Contributing Author: Erin Peterson
It can be challenging to reach a generation that is digitally fluent and maintain their attention to produce meaningful learning. Utilizing Front Row Math as a center station is one of the easiest ways a teacher can increase engagement throughout a math work period and monitor student progress at the same time.
How To Implement Stations In Your Classroom with Front Row:
For my fourth graders, math instruction looks very different from the direct-instruction style math classes that most of us remember from our days in school. A typical lesson begins by using a short video from Front Row or LearnZillion that applies to the skill I’m teaching that day. I pre-load them on my classroom website for the whole unit, so students can access them at any time. Then, we do a short mini-lesson as a whole group to model the skill. After that, I begin 20 minute rotations where I get to work with students 1 on 1 (which is the best source way to help them truly learn the material and assess their needs).
In addition to the small group that works with me, I have students at the computer station work on Front Row. This not only gives them individualized instruction at their level, but also gives me valuable data as a teacher that I can share with parents. I also have fact fluency cards with white boards for them to practice fluency skills; and have a game station that has games made and laminated to reuse over and over again that focus on the skill we learned that day.Teachers Pay Teachers has thousands of high quality games to choose from in any domain!
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Before the lesson, I place my supplies for that skill in their bins. I have a materials station that houses all of our supplies for math centers, and students have a chart on the board that explains what station they begin on and which one they move to next.
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By keeping all of my materials together, it makes my week go very smoothly. The students use the same tools through each unit, and I use the first day to model the activity with them during whole group instruction. I also use a clipboard to monitor and evaluate students as I walk around the classroom, and I keep a rubric on the board for what is expected of them in each area, specifically speaking and listening skills in their game centers. It helps maintain accountability and provides me with a meaningful grade.
Tips and Tricks for Using Stations:
We practice routines often to ensure the success of each and every rotation. First, be aware that they are cleaning up each station appropriately. (I even have a student job - “Supply Leader” - that monitors how each group cleans up and follows directions during transitions). It makes for a seamless transition and keeps high energy learning happening throughout our math block. Second, frequently review expectations for behavior at centers. I place a written list of successful student behaviors on a sign at each station so that students know exactly what to do. I also have a sign at my station that reminds students not to interrupt unless it’s a “level 4” emergency, so that my group gets the most of my time. Also, I offer a reward to the student who answers the most adaptive questions on Front Row with the best accuracy, to keep them all on task during their work time. It becomes highly competitive!
Final Words Of Wisdom:
Using math stations is a simple way to increase student engagement and increase learning outcomes. Not only do you gain valuable one on one time with each student, but breaking up the instructional period with independent activities helps your students be more self-directed and gain confidence in math! Most powerfully of all, it makes math FUN!
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Erin Peterson is a rockstar 4th grade teacher in East Valley School District in Spokane Valley, Washington. Erin loves infusing her classroom with useful technological tools that can better the lives of her students. Erin is also deeply involved in the education community beyond her classroom. She is an active member of the International Society of Technology Educators and the Council for Exceptional Children. She is the drama club advisor for her school, a member of the PBIS, science and iPAD committees in her district, and she helps math adoption. She is also a board member at TEDx University of Idaho, where she works as the speaker curator. Erin recently joined Front Row’s Ambassador Program and we’re so excited to have her on board!