Now's the Time for Math Stations!
Math stations are often nothing more than a packet of hands-on materials with a set of directions. If you are thinking math stations have to include elaborate and cute display boards, stop right there! Sure, you can make them elaborate and cute if you enjoy doing so and have the time, but math stations can be simple and easy-to-implement.
When selecting an activity, ask yourself:
- Will the activity reinforce or extend a concept that's already been introduced?
- Are the directions clear and easy to follow?
- Are materials easy to locate and accessible?
- Can students complete this activity independently or with minimal outside help from an adult?
- Will students be able to check their answers on their own using an answer key, or will someone else need to check their answers?
- How will students keep a record of what they've completed?
- How will students be held accountable for their work?
What are some strategies for implementing Math Stations?
- Rotation Stations vs. Choice Stations - There are many types of stations you can set up in your room. Two choices can be Rotation Stations and Choice Stations. You can set up your Math Stations so that students rotate through them as a group or allow them free choice about which stations to use. Or you can set them up as "choice" stations but assign your students particular stations that they need to complete each week before having a choice.
- Math Logs - Create a Math Activity Log for each student using a manila folder or a pocket folder with 3 paper fasteners. Teach students how to record their activities on the log each day. Have a checker or buddy sign after they complete each activity. Make sure they know what the math content is for each activity so they don't just view stations as "games."
- Displaying and Storing Materials - Plastic storage carts with drawers work well for storing math center materials for long term use. Why prepare a new set of game materials every year when you can make a set and keep it for future use. However, a better solution for displaying Math Station materials. . . A simple 6-shelf organizer! It works great as long as you don’t put heavy books and materials on the shelves. It will hold dice, calculators, activity directions, and more!
- Math Station Menus - Post a menu of the Math Stations that are available in a given week. List each activity title along with the math content. For example, I might list “Island Conquer -> Area and Perimeter” on the chart. Have a whiteboard right next to yor Math Stations organizer to use for this.
- Partners vs. Groups - Partner activities seem to work better than group activities because students stay more focused and on-task with one other person than as a part of a big group. If you do have group activities, make sure the directions are clear and require equal participation from all group members.
- Math Buddies - You may want to assign students to a certain Math Buddy each day or each week. If you do, pair a low-performing student with an average student or an average student with a high functioning student. If you try to pair an advanced student with someone who is really struggling, they both get frustrated.
- Flexible Pairing - Assigning partners doesn’t always allow for the flexibility to meet with students individually or in small groups. It seems that the minute you establish Math Buddies, you need to work with one student alone which leaves someone without a partner. So sometimes it's best to allow students to choose their own partners. Requiring them to choose a new partner for every activity each week, keeps them from sticking with their best friends and allows them to interact with others in the class. They like the element of choice.
NEED CENTER IDEAS OR RESOURCES?
CenterSOLUTIONS™ Math Learning Games, Grade 2 (MORE GRADE LEVELS AVAILABLE)
Ideal for centers and cooperative learning, CenterSOLUTIONS® contains four complete games in each set. Every game focuses on a different skill making it perfect for differentiated instruction. Best of all, the games can be stored individually or all together using the large storage box. 2-4 players. Supports NCTM standards.
• addition with regrouping
• game board
• four game pieces
• playing cards
• one die
• storage box
Check out all of our Math Resources at http://www.learning-experts.com/math_games_activities-c-1012057_1038464.html