I have blogged about project work and #geniushour in the past, and I love those methods of teaching! Students thrive when they are learning about what they want to learn, and that makes all of us happy.
But sometimes there are specifics parts of the curriculum that I have to make sure they learn.
So, instead of me leading the learning, I thought how can I make sure they learn what I want them to learn, but still let them be in the "driver's seat"?
And so I thought about it.
I remembered that years ago, on my practicum, I designed beautiful stations to teach Ancient Rome. The kids loved them, and I really enjoyed that unit too. So at the beginning of the year, I suggested to my student teacher that she design her science unit using the stations method. She did and the kids loved it!
They spent one week per station in groups of about 5 and rotated for 5 weeks until they had completed them all. Stations can involve any type or work, or even better all kinds of work that incorporate different ways of learning. Anyway, long story short...they loved the stations and have asked:
"Can we do stations for our Japan unit?"
(they knew that Japan was coming up based on what the other 5/6 classes were doing).
Well, when my students come to me and ask me to learn something I am thrilled!
And so that is what we are doing. It takes some work prepping them all at the beginning of the unit to make sure that they are all interesting and able to capture the attention of the students, but then they practically run themselves!
5 reasons you should try it:
5. Even so they take a while to prep, once set up they run themselves and that leaves you free to assist those students that need extra help (i.e. one on one time with your struggling learners)
4. You can target the multiple intelligences by varying the types of activities at each station (note taking, acting, painting, essay writing, etc)
3. Students work in small groups and help each other out and we all know that being able to work in a group is key to their future success.
2. It teaches kids to work independently, be responsible and to solve problems together (without the teacher's guidance)
1. And, of course, because THEY LIKE IT!
How do you use stations in your classroom? What do you like best about it?
I have had a fantastic week. And it is because of all the fantastic people around me. I have been thinking a lot about this lately; how the people that we surround ourselves with make a huge impact on us. I know this isn't rocket science and it has been said countless times before...but it is really true! I am surrounded by the most fantastic students, colleagues, classmates (in my ITDA program at SFU) and PLN (educators on twitter). This past week I have felt your passion for learning and it has fueled me to be an even stronger teacher. Collaborating with all of you makes me want to be the best teacher I can be. Your enthusiasm and dedication make me excited to do even more and continue to share my learning with others!
Let me back up for a moment and explain my week so you can see how I came to this lovely epiphany...
Last weekend I found myself spending some time with someone who was being really negative about everything...and it brought me down. I thought about it a lot and I knew I didn't like it. This person wasn't a teacher, just someone I know. Anyway, no matter what we talked about, they had negative feelings toward it. It was exhausting! I thought about it and realized that being around negative people can be so tiring!
So on Tuesday night when I was sitting with my class I realized that these people were all the opposite of that individual on the weekend. Instead of being negative, my classmates were encouraging each other, celebrating each others discoveries within our field studies, and thanking each other for sharing our successes. It was fantastic! I left feeling wonderful...the opposite of how I felt on the weekend.
This positivity continued on Wednesday when I co-moderated the #genisuhour chat (we have it at 6 pm the first Wednesday of each month). Again, I was feeling pumped! It was an hour of celebrating the success of #geniushour in our classrooms with fantastically positive teachers! Teachers across North America who want to help each other help our students discover their passions!
Which made me think about how contagious being positive truly is. I was feeling fantastic, like a super-teacher who could do anything! And I know my positive energy was then impacting the energy of the people around me. I had several different teachers approach me last week and thank me for encouraging/motivating them. It was touching, but I honestly felt that it was the other way around and that THEY were making ME feel more excited about teaching. And well, I suppose both are true. Surrounding ourselves with positive people make all of us feel more energized and more passionate about teaching!
We need to surround ourselves with positive people. People who love what they do and love to share that feeling. People who blog about successes and tweet about the fantastic things going on it their classrooms. People who love life and love teaching and energize us with their passion. People who are willing to take risks and try new strategies with their teaching. People who are committed to life long learning and encourage their students to be curious too.
I am so looking forward to this coming week...I almost can't wait for the long weekend to be over (okay, I know that sounds super nerdy)...Tuesday night I have class with 33 other fantastic teachers, Wednesday afternoon I am going to a workshop with Alec Couros (@courosa) whom I have heard great things about, and Friday morning I will spend collaborating & planning a workshop for the STA convention on May 4 with Hugh McDonald (@hughtheteacher). And of course I will continue to be energized by my PLN on twitter.
It is going to be a wonderful week! I know I will be surrounded by positive people who unknowingly always encourage me to be the best teacher that I can be!
Where do you get your energy from?