The English Classroom

A HELPFUL GUIDE FOR PRESERVICE TEACHERS

The Situation

You want to provide your students with a variety of activities that can support different types of learning.

The Solution

Learning Stations are physical locations in your classroom that allow students to tackle different activities. Each activity is clearly outlined, stating the objective, outcome and instructions necessary to complete the task. Students work for 10-15 minutes at each station before moving on.

Groups of 3-4 work on each station. At these stations, they might collaborate or work individually. It really depends on the type of activity you want them to complete. Always develop the objective of the task first and the outcome of the learning. From there, you will be able to know how to organise the learning space and ensure that transitions between stations are smooth – remember, you will an entire class of students moving around the room every 10-15 minutes. Knowing how the space is used should be a big part of your organisation.

Students might work on completely different activities, such as writing or reading activities, or they may complete activities that work towards a similar learning intention.

Below I have outlined a variety of Learning Stations that I designed for students.

Structure of the Learning Station

You need to carefully structure your learning stations so that they are completely clear to your students. Remember, students need to pick up the task with minimal one-on-one support.

You role, in this lesson, is to be a facilitator. You are observing and managing the classroom, but not directing.

When you present your Learning Station placards, it is important that you outline the following:

  1. Objective: summarise what the student will do.
  2. To Do: How will the student complete the task.
  3. Time Limit: This could be placed on the card and a verbal signal.
  4. The resources and step by step instructions for students to complete the task.

What you do not want is 30 students asking for clarification on the task. What might be useful is getting students organised into their groups and then giving them time to read the placards. Afterwards, encourage students to ask clarifying questions about what needs to be complete. This check for understanding will be helpful in determining whether you have made the tasks user-friendly, clear and at the level of the students ability.

Speaking and Listening

Here is a speaking activity that I designed:

The goal here is to get students reading and working on their pronunciation. However, I am also building in autonomy; I want students to choose the work they complete rather than being compliant with work I provide.

Students use their iPad or phone to connect to the QR code. Simply open the camera app and wave it over the QR code. This will send you to a link of the poem.

Weird and Wonderful Words

Vocabulary, for me, is everything. Students need to build their vocabulary, so that they can explain their understand and understand the deeper concepts. This is why we always explore essential vocabulary at the start of the unit of study.

Below, we are exploring synonyms. Elsewhere, in Denotations and Connotations, I have explored how to teach word meanings.

In this task, students are simply looking at the definitions of the words and building the foundations of understanding that words are used in different ways.

Independent Writing

If you feel comfortable and students have the capacity to work independently, silent writing might be a great activity.

Simply provide students with a range of writing prompts that they could choose from. Allocate a particular timeframe too, so they know they won’t be writing for the entire lesson.

Here are the writing prompts:

Alternatively, you might like to have a combination of visual and written:

Or, you might find yourself an interesting image without context. Students have to develop a story from this unseen prompt:

There are a number of ways that you can organise your independent writing activities. Whichever you choose, ensure that it is clear to the student. There should be no grey areas about what should be completed for the task.

Inferring

Alternatively, you might like complete some reading comprehension. You could have a short text and some comprehension questions, but it likely won’t engage your students too much. You need something visual.

Below, I have an activity focused on Inferring. Students look at an attached image. They first observe, identifying what they see in the image. Afterwards, they reflect and state what is happening in the image and how they have develop this understanding. It isn’t enough for students to merely state their opinion – it must be supported with evidence.

Independent Reading

Depending on the routines that you have built in your classroom, you might like to include independent reading.

Also, depending on the space you have allocated, it would be nice to have a reading corner with a variety of books students can choose from. Or, students might routinely bring in a book from home to reader. Whatever works best for you.

Note: Place restrictions around respect and quiet time. Silent reading is just that: silent. Students should not be speaking during this time to read. A quick glance across the room will quickly identify students who are not reading and you can put in your consequences.

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