I love many things about summer: reading by the pool, eating summer produce, sleeping in, and taking time for me. But at the top of my list is personal learning. Summer grants us time to read professional development books, collaborate on-line and in real time, and attend professional development conferences and workshops.
People frequently ask me why do I "waste (their word, not mine!) my summer with school stuff?"
My answer is simple. First of all I do not consider it a waste. I do it because I am a learner, and I want to improve my teaching and my students' learning. Over these next fews weeks, I hope to share some of my learning with all of you.
I taught 4th and 5th grade for seven years before I became a middle school teacher. As an elementary teacher I created learning stations or choices which I preferred to call them. A part of me misses this type of learning because it was so easy to differentiate and keep students engaged.
Here's how it works!
- Select a text. We read an article, but this strategy could easily be used with a poem, an image, or even a video.
- Prepare an essential question which could encourage deep discussion.
- Have students read and annotate the text. If you use a video or image, notes could be taken.
- Divide into groups and have groups discuss the text and the essential question. During the discussion students record good discussion points from others.
- After 2-3 minutes, rotate 1-2 students into another group. The number of rotations and students who rotate will depend on the class size.
- Continue discussion for several "conver-stations" and then come back as a whole group to share out.
- Gets kids moving. Many students find it difficult to sit still and stay engaged. This allows students to get up and move around.
- Facilitates deep discussion. I found when doing this activity, the first question asked was what did you talk about in your other group? These stations allow the discussion to go in different directions and give different perspectives, one that the group may not have thought of.
- Creates a culture of learning. Every student is involved in the discussion, unlike what you may have in a whole group discussion. Having the students record discussion points from others, gives introverted students more confidence to share with others. It helps them to contribute to the conversation.
If you wish to view this strategy in action, here is a link to a video from Teaching Channel!