Centers/Stations/Rotations allow for students to actively engage with several concepts or topics in one class period. Centers/Stations/Rotations get students up and moving and are an interesting way to also introduce a new topic, text or concept. Centers/Stations/Rotations do require a fair amount of teacher preparation and monitoring to ensure a valid experience. Learning stations work best when you have a classroom that can be sectioned or divided into four or five smaller areas. The intent is that students are given an activity sheet, typically guiding questions, thought questions or tasks that must be answered or completed at each station. Each station should be geared toward a different aspect of the topic at hand and should challenge students. The stations can be visited in any order, can be visited by more than one student at a time and should provide a comprehensive understanding once all stations are visited. For example, if you are teaching The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the stations should be designed to give students a general understanding of the novel, the author and the Roaring '20s in America. You may choose to have a music station where students listen to jazz and write their thoughts, a reading station that provides a biography of Fitzgerald from which they record interesting facts, a poetry corner that challenges them to write their own beat poem, or even an interactive video station that teaches them the Charleston. The teacher's role is to facilitate the activities, ensure that the students are on task and answer clarifying questions. Centers/Stations/Rotations put the weight of learning into the student's hands and provide a more authentic experience than traditional lecturing.
1. Manipulate the layout of your classroom to create three (or more) "learning stations". The number of stations will depend on the number of students you have in the classroom.
2. Label each learning station as A, B and C, etc. (or other notable station names) so all students can see the location of each learning station.
3. Set the instruction sheets and materials for each at the appropriate learning stations.
4. Instruct students to read the directions silently. Review the directions as a class.
5. Demonstrate the sound that will be their cue to rotate between stations (bell, whistle, etc.).
6. Remind them how long they have at each station (divide up appropriately depending on overall class time).
7. Split up your class into three equal groups and label them as A, B and C. This will indicate where they will start.
8. Direct them as to how they will rotate (A to B. B to C. C to A, etc.).
9. Send them to their groups and point them at the clock so they can monitor their own time.
10. During this time, circulate throughout the room to monitor their progress and answer any questions.
11. After 6 minutes, indicate it is time to switch groups by ringing the bell, blowing the whistle, etc. Send them to their next location. Repeat this process until every group has completed all three stations.
12. After everyone is done, go through each station and process the desired result. Ask students what they believed was the answer to the clues presented to them. Process to the point where you get the correct answer.
13. If necessary, request an artifact or something demonstrating the work that was done in the Centers/Stations/Rotations for grading, participation, or other purposes.