I’m always on the lookout for classroom furniture. The reason comes from a belief that classrooms should be setup in a way to allow students to work together. Having classroom furniture gives students places to work in the classroom. That collaboration can take on many different forms, but having set spots in my room helps organize the process. Opportunities to share ideas, debate, work though problems and come to some type of consensus often exists when students are given time to work together. Talking through their math processes can help students practice their math communication skills. During that process students have to validate their mathematical thinking, especially if there’s some type of disagreement between peers.
Teachers use many different methods to create student groups. I still use the generic popsicle stick method to choose groups. Lately, I’ve been using Michael’s super grouper 3.2 spreadsheet. This has saved me so much time in organizing my student groups for stations. Many functions are available within the spreadsheet and I have only explored some of the features. Feel free to download Michael’s amazing creation here.
Once students see their group on the whiteboard they head towards their specific station for the day. I then turn on my timer and students work. Sometimes the stations are used for individual journal writing and other times they’re used as an area for students to utilize math manipulatives. All of my math stations are setup around the perimeter of the room. Each station has a name so it’s easy to assign particular places in the room. I decided to go with a coffee theme for my stations. I put a logo on each table to make them easier to identify. Click on an image below to see the station in more detail.
I periodically check in with each group to ask questions and observe math understanding. I jot down notes, take pictures or record math conversations that can be used later. When the timer goes off all groups go back to their seat and the class debriefs. So far this system seems to be working well. I’m looking forward to using these types of stations throughout the year.