Jazzing Up The Infamous “Station Rotation!”

Today’s Contributor: Lorrie Salome, 5th grade teacher at Hill Elementary.

If you are like me, you feel pulled in a million more directions than you ever thought possible this school year! Unexpectedly, this year feels harder than last year. Nineteen years in the classroom has not prepared me for the time/energy demands of our current environment. Perhaps it is a natural side-effect of everything educators ‘gave’ last year in attempts to keep the ship afloat? Maybe it’s the amount of energy required to attempt to mend the academic gaps or a testament to the emotional fragility (in both students and teachers!) that comes from navigating a global emergency? Whatever the cause, this year has been tough. In addition to the normal stressors of the classroom, the demands of HB4545 remediation have required that station rotation lessons are organized, diverse and simple to understand. My “rotation” activities need to be solid, else I will be interrupted too many times to effectively execute the much-needed (and state-required) remediation.

In order to ‘up’ my station-rotation game, I’ve started giving ‘themes’ that seem to help excite/motivate my 5th grade students. I start by ‘borrowing’ an already-created template in Canva and build from there. In Canva, I also modify a station rotation reflection sheet to ‘match’ the theme so that students can have some accountability for their daily choices.

If we’ve ever met at a district training, you’d know I’m a huge fan of using the Thinglink platform to create my choiceboards. I find it fast and extremely user-friendly. If you don’t have access to Thinglink, you could always create the same style of choice board using Google Slides.

Here is an example of a ‘pick a path’ choiceboard. You can find the interactive image here. In this activity, students were tasked with selecting one activity format (game, worksheet or online activity) based on their self-reflection and data analysis of their Short Cycle Assessment. As they worked, they completed a self-report to give feedback on what worked well and what didn’t so that I can revise/improve future assignments. It also helps give kids who are less organized by nature, a ‘checklist’ to follow to help them stay on-task during rotations.

Here is a very basic front/back half-sheet checklist that helps guide the kids during station rotations and provides them an opportunity to give feedback. The best thing about Canva (besides that it is free for educators!) is how easy it is for teams to ‘share’ templates. In fact, click here to get an editable version of this file for yourself!

Here is another example of a ‘themed’ station rotation. For the ‘Pick Your Potion’ lesson, students were required to take the ‘required medicine’ first and then had a whole smattering of ‘may do’ options to select.

If you visit the interactive version of this activity, you’ll see how directions/instructions are included on each tab, which help prevent students from needing as much teacher assistance. When you are trying to provide HB4545 remediation, this gift of student independence is priceless!If you haven’t explored Canva yet, I encourage you to give it a go! It is so simple/quick to design engaging backgrounds and as mentioned, the ability to share editable templates between teammates effortlessly is incredible! (That link will take you to the “Pick Your Potion” choiceboard template!)

I’ve seen, at least for 5th graders, that giving the choiceboard a new ‘feel’–even if the interactions/requirements are similar–has done wonders to boost motivation. For me, it’s also a chance to get some creativity into a school year that feels devoid of imagination and creativity. I hope this station rotation idea can either give you a template you can use ASAP or gets your wheels a’ turnin’ for your own station rotations. I love talking ‘shop’ about tech resources/applications, so please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, suggestions or would like links to more choiceboard examples.

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