I met with my principal last year and had a chat about why science scores were so low. "Vocabulary" I said. In a school where about 80% (last numbers I could find) of the students are Hispanic and most of those students speaking Spanish at home, in the hallways and in class if not prompted otherwise, its no wonder why we are having such difficulty. Science is a extremely vocabulary heavy subject. If you don't know what a "substance" is in English then that whole unit is pretty much sunk.
I tell you that, to tell you this. I met with a mentor about this very problem and she had told me she had been doing research about why elementary schools were much more successful, number wise, to the middle grades. Stations. Centers. Small group activities. It gives the teacher the chance to work in a small group of students, and not only get to know their strengths and weakness, but help improve their knowledge base. And after all, that is what we as teachers are suppose to be doing.
Next step, meet with my really good friend who taught ELA at our school. She had in my opinion successful implemented Literacy Stations in her class. Where not all of what she was doing would apply to my Science content most of it could work in building Science content literacy. So, last year during the second semester I implemented my first station unit.
The stations included:
-Vocabulary Station (vocabulary word mapping)
-Corresponding Station (pick a prompt and write me a letter about the unit topic)
-Browsing Bin Station (read a book that has to do with the unit and write an observation sheet)
-Question Creation Station (create a 5 question quiz based on the unit and Blooms Taxonomy)
-Quia Station (computer program that you can upload quizzes, games etc. that go with your unit. Check it out www.quia.com.)
-Visualization- (read a unit based article, draw a picture)
Later I added things like an Investigation Station and a Cornell Note Station.
After doing this a couple more times, researching a little bit more and some planning I have created stations for next years class.
2012-2013 Learning Centers
-Visualization- Will have some drawing based on the unit
-Vocabulary- Students will be working on their unit vocabulary word maps
-Correspondence- Pick a prompt, write a letter to Mrs. C
-Investigation- Do some lab based on the current unit. This is the best time for me to get in there and facilitate their learning
-Reading- Read an unit article and fill out an observation sheet
-Organization- Create and fill out some sort of graphic organizer for the unit (types of measurements, compare and contrast elements and compounds, etc)
-Numbers- My shout out to the Math Dept! Have them work on something related to mathematics (calculating density, measuring, figuring out electrons, protons, neutrons, etc.)
-Research- There are so many awesome websites out there and due to my access to computers I have the students find their own knowledge.
1) You MUST have classroom management to work. You students must be able to come in and know it is work time. I made that mistake the first couple run through of just letting a couple students sit there and lo and behold they knew nothing come test time.
2) This is a LOT of grading! In a perfect practice world, you are to grade their work that night and have them look over it before starting the next day so they can clear up any misconceptions before continuing. It is tiresome.
3) This is a LOT of planning! The first couple time I set this up it took me 3-4 hours.
Once I figure out how to turn all my organizational signs into a compatible version for the blog I will re post on how to set up these things!
"Differentiate the teaching strategies you use. Perhaps the most powerful principle of DI (differentiated instruction) is using different instructional strategies to reach diverse learners... Centers/Station- Students visit or rotate to different centers to accomplish varied learning tasks."- Kagan Publishing