I always start with the end in sight. I wish I could remember what class I was taking when I realized this was a great way to operate! So. . . What do I want this station work to look like when it’s fully implemented?
I want the students to
- Choose a station independently.
- Work with their peers cooperatively.
- Use voice levels appropriate for inside.
- Clean up thoroughly. 😉
- Start, pause, and stop as needed for other things that may happen (like class ending, a fire drill, checking out books, etc.)
I also need a couple of station ideas with which to start. Hopefully, these can come from something I already have at the library – like games or puzzles. Yes, those are simple things. They won’t win any prizes for deep thinking activities, but what we are trying to establish is routine and procedure. We’ll develop those thinking skills after routines are automated.
Week one (and probably two and three) in year one:
- I assign the students seats. I like groups of three, and I have the room to do 8 or 9 groups. If there are more kids in a class, then I can pull in some extra chairs for groups of four.
- We go over the library procedures again. My school is PBIS and our Eagles SOAR, so that’s what I use. By the time I start stations at a school, the kids have heard the procedures enough they are starting to be routine. I’ve wondered if I go over them too much. BUT I only see kids once a week with the odd class missing for a variety of reasons and goodness knows who absent each week. Well, I’d rather be safe than sorry. Here’s a checklist I’ve used in the past. I go over it at the beginning of class quickly.
- This week we introduce stations. Stations are at the table and they are all about the same.Each table may have a different game or puzzle. We talk more about voice level, staying at your station, how to ask questions if they need help, etc. We probably won’t even check out this week. (Next week, I’ll rotate that item and we’ll add table check out).
- I let the students know when we have about five minutes left. Review what a clean station should look like, and then give them their last few minutes. Before I signal for cleanup.
- Then we go back to the checklist. As we go through each section, the students get to decide how to mark each item before we tally it up and give it to the teacher.
When I see that the students are handling this well, then I add a couple of things.
- Week two or three, we will start to check out by tables. For me, this is one of the huge advantages of stations. I can realistically only help a few students at a time. Everyone is occupied to free me up to help with those students choosing books and checking out.
- Week three, four, or five, I start to add other activities into the mix. I may alternate tables with puzzles and games. And still rotate those activities each week for a few weeks. I work stations up to having something different on each table. When we can do this, I know we are ready to move on.
I know this seems slow and drawn out. It is slow and drawn out, but every time I’ve tried to speed it up, I’ve regretted it and had to back up and slow things down.
Up next – Students move to the stations!
It’s that time when our brains are shifting back into gear for school (welcome or not, it’s happening!). As those thoughts emerge, I’m getting more and more questions about stations and maker spaces. I’m just going to call them stations from now on.
I’d like to write about everything that happens, needs to happen up front, and where you might end up, but that won’t happen in a single post. People come to the OTES library and ask:
- How did you decide to use that?
- How did the kids know to go there?
- How long does this last?
And lots more. What they are seeing is years of trial, error, and success, so I’d like to share some of the process so you can decide what will work for you, and hopefully, some of the trial and error part can be minimized.
I’d like to address:
- choosing & managing the materials
- how to get started with the students
- managing the day-to-day routines
What else do you want to know as I move through this? Let me know and I’ll do my best to address it!
I love stations! IMHO, they should be a constant in every library. I’ll link sites, posts, and ideas that will help you with stations.
The library should be a place of wonder and excitement. I think it should be very different from everywhere else students go. But there are some definite organizational issues involved with seeing classes all day long, allowing for continuous open check-out, and maintaining your sanity. Enter stations as a sanity saver. First. You have to […]
For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been working on stations in the library at all grade levels. We’ve had a couple of hiccups, but for the most part, they’ve gone smoothly. The hardest part for me is remembering to take pictures to share!
Please check out my Donor’s Choose project, here. It’s called My Mom’s Ears and My Dad’s Nose. I’m asking for resources on heredity for the 5th graders. I would greatly appreciate any help you can give. Any donations made by November 22 will be matched up to $100. Use the promo code SPARK during checkout to double your donation.
Thanks so much for looking at this project for our school and library!
I started stations with 3rd, 4th & 5th on Tuesday. *Whew*
The first day, We did four stations – everyone started one, and then 1/3 of the class checked out for 10 minutes each. There had to be some overlap because we were crunched for time. So as soon as students from a previous group went, I let the next group start. This meant the students had 15-20 minutes to work on a station which for some was just too long. I wasn’t unhappy with the day, but I felt like I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. And we didn’t have good time for reflection.
So, on Wednesday, I nixed half the stations. I had two groups working on the same thing at the same time. We still only got 10 minutes for check out, but there wasn’t any overlap and I could be pulled in fewer directions. If the finished check out before the 10 minutes was up (and a lot of them do), then they went back to their tables and read silently until the timer went off as we always have done. 10 minutes is short, but after we get past the learning stage, I’m sure this can gradually increase to 15 minutes. We only have a 40 minute class. That would leave 5 minutes at the front for necessities and 5 minutes at the end for reflection.
Every day, I was fine tuning what we’d done the day before. On Friday afternoon a parent helper came in and she mentioned that the 4th graders really seemed to be into the work and the process.
These are the things that still need my attention.
- Some students do not like to read directions even when you tell them they are right there and need to be read to accomplish the goal.
- I put an “I can” statement on each activity (asked them to read it with the instructions) and still some students couldn’t tell you any reason why they did the activity.
- Some classes were great with the time. Others just would not come back. Of course this varied from class to class before, but it seems more important now so that we can reflect.
Next week we start again . . .
I’ve been rolling station ideas around in my head for a while. Trying to figure out the best way to do them in Moore’s library. So I think they’ve incubated enough, and we’ll hatch this idea on Tuesday.
3rd & 4th grade schedule
- Months 1 & 2 – introduction to library skills stations at their usual working tables.
- Month 3 – students go to the same stations around the library by tables.
- Month 4 – students get to choose stations.
- Did you know? cards
- Library vocabulary 3-way match
- Reference shuffle
- What’s your number?
- Library helpers 1
5th grade will follow the same procedure but they are working on science/research stations. I’ve had a harder time with this one.
- Graphic organizers
- Fact or opinion
- Reference shuffle
- Cite your source
- Library helpers 1
I’ll introduce stations to grade 2 during second semester following the same routine. Hopefully we will be able to start them earlier next year and with less introduction in 3rd, 4th & 5th grades.
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