Friday, October 19, 2012

Lovin' My Stations!

I mentioned in an earlier post about how I love stations, and I am trying to use them more in my class this year instead of avoiding them like the plague last year.  You know why I love stations so much?  Because after the first time we used them this year (see my post on that here), my students have been asking when we are going to use them again - and today, when they walked in and saw that we were doing stations for the 2nd time this week, they actually said (out-loud), "Stations! Yes!"  Now, I don't know about most of you but when I get my students to exclaim in excitement about something they get to do with math - well... it's fabulous!

I am going to tell you about the first set of stations we did this week, and leave the second set until later.  We are working on integers right now, and I really wanted them to have some more practice with adding and subtraction before we moved on to multiplying and dividing.  I did not want to just use worksheets because they're so boring.  An entire class period of worksheets sounded miserable, and I'm the teacher!  Anyways, I planned out four stations for the students to cycle through.  I love that even though the last time we did stations was a month ago, my students still knew how the system worked.

This is how I organize my station rotations.  Cute? No. Simple and effective? Yes.
(Just ignore the poll in the top corner - that was for something else I was keeping track of)
These are not the stations I used for this post, but you can see how I organize them in this picture.

My first station was an adding and subtracting integers memory game.  I laid all the cards out on the table face down and ready to go for the first group.  Every group after that was responsible for putting the cards back in the same way they found them so the next group was ready to play the minute they started the station.  Students took turns flipping over two cards - they had to say what the answer was to every expression they flipped over.  If they found a match they kept the cards and went again.  If they didn't find a match, it was the next player's turn.  This game always starts a little slow, but once they can start remembering where the cards are it gets really fun as they can't find the match but the next person can.  I am selling this game on my TeachersPayTeachers store.

Memory Game all laid out and ready to play!

The second station was very similar to a station I did last time (algebraic expression posters) - but this time they were only practicing the order of operations.  This is something that we already covered, and students had a test on but it is so important that I like reviewing constantly throughout the year.  Students solved each of the expressions on the poster and moved post-it notes labeled 1-9 around to show the answer.  Each post-it note gets used exactly one time.  If they find they need the same number or that they haven't used a number then they know they've made a mistake.  After they are done, I quickly check them and have them get a new poster to complete.  I have them work on these in pairs, and I love hearing their conversations as they discuss the correct order to solve the problems.

One of the posters that they worked on!

The third station was also very similar to a station I did last time (self-correcting excel spreadsheet).  This time they were practicing adding and subtracting integers.  If you want a copy of this, just click on the image below.  It looks really funny on google drive, but downloads correctly.  Students solve each of the problems, and type the answer in the second column.  They then check the third column to see if they are right or not.  I was planning on having them go to (LOVE this site, especially since I still have students who don't know their facts!), but our Internet was down.  (Don't you hate when that happens?!?)  Instead I had them work on their homework - an adding and subtracting integer worksheet. It wasn't nearly as entertaining, but the kiddos all seemed to appreciate having time to do their homework in class. 

This is the Adding and Subtracting Integers spreadsheet they did - see how in the third column it tells them whether they are right or wrong?

The fourth station was my favorite.  My students have done some graphing before, but never with all four quadrants of the coordinate plane.  We did a coordinate graphing picture earlier in the unit to practice, but I wanted to do a little more with it so I created this game.  It's battleship with the coordinate plane!  And, I made it with a Pirates of the Caribbean theme!  All of the ships are named after ships from the movie series, and my students LOVED it!  They were either the pirates or the royal navy, and hid their respective ships on their coordinate plane.  Then they took turns trying to find their opponent's ships by calling out coordinate pairs and marking them on their board.  I originally made a version that can be printed out on paper where you would break everyone into pairs, and pass out a pirates sheet to one player and a royal navy sheet to the other player.  Then, realizing that this would be a lot more fun with dry erase markers, I made a more permanent version using manila folders and laminating them.  Then, because I was so excited about it, I decided to sell it in my TeachersPayTeachers store.

The front of the folders - are you going to be the Pirates, or the Royal Navy?

My brilliant students actually figured out that if you use a binder clip the board would stand up on its own.  They're geniuses. 

Playing the game!

My second time with stations went really well - I just need to remember to set the timer at the beginning of each station!  Also, this was a good reminder that I always need a back up in case the Internet is down and I've planned an activity using it - this is when having good 'go-to' games are awesome (which I will talk about in a later post, I swear)!

What are some activities you use to practice integers? Do you have any 'go-to' back up activities for when technology decides not to cooperate?



  1. This is brilliant! I wish you had been my math teacher.


  3. I am planning on using this for mapping, geography and latitude and longitude. Do the students just count each time to find the coordinates? Would it be easier to have x and y axis labeled? Is there a reason you did not label them? Just curious.

  4. Which age group is this for?

  5. The battleship coordinate game is awesome!! :)


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