How to use learning stations in a middle school classroom (2023)

Learning stations or centers are very popular in elementary school classes, but do they work with older students? Absolutely. In fact, they are an incredible tool for concentration and learning. So if you're wondering how to use learning stations in a high school classroom, keep reading! (and if you want something ready to use see the end of the post).

There are so many reasons I use (and love) study stations in my high school classroom, but here's the quick version:

  • Learning stations keep children focused on small chunks of learning so they don't feel overwhelmed
  • This approach helps you build skills one at a time and leads to deeper learning.
  • Children have to get up and move, which not only adds variety to the lesson, but also supports the learning process.
  • The students love them!

So how do you make it all work with a class full of teenagers? Let me guide you through the steps:

1. Plan your learning stations starting at the end:

Before you start you need to know where you are going. Ask yourself: What do my children need to know or understand? What skills do they need to work on? What will be accomplished at the end of the lesson?

Let me show you how I use the stations in my high school classroom:

How to use learning stations in a middle school classroom (1)

reading stationsGive students the basic information they need before beginning a text, such as before beginning Shakespeare.

With myIntroduction to Shakespeare's Seasons,Each station focuses on one part of this information, and when completed, students will have the same information that they used to give in a lesson/handout.

process stationsrequire students to go through one step of a process at each station. At the end of the rotation, they have created an outline for an essay,a revised or edited essay, analyze a poem, find out the theme of a text, etc.

skill-based stationsRequire students to work on specific skills and give them time to focus on one skill at a time. For example, by the end of the class, they may have skills for things like descriptive or practiced.narrative writing, learned when and how to use transitions, or practiced accurate reading and note taking.

How to use learning stations in a middle school classroom (2)

chat stationsProvide students with discussion topics, a different one for each rotation. These can be ideas they find in a text or in real life and are great for building students' confidence as they get to practice their speaking skills in a much smaller group.

2. To create your stations, break the big task into smaller parts.

Once you've established the purpose and end result of your station activity, you need to decide how to break it down into small, focused tasks for your children that take up the same amount of time.

Examples of chat stations:

When you make chat stations, you have one topic per station. For example, when I do Macbeth, we start with chat stations where the kids think about and discuss topics like peer pressure, guilt, ambition, etc. Each theme is a different station (You canGet this free activity here).

ConTierfarm, I set up chat stations. In one they discussed whether real democracy is ever possible. In another, they discussed the qualities of a good leader. There were five in all, and each focused on a different idea from the novel.

The parts of an essay:

If you want students to complete a finished product, such as a schematic or blueprint, you should choose activities that do not matter in which order they complete the tasks.

For example, when I make writing stations for an essay, I make sure students already have a thesis before I start. They can then brainstorm an introduction, work on developing a point, or think of any research they might need at any point in the rotation.

At review stations, each one focuses on a different step in the process: look at idea generation at one, word choice at another, research usage at another, and so on. If you want them to analyze a poem, they can look at station one for structure, station two for figurative language, station three for diction, etc.

Scaffolding Skills:

Stations that focus on skill development require students to work on one skill at each station. These are particularly effective as they allow students to focus on a task without feeling overwhelmed.

So if you want them to work on descriptive writing, at one station they can write pictures, at another they are asked to experiment with metaphors, while at the next they are playing with personification.

Forpoetry analysis, you could have a station where students look at the sound elements of a poem, another that asks them to look for metaphors, and another where they look at pictures. You could also provide a station where students simply respond to ideas in the poem without analysis.

Then, when they have moved through each station, taking time to focus on one item of analysis at a time, they can come together in groups to see what they need to do to discern the overall message of the poem.

There are so many ways to do this, you just need to take some time before you start to make sure you divide the tasks in a logical way. And you know what? If it's not quite perfect the first time, that's okay!

3. Structure of the learning stations:

You must first copy the required handouts/instructions and gather everything else the children will need:

  • Each station needs a task card or instruction sheet that tells the children what needs to happen during that rotation.
  • You can also provide an assignment sheet that students will use to complete their work. However, if they do not turn in the work (ideas for assessment come up), they can do the work in their notebooks, or in a draft they are writing or in a text they are commenting on.
  • If students need to collect information at the station, you may need to copy some handouts (or provide a computer kit). If I want them to take notes, I leave four to five copies in the room, which is for each child who is sittingHow to use learning stations in a middle school classroom (3)there you can use one of the copies to take notes.
  • When I make revision stations, I give students markers, sticky notes, and crayons so they can make their revisions visible. So I either leave a few of each at each station or tell the kids to grab their own as they spin.

Second, you need to set up your desktops to create the stations. In my classroom, the tables are set up in groups of four or five students, so we just use what we have.

