We are nearing the end of the first year course and students are into their ‘finals’ preparation time. A class of 30 Grade 9’s can be difficult to keep motivated so I decided to try stations. I’ve been wanting to try them and the review time seemed like the easiest to do this. I opted to incorporate an aspect of our study method – the ‘Power 7’ idea.
The Basis – The “7 Minute” Drill – I have previously blogged about helping students to learn to study using what we call the “Power 7” method. The idea of short powerful bursts of study – repeated 4-5 times a night – instead of a long study session, prone to distractions, seems to bring results to those who find concentrating difficult. As students get better at this method they increase the time – up to 20 min/session. Many use it now in other classes for review. Keep in mind they are not memorizing lists out of context – but this is a way they use to review vocabulary etc. prior to reading or to work on their vocabulary for writing (always marked holistically – the aim is to minimize high frequency errors).
How Many Stations?
- For a class of 30 students – 65 minutes I set up 8 stations – you could do more – that the students would rotate through.
- 4 desks in a square for a station with room for 4 students (2 pairs) at each station
What Goes on the Table?
- Flashcards (2 sets – 1 per pair): I use flashcards a lot in class. Often they are a set consisting of a Japanese word and a picture. They are used many ways – from concentration matching to fun ‘who can name the object first’ competitions with their partner. I had flashcards for 1/2 the stations already ready. But for the first few units I was missing them – until I thought to use my Quizlet files. All of the unit information is loaded into them for study opportunities for students. So I printed out the early chapters in the large size – copied them onto paper/cut out the cards and I had ‘English-Japanese’ ones.
- “I can statements” (2 pages – 1 per pair) – I have a set of “I can..” statements for each chapter – I also printed up a list of these and put them at the table. If students finished their cards early they could quiz each other by asking “Can you….?” and seeing if their partner could do the task.
- Unit ‘sheets’ with the answers on them – that is the phrases/words in both the Target Language and English (note: my students had their own unit sheets so I didn’t need to provide these)
- Initially I was not sure how long to give the students at each station. Ten minutes seemed a bit long – so we started out at 5. I think its best to underestimate what is needed and in fact, at the end of the first station time, my students requested that we go to 7 minutes per table. It is true that for some groups – with students who typically achieve above expectations – they were done well within the 7 minutes. For other pairs this was not long enough. But it is enough to start reminding kids of what we had covered.
Focus of Review – Given that there are both English and Japanese (or a picture) for each this lends itself well to using the stations different ways at different times. In my initial 65 minute period I only used it for Reading Comprehension.
- Listening Comprehension Round – look at the word in the Target Language – read it out loud to your partner – do you know it in English? Then your partner takes a card and reads it to you.
- Reading Comprehension Round – look at the word in the Target Language – read it with your partner – do you know it in English?
- Written Practice Round – Look at the English or picture card – write it out in the Target language – check with your unit sheets – did you write it correctly?
- Reconfirmation of how to review/study – this serves to underscore the idea that effective study (short/concentrated) can be more useful than a longer period where people are easily distracted.
- Reconfirmation of how to help someone understand – without asking them to do so I saw a lot of partners not giving the answer but actually miming, acting out or giving hints rather than just tell the answer. This confirmed to me that my message of how to assist someone who doesn’t understand has been received.
- Partners helping each other in a relaxed way – there was high energy and lots of laughter – two great things to see during an activity that could have been a boring run through previously seen material
As a chance to dip my toe into the station world this was a good first experience. I’ll do more of them again not just for review but also for variety in the class. More to come!