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Teaching with Centers/Stations in elementary/middle school

Thorough explanation of how to introduce and utilize stations into K-8 classrooms.
Explanation and several specific examples included.

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With the introduction of any learning centers or computer stations in a K-8 classroom, it is imperative that the teacher set up behavioral expectations for station behavior. This can be done at the beginning of the year as part of the initial introduction of the class and the classroom expectations. You may also want to include that the introductions can also be done later in the year if the centers or stations are brought in or set up for a particular unit of study. Whichever the case, the expectations on behavior should be addressed before students visit the centers and/or stations.
For every type of station, explicit instructions should be given on these expectations. Physically modeling how to get out and put up materials is one example. Moving from the students' desks to the stations should be modeled. Another example would be to show students exactly how to select a computer program, along with how to treat the mouse and other delicate computer parts.
While this type of thing takes time, it is well worth it, as it will save much valuable time and frustration later. When this is not done, teachers have to repeat themselves time and time again, reminding students on the does and don'ts for every center or station. From my experience, some reminding is necessary and inevitable, clearly communicating expectations beforehand keeps it to a minimum throughout the year. This results in maximum instructional/learning time that is more effective for all students.
Activity 1 (7th grade science - in groups):
In this scenario, students are learning about the nervous system. The following stations are completed near the end of a two-week study. The 24 total students, placed into groups of four, rotate around to each station over a two-day period. Each ...

Solution Summary

Example of centers/stations for a 6th-7th grade science class is provided in the solution.