Before the students arrive, I place the required handouts/tools in the middle of each group and ask them to put down their books etc. off their desks so everyone has space to do their work. If your desks are in rows, all you have to do is move them in groups to create a station.

If you want, you can create title cards or numbers to identify each station. Simply take an 8 x 11 sheet of paper (cardstock works well), fold it vertically, and write the station title or number on it. Then place it in the center of the station.

4. Grouping and timing of stations:

There are several ways to achieve this. My favorite is allowing students to choose their own groups, especially if the season requires them to work together; they just feel more comfortable that way. Of course, you can create groups to separate people who don't work well together.

Clustering can also be used for differentiation, so students who need more time can have fewer assignments at each station. Basically you need to think about the needs of your class and set up the groups accordingly. If you're worried about keeping them at work, make sure you this postwhere I give you many strategies for it.

Time-wise, you can set a timer and have students move as a group once the time is up. If I notice that the tasks are taking too long, I add more time for each rotation. (If it takes longer because the kids aren't working, I don't. Then they realize if they don't focus, they won't finish.) You can also choose to have students progress one at a time as they complete each task. This works well when the children are used to the stations and know how to do them.

5. Evaluation of the work of the station:

I rarely grade the work that students do at their stations. This is because they are mostly skill/process based assignments and work on things that you will eventually test for anyway.

For example, when we do review stations, I see the work they've done on their designs because they pass it on to me. If I haven't, the hope is that I'll "see" the work in the good copy. When they do poem analysis stations, students learn how to analyze a poem. Usually this is to build skills/confidence before they actually write an analysis, or you can have them use the stations as preparation before writing an analysis to pass.

However, sometimes there is a class that must be held accountable for their work. When I do that, I take homework sheets to give them a final grade. I only judge that the work is done; However, there is no reason why you can't also rate them for the correct answers.

Your role during the seasons:

The key to the success of the stations is in the hands of the teacher. He needs to do the organization ahead of time so they are ready when students enter his room. But it's also very important that you move while students are working so you can help them and keep them working.

Once students get used to the process, they will continue to ask to make stations -but there will be some growing pains when you first do it. Don't be discouraged if things don't go quite right the first time, as you and your students will need to adjust to a new way of teaching.

I hope I have helped you to have a clearer idea of ​​how to use the stations in your classroom. It may seem scary at first, but I think if you give it a try, you'll start using them as a regular activity with your students. Please leave your questions in the comments! And if you want some ready-made stations, check out the links below, or get them all on mine.Mega-packs.

The Essay Review Station
Test planning stations
Responses to text stations.
roman study stations
Poetry Analysis Stations
Independent reading stations
Figurative Language Stations
Investigation Skill Stations
the grammar station
Introduction to Shakespeare's Seasons
Writing Workshop Stations
descriptive writing stations
narrative writing stations
How to use learning stations in a middle school classroom (4)


How do you implement learning stations in the classroom? ›

  1. Use low-floor, high-ceiling tasks. Select tasks that are open ended. ...
  2. Give students ownership. ...
  3. Build in tiered activities. ...
  4. Vary learning preferences. ...
  5. Involve students in creating the norms. ...
  6. Build group work stamina. ...
  7. Focus on evidence of learning. ...
  8. Consider including a teacher station.
Feb 9, 2020

What is station teaching in middle school? ›

Stations are centers (or areas) set up in the classroom where each task has a specific goal that's targeted. These centers can be hands-on activities, intervention practices, enrichment tasks, or tech-related applications revolving around a certain skill.

What makes a good learning station? ›

For learning stations to be effective in enhancing student learning, it is important that: 1) each station have a problem for the student to solve, 2) activities be fairly straightforward, and 3) important concepts be stated explicitly by the students.

What are some considerations you will have to make as you set up learning stations in a classroom? ›

Here are six tips for designing meaningful learning stations:
  • 1: Choose content wisely and hold students accountable for learning it. ...
  • 2: Switch it up. ...
  • 3: Incorporate technology. ...
  • 4: Provide opportunities for both individual and group tasks. ...
  • 5: Coordinate timing. ...
  • 6: Help students bring it all together.
Oct 21, 2016

How do I make my stations more engaging? ›

Blend different types of tasks, technology, and content to make your stations as engaging as possible. Stations are naturally more engaging than whole class instruction, but it still helps to diversify the activities at each station. Determine which stations will be more collaborative and which will be more individual.

