Call them “Stations”, “Roundabouts” or “Carousels” – they are a hot topic with the #langchat crew. A recent #langchat devoted to the ideas of the ‘station’ led to all sorts of ideas for use and management (summary here). I have been privileged to visit with Catherine Ousselin (@CatherineKU72 ) – the only member of my PLN I’ve actually met – to see her classes work in their stations. There are some great posts out there currently – like this awesome one from Candida Gould (@candidagould) and a promised one from Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell’s Musicuentos blog (@secottrell).
Having now used stations a few times – I’ve been thinking about how to actually set-up/use them – things that make it easier to actually get a ‘station class’ running (and ultimately use the idea again). These are some of my considerations:
Table Number Cards – I’ve made up some ‘numbered’ cards – folded card-stock – that I keep to quickly number tables for station setup. They are easy to grab and set out – and on clipped together/pinned on my bulletin board for quick access.
Station Instructions – Mine are on plain sheets of paper and afterwards all stored together in a large envelope. The paper tells the students what is to be done in point form – so hopefully they don’t need me there to ‘start them off’
Notes for me – When you do stations you are typically pulling a number of resources – so I have a written sheet in each envelope for what supplies/resources are needed for that station day. It’s a handy checklist when I have 5 minutes to change classes.
All together – In One Direction – With a big class the motion to change stations may create more chaos than needed. If I have my students change ‘en masse’ then we rotate in a clockwise fashion.
Go Where You Want – I have typically been doing this at the end of a station session – inviting students to return to a station that they feel they need more work on. In future I can see a ‘free movement’ with a requirement that you visit all the stations at least once during the time
Station Moves to Them – In my class of 30 sometimes it’s easier to move the station to the students. In that case everything is grouped together and numbered (eg – hand over package 1 to the next table). Natalia Delaat (@natadel76) says she likes to use this format.
Number/Length of Time:
Multiple stations/Multiple repetitions – I like to hit several skills at one time – so I find that having only 3 stations – with a couple repeated (if your class is large enough) works best for me. Typically students in my class are at tables of 4 so they can work together with a partner if it is called for.
Start Short & Let Them Expand It – I like 7 minutes and with multiple stations (that repeat) that means about 20 minutes per skill in a 65 minute block. Sometimes I have started with only 5 minutes and let them ask me for longer time (reverse psychology!)
The ‘station’ train has clearly left the station for the #langchat/#mfltwitterati group! All Aboard!