Using Science Stations In Your Classroom Routine

Science stations are a flexible instructional strategy. Which approach works best for your classroom?So we have covered why you should use science stations, and how to prepare for science stations – now let’s take a look at actually using science stationsScience

My use of station work evolved as my students and I became more familiar and comfortable with the concept.  I started initially using Simple Rotations, and then I decided to give my students greater responsibility by adopting Student-Paced Transitions.  I added Differentiated Activities into the mix in my classes that were heavy on high-needs learners as I became more comfortable with my curriculum.  Check out how you can use science station work in your classroom below.

Science Station Work Strategies:

Simple Rotations:

Students are divided into groups and given a task to complete at their station. They have an allotted period of time to complete that task. When the time is up, they move to the next science station.

*Cheat Sheets or Support Stations can be provided as a way for students to check their work independently before moving on. Cheat Sheets can be kept in a folder at the table with a set of correcting pens, and students can be given time to correct their work before transitioning. I ask students to leave their original response and simply add the revised version so I can see their original effort and thought process. Help Stations are areas set up away from the immediate students’ workspace. Students leave all papers and writing utensils at their table when they visit a Support Station – this way, they are truly only looking for support on one or two questions.

Student-Paced Transitions:

In this setup, students (or student groups) transition from one science station to the next at their own pace and in the order they prefer. This works best when students are working independently or in partners. I provide students with a checklist to keep track of the stations they have completed and still need to complete.  They then attach this checklist to their completed work at the end of the activity. Additionally, I always set up extra stations (if I have 4 tasks, I may double those to get 8 stations), and I have a rule regarding the maximum number of students allowed at a station at a time. I also typically use a timer to keep students moving forward — while they are not required to move at the bell, they can pace themselves a bit better if I’ve broken the class time into smaller chunks.

That said, I still monitor student movement. If I notice a group lagging at a station, I will assign them a time limit. I also have supplemental work for early finishers – typically the workbook students are working through.

Lastly, I would also recommend transitioning to this style only after students have become accustomed to station work.

Three ways to use station learning in your middle and secondary science classrooms!Differentiated Activities

Science stations make it easy to vary the level of the material without making it obvious to other students. For example, students can be assigned to just one station with the appropriate level of material.  There could be texts that are differentiated for high or low readers or jigsaw activities based on student interest.  Additionally, you can make actual changes to task cards, student response sheets, note taking work, or labs without drawing the attention of other students. This can be really important considering the social pressures of students in middle and high school.  With homogenous groupings at each station, these changes make the material accessible and appropriate for all learners.

Engage students with science stations to deepen understanding and put responsibility and ownership in students' hands.