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How to Make Review Stations in High School Science (as painlessly as possible)

review stations

If you’ve been around my corner of the internet for a little bit, you know how much I HATE REVIEWING. It doesn’t matter if it is for the AP bio exam or a unit test, I just truly dread review days.

So I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make them as pain-free as possible for me, but still helpful for my students, as I know reviewing is a necessary part of the job to serve my students well and ensure I am setting them up for success. One of the BEST ways I’ve found to review for exams or unit tests is by making review stations.

I LOVE using stations in my high school science classes. Why??

  • Review becomes ACTIVE – less ME and more THEM.
  • Student get out of their seats.
  • Focus is student-centric rather than teacher-centric.
  • They create an opportunity to meet with students one-to-one.
  • They are FUN!

I have found them ESPECIALLY helpful for taking the pressure of reviewing off of me and putting it back onto my students. But as I said in the title, I want to teach you how to make review stations as painlessly as possible, because I KNOW for a fact that you don’t have hours upon hours of spare time on your hands.

Here is my step-by-step procedure for whipping up review stations for my students that can be done as quickly as the night before if you are in a pickle! At the end of this post, you can also read how I would set up the class period to implement these review stations effectively.

Review Stations #1: Make a “cheatsheet” station.

review stations

For this station, set up a giant sticky note (like these) and markers. Write a topic at the top of each sticky note. If you use any of my complete units, use the title of each concept for that unit (Ex. For my Genetics Unit you would have 3 sticky notes – one labeled DNA Structure and Replication, one labeled Protein Synthesis, and one labeled Meiosis). At this station, students will treat each giant sticky note as a cheatsheet and will write down what they think is most important to know under each topic.

At the end of class, you can go through these and (1) highlight key things they wrote down, (2) de-emphasize anything they added that isn’t really important to know for the test, and (3) add anything big that is missing. Students can take a picture of these on their way out of class to study from!

If you don’t want to buy giant sticky notes, you can also do this on your whiteboard and just draw lines to divide it into sections.

Review Stations #2: Have a practice questions station.

review stations

I definitely recommend having some sort of station with practice questions. I love to source practice questions from Google, other teachers in my building, and old versions of tests that I no longer use. You can also pull up quizzes you gave during the unit or bell ringer questions for these. Don’t re-invent the wheel!! Remember, these are just for PRACTICE, so they don’t have to be as perfectly written as your test questions are.

I like to keep these questions multiple choice if I can. You can have students submit their answers to a Google Form, jot them down on a piece of paper, or use mini-whiteboards to record their answers. You can include the answer key at the station so they can check before rotating, or wait until the end of class when you are going over the stations to review the answers. Totally up to you!

Review Stations #3: Review vocabulary with a concept map or flipchart station.

review stations

I LOVE to have a station entirely dedicated to reviewing vocabulary. I also love this station because it involves NO prep on your end – just leave a list of key vocabulary terms for them and simple instructions for what they are to do. My two favorite ways to do that are by having students make a concept map OR a flip chart.

A concept map is a more advanced option. With a concept map, students will take the list of terms you provided and make a concept map that shows what they mean and how the terms are related to each other. Have them make two versions – the non-filled-in version, and an answer key. They can then swap with another student at their station and test them out, or you can have them turn them end (but I like to avoid grading things as much as I can – ha!) This is also a GREAT way to practice developing and using models if you teach at an NGSS school!

The less advanced but still helpful option is to have students make a flip chart, like the one below. You will need to leave scissors and computer paper along with the list of vocabulary terms. Students fold the paper (hot dog style) and then cut tabs for each vocabulary term. The term is written on the outside and the definition on the inside, so it is only revealed when flipped open. I like this because it is tactile, and students walk out of class with a helpful study tool. Plus they are MUCH easier to keep up with than flashcards!

Examples of flip charts closed, and open for review stations

Review Stations #4: Set up an “ask the teacher” station.

review stations

This is my favorite part of using review stations – having a station that you are a part of called “ask the teacher”. This station involves 0 prep except that YOU are there! At this station, students can simply ask you any questions at all. You can do practice problems with them or re-teach a topic – but in a much smaller setting! This station is always a favorite of my students and is such a benefit to them.

(optional) Review Stations #5: Play a review game!

review stations

Now I am marking this as an optional station, solely because I want these review stations to require as LITTLE prep on your end as possible. I would not count making a review game from scratch as little prep. BUT if you have a review game on hand you can put here for students to play, this can be really fun for them!! I love to use my Taboo-inspired vocabulary review games here. I have them made for every unit for biology, anatomy, and physical science.

Once you have a general idea of what you will put at each station, here is how I would set up the class period to run!

Mock Schedule for Review Stations:

review stations
  • Bell ringer (5 min)
  • Overview of each station and divide into groups (5 min)
  • *Time at each station – set a timer and tell students when to rotate (20-30 min total, 5-8 min per station depending on how many you have)
  • **Go over stations (10-15 min)

*This is totally dependent on (1) How long your class period is, (2) how many stations you set up, and (3) how much you put at each station. I will say when in doubt, give them LESS time than you think. If they have too much time, they get off task. With less time there is a sense of urgency to stay productive!

**You can ABSOLUTELY spend WAY more time reviewing the review stations (ha!) at the end if you wish. You may even want to stretch this over 1.5-2 class periods. It is totally up to YOU and what is best for YOUR students. If you have been doing REALLY structured teacher-centered reviews for a while, give yourself two class periods the first time you try this to help your students adjust to reviewing in a way that is more student-centered!

I hope this idea for how to make your own review stations makes your next review day much simpler!

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