Science Stations: Real & Honest Teacher Tips

Science Stations: Real & Honest Teacher Tips

Stations were an all-time favorite of my students because they allowed students to get up and move, collaborate with peers, and work at their own pace. Rather than guiding my students through each station, I could see them problem-solve individually or with peers to gain a deeper understanding of the content. Below are some tips that will help you get started and put your stations in action!



Tip #1: Prep Materials Ahead of Time and Organize Them!

Print off the station instructions, gather simple materials, and laminate the components (cards/sorts) to save time in the future! Depending on how I planned to use stations in my classroom, I made multiple copies of each station so that students didn’t have to wait to use the resource.

I had students work in pairs/groups when going through stations, but they were allowed to choose the order in which they achieved them. If a station had everyone using the resource, students would venture to another station they had yet to complete.

Organize your materials in bins or designated desks/tables within the classroom with signs, so students know where to access their activities.

 

Ways to help with Organization:

  • If you want to save the directions without printing them in future years, put them in sheet protectors, so no lamination is needed.
  • Keep laminated task cards/sorts in a baggie and place the baggie within a sheet protector with the station directions inside.
  •  I recommend students use a packet to record their answers, so there is less of a paper trail and less to copy and cut out.

Tip #2: Create a Student-Centered Classroom

Administrators enjoyed watching students take ownership of their learning and have teachers facilitate the process. Anytime I had a formal evaluation, I included stations as a component, and I never had negative feedback for taking on this approach because students were tracking their successes.

 

Ways to bring a Student-Centered Approach:

  • Model stations whole group initially, so students understand the flow and see what quality of work you are asking of them.
  • Give students a packet with their recording pages so they can track what stations they have completed.
  • Allow students to work collaboratively with peers so problem-solving can occur.
  • Make time to have students check in with you to bring the interaction piece to ensure students are on the right track!

Tip #3: Make A Simple Room Transformation!

If I were using the stations for just a class period to review for a test, I usually didn’t have to do all nine. Most of the time, I would choose six stations I knew would be helpful to review whenever we were in our STEM lab. When that was the case, I would make our stations a fun theme day. One of my favorites was a Space Theme! I had six tables, with each table being a different station.

I bought a NASA Space costume to wear, and I had the soundtrack of Apollo 13 playing in the background while the students worked while the lights were down low. Was it simple? Yes! Could I have added more to it? Of course. Did it up the engagement for the day? Absolutely!

 

Ways to Make a Simple Room Transformation:

  • If you decide to make a room transformation, ensure the things purchased can be reused yearly.
  • As a reward, I used to purchase stickers that students earned after completing all 6 stations!

Tip #4: Intervention & Enrichment, RTI, WIN (What-I Need) Time

Whatever term your campus calls your intervention block, Science Stations were a great way to engage my students when I needed to work with students through small-group instruction. During our 45-60 min intervention block, when students would attend services such as GT/Dyslexia/Speech/Tutoring, I would have them set out in the room for students to rotate through at their own pace.

I provided answer keys for students to check their progress while I was working with a group. Between small groups, I would then check in with students to see their progress along the way.

This resource is also helpful when teachers need materials for an after-school tutoring session. 

 

Ways to maximize your Intervention Time:

  • Explicitly model to your students how to troubleshoot/complete stations so you can invest in your small groups without interruption. Emphasize the ask three before me strategy to build student empowerment.
  • Discuss when they are doing self-checks on their own after completing a station that it’s not just to see the answers but a learning opportunity. I had them use sticky notes so they could write down areas of confusion if they didn’t understand why specific answers were the way they were.
  • If you are not pulling a small group, check in with students to monitor progress so you can meet on the spot or see what students need. Frequently checking in helped me know what students I had to meet with to ensure mastery.

Tip #5: Be Flexible!

Remember, these stations can extend beyond one classroom period. You can break them up into 3 days, allowing students to engage for 30-40 minutes. You can choose which stations you want your students to complete to gain mastery or extension of what they have learned.

Allow students to work at their own pace because some stations may take longer than others. Not every student may complete all the tasks, and that’s ok!

I have always valued my students and their opinions. Along with their exit ticket, I would have them write to me about what went well and what could be improved so I could adjust accordingly. It may be trial and error at first, but you will see how impactful Science Stations are for your classroom!

 

-Evan, Science Penguin Eductor Support Manager

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