I wonder why we do not use centers or work stations in high school. The centers are used successfully in elementary but by middle school they are phased out in favor of whole class teaching.

I see these centers as a way of arranging small group differentiated instruction for many students and its also perfect to use with technology.

Since I am unfamiliar with centers, I did some research on the topic. Straight off, I discovered a nice site that give full instructions for using them in the algebra classroom along with a sample of 6 centers. The examples are for solving one step equations with whole, fractions and decimal leading coefficient.

The suggestions given for using stations are:

1. Have one station per four students.

2. Determine the length of time it should take students to complete each activity so you know about how long they should be at each station.

3. Create the activity be it a worksheet, web based quiz/activity, etc.

4. Create the answer sheets.

5. Set up the stations.

6. Run the stations and include a timer.

7. Signal when it is time to change to another station

8. Collect the results at the end.

According to another site, there is a difference between the centers and stations. The center is a place for students to practice or refine a skill while the station is for students to work on tasks at the same time and whose tasks are linked. Students using centers rotate while those using stations do not and the teacher chooses which station to assign the students to based on need.

The nice thing about stations, is the teacher can have a station so she works with some of the students while the others are working independently on specific material. Math stations are better for differentiating instruction and students only need visit the stations whose activities help them move towards proficiency.

It is suggested the teacher have an anchor station with activities for students who finish early, get stuck, or do not need to work on the skill. At the end there is a power point presentation and a suggestion on what a day might look like when using stations.

Even the Teaching Channel has a lovely 5 minute video on using stations. It shows one of the teachers using this to help his students so you can see it being used.

I found three more lovely articles on the topics of stations and centers that will appear in tomorrow's blog. Keep an eye open for part two.