This year, I’ve focused on using the Station Rotation Model to:
- create smaller learning communities within our larger class
- spend more time working in small groups with students
- more effectively differentiate instruction
- make the most of our limited technology
Most of the time our Station Rotation lessons are focused on academic topics, but last month I experimented with a new spin on the Station Rotation Model that I called Inspiration Stations. I explained to my students that the goal of these stations was to have fun and stretch our minds creatively. I’m a big believer in the power of play to inspire, recharge and ignite both curiosity and creativity. Unfortunately, it’s rare to see students engage in play at school after they’ve left elementary school, but secondary students need this time too.
Instead of designing academic tasks to be completed in each station, I designed creative tasks with very loose guidelines. One group composed and recorded a song while another station was focused on building a 3D art project. One group decided to write a proposal for a student designed Donors Choose project. The fourth station was a “you choose” station. Students were able to select the station or stations they wanted to visit. Some students stayed in a single station while others hit two stations. In that way, it had elements of the Free Form Station Rotation.
The beauty of Inspiration Stations is that it gives students choice. Not every child enjoys the same type of creative activity, so the various stations allow them to select a creative task that appeals to his/her interests.
For teachers who wonder…”What is the value of this lesson?” I’d encourage you to spend some time investigating the value of creative play. I love how the Inspiration Foundation puts it. They say, “Creative Play begins with inspiration and culminates in the sharing of an original artifact made by the child using whatever tools and materials are available. In this process, kids open up their minds to what’s possible, take chances, solve problems, collaborate and become better creative thinkers and doers. These are the critical ’21st century skills’ the whole world is talking about.”
The more I use the Station Rotation Model, the more I find I am drawn to variations on it. I believe those variations keep it interesting for my students!