**What are station rotations?**

Station rotations are exactly what they sound like- students rotate through 4-5 different stations in one lesson block.

**When do I use stations?**

I might use station rotations after a short whole-group lesson as a way to practice the skill we are working on and/or re-teach students who appear to struggle with the skill. I also sometimes use stations

*instead*of whole group. Instead of teaching a lesson to all 24 students, I can teach the lesson 4 times to a group of 6 students, usually in a different way for each group.

**Why use station rotations?**

In my first grade class, I have a wide variety of ability levels. Not all of my students need the same lesson, delivered in the same way each day. For example, in phonics, some of my students are still mastering short vowels while others are reading for blends, digraphs and vowel teams. In math, some of my students already know how to add using a number line and do not need a 20 minute lesson on that skill. Stations allow me to group my students by their individual needs, then provide them with appropriate instruction in that group. I can teach, re-teach, extend or practice based on the needs of each group.

**What are the stations?**

I teach using stations in both phonics in math, however, this model can be used with any subject! Since I have 24 students in my class this year, I normally set up 4 stations at a time. This way, 6 students are at each station which is a small (and even) number. Last year, I had 28 students, so I typically set up 5 stations instead. It is important to keep the groups small and manageable.

With a 4-station set-up, I usually have one station as a “teacher station”, one station as a “tech station”, one as an independent practice and one as a group/partner practice.

Teacher Station: If I am doing stations in place of whole group, the teacher station might be the time that I deliver the actual lesson to the students. This way, I can differentiate the delivery according to each group’s needs. It also helps to teach a lesson to a group of 6 rather than a group of 24. If the stations are coming after the whole group lesson, my teacher station is a chance for me to re-teach or extend the learning. Again, differentiation is the best aspect of the teacher station!

Tech Station: Wixie is my go-to tech tool for this station. Depending on the skill we are working on, I am able to create an interactive activity for students to complete on Wixie. In phonics, I might have students building or spelling words. In math, I might have students solving story problems using the pen tool. The best part is the “Instructions” tool in Wixie. I can record myself reading directions for each slide, so my students can complete the activity completely independently at this station.

Independent practice: This station may be a type of assessment, worksheet, or game. Some type of activity that enforces the skill you are working on or a past skill that needs reinforcement. In phonics, I might use an activity that allows students to manipulate letters to build and spell words. In math, I might have students complete an independent skill game or worksheet. It is important to find work that is meaningful for this station, rather than “busy work”.

Group/Partner Practice: This station can be used for a partner game or collaborative project. If you’ve heard of project-based learning, this is how it can be implemented. Provide tasks for students to complete over the course of time with a group. Webquests are a great option for this station.

**Why is this model beneficial?**

As education transforms to meet 21st century learning, it is important to create opportunities for creation, communication and collaboration. Having students engaged in multiple differentiated activities at one time that are focusing on one standard allows these opportunities to happen. In these stations, students are proving independent success with a skill, collaborating and communicating with peers to build on their knowledge, using digital tools to express their creativity and understanding, and learning new skills in a way that is personalized and appropriate. When you walk into my classroom during station time, you will see students engaged and on task while actively participating in several different activities that focus on one skill.

**The importance of assessment…**

The key to the success of stations is pre-assessment. Assessing your students before grouping them will allow you to deliver instruction that will meet their needs and set them up for success. As teachers, we pre-assess already on a daily basis. Whatever assessment is convenient and practical for you on that day is appropriate. As long as you have a sense of which students already understand the skill, which students need some practice, and which students struggle with the skill. It is important to be aware of your students’ needs so you will know what/how to teach them in your teacher group. If you are fortunate enough to have access to technology, there are many different digital assessment tools that give you instant data. Websites like Socrative and Plickers allow you to assess each student then immediately access the results in order to determine the individual needs of your students.