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How to Use Discovery Stations

discovery stations

When I think back to my experience taking anatomy and physiology, I think of labeling diagrams and reading textbooks to help memorize the names of all of the structures. These aren’t exactly the most positive of memories.

So when I set out to write my anatomy curriculum for my students, I wanted to do things differently. Discovery Stations were born from two desires:

  1. A desire to cover all of the key structures and their functions of the body systems, but in a fun way.
  2. A desire to create the space for students to learn for themselves rather than just directly from me (or a textbook) word vomiting on them.

Discovery Stations (and their corresponding Big Body Diagrams) were the result of this! So what are they? How do I use them? And why do I love them SO much?

What are Discovery Stations?

discovery stations

Discovery Stations are guided inquiry activities where students work independently to move around the classroom to discover the different components of a body system on their own. With each set of Discovery Stations, students are introduced to each key structure in a body system through three processes:

  • reading each Discovery Station
  • labeling a Big Body Diagram of the system, and
  • answering corresponding reading comprehension questions
discovery stations

Discovery Stations were designed to decrease lecture time and increase student autonomy. At the completion of a set of Discovery Stations, students will not only have a thorough overview of the key structures in the body system covered, but they will also have a completely labeled Big Body Diagram of the system to reference for studying.

You may be wondering – but what is a Big Body Diagram??

I wanted students to have BIG diagrams with plenty of room to color code and label structures. Thus Big Body Diagrams came to be! They are large enough to fold out and give plenty of space for labeling, but small enough that they can fold in half and easily fit in students’ binders. See sample pictures below.

discovery stations
discovery stations

How do I use Discovery Stations?

discovery stations

I specifically designed Discovery Stations to be used three ways:

  • As a guided inquiry activity to introduce a body system
  • To replace lecturing on the parts of a body system
  • To practice reading comprehension and increase student autonomy in your classroom

Often times when starting a new body system, I will engage students with a relevant phenomenon or a disease that may interest them related to the system. From there, I like to send them straight out to Discovery Stations to start discovering the key structures in the system for themselves. My students LOVE the ability to work at their own paces and read about each structure in less than a page of information – rather than reading chapters upon chapters in an outdated textbook.

discovery stations

My students also love the freedom to color and label their Big Body Diagrams to have for reference as we continue to learn about each body system.

Additionally, I often include fun facts in the stations to pique their interests, and my students enjoy those little nuggets of information snuck in there as well.

I personally love being able to go over them quickly and simply afterward by going through the corresponding reading comprehension questions. These have also been great practice for my students for their many standardized tests (EOCs, AP exams, and ACTs).

Why do I love Discovery Stations so much?

discovery stations

I LOVE using these to introduce structures of a system to my students, to get them out of their seats, and to decrease lecture time. I found this method much more engaging and effective for my students than reading and labeling figures from the textbook or listening to me talk about them. Plus they still acquire the knowledge they need about the structures!

Best of all, students can work at their own pace, and students who finish early can spend the extra time coloring their Big Body Diagrams and reviewing them. Many love to look back through their collection of diagrams throughout the year!

Where can you find Discovery Stations to use with your students?

discovery stations

I have Discovery Stations included in each of my anatomy units, but I also have them available “a la carte” for the following body systems in my TpT store:

Additionally, you can purchase ALL of the Discovery Stations bundled at a 20% discount here.

Why didn’t I make them for every body system?

discovery stations

You may have noticed from reading the list above that I don’t have a set of Discovery Stations for EVERY body system. That was intentional.

I specifically chose NOT to make Discovery Stations for every system because I don’t want my class to ever feel boring or redundant, so I like to switch up my instructional methods as much as I can while also maintaining structure and organization.

I did make Big Body Diagrams for each system to at least have for labeling and coloring, but I use other methods of delivering the content for them within my full-year curriculum. The bundle was priced according to the amount of Discovery Stations that are included. All of the additional Big Body Diagrams from the full-year curriculum are included at no additional charge.

The following systems do NOT have Discovery Stations, but DO have Big Body Diagrams. These are included as bonuses in the Discovery Station bundle: sensory organs, integumentary, lymphatic, urinary, respiratory, and central nervous systems.

If you are interested in decreasing the amount of time you spend lecturing on the structures in body systems, and increasing student-centered learning in your classroom, you will love Discovery Stations!

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