge, an Angel or an Ángel, or an Andrea or an Andrea (ahn-Dray-uh).

Class Introductions on Flipgrid

As soon as my students received their iPads, one of their first assignments was to complete a class introduction on Flipgrid. I created the class on Flipgrid, and the default first assignment is called “Introductions!” The prompt says, “Welcome to our classroom Grid! This is a space where we will learn together and share our ideas. Introduce yourself in 90 seconds or less and share something that makes you smile.” I changed our time limit to 30 seconds, and gave my students the space to record. Some stayed inside, and some went outside. Most of my students were nervous in front of the camera, but were up for the challenge.

Students recording their Flipgrid class introduction videos outside.

I appreciated going through and listening to my students’ responses! Not only did this help me attach names to faces, but also it was review in how to pronounce their names. There were a few I had to rewind a couple times, just to hear them say it again.

If you work with adults as either an administrator, TOSA, librarian, etc, it would be useful to do this with our staff. I know there are a handful of teachers at my own school whose names are unintentionally mispronounced! Model Flipgrid at a staff meeting by having teachers introduce themselves and share a success, happy moment, something they’re especially proud of, or goal for the year.

Future Iterations

In the future, I would adapt this topic to be more name-centric, such as “Introduce yourself, and tell us the story of your name.” (was it “engraved in a passing ship on the day your family came?” In the Heights reference, for my fellow musical nerds.)

And, I’d love to teach students how to appropriately respond to each other on Flipgrid. I’d love to do an “It’s nice to meet you, _____, I’m _____. [Add in a question or comment or other prompt.]” in preparation for connecting with other classes in the future.

I know I’m not perfect, and I always wonder if there are other students whose names I am not saying right, but they’ve resigned themselves to “good enough.”

PS. It’s useful to tell you that my name, Mari, is neither Mary or Marie or Madi (as in, non-Spanish-speakers trying to roll their r’s). It rhymes with “sorry” and “safari” — my best friend calls me Calamari, and she is Squidney. And, Ven-tur-eee-no (Italian).

Classroom Strategies, GSuite

Analyzing Teamwork with Google Forms

A few weeks ago, I blogged about Saving Sam, one of my favorite teamwork challenges. It’s one of the activities my kids talk about all year! And, it’s how we begin our discussion to build our teamwork foundation for the year.

Saving Sam in 7th grade science

In addition to the labs and activities in our science class, I also use Breakout Edu to have students interact with content and practice their teamwork skills. I have even had my classes create student-created Breakout Edu game.

So, how do we continue these conversations surrounding teamwork throughout the year?

Teamwork observations with Google Forms

I love having students observe their peers and evaluate how effectively they are working as a team. Early in the year, before we work in teams, we create our Teamwork T-Charts. This helps us develop common language around our teamwork conversations.

Then, I take my students’ T-chart responses, and put them into this form (make a copy). We use this form throughout the year for teamwork peer, group, and self evaluations.

Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 5.27.56 AM.png
Teamwork Evaluation Google Form

Students evaluate themselves and their teamwork in different ways. Sometimes it’s through a fishbowl observation (see below), or I’ll set a timer and everyone must freeze and evaluate. Always, at the end of a lab or teamwork challenge, we reflect.

Fishbowl observations

Talking about and reflecting on teamwork is great, although sometimes it’s hard to recognize the nuances of how we work together. When we really want to dig in and analyze how we work in teams, I use a fishbowl observation. This can easily be done as a whole class, or in multiple smaller groups. And, not only is it great for kids, it is also excellent for adult learners and professional development.

Adult learners playing a Breakout Edu Digital game, fishbowl observation style

Typically, I use a 1:1 ratio, where half are working on a teamwork challenge, and half are observing. At the end of the challenge, students switch roles, and we begin a second challenge. Shorter challenges work best–I aim for short, 5 minute challenges. There are only so many boxes the observers can check, and after they’ve spent a few minutes observing, they may get distracted.

Always end with a debrief

As with any teamwork activity, it is essential to build in reflection at the end. No matter what, this is the most important part! It can be a quick exit ticket, or a more active walk and talk.

