In the last month, I’ve experimented with a variation on station work and playlists in order to help all students be successful and self-monitor their progress through those series of tasks.  Instead of just signing my name on a playlist handout or checking off work on a spreadsheet of my own, I’ve created a sticker and stamp check-in system.    The premise is simple but powerful:  when a student finishes a station or task on a playlist, he/she checks in with me, and once I check the work, the student receives a sticker or stamp.

Station Work, December 2020//

I have also been more intentional in trying to create a mix of stations with two relatively easy tasks, two tasks that would be “medium” in difficulty, and two learning tasks that are more challenging in nature.  Here is a sampler of tasks we just completed with stations this week focusing on author’s purpose and informational/nonfiction text structures:

Here is a breakdown of the stations that we did for informational text structures and author’s purpose:

  1.  Color by Number Author’s Purpose—students came to a physical station I set up and checked/corrected work before getting the coloring sheet.
  2.  Author’s Purpose Question Trail–I created this on my own using problems from other resources I had on author’s purpose.  You can get the blank question trail template here.
  3. Review and Applied Practice with Informational Text Structures–this was the most challenging station for most students.    We did the digital version, and I attached it as a Google assignment in Canvas.  I highly recommend this activity!
  4. Informational Text Structure Task Card Walk:  I simply printed the task cards, cut them apart, and taped them around the room.  Once students finished the activity, they checked in at a station near my desk and checked/corrected their work.  They then discussed the work with me before getting a sticker.
  5. 15 Minutes of Membean:  we have a school subscription to Membean, a platform that provides personalized vocabulary practice and learning activities.  The station was a way to fold in our weekly work in Membean.
  6.  Top 10 Topics Brainstorming:  this activity will be the springboard to a whole new unit of informational writing, inquiry, and research that we’ll be doing the rest of December as well as January 2021.   I am completely blown away by the diversity and originality of topics my students generated!  We’ll be returning to the list to narrow it down next week.

While this method seems simple, it works beautifully for middle school learners who need a visual cue on their progress with station work.  They also may not want to admit it, but they LOVE getting positive stickers and stamps that recognize they have completed a task.  I highly recommend this strategy to students who need some extra scaffolding and positive reinforcement, especially with station work involving multiple moving parts.  In addition, it helps me as a teacher to be a little more proactive with the formative assessment of their station/playlist work.