Friday, November 24, 2017

Blended Learning in the Science Classroom using the stations model

How to set up your science stations?

Some teachers design each station so that they only take 10-15 minutes to complete and the students then rotate through all three stations in one day.   

I have found that my middle school students do better with stations that take 30 minutes to complete and focus on one station per day.  

Most of my students have English as their second language so I also discovered that they do better when they work in groups of 2-4.  This way they always have someone to discuss the information and problem solve with.  

I feel the main point of the blended learning is for students to take charge of their learning and letting them collaborate with other students during each investigation helps them achieve that goal.

Online Station

At this station students will learn about the topic using technology.  I like to have them do an investigation during this station.  

There are great websites that offer free online labs that I create simple guided instructions for my students to follow and complete the lab.

I have also created pictures with hyperlinks that direct them to websites or videos for them to learn about.  And I have created digital notebooks that help them investigate the information. 

Group Collaboration Station

At this station students work together in groups to complete a task.  This is where I like to incorporate hands-on investigation activities.  

It is also a great station to have them do jigsaw readings and then create a group poster on the information.  You want it to be a station where they need to work together to complete it.  

Teacher-Led Station

This is your opportunity to focus your instruction on a small group.  It is so much easier to meet the needs of your students when they are in groups of 12 than when you have a class of 36.  

This is when direct instruction can occur.  You could use the same lesson for each group or differentiate the lesson slightly depending on which group you have.   

I like to use this time to challenge my advanced learners and do extra practice for my struggling learners.

How to set up your Groups?

I like to use different methods for setting up my groups.  The method I choose depends on the purpose of the unit, the background knowledge my students have of the topic, and what my teacher-led station will be.   

For example, I might just put them in groups based on their last names if I feel that they all have them same general background of the topic.  

If the topic is more math based however, I would place them in groups based on their math ability so that I can challenge some groups and help with the basics with other groups during the teacher-led station

Grading the Science Stations

For me personally I do not put an academic grade on the science stations.  I want my students to feel free to investigate this new topic and make mistakes without the fear of it hurting their grade.  Instead I give them a work habits grade based on their effort and a citizenship grade based on how well they work with others and followed the class expectations.

My students put all their information for their stations into their notebooks.  I can quickly look through their notes to see if they were on task and if they got the basic ideas.

To make it easier on myself, while they are doing their daily warm ups I have them open their notebooks to the station they were working on the day before.  Within a few minutes I have written a rubric score at the top of their page and I also have a general idea about what I need to cover in class once the science stations are complete.

This also shows the students that they are being held accountable each day during the activities.  

Creating blended learning science stations is something you could do by yourself.  However, if you want to save yourself some time I have done all the work for you.   

I have created many science stations designed to cover common science topics in middle school science.  You can buy them individually or save money and buy the bundle.

For more information on Why you should do blended learning in your science classroom and what blended learning is check out this blog post: Blended Learning in the Science Classroom

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