Marvelous Math Stations

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This was the BEST review activity I have ever done!
I even overheard a 7th grade boy say, “Wow, this is FUN!”  That my friends, is hard to do – especially in math class when we are working on solving multi-step inequalities!

I love math stations because:

  1. They allow students to work on their own level, at their own pace.
  2. Students are doing all of the work and problem solving the entire class period instead of watching and copying what I do.
  3. They allow me to work individually with each student as needed.

This is an activity that I use to review a concept or several concepts.  I make about 8 stations with two problems in each station.  I give each student a blank Math Stations Worksheet .  Then, I assign students to the first four stations.  Station 1 has problems that are less difficult, and as students progress through the stations the problems get more difficult.  Students that need more help start out in station 1 with easier problems.  More advanced students are assigned to higher stations according to their ability level.

When students finish with a station, they come to me to see if their answers are correct.  If they are correct, they advance to the next station.  If they are incorrect, I work with the student and then they try again.  They cannot move on to the next station until they master the problem in their current station.

I usually put basic problems or review problems in Station 1.  This is a great way to catch students up who have been absent or are just having a difficult time with a concept.  In levels eight and nine, the problems are challenging.  Not all students will make it to levels eight or nine.  But, if they are able, it allows them to work challenging problems instead of being bored doing the same type of simple problems over and over again.

I also have students carry an index card with them from station to station.  When I help a student with a concept (like – remember to reverse the inequality sign when multiplying or dividing by a negative), they can jot it down on the card.  At the end of class, this card has reminders of the things they had the most trouble with.  I have noticed that most students make the same errors over and over.  Hopefully they will use this card when they get stuck or can’t remember what to do.

Edit: After sharing this with Kristen Fouss after posting, she shared this fabulous activity with me!  I loved her color and her cute idea!  All I had to work with was colored index cards, so I colored coded my stations with the index card answers.  This way they can easily (read quickly) find the answers when they are finished with each station.  Thanks Kristen for inspiring me again!  : )

For quick and easy math station creation using a worksheet, read Quick and Easy Math Stations (aka Pimp Your Worksheets).  🙂

Summary – After the Activity:

I have done station before, but this was the first time I did it according to ability level and with progressively harder problems.

Yes, the stations did get crowded sometimes.  And yes, they are middle school students so they did actually fight over the questions and the answers when a station got too crowded!  What do I think about that?  Hello – they are FIGHTING over math problems!  Consider my job DONE.

They wrote great notes on their individual notecard.  However, they kept leaving it behind at other stations.  Anyone have a solution for that?

They worked like crazy the entire period.  It was loud, it was crazy, it was learning at its best, it was FUN!  I walked around and helped when needed.  Some students needed more help than others.

Some students did all 18 problems!  I couldn’t believe it.  There was only about 5 minutes of class left, so I told the finished students to use their work and find someone to help.  I was the happiest when a student who started in level 1 zoomed through all of the levels and finished all 18 problems before the end of class!  Success is a powerful motivator.

Their suggestions:  At the very end, I asked for their suggestions on how to make this activity better in the future.  They said:

  1. Make more copies of the problems and answers so we don’t have to share (fight) for them.
  2. Less problems, but make them harder
  3. More problems, make them easier
  4. Let us work together when we have a question (I told them they had to figure it out on their own or ask me, sometimes when another student helps them they tell them too much and the student being helped doesn’t learn.  I wanted to make sure everyone was learning).
  5. Bring candy for when we are all done!

Off to a foldable and speed dating tomorrow!

53 thoughts on “Marvelous Math Stations

  1. I’m digging the notecard part of this! I’ve done stations before, but having a small document of what they needed the most help on would be valuable for both them and me.
    How do you deal with the crowds around the early stations? Do you set up multiple station 1’s? Put some on an overhead? If this is answered in an earlier post, my apologies! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. I don’t make multiple Station 1’s. But, I only have 16 kids so I haven’t needed to. If I have a lot of kids that need help, I will make the first few stations pretty basic, but still progressively harder. That way, I can spread out the kids and avoid the “crowds”. And, even though several kids may be struggling, they are usually struggling with different little pieces. I try to target one thing in each station (divide by a negative in station one, dist prop in station 2, flip inequality in station 3). That way I can more easily identify what students are still having trouble with. Also, the more stations I make the less crowds I have at each station. I always sit with the Stations #1’s for the first few minutes, just to help get them jump started.

  3. Mythagon,

    You are much wiser than I. I DID have major overcrowding today – even with 9 stations. Funny, I had nine stations but only had ONE station at a time was overcrowded.

    In the future, I will make several middle level stations of the same ability. Per the students suggestions, I will also make duplicate problem sheets and answer cards. I may take this outside too so that I have more room to spread out. That way, I can make the station area larger so we don’t get overcrowded.

    You have to do this NEXT WEEK. It was the best way I have ever reviewed problems before! : )

    • You could also post the questions on bulletin board paper around the room…that way students would be able to see the questions easier as the problems could be written bigger…just a suggestion!