Try using these debrief cards as part of a walk and talk (make enough cards for size of class + 5), partner or group discussions, or as quickwrite prompts.

Teamwork is a growing and evolving process, and it’s essential for us to honor and cultivate this journey with our students!

 

 

Classroom Strategies, GSuite

Daily Exit Tickets with Google Forms

Around my school, I have a reputation as the techy one. My friends look at me, and know I’m about to say something like, “we need to make a Google Doc!”

Somehow, within this reputation, there is a misconception that I already know everything, and I have nothing left to learn as a teacher. I walk into some colleagues’ classrooms for an informal observation, and they nicely wonder why I’m there and how I could possibly learn something.

will do
Observing other teachers is essential to my own growth!

I am grateful to work on a campus where informal observations and walking into others’ classrooms is welcomed and encouraged. I am always seeking to be a better teacher, and I have so much to learn! Each year, I set goals and growth areas, and constantly reflect on how I’m doing.

Over the last several years, I watched my teacher neighbor effectively use exit tickets at the end of every class period as he dismisses his class. I love how he signaled the end of class, was able to check in with each students, and had a quick formative assessment for each lesson. When I told him I appreciate his use of exit tickets and I was going to start using them in my classroom, he looked at me like I’m crazy for learning something new from him.

So, I’ve taken his exit ticket procedures and merged it with my favorite tech tool: Google Forms!

I already use Forms for our daily check-in and warm-up–so now our class periods are book-ended with Google Forms.

Using Exit Tickets

Exit Ticket Slide

With about 5 minutes left in class, I project this Slide and have my students reflect on their learning for the day by filling out the daily exit ticket (make a copy). As my students are silently filling out their exit ticket, I also reflect on how I felt they day went, and what changes I will make for the next class.

Not only is this a way for students to reflect on what they learned, but also it’s instant feedback for me on how the lesson went, including many social-emotional factors, such as “today in class, I felt treated kindly by my teacher.”

Reflecting on the Data

I watch my students’ data come in on the response sheet to see if there are any students I need to check-in with after class. I have had students mark “disagree” to “I felt treated kindly by my teacher,” and it forces me to immediately reflect on our interactions in class that day, and how I handled a situation in class.

Screen Shot 2018-08-18 at 8.41.53 AM
Daily Exit Ticket data, using Conditional Formatting to show Agree in green, and Disagree in red.

In the response sheet, I inserted a row below the questions to calculate the percentage of agree with each statement. [Formula: =(countif(I3:I, “Agree”))/counta(I3:I), then Format > Number > Percent]. I also use Conditional Formatting to fill “Agree” cells green and “Disagree” cells red.

Header row and % Agree data from our Daily Exit Ticket.

As you can see, I’m getting my butt kicked for not challenging my class academically–we’re a month into school, and while we have been doing all the science basics, this tells me I need to build in some more engagement and meaningful work.

I am grateful for another way to reach my students, address their questions and curiosities, and receive consistent feedback on how we can make our class better.

How do you use exit tickets in your class? What kinds of questions do you ask?

 

 

Classroom Strategies

Saving Sam! — A Team Building Activity

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
-Steve Jobs

Confession: I struggle to teach teamwork well.

Teamwork is one of those things that are essential for students to learn, especially in science. I could blame it on never having PD or solid instruction on how to teach teamwork, but I don’t think that’s it. I always hope someone else would teach it and my students would walk in being awesome team players. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet.

In the last few years, I’ve worked on facilitating team building activities in class, and include the crucial debrief process after we’re done. Below, I share my favorite team building activity, which is great for both kids and adults!

Saving Sam

Every year, I look forward to Saving Sam! It’s a collaborative challenge activity where participants have to work together to get a gummy worm into a gummy lifesaver, only using 1 paperclip per person.

Students collaborating to Save Sam!

Here are the Slides I use with my students–it’s all set up to push out via Pear Deck! I love using Pear Deck with my students, because it keeps my students engaged. Students who wouldn’t normally speak up in class are willing to participate on the interactive slides.

Students work in groups of 4. Each group needs 1 gummy lifesaver, 1 gummy worm, a small paper or plastic cup (dixie cup size), and 4 paper clips.

