Sunday, January 31, 2016

Teach My Lesson


This lesson may not make sense to some of you, especially if you do not know me or what a hybrid classroom looks like.  You can read more about my hybrid classroom on the Hybrid Learning and MTSD Training – Hybrid Learning tabs of my blog.

The short version of this information is that my students learn by traveling through 4 stations over a period of 2 days.  The first day consists of a 5 minute warm-up, two 20 minute stations and a 5 minute closure activity (usually an exit ticket).  The second day consists of a 5 minute warm-up, one 20 minute station, one 20 minute whole group activity and a 5 minute closure activity.  Sometimes the whole group activity is a lecture, sometimes it is a quiz, and other times it is a group work assignment or project.  The warm-ups and exit tickets might be review of a specific skill or a fun MTBoS warm-up.  Check out the MTBoS Resources tab above for more information.

The first of the 3 stations is the independent station where students take notes or practice a new skill.  My favorite resource for notetaking is EdPuzzle.  My most used resources for practice are Get More Math and Khan Academy.

The second of the 3 stations is the direct station where students receive small group instruction or guided practice,  I often use small whiteboards or a Kagan strategy at this station.

The third station is the collaborative station.  At this station, students work in a small group to complete an assignment.  The skill being practiced here will be an older one that we have already studied, but on which the students still need more practice.

Here are the details of this particular lesson.

Independent station:  Students complete pages 15-17 of this notes packet using EdPuzzle.

The notes packets that I give to students are based on the notetaking guides that come with our textbook. Each section includes key concepts and/or vocabulary as well as practice problems.  I find videos online and add questions using EdPuzzle.

Direct station:  Students complete small group instruction with me.  Prior to this lesson, students have already taken EdPuzzle notes on the topic, but this is the first time that they are getting real time feedback.  We use whiteboards and and the boss/secretary Kagan strategy to practice factoring polynomials in quadratic from (such as x^4+5x+4).  The boss/secretary strategy involves on student writing the steps to solve the problem as the other student tells them what to write.  If I have an uneven number of students, I will have the third student act as a coach.  They will agree with the boss or will help them if they tell the secretary to write something that is incorrect.

Collaborative station:  Students review multiplying monomials and corresponding exponent rules by playing a game of WAR.  The game is played just like the classic card game except that the cards are particular problems.  The player with the highest degree solution wins that hand.  Here arethe cards, a set of directions, and a record sheet for student accountability.

Whole group time:  Students choose their own group of 2-4 students and play a game of GO FISH to review multiplying polynomials.  Students play the game just like the classic game except that the cards are problems and solutions.  I found these cards on TPT.

Reflection:  Teaching in this set-up is a ton of work for me.  This is my third year, but I feel like I get a little better each year.  Some students hate it because they have too much freedom.  Since I am working with one of the small groups, the other two groups are not being very closely monitored.  It takes a lot of self-discipline to stay on task when the teacher is not standing over your shoulder reminding you what you are supposed to be doing. Some students will “watch” the videos on EdPuzzle at the same time that they are playing a soccer game on their phone.  Then they will complain that they did not learn what they needed from the video.  Some will socialize the entire way through the collaborative station and then complain that they did not get enough practice. 

Most students eventually become very successful in this set-up.  They say that they like the videos because they can re-watch lessons as they prepare for quizzes.  They enjoy the game based nature of the collaborative station and they like that they frequently change activities.  Most students say that class goes by very quickly and that they are actively involved for nearly the full 50 minutes of class every day.

Overall, I have fewer classroom management issues than I ever had before because the majority of students eventually enjoy and engage in this system.  Students enjoy my classes more than they did when I taught in a more traditional lecture/practice daily format.  Although I do more work in planning, I doubt that I will ever go back to not using stations.  


  1. Your stations sound like they would be very effective! I'm wondering if I could make those work in my classroom!

  2. Your stations sound like they would be very effective! I'm wondering if I could make those work in my classroom!

  3. You totally could. You can check out my earlier posts if you want to give it a try. It was pretty tough at first. I nearly quit a dozen times during my first month. I had administrators and coaches come in every few days to watch and give feedback.

  4. I really appreciate how specific you are in terms of what happens when, what students are doing, and what you are doing. I have been working on a plan to implement this, and part of that is also convincing my admin that this will benefit students. You are helping me make convincing arguments :)


    1. I love it. If you have questions about logistics, I'd be glad to help however I can!

  5. This is a great post about having stations/centers in a math classroom with older students. Thank you!

  6. This is a great post about having stations/centers in a math classroom with older students. Thank you!

    1. Thank you! This coming year will be my fourth year teaching in a hybrid classroom (using stations daily). It has been a lot of work, but my students have never been more engaged. I make small adjustments each year/semester/marking period, but I doubt that I will ever go back to a traditional lecture style format by choice!