I decided to write about stations and how I use them in the foreign language classroom because I have donated a product to the realistic teacher that is being used in her giveaway. You can find the link to her blog here: http://realistic-teacher.blogspot.com and the link the the raffle here: rafflecopter giveaway bundle
While I know that many teachers associate stations (or centers) with the lower school classroom, I find them an effective tool to provide middle and high school students both with autonomy and the opportunity to engage in learning through using many different senses or multiple intelligences. When I do station activities, I often allow students to choose which station they will start with. Sometimes, I will allow the students to choose which stations they complete for the entire class, depending on their level of focus. Students enjoy the freedom to move around the classroom, and engage in a variety of activities without having to ask my permission or ask me what to do. Additionally, the activities that are included in the stations are often more open-ended so they promote both choice and creativity. The stations provide students with the opportunity to capitalize on their strengths because I include stations such as a rhyming or rhythm station, a speaking station, a writing station, an acting station, and a cut and paste station. Sometimes, I will include a game station such as the tic tac to game that is found in my preterit verb station activity on my TPT page. I find that the majority of my students are highly engaged in learning the topic at hand, when they are given the freedom to choose how to engage with the subject matter.
Another benefit to stations is that I am able to circulate amongst the groups and devote more time to assisting students who need a little extra help. I find that students who generally understand the material can fully engage with the task on their own, which allows me to help struggling students without boring or neglecting students who have already mastered the material.
However, I will note that it sometimes takes using stations in a few lessons before the students will fully become autonomous. The first few times that I use stations, especially in my middle school classrooms, I have to circulate and repeatedly remind students to fully read the directions. Additionally, some teachers may need to reinforce behavioral expectations such as collaboration and task focus prior to starting a class that incorporates stations. I will often ask my students to reflect on their work and learning at the end of class. Occasionally, I will ask them to rate their participation and focus on a piece of paper that they turn in to me as they leave the classroom.
Finally, I hold students accountable for completing the work of the stations through sharing their accomplishments at the end of class, or during the next class. It is important to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their learning through sharing in either a whole class or small group format. I always especially enjoy hearing the stories and the rhymes that the students have developed. Another option is to collect the work that the students produced (or have them act, or perform their work) and grade it.
Overall, I find stations an excellent way to differentiate in the classroom, while maintaining similar learning objectives for each student. Furthermore, the students benefit from the opportunity to choose how they will engage with the material. Do you use stations in your classroom?