How do you keep your students engaged in a lesson in centers? ›

Teaching strategies to ensure student engagement
  1. Begin the lesson with an interesting fact. ...
  2. Exude enthusiasm and engagement. ...
  3. Encourage connections that are meaningful and relevant. ...
  4. Plan for short attention spans. ...
  5. Address different learning styles and multiple intelligences. ...
  6. Turn lessons into games. ...
  7. Turn lessons into stories.
Jul 11, 2019

How do you teach using stations? ›

In station teaching, students are put into three or more groups and the classroom has multiple learning centers. As the students rotate through the stations, the teachers teach the same material in different ways to each group.

How do you use station teaching? ›

In the station teaching model of instruction, students and content are divided into three or more groups. Each teacher teaches one section of content, while the remaining sections are based on independent practice activities, and students rotate between all of the stations.

What is the purpose of stations in the classroom? ›

Stations are learning centers located around the classroom where students spend time doing specific tasks. Each center has a different task or goal. Students may rotate through some or all of the stations during the lesson. Stations allow for student-centered and differentiated learning.

What are the four key ingredients of successful learning? ›

Dehaene describes in detail the four 'secret ingredients' of successful learning.
  • attention.
  • active engagement.
  • error feedback.
  • consolidation.
Feb 15, 2021

Why are stations important? ›

Stations are one of the most effective ways to switch the focus from the teacher to the students. Instead of being a “sage on the stage,” you are a “guide on the side.” Stations force students to take ownership of their learning, but they allow you to better spend your time helping the students who need it.

What is the most important thing a classroom needs to run smoothly? ›

Develop Effective Working Relationships With Your Students

The most important component of classroom management is relationships. The relationships with my students start at the door when I shake the their hand and greet them with a smile (regardless of what misbehaviors might have happened the day before).

What are station activities? ›

In a stations activity, small groups of students move from station to station to read, watch, and interpret a variety of resources that focus on an event, theme, or question from multiple perspectives.

What is an example of station rotation in class? ›

For example, a learner may complete an assignment online, then participate in a group activity, and, finally, engage in teacher-led instruction. Students tend to be grouped by learning styles, skills, or needs.

How long should station rotations be? ›

The station rotation model takes this idea but has students rotate through different stations on a fixed schedule. It's recommended that students spend anywhere between 10-15 minutes at each station.

What are the 7 student engagement strategies? ›

Here are 7 student engagement strategies to enhance learning and boost meaningful involvement in the classroom:
  • 1 – Setting Ground Rules. ...
  • 2 – Journaling. ...
  • 3 – Let Students Lead. ...
  • 4 – Icebreakers. ...
  • 5 – Social and Emotional Learning Curriculum. ...
  • 6 – Get Outside. ...
  • 7 – Perform a Class Service Project.

What two methods do you use to keep students engaged while learning? ›

10 Ways to Keep Students Engaged in 2022
  • Start with a warm-up.
  • See smartphones and tech as tools.
  • Regularly test students.
  • Use self-paced work.
  • Brainstorming.
  • Arrange group discussions.
  • Run reflections.
  • Make use of “dead time”
Dec 13, 2021

What are six ways to engage students? ›

Motivation Matters: Six Simple Ways to Engage Students
  • Clarify your expectations (often). Students are unlikely to succeed if they do not know what is expected of them. ...
  • Allow for mistakes. ...
  • Give specific, positive feedback (and fewer empty compliments). ...
  • Keep it real. ...
  • Break the cycle. ...
  • Mix your media.

What is station teaching method? ›

Station or rotation teaching is a co-teaching strategy that calls for the designing of at least three workstations or learning centers where students rotate in and out in small groups. In a station teaching approach, teachers divide the responsibility for planning and content instruction.

What is Station technique? ›

The learning stations technique is a form of course processing in which students perform a series of learning activities in specific areas created in the learning-teaching process (within the classroom or outside the classroom) by working individually or in groups with the help of specific guidelines created by the ...

What is the middle school station rotation model? ›

The Station Rotation Model Defined

It is a series of stations, or learning activities that students rotate through. Typically, there is a teacher-led station, an online station, and an offline station. To be considered a blended learning model, at least one station must be an online learning station.

What are the pros and cons of station teaching? ›

Pros: Lower student-teacher ration, variety of instructional activities, opportunity for differentiated instruction and high student engagement. Cons: Noise and distraction and it may require extensive upfront planning. Guidelines for Use: Both teachers should teach all groups.

What are the 4 A's of learning? ›

The 4As of adult learning: Activity, Analysis, Abstraction, and Application is illustrated in Figure 6-1. The constructivist approach to teaching asserts that a Learner gains and builds knowledge through experience.

What are the 3 elements to successful learning? ›

September 4, 2003. In the spirit of Einstein, but with only a fraction of the elegance, I offer the three essential elements of an effective learning system. In its simplest form this system can be expressed with three words: requirements, solutions and impact.