Gummy worms, gummy life savers, and paper cups can be reused for each class period, paper clips get bent and need to be replaced. No, you may not eat your gummy worms and lifesavers–refer to the lab safety rules!

Teamwork discussion

Together, we start by discussing teamwork, watching short video clips, and analyzing how teamwork was used in each.

Then, students make a 3 column T chart (or is it a TT chart?), to list what good teamwork looks, sounds, and feels like. I usually have students make quick posters on 11×17 paper, though it can also be done digitally (template). It’s fun to watch students work in teams to make these, because they need teamwork to accomplish it!

Saving Sam: The story

First I need to captivate my students. As I tell the story, they’re imagining my human friend named Sam, and are quite shocked when I pull out a gummy worm. Here is my dramatic version of Sam’s story:

“Have I told y’all about my friend Sam? No? Ok, well, they are one awesome person. Sam loves spending their weekends out on the ocean in their boat. They loves hanging out with their friends, and they’re a big fan of boating safety.

“However, last weekend, they went out on their boat alone, and Sam wearing their life jacket when suddenly a large wave came up and capsized their boat! Sam hung onto the top, and their lifesaving device was trapped under their boat. They are still waiting for someone to come save them!

“This (holding up a gummy worm) is Sam. And you all need to figure out how to save Sam! (Pause for laughs and confused looks.) The thing you need to know is that Sam is highly allergic to humans, so we can’t touch them, their boat, or their lifesaver with our hands. Instead, we use these special tools (hold up a paper clip) to save them (some kids will ask how we can possibly setup the activity…they can touch to set it up!). And remember, my friend Sam has feelings, so please don’t drop them or skewer them! Good luck!”

Usually, it takes groups 5-10 minutes to Save Sam. If there is a group of 3, I’ll give one member 2 paper clips.

Remember the debrief!

After all groups have successfully saved Sam, we debrief by talking about how their teamwork looked, sounded, and felt like. Students also identify areas they want to work on. It’s an excellent reflective process, and an integral launching point for more discussions about teamwork, especially as it relates to science labs and activities.

I’m always looking for more team building activities. What are some of your favorite team building exercises?

Classroom Strategies, GSuite

Getting to Know You Survey

Back to school is always an exciting time! I love preparing my classroom for my new students, thinking about how to best meet their needs, and anticipating the fun we’re going to have. I loosely plan out what skills I want to hit, but I don’t lesson plan until I actually meet my kids!

In my first year of teaching, I had the (mis)guidance of the teacher I was taking over for. They instructed me to talk about the syllabus on the first day of school, teach lab safety on the second day, then jump right into content on the third day. Even though I planned out fun first-two-weeks activities in my credential/masters program and talked extensively about building relationships, I assumed this strong-willed teacher knew what was best. So, I did what they told me.

Boy, was I wrong. While I did end up getting to know my students eventually, the class cohesiveness wasn’t there from the start and behavior was sometimes a struggle.

The one thing I did do well was a getting to know you survey (on paper). I used that information to learn about my students’ backgrounds, and incorporate their interests into some of our examples from class.

Fast forward to the present: My biggest strength and emphasis as a teacher are building relationships, and making sure each and every student feels welcome in our class. It’s not always easy, and there are plenty of ups, downs, and mistakes–and also many moments of joy!

I have transitioned my Getting to Know You Survey (make a copy!) to Google Forms. Data collection is easier–and, I don’t have to decode handwriting.

This is the perfect first assignment on the Google Classroom set-up day. Students join the class, then immediately complete their first assignment.

The questions range from simple, such as birthday and interests, to more thought-provoking, such as “when I get mad, I …” I like having a mix, and seeing how my students choose to answer. For example, when I ask “What is something you are really good at?” not only am I asking for their strengths, but also I am checking for self confidence; when a student writes “nothing,” then I know I will need to intentionally search for areas of strength to share with them.

A hidden teacher agenda item in this activity: I can see who is able to focus on an independent and silent task for 10 minutes, and who needs constant refocusing.

