Monday, September 17, 2012

Math Station Love

One of my goals this year was to get back to using math stations.  I loved using them in fifth grade - we used them at least every other class.  It's such a great way to keep the student's attention since they get to move and change activities every twenty minutes and they love stations.  I also love how easy it is to differentiate with stations and how much more small group time you get with students. I could go on and on about how much I love learning stations, but I won't bore you with that.  I didn't use stations last year as consistently because I couldn't figure out how to do it with more students and less resources.  I desperately wanted to get back to using stations, so I researched stations in middle school this summer to get some ideas.  My goal is to use stations at least every other week - honestly, I don't know that I'm going to be able to do that right away (especially with using our interactive notebooks).  I am, however, going to be using them this week for the first time!  I am super excited!

Algebraic Expression Puzzle Poster

Directions for Algebraic Expression Puzzles

My first station will be a review of order of operations and algebraic expressions all in one.  I used these last year as a whole class activity, and I'm hoping they will work just as well in small groups.  I'm calling them Algebraic Expression Puzzles.  Each mini poster has between five and six algebraic expressions on them, the value of each variable, and sticky notes labeled 1 through 9.  Students evaluate the expressions on a separate sheet, and then move the sticky notes so the expression has the answer next to it.  Each sticky note is used once per poster and all sticky notes must be used.  Students can check their work by making sure they've used each number once - and I always follow up with an answer key.  I do realize my posters have equal signs after the expression, and I wish I hadn't done that last year, but I don't want to waste them, so I may just white out the equal sign instead of redoing them.  I'm going to have students work on these in pairs within their groups, and then switch cards as they finish them.  Here is a copy of the directions if you would like to use this in your classroom!

Self Correcting Excel Spreadsheet - see the feed back in the third column?

I always try to have a technology station - this time I'm using a self-correcting excel spreadsheet.  The question appears in column A, students solve the problem and then type the answer into column B, and then Column C will tell them whether they are correct or not.  The ITRT (technology teacher) back in VA taught me how to make one my first year, and I love it.  It gives students a great way to practice and provides immediate feedback.  I can also change the feedback to say whatever I want (i.e. don't forget your signs!).  I figured out how to make them more attractive this year using the formatting tools so I'm on a roll with my making things cute.  :)  If you would like to try it out, click here.  The image on google docs is horrible, but if you download it, it works and looks like the one above.  This is the one my students use - I hide the formula so no one can accidentally discover the answers, and lock the sheet so no one messes up the questions or formulas.

My third station will be a game with powers and square roots.  I haven't worked out all the kinks for this one yet, but I'll do another post on the math games I play in class later - I have lots since one of my stations is almost always a game station.

The final station is usually an independent work station.  This time it will be different for each class since each of my classes is in a different place.  Some classes I will be finishing up our order of operations foldable (another post on that later), others I will have them complete an independent order of operations practice sheet, and one of my classes (my speedy class) will be making sure their notebooks are up to date and then playing multiplication war to practice their math facts. 

I'm hoping they go well - I feel like the first round of stations sets the tone for the year and so that's why I'm not working with a small group this time.  I want to make sure everyone is staying on task and can figure out how to make things work.  Once they have a grip on it I will start adding in a teacher led station.

Do you use math stations?  What do you love about them?  How do you run them?



  1. I love this blog. I am starting out in the district and this will help me a lot. Thank you!!!!

  2. My word, you've been a delightful find!! Math stations are absolutely how I want to proceed this year, and this has been a wealth of ideas. Thank you!!


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