In the Trenches

Thoughts and Ideas from a Classroom Teacher

Centers… I Mean Stations

on January 18, 2012

Hi. My name is Kelly. I teach upper grades students using centers…. I mean learning stations. Older kids don’t dooooooo (over-emphasis on the drawn out sarcastic “do”) centers. I disagree. I don’t care what you call them. My students do awesome work when working in smaller groups with a specific focus for each group. Here’s a little peek into the types of learning stations that I use.


My stations are more like 4 activities to complete within a day, during a set period of time, with a designated peer group. Students spend about 20 minutes per day completing each of the 4 activities. The activities are independent, small group, partner or teacher-led. These are the basic outlines of each station in my Language Arts block:

1. COMPUTER: This could be anything from research to Edmodo (for reading response) to Study Island (for skill practice) to learning games like Spelling City.

2. BOOK STUDY: This month we are reading The Journal of William Thomas Emerson as a novel connection to our American Revolution unit of study. Students have a set number of pages to read each day and a series of discussion questions. This is done in their 4-5 student groups or they can break into pairs within their group.

3. LITERATURE CONNECTION: This week, our additional literature connection is a series of short biographical passages about women of the Revolution. Students are connecting what they are reading in their novel with this non-fiction information to create a broader picture of the late 1700’s. They are also able to connect fictional and non-fictional information to formulate questions for study later. I am leading this group, as many of the passages, need some additional help to “digest.” There are also EOG style questions to tie into these shorter passages to focus on different elements of literature.

4. BIOGRAPHICAL/TIMELINE STUDIES: Students are using research, trade books, the internet and other resources to create flip books about personalities from the American Revolution. They are also combining a variety of sources to create a timeline of events leading up to the war. They can work together for ideas but each student is required to create their own product.


Again, these stations take about 20 minutes per day. Students rotate through the stations and have developed a great working strategy. Groups change members as our stations change focus. It’s not perfect, but it can be done. I get to work with all of my students in small groups every day. When my student intern is here, she also gets to work with all groups. I do know, for sure, that my students say they prefer it to whole group instruction! Give it a try. Over the next few weeks, I will keep track of some of the types of activities we are doing. If you are an upper grades teacher doing learning stations, please share your strategies and ideas!

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