Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Observations on Review Stations

I did review stations with my Algebra 2 classes the first two days back from Christmas Break. I had originally thought I would do them in one day, however we had a 2 hour delay and my normally 50 minute class period was trimmed to 30 minutes. Add to that I needed to pass back their quizzes from the last day before break and get them into the groups, and we were only able to do one activity. The second day, instead of having them do a warm up, I left directions on the SMART Board for students to get back into their groups from the day before and to get needed materials out and get ready to go.

The biggest question on my mind as I went to bed the night before we went back was whether all of the time I put into the activities would be worth it. I had probably spent 5-6 hours between deciding the activities and physically preparing all of them, including the answers. I had chosen activities and designed activities that would be mostly self checking. The dice activity in particular took a long time to find and type up the answers. I had invested a lot of energy in addition to the time and I hope my students got something out of it. Tomorrow for their warm up activity, I am having them complete a brief survey to get an idea of how they think it went.

My observations:
  • In only one of my three classes did all groups appear to take all the activities seriously. In one class, one group didn't seem to be taking things very seriously, which was due to one student - I had hoped the other students in the group would pull this student in the right direction and unfortunately that didn't happen. In the other class, two groups kind of got off track - one due to a behavior issue, one due to poor pairing on my pair. I had to make some adjustments on the fly to groups due to absences and the one adjustment I had made ended up with a couple of struggling students as partners. Overall, most of the classes were engaged.
  • Many of my students, even the "stronger" ones, did not remember what to do very well. Some of them got going quickly once they asked a question and we went back over how to do it. This was the most evident on the Row Game page for the Properties of Exponents.
  • With the 3 x 3 match activities, several groups of students didn't fully work out the problems - especially the add/subtract polynomials. Maybe need to revise the problems so the answers aren't identifiable by the first term on that one? 
  • I ended up with 5 groups of 4 (or 3 here or there). With 6 activities, this actually worked well, especially in my first class when I realized I screwed up the rotation and I needed to have 3 groups do the same activity with only 2 rotations left. I got much better with rotating activities in my other two classes.
  • I originally was going to have students move, not the activities. However, having 6 physical spots to rotate through was going to be difficult without moving desks (and I have other classes between my 3 Algebra 2s and only 3 minutes between class periods). It worked out okay to rotate activities. However, this kept the partners the same. I think if I do this again, I would make them change partners every 2 to 3 activities.
  • I originally had thought 5-6 minutes a station and get all 6 done in a 50 minute class period. Reality was 10 minutes a station and we got 5 done over approximately 70-75 minutes. If I want to do it in one class period, I'd have to shorten activities. However, I don't think they would have worked through as much or gotten as much. Definitely need to use my timer - not just half use it - to keep things moving.
  • Overall, I think it was worth it. Would I do it again? Well... it was an awful lot of work. Still pondering that one.
One of my struggling students about halfway through today asked for a copy of the problems so he could take them to tutoring. At first, I had suggested to him to write down the problems he was working on to take to the tutor, but then I realized I had most of it in a printable form. A little later in the period, I think when he had the dice activity, he commented to me something along the lines of "this took you a lot of work." I replied that it did and that I appreciated he recognized that it did take a lot of work. Only kid who remarked that at all in three classes. I'll be interested to see their comments tomorrow on the survey.

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