I absolutely LOVE using stations in my high school science classroom. When I was student teaching, one of my best friends and roommates was also student teaching, but in an elementary school. Her mentor teacher taught her to regularly incorporate stations with her 4th grade students, and I thought – wow, these could be so effective with high school students!
Fast forward to having my own classroom and finally having the autonomy to create stations for my own students. I fell in love with how much easier they felt for me to prep for my students, how I was able to accommodate a variety of learner needs with them, and how I could get students out of their seats, centering instruction on THEM rather than ME. Particularly in anatomy, I LOVED being able to use stations to replace lecture. Students loved to get out of their seats, and I loved being able to talk less and facilitate discussions more. Read more about why I love using stations in this blog post.
The more I continued using stations, the more I saw how effective they could be as an instructional resource with my high school students. Particularly, I LOVED how incredibly versatile they are. There are SO many ways you can use them with your students – inquiry-based explorative stations, QR-code based tech. stations, review stations and MORE. Most of all, they create a plethora of opportunities to reach a variety of different learners. Click here to read about 7 ways you can be using stations in your high school science classes!
You may be reading this and thinking, okay Rebecca, calm down. Clearly you LOVE stations, but I am not where you are yet. I totally get it. I know my enthusiasm for this topic is not normal (I meant to write only one blog post about how I’ve used stations, and it ended up being a 7,000+ word novel, so I turned it into five blog posts instead – insert nervous smile emoji.) So let me meet you where you are, as I am sure 90% of the people reading this aren’t at the fan girl status I am about using stations with high school students (YET).
If you are reading this you may fall into one of the following categories:
- You’ve never done stations before, and have just purchased some for use for the first time with your students.
- You’ve tried stations once or twice, but felt like they were too much work or ineffective.
- You want to try stations, but feel overwhelmed by the prep or where to even get started creating them.
HOORAY! Regardless of which category you fall into, I am SO glad you are here! I have some resources to hopefully help you moving forward on your stations journey.
I’ve written up my top 5 practical tips for using stations that are from my own action research testing them out in my classroom. First and foremost is to be intentional and strategic with how you use stations with your students. This includes how you write them (or select which to purchase for your people!), how you set them up around your room, and how you facilitate them for maximum effectiveness.
Yes, I love using stations, but it hasn’t always been easy. I’ve learned a LOT as I’ve tested out a variety of types of stations with a variety of different student populations over the years. Hopefully these 5 lessons I’ve learned will help you be more strategic about how you are using stations in your classroom.
Maybe you’ve tried stations and have had no problem prepping and executing them, but overall you just felt like they weren’t a win for you and your students. Maybe it felt too challenging to conduct them while also managing your classroom, or it felt like they took up way too much time for what your students were getting out of it. I HEAR YOU. I’ve been there!
I think the most important thing is to set our students up to work independently when using stations. Try to write up stations that students can do entirely on their own. If you are using more experiential stations, have only 1 (or 2 if you must) stations that require teacher supervision and assistance. I’ve found from my experience that stations work best when they allow students to work autonomously, which frees the teacher up to meet with small groups and check in with individual learners.
You can read more about the six biggest challenges that I hear from people attempting to use stations effectively, and solutions from my own trial and error experiences using stations in my classroom.
I hope you find these tips helpful as you consider adding stations to your teacher toolkit, or maybe decide to try using them again if you have in the past but stopped.
Anything I’ve missed that you wish I’d addressed in these posts? Any other words of wisdom from using stations in your own classrooms? I’d LOVE to hear so we can continue to learn from each other’s experiences. Feel free to reach out to me on my contact page or by DM-ing me on Instagram and we can talk about it!