After my students fill out the survey in class, I go through the response spreadsheet and highlight interesting and concerning responses. I make a note to follow up with students, bring up their interests in conversation, and share commonalities.

The getting to know you survey is one of the best parts of my first few weeks of school!

What types of questions do you ask in your getting to know you survey? Please share your favorites in the comments below!

Classroom Strategies, Technology

Creating a Class Learning Journey with Slides

Each May, our science department hosts Science Night. It has been a lot of fun to involve our school, local high schools, and community in science! Many students bring their families, and participate in labs and activities together. Additionally, we invite local museums and science organizations to set up interactive displays. I love science night!

Science Night in my classroom. Students, teachers, and families are checking out the displays and learning from student presenters. 

Since most of the work we do is digital, there isn’t a ton of student work to physically display. Instead, we display interactive labs. To show off student work, I have them each create a slide in a collaborative deck to showcase their work. Then, this is projected as a slideshow all night.

This is a perfect way to have students reflect on their learning or on a particular assignment. Each student claims a slide, adds in a piece of work they are proud of, and reflects on it.

Here is a template you can try with your class! Duplicate the portfolio slide x # of kids in your class.

A few tips for getting started:

  • This is a perfect time to talk about digital citizenship, especially not intentionally editing someone else’s slide. No matter the age level, everyone needs this reminder.
  • Encourage students to get all the content on their slide first, before decorating. Otherwise, a student may spend 2 hours finding the perfect font for their name.
  • Do a virtual gallery walk! Play some music, and have students scroll through the slides. When the music stops, they add in a comment (try using TAG feedback!) where they stopped.

If you have a school or class open house or display night, play these reflection slides in the background. On Slides: File > Publish to the web > pick your settings, including “restart slideshow after the last slide” > publish > paste the link in the address bar. 

MVA Science Night 2017-2018
One student’s slide from our collaborative science night slide deck!

Try using this same idea for an introduction slide deck for all your students! Replace the work section with a selfie, and answer a few basic questions, such as what are your hobbies?

Out of the classroom? I’ve seen schools/districts with a tv in the front office. Have each teacher create a spotlight slide to sprinkle between announcements and important information.

PS. When you iterate on this and make it better, I’d love to see your example! Add it in the comments below, or share it with me and I’ll link it in this post.

Classroom Strategies, GSuite, Technology

Connecting with MyMaps

Google MyMaps is one of my favorite Googley gems! And, it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. It’s easy to use, can be accessed from any mobile device, and it’s versatile for a variety of academic and fun uses.

If you’re brand new to MyMaps, here’s a quick intro video.

Start with a purpose:

What are you hoping to share? What do you want your students to get out of this experience?

My purpose here is to show off how awesome MyMaps are, and how collaborative maps can add authentic student engagement into your classroom.

Before we dive into classroom ideas, let’s play! I invite you to add your name & a favorite place to this map. There’s also a layer to add in your university. Use the description to share a bit about why you love this place. Remember to customize your pin!

MyMaps in the Classroom:

MyMaps pair really nicely with HyperDocs and the 5E lesson model, and can fit in at any point in a lesson sequence.

I’m lucky my friend Austin Houp shared out a collaborative MyMap with me last year, all about natural disasters. It was perfect timing, as my students were working on natural disasters projects in science! My students, along with students from all over the world, added in projects on different natural disasters. They loved clicking through the pins and seeing the information, pictures, and links to external projects created other students! And, knowing they were sharing with the world, they took extra care in their work.

Collaborative natural disasters map, created by Austin Houp

Additionally, my AVID students have plotted their college projects on a MyMap, making it easy to share resources with peers, other classes, and potentially other AVID classes at other schools.

Since my oldest students at my current school are juniors (class of 2019), I’ve made a MyMap to track where they head off to college in a year. It’ll be awesome to keep adding to this map throughout the years. They want to keep in contact with me because my class food rule is “no eating or drinking (other than water) until you have a college degree!” — and, I promise if they come back after they’ve graduated, I’ll buy them lunch and we’ll eat together in my room.

The more advanced tools on MyMaps, such as drawing lines and polygons, is perfect for practicing perimeter and area, calculating distances, or reinforcing measurements.

