Advance Planning – Stations & Maker Spaces

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

  1. Choose a station independently.
  2. Work with their peers cooperatively.
  3. Use voice levels appropriate for inside.
  4. Clean up thoroughly. ūüėČ
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

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Back in the library – Student Edition!

Last year was my first at Old Town Global Academy. We spent a lot (did I say A LOT) of time working on procedures and routines. That had a huge payoff semester 2 with quick reviews and lots of action.

I did wonder how much time I’d need to spend getting us back up to par this year. We reviewed procedures. Did they remember them? They did. We practiced movement around the library. Did they move correctly? They did! Bingo! Every 1st – 5th grade class got to spend some time in stations for their first class of the year.

 

This year, we are going to add components from Ron Clark’s 55 to the mix. Can’t wait to see the results!

Stations part 2

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 . . .

library work stations