What is the most important ingredient for successful learning? ›

Focus. The ability to focus and pay attention is possibly the most critical skill you need to learn fast. Without being aware of what you are doing, it is impossible to improve. If you master the ability to pay attention to what you are doing right and wrong, you can much more easily make the required adjustments.

What are the three C's of classroom well being? ›

As you consider some of your most challenging students or classes, think about your approach to classroom management through the lens of these three areas: connection, consistency, and compassion.

How do you run a successful classroom? ›

7 Habits of Highly Effective Classroom Management
  1. Set the Tone. Don't just stay at your desks before class begins; stand near the door of your classroom and greet kids as they enter. ...
  2. Jump Right In. Good managers start class right away. ...
  3. Establish the Rules. ...
  4. Have a Plan. ...
  5. Involve Your Kids. ...
  6. Respect Your Kids. ...
  7. Keep It Fair.

How do you make a boring class good? ›

Before Class
  1. Sleep Well. Your sleep is inherently tied to your ability to focus. ...
  2. Read Material. ...
  3. Create Questions In Advance. ...
  4. Prepare Yourself For A Mentally-Draining Class. ...
  5. Sit Up Front. ...
  6. If You Are On Your Laptop, Don't Check Social Media. ...
  7. Enjoy A Cold Beverage During Class. ...
  8. Sit With An Enthusiastic Classmate.

What does a learning station do in a classroom? ›

Learning station is a method of instruction in which small groups of students move through many learning centers, or stations, allowing teachers to differentiate instruction by incorporating students' needs, interests, and learning styles.

How do you implement a learning and development program? ›

How to create an effective L&D strategy
  1. Create a flexible L&D structure. ...
  2. Identify organizational priorities. ...
  3. Recognize the overall business strategy. ...
  4. Adopt a tailored approach to learning. ...
  5. Improve employee recruitment and retention. ...
  6. Assess internal stakeholders. ...
  7. Provide sufficient resources and budgeting.
Apr 19, 2022

How do you implement the learning process? ›

  1. Step 1: Analyzing needs for implementing an active learning strategy. ...
  2. Step 2: Identify topic and questions. ...
  3. Step 3: Identify learning objectives & outcomes. ...
  4. Step 4: Plan and design the activity. ...
  5. Step 5: Identify sequence of learning events. ...
  6. Step 6: Evaluate and assess.

How do you use Station teaching? ›

In the station teaching model of instruction, students and content are divided into three or more groups. Each teacher teaches one section of content, while the remaining sections are based on independent practice activities, and students rotate between all of the stations.

What is the example of learning station? ›

Typically, teachers use stations to have students perform different activities on the same skill at the same time. For example, if the group was working on adding fractions, one station might have students working with fraction tiles to model the skill. Another station might be independent practice on a worksheet.

What are the 4 steps to program implementation? ›

There are four functional Implementation Stages: Exploration, Installation, Initial Implementation, Full Implementation.

How to create an effective learning and development strategy? ›

The 7 Steps To A Robust L&D Strategy
  1. Know where you're going. ...
  2. Identify who will determine the learning and development vision and objectives. ...
  3. Know what success looks like. ...
  4. Conduct an internal skill gap analysis. ...
  5. Identify core learning needs. ...
  6. Create learner profiles.

How do you activate learning in the classroom? ›

Active learning methods ask students to engage in their learning by thinking, discussing, investigating, and creating. In class, students practice skills, solve problems, struggle with complex questions, make decisions, propose solutions, and explain ideas in their own words through writing and discussion.

How can you encourage active learning in the classroom? ›

Give learners clear lesson aims and refer to them at each stage
  1. keep track of the lesson stages.
  2. clearly see the connection between what they are doing in class and what they are supposed to learn.
  3. know exactly what is expected of them, reducing anxiety.
  4. self-monitor their progress.
Oct 30, 2017

What are the 8 ways to implement learning? ›

8 Way Planning Checklist
  1. Visualise overall process.
  2. Align environmental concepts.
  3. Explore different angles.
  4. Share relevant experiences.
  5. Model learning products.
  6. Create concrete metaphors.
  7. Apply physical knowledge.
  8. Relate to local people.

What are the 5 key components of a learning plan? ›

But lesson topic, class objectives, procedure, time management, and student practice are the five components that a good lesson plan always includes.

What are the five steps in the teaching/learning process? ›

The following is an overview of the five phases of the 5E Model.
  • ENGAGE. In the first phase of the learning cycle, the teacher works to gain an understanding of the students' prior knowledge and identify any knowledge gaps. ...
  • EXPLORE. ...
  • EXPLAIN. ...
  • ELABORATE. ...


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