MyMaps for Fun:

MyMaps is great for personal use, especially planning trips, marking places I’ve been, and sharing favorite spots. I use a MyMap to track which states I’ve been to in the US–I still have a long way to go (16/50 as of May 2018), but it’s fun to change the pin color and switch it to the “Where I’ve Been” layer.

Mari’s States of Adventure map

In summer of 2018, my friend Nick will be visiting San Diego for a few days, and we have a MyMap of San Diego places to visit.

My Next Steps:

Next year, one of my goals is to connect with at least one other classroom to collaborate on a map project! Anyone want to join me? Specifically middle school science or any level of AVID.

What are your favorite ways to use MyMaps for fun and in your classroom? Leave a comment below, I’d love more ideas!

Classroom Strategies, Science

Get Moving with Learning Stations

I have a little bit of jealousy for my elementary school teacher friends, mainly for two things: their beautiful and updated bulletin boards, and learning centers. I’ve given up on my bulletin boards (going to put some kids in charge soon) and I’m always trying to figure out how to use the learning center model in middle school science. So, I use stations!

I first started using stations in my classroom during my first year of teaching. I learned it from one of my very old-fashioned colleagues (imagine 3-inch 3-ring binders for each topic, with sheet protectors filled with zillions of worksheets), and fell in love with changing up the routine, getting kids up and moving, and providing some variety.

The Setup

Over the past six years, I have run stations in a variety of formats: 8 stations x 5-8 minutes, 4 stations x 12-15 minutes, 30 stations x 1-2 minutes, etc. The overall theme is that it usually takes about an hour. I typically use my lab counters so all students are standing around the perimeter of the classroom, and I can see their backs as they work. Occasionally, I’ll need an extra station space, so I’ll use a table group or outside. Students work in pairs or groups of 4.

Lately, I’ve been running 4 x 12-15 minute stations. I’ll have 2 of each set up, with 2 separate rotations–groups 1-4 rotate on one half of the room, and groups 5-8 rotate on the other half. On average, I use stations every couple weeks.

I create all my stations handouts on Google Slides (File > Page Setup > Custom > 11 x 8.5), print, then put in sheet protectors. I notice my students focus more quickly with paper instructions.

For the timer, I project the Google timer: search for “15 minute timer” (or desired length) and it’ll start right away.

The Content

Stations can fill multiple purposes, such as introducing new content, practicing skills, or reviewing old content. When practicing skills or reviewing, I usually use more and shorter stations, with one task or question per station. Sometimes these are problems to solve, other times it is charts or diagrams to interpret.

When introducing content, students will do some work in their interactive notebook and some work on their iPads. For notes, I use Pear Deck on student paced mode or I create a short screencast; students are able to work at their own pace, pause, and rewind as needed. There is always an output activity to go with the input (notes). For the tech-heavy stations, I enjoy using games, simulations, or videos.

Example stations: 4 stations x 15 minutes
Station 1 – Notes (in interactive notebook)
Station 2 – Left-side page, draw & label a diagram (in interactive notebook)
Station 3 – Quizizz game (on iPad)
Station 4 – Phet simulation with 2-3 questions on Google Forms (on iPad)

The Successes

While students are working in stations, I am free to call over individual students for quick conferences. When I walk around the classroom to check in on students and groups, I can answer questions or go deeper into content.

We have taken stations entirely outdoors as a scavenger hunt! Add a school map with coordinates, and directions to get to the next station on the bottom of the instructions, and you’re all set.

And, true teacher confession, if my students are working well and don’t have many questions, I can often work on some grading.

The Challenges

It is essential to work together to create expectations when working in stations. Some of ours include: read the directions first, don’t wander away to another group, stay on task, and turn and look at Ms. V when the timer goes off.

Students who are prone to distraction sometimes struggle with staying focused. However, the tradeoff is that they are able to move around, and lessons are broken down into manageable chunks.

The Next Steps

I’d like to try having students create their own stations. Since I have 8 table groups, each group would create 1 x 5 minute station.

There are tons of ways to use stations in all grade levels. I’d love to hear how you all do it!