March 26, 2020

How To Manage Learning Stations In Social Studies

Social Studies curriculum often does not engage students in a way that maximizes learning. However, Social Studies can actually be a great subject for learning stations and students love stations!

The key to fitting stations into a busy schedule is to spread them out over the course of 5 days. Students can complete one station per day for 4 days. The fifth day can be set aside for students to finish any incomplete station and finalize any work to be turned in. If all stations are complete, students can work on a packet which is explained below.

I hope you find the following steps useful in planning your learning stations!

1. Brainstorm ideas about the unit.

Make a list of possible activities that you would like for your class. Resources could come from Pinterest, Google, your own files, and any useful materials from your curriculum. Activities that work well in stations include scavenger hunts, matching, sorting, craftivities, and games.

2. From your list, choose 4 different types of activities for the unit.

For example, you might select one sorting activity, one game, one crafty activity, and one teacher-directed activity where students would meet with you.

3. Make a packet of worksheets related to your unit. 

These worksheets can include vocabulary work, research, passages, etc. The packet will be kept in students' station folders to be used in the event they finish a station early. That way, students always have something to do! This packet is also used on the fifth day which is a catch-up day.

4. On paper, divide your students into 4 groups that can work well together. 

Write the students' names on different color index cards under Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4.

5. Gather pocket folders to use as station folders.


6. Plan a little extra time on the first day of stations.

List the stations on the board and use a magnet to place the index cards with students' names under each station. Explain your rules and expectations for students. Distribute folders and packets. Explain that they will go to one station per day, but will eventually go to every station. Explain that the packet is to be used in the event they finish a station early. Finally, have students record the stations on the tracking sheets if you are using the planning resource below.

7. Ready set go!

Let students try the first station. After the first station, give students time to reflect. Ask how the station went and if they have any questions, concerns, or suggestions. Clean up and collect the folders.

Chances are when students walk in the next day, at least one student will ask, "Are we doing stations today?'"

8. Continue rotating the stations for 3 more days. 

On the fifth day, allow students to finish any station they may have missed. Collect the folders and use them for assessment as you see fit.

Are you the type of teacher who just loves to organize with printables? This resource includes printables to help you plan your learning stations. It includes a teacher brainstorming page, a schedule to keep track of the stations, a chart to list student groups, and a station tracker for students.
learning-stations

Do you have any learning station ideas to share? Feel free to share in the comments below!









March 7, 2020

5 Easy Ways To Celebrate Pi Day In The Elementary Grades

Why celebrate Pi Day? Because it's fun, educational, and why should the big kids have all the fun?!

In case it's been a while since you came across the word, Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Pi is an irrational number, which means its decimal form never ends or becomes repetitive. March 14th is Pi Day because the date contains the first 3 digits of Pi: 3.14. Back in the day, Pi was just another math term to learn. Nowadays, classrooms all over the world celebrate Pi Day in many creative ways. Kids today have all the fun!

Students in 4th Grade can begin to understand Pi! Here are just a few ideas to try:

1. Read Circumference and the Dragon of Pi 

Circumference and the Dragon of Pi is written by Cindy Neuschwander, illustrated by Wayne Geehan. It is a good introduction and includes plenty of math terms. It may go over some heads a bit, but it's a fairy tale, and that is an overlooked genre. So give it a go.

2. Challenge students to memorize as many digits of Pi as they can. 

I once had a student who memorized over 30 digits! Make the competition sweet with a Tastykake pie for a prize!

3. Get out the calculators and rulers and find the circumference of some circles. 

Find some circular objects in the classroom, complete an example together, and let students try out the formula with a partner. Measure the diameter of a circle and multiply by (Pi) 3.14 to find the circumference. Make sure the kiddos know that the circumference is approximate when multiplying the diameter times 3.14!

4. Use this lesson to make Pi posters to take home.

Pi Day Lesson

5. Finish up by making individual Pies! 

I grab those mini pie crusts and individual puddings on sale. Students spoon the pudding into the crusts with a plastic spoon and enjoy some mini pies on Pi Day!


Will you celebrate Pi Day in your classroom? Feel free to tell about your own celebration in the comments below!