Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stations Review and Practice

I saw this method of review for the first time at an NCTM conference a few years back.  The presenter was Heather Hart.  Since then, I have seen several different versions.  Here's how it works for me:

Print up some cards with 2-3 problems each.  Make two copies -- one to leave blank and one to write out the solutions.

Write out the solution to each problem, and attach the solutions to one set of problems to the back of the next consecutive card.  (See below the solutions to #13 and #14 are on the back of the #15 and #16 card).  I like to have the answers on the next card, so students can't just flip over the card to see the answer right away.

Then you are ready to roll.  Just set up your stations around the room.  Start with 2-3 students at each station to work out their first set of problems.  Set the timer for 3-5 minutes (or whatever seems appropriate).  When time is up, students rotate to the next station where they check/correct what they just did and then work out the next set of problems.

After the first time using this activity, my students asked me if they could just stay in their seats and pass the cards from table to table instead of getting up and moving around.  I was surprised, but it was fine by me.  If I am being honest, I kind of prefer students sitting in their seats.

Why I like stations:  It takes some time to create the cards, but they can be laminated and re-used a ton of times.  The actual execution of this lesson could not be easier.  I just pass out the cards and set my timer, sip some diet pepsi, and holler "rotate".  I also think this would be a great lesson to leave for a sub, since it doesn't require any mathematical knowledge to pass out cards, set a timer, and yell "rotate".  So most likely it wouldn't get messed up.

Why I don't:  You have to have the timing just right.  If students finish their problems and then have to wait more than 30 seconds to move to the next station, then they have time for shenanigans.  I started pairing this activity with a page of bonus problems that they can work on if they have to wait at any time during the activity.  Also, after awhile, this activity becomes mundane.  Students start to look like little robots:  Work problem.  Pass card.  Check answer.  Repeat.  A few of them will try to beat the system and just wait for the solution card to show up instead of trying to work out the problems on their own.  You will want to be careful not to over-use this one, but I guess that is true for a lot of activities.  


  1. My kids loved this too! I used to do a musical chairs variation, where rather than just setting a timer, I'd play music and when I stopped it, kids had to get up and find a new desk with a new problem. This way, I could keep an eye on pace, and I also made a few desks "rest stations" so that students who worked more slowly could choose a rest station for one rotation and catch up on the problems they'd started but not finished. I love the page of bonus problems idea too :)

  2. Thank you, Grace! I love the idea of having a rest station. Sometimes there are students who get stressed because the pace is too fast.