  4. I fixed the crowds problem. If they are in station 4 or higher (more advanced students), I don’t make them go in order. I let them go to a station that is not crowded. I have students that need more help go through 1 – 4 in order. Once they hit station 4 they can mix it up. It has helped the crowding tremendously while still letting me scaffold for students who need more help.

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  7. How do you assign kids to a starting station? Are there any issues with kids feeling embarrassed because they were assigned to a lower station than someone else? Having the kids make a note card is an awesome idea, by the way, and I am totally stealing it. Did you ever figure out a way for kids to hold on to them? Maybe instead of an individual note card, kids could add a note to a google doc that would then be shared with the whole class, or if you’re going low tech, to a piece of paper that was centrally located in the room and could then be copied for everyone? That way, they could learn from each others’ insights and suggestions. Although that does lose the individualized aspect, which is pretty cool. Also, the link to the Math Stations Worksheet doesn’t seem to work – I’d love to see what you’re using to help students organize their work, if you could post that again. Thanks for describing this – very cool!

    • I love the note card idea! I think I will try a post-it or two that they can stick to their paper. Maybe they can hold on to it a bit longer.

  8. As far as students leaving their index cards lying around….what if you ouch a hole in two corners of their index cards, put a long string through the hole, and make it a necklace that the students wear. Just make sure the string is long enough that they can write on it without taking it off.

    Love this idea. Need to incorporate this in my classroom.

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  10. I love the rubber band on the wrist to keep card in tow but, if time is short, announce their completed card is their exit ticket out the door as you begin the activity. Tie exit tallies to effort points that can be added to a homework/test grade.

  11. Just found this idea … can’t wait to try it. My 9th graders are not always very cooperative so I’m not sure how it will work! But I love the idea of students working on their own levels!

  12. Pingback: Quick and Easy Math Stations (aka – Pimp Your Worksheet) | I Speak Math

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  15. What a great idea! What I appreciate is the reflection and student feedback. So important to see what they liked/didn’t like. This will be my first year teaching Jr. High math (elem. for the past 8 years). So, I’m excited to try this. A lot of effort, but I think it will pay off–especially with the new Common Core.

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  17. This is fabulous!!! How do you (or they) check the answers. If each station is self-checking, how do you prevent students from cheating and just writing the answer with some scratch work?

    • I have the answers on the back. You could keep them with you if you were worried about them just copying the answers. You could also tell them that you are going to collect their work and grade it (their work, not the answer).

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    • I have a class of 29 students and do something similar. I break them into 4 groups (leveled). The groups rotate to 4 different stations. One is always the Teacher Station. The lowest group starts here first. I have whiteboards and markers…I give them a problem and can quickly see who needs help in what specific area. This group goes directly to the Independent Work Station so the info is fresh in their minds. The other stations vary..I have a Math Journal Station, Laptop Station, Promethean Board Station, Manipulative Station, as well as a couple of others. The stations vary defending on the topic. The highest group starts at the Independent Practice Station…they have the most success and need little help at this one. Every group goes to all 4 stations…it’s amazing what can get accomplished in the Teacher Station…I can really push some groups.

      • I’m starting stations this year for the 1st time. I’m nervous. I like your stations. What other stations do you use?? How do you keep it flowing with out silliness and off task behavior. I too have largish classes. Thanks in advanced!

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  21. love this center activity!!!

    Maybe instead of the kids having index cards to jot down what you’ve helped them with, keep a sheet of labels with you and jot down the note on one of them. This way, the students can stick the label right onto their notebook/binder/whatever comes to class with them everyday. They can look back at it whenever they need to, and can’t leave it behind at each station!!
    Thanks again for the ideas!!!

  22. You mentioned that the students left index cards behind at stations. (I am tired and didn’t read all the comments so maybe someone already addressed this.) I was thinking, what if you had a different hole punch (star, circle, heart, ….) at each station or maybe a small stamp or sticker. When the come to a station or maybe complete it they hole punch (stamp or place a sticker) on one edge of the index card. This way even if they do not write notes on the card at that station they must “mark” it and will realize when it is missing – left behind.

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  24. So when the students are at higher level and start with the harder question; they finish with the easy ones? Or are there other things for them to do to continue to challenge?

    • Yes. They usually finish with the easy ones. Once they finish the difficult problems they run through the rest pretty quickly. I always have a challenge station that they can go to after ALL of the other problems are completed. These are really tough problems and will keep them busy the whole time. Occasionally I let them help others when they finish. They love that.

  25. I will try it at home with Prisca and Rebecca. I know they are at different grade but I van find a way to still enjoy it.
    Thank you Ms Raki😜

  26. I think this idea success also reflects the principle used in Asia and Europe to teach math- the student does one problem and gets the answer immediately! No practicing errant ways. An identified wrong answers becomes the springboard asking what fundamental principle am I missing in base ten explanations /more advanced knowledge.

    The student themselves sees the difference between just doing a formula and understanding why you are doing what you were doing. It really makes the biggest difference in learning. Now we are not focused on getting the right answer, we are focused on understanding the problem . Finally, As teachers , we can tell by overhearing the conversations what questions need to be asked more often by the problem solver.:)

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