Different students have different needs, yet many classrooms are set up to provide all students with the exact same instruction and practice. If students are asked to do practice they do not need, they can become frustrated, bored, and disillusioned. Students who need additional instruction, scaffolding, and practice may not get it in a whole group lesson.

My classroom is composed of a handful of honors level students, English language learners, and several students with IEPs and 504 plans. It’s challenging to support so many students at different levels. So, I periodically offer optional “skills stations.”

Skills stations are focused on developing specific skills. Right now my students are writing their first argumentative essay in response to a Lord of the Flies prompt. I’m using the Station Rotation Model, so I have time to work directly with small groups of students in my teacher-led station. It allows me to focus on targeted instruction, modeling, real-time feedback, and skills development.

If I notice that students are struggling with passive vs. active voice or a chunk of the class needs support writing strong topic sentences, introducing their quotes, or properly citing their quotes, I will offer an optional skill station. Students who need help can get it and students who don’t need additional explanation or practice can continue writing. The optional skills stations are a simple strategy for personalizing instruction and support.

8 Responses

  1. I’m so appreciative of how you explain and model teaching to meet the needs of ALL your students! I read your blogs and imagine your brainstorming and planning sessions always return to the key question: How will this benefit my students’ learning and growth?

    Thank you for your example and sharing!

    • You just made my day, Melissa!

      I love learning and want my students to feel the same way. When I plan lessons, I’m always focused on how I can engage my kids and ignite that love of learning in them. I’m thrilled that the strategies I use can help other teachers.

      Take care!


  2. Thanks for your great info, Catlin! I am teaching an intro to online learning course and am using your Blended learning book as our textbook. Great info and examples!

  3. I am interested in using a strategy like this in my physics classroom. How do you ensure all students who need extra support receive It? Is it entirely voluntary or do you require some students to attend the skill station? How do you require students to attend the skill station, while being sensitive to their self image in front of the other students?

    • I like to keep them optional, William. However, if you really want a student to attend an optional skills station, I’d probably suggest pulling them aside and asking them to attend. You could use an app like Remind.com to send an individual text message requesting a student attend a skills station. That way, you don’t need to worry about making them feel singled out in front of peers.


  4. Thank you so much for your posts, Catlin! I really enjoy reading them and learning from you. Your site is an incredible wealth of information, ideas and strategies, which in turn fuel my motivation to keep on striving to better my teaching, approaches and trying new tools. Your explanations are excellent, concise and to the point. Thank you!

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