I realized the other day that I had never blogged about how I do stations! I try to have students do stations at least once per unit. I also have found that they work well on days that my students aren’t as motivated to really keep them moving throughout class. One year, I planned many station activities on Fridays for my Spanish I students when we met in the middle of the day. Although they CAN be overwhelming to plan, I have done a few things to streamline them.
First, I like to divide stations into the four modes: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. This helps me only have to decide on what I want to do in each station, and I already have it set up.
For speaking, I keep this easy, they have a conversation with me on the topic. I ask them questions in small groups about our theme. (Also, it is one less thing to prep!) If this isn’t feasible for you, you could have students record their answers to your prompt on Flipgrid.
For reading, I typically try to find either a short story on our topic or an infographic. Since my classes are short and students only have about 7-8 minutes per station, I only will write about 5-6 questions for the reading. However, if you want to keep it even easier, you can plan a no-prep activity after you find the story or infographic. Some ideas are:
- Have students highlight all of the words that indicate people in one color, places in another color and actions in another color.
- Give students a who, what, when and where chart and have them fill it out with as many details from the story/article as possible.
- Focus on having students identify the main idea and two to three supporting details.
- If you use a story, have students create a timeline of the story.
- Have students think of a color, symbol and image that represents the infographic and story and explain why. (I love this idea from NECTFL!)
For listening, I will have my students complete an EdPuzzle on the topic. If I have a video that I know I want to use that is great, but many times, I will search within EdPuzzle to find a great one that a teacher has already made to lessen my prep time. Another idea is to assign students an EdPuzzle video and have them annotate what they understand through EdPuzzle project. However because this can be tricky at first, make sure you have done this previously. If not, you will constantly be running back and forth between groups (which will be difficult if you plan on working with the speaking group!) If you have Señor Wooly, you could also consider assigning one nugget.
Finally, for writing, I will leave them a prompt or two. It can instruct them to summarize a story in Spanish that we had discussed in class. For earlier in the year, I have also given students a link to an online magazine in the target language and have them search for a picture they like and write a few sentences describing it. To minimize their search time, you could also leave a few pictures for them to describe. Find some compelling pictures from a country that speaks Spanish through Instagram. I also personally ask students to upload their writing to Seesaw, so I have fewer pages to collect (just reading!)
Some other things that I consider when I am doing stations:
- If I am doing the speaking station, I start it a little later because I rotate to each station to make sure that each group is ready before we begin. That can minimize the interruption.
- On the first few station days, I give students a few minutes to wrap up at the end of the day in case they didn’t finish one activity. Students tend to need this time less and less as the year goes on. Some teachers also build this into the rotation. I prefer to do this at the end, so if a few people finish, I can chat with them about what they liked and didn’t like about stations.
- Another way to minimize questions is to review each station at the beginning of the class then also post instructions at each station.
You could also try this general structure with novels! My variation would include:
I would swap out a reading station for a game station! (If I can’t find one of the stations that I wrote above, this is normally my first swap.) I have students complete a Quizizz and earn a certain percentage. They can also complete a GimKit activity if you have a paid subscription. If you want to make this without technology, have students take 3 minutes to write 2 tricky questions and see if the rest of the group can answer them.
In speaking, I like to set it up as a book club. We can discuss which characters we like and do not like and why. We can also talk about the most important parts of the book or our favorite parts. Finally, we can add what we would like to change or make predictions for the rest of the book.
For the writing station, students could create a time line of the novel or a chapter, use some key vocabulary in new sentences or create a mind map where they can connect key characters or events. They could also write a variation of the story or they could discuss why they like a certain character. You could also have them summarize the actions around a certain picture that they have already seen in the book.
With a listening activity, you can find an EdPuzzle that takes place in the same country. You could also find one about a similar topic or festival that takes place in the book. I would ask fewer questions then at the end ask students to compare the video with the book to concretely tie it back to the novel.
How do you streamline stations? What are your favorite stations to incorporate?