*Stations* is a buzzword that can be very intimidating. Where do I start? How many activities do I need? How much time do we spend on each one? What levels are stations appropriate for? What if it doesn’t work? And the list of questions/doubts can go on.
My goal is to ease some of your worries, and make stations feel more *possible* in your own classroom.
Why make the effort?
- Stations days are some of the most relaxed/fun days for me, now that I have gotten comfortable prepping for them. It is important to remember that we do not have to be instructing every minute of every class. I feel that this leads to our feelings of burnout and being overstressed. Explicit planning can help us avoid this.
- I have noticed high student engagement in the target language during stations. (Much higher than if I were to say, OK everyone has 10 minutes to study individually on Quizlet!)
- It is easy to identify the students that need 1×1 support, and it is easy for me to provide it on these days while other students are actively engaged and on a firm schedule that doesn’t need much prompting from me
What has worked for me
- Utilizing 5-6 Stations in the classroom
- Centering 1-2 stations around technology/individual work if possible, so that I can assess individual student progress
- Using groups of 4-5 students max; I have found that even numbers help but aren’t necessary
- Utilizing reusable activities (to save me from running out of paper copies between classes)
- Dedicating 7-10 minutes per station, depending on class size and class length
- Projecting the timer on the board, and designating one student to be the “Nos queda un minuto” announcer. This student then also resets the timer for me.
- Never using a NEW activity as part of a stations activity. If I include Guerra de Miel, I make sure we have played it at least once that year already.
- If I want to introduce a new activity into our “stations” routine, I make sure I use that activity as a warmup at some point that week. YES, it is OK to use a puzzle for a warmup and then use it a few days later as a station activity! (I will explain the different ways I use them briefly below.) Some students need to build confidence, and repetition helps them to feel successful. This goes a long way!
*Note: While I say we use 5-6 stations, I do make sure I have a bank of up to 8 stations in the back of my mind aka the back of my desk drawer (or dare I admit I use ziplock baggies as organization…) This is because I KNOW some classes will not do well with my technology options, and I also know that certain classes expect to mix it up from time to time. If we do these 6 station activities today, next time it’ll make my life easier if theres 1 or 2 new stations in there to keep them on their toes.
No one likes dealing with students that whine… especially when we have worked so hard to create fun activities for them. My students know that I create all of my activities from scratch, and there is still some complaining now and again! The best way I have found to avoid this is to mix it up and always have a backup. For example, most of my classes adore Taco Tuesday but every year I have one class that would much rather participate in a whiteboard race or four corners.
This is why I will dive into my 8 favorite stations in this post!
I typically schedule a stations day one to two days before a quiz. I prefer two days before, so that students have time to review anything that sticks out as difficult for them during the stations.
When students enter the room, I have our stations set up on our group tables already. I take a few minutes to explain that students will work with their groups (or for my very well-behaved classes I’ll let them choose their groups) to move clockwise around the room at our designated interval. Depending on class size and how many stations we are using, I will explain the time limit of 7-10 minutes per station.
I then explain each station briefly, which usually only means naming the activity at each station. My students and I use these activities on a regular basis, so they are familiar with the instructions. I believe it is important to avoid trying something brand new on a stations day. Doing so may lead to stress for you and your students.
Lastly, I ask for a volunteer to be our 1 minute warner and time-setter. This student will announce “Nos queda un minuto” when the timer flashes 1 minute, so that students can finish up and set up the station for the next group. That same student will then move to the computer and reset the timer before moving to his/her next station. This untethers me from the computer and also keeps me from ever looking at the timer!!! I have more time to sit with students and monitor their progress/proficiency.
I like to make sure I’m checking in with students individually during stations. As I mentioned before, I find it easiest to spot the students who are struggling on a stations day. (On that note, La Silla Caliente is my other favorite way to spot any struggling students without the rest of the class noticing!)
My 8 Favorite Stations
The stations I mention below are either:
- Reusable from group to group, leaving little to no prep for you between classes
- Partially reusable, requiring new copies of the game boards for each class while the game cards are reusable
- Not reusable, but require minimal copies of 1 sheet OR can be completed on an iPad or personal device
Before you read, I want you to know that there are FREE versions of almost all the resources I mentioned available in my store right here
*Reusable, only 5-6 copies needed for the entire day*
I most commonly use puzzles as a preview of a new tense/vocab unit (I love showing students “Look, you CAN recognize patterns and make predictions about this tense and we haven’t even studied it yet!), or as a warmup during a normal class day; however, I also love using my triangle and square puzzles as a station activity.
When we complete puzzles during a normal class day, my students work in pairs. To use puzzles as a stations activity, we treat them a little differently. I provide enough puzzles at the station for each person in the group. While at this station, students race for the best time. They complete the puzzle once, and the last person to finish is “out.” They continue this until they are down to one person. If there is time, they start again. After two people have gotten “out”, it is then their job to race each other so that they are not just watching for the remaining few minutes.
You can see all of my available puzzles here
, including EDITABLE TEMPLATES
so that you can create your own very easily! The templates include two versions ready for text or to print and go.
#2 Conversation Strips
*Reusable, only 5-6 copies needed for the entire day*
This is a great hands-on activity that builds confidence across all levels of proficiency. I create conversations of 10-15 lines that students have to arrange in the correct order. I instruct students to complete this activity in pairs. This means that there will be 2-3 groups at any given time at the station.
If you don’t want to cut out the strips at all (6 copies isn’t bad, but I still understand the hassle) you can print one copy per pair instead. My conversation strips don’t come in order, so you can instruct students to simply rewrite the conversation OR number the lines in the correct order on their sheet. You can then provide an answer key at the station, which I provide for you.
You can see my available conversation strips here
#3 Quizlet (live)
iPad or personal device needed
My students LOVE quizlet live. This is an online competition where each round only lasts a few minutes. I make this station the closest one to my desk, so that the group can restart the round themselves when they finish, since they will hopefully have time for 2-3 rounds within the time limit. I also do this so they feel that I am watching them (I’m not ever at my desk, but somehow being *near* the teachers desk affects them. I always have the technology stations nearest my desk.)
I open the quizlet live link on my computer screen, and have it so that the class timer and the quizlet page share my screen. Students quickly log into the quizlet live game via the code on the screen, and compete against one another.
Creating a quizlet set takes little to no prep time for you. I often search existing sets rather than creating my own from scratch; then I *duplicate* the set, and make personal adjustments for my class. (And I always check for spelling errors since many sets are created by students!)
*Note, be sure that students EXIT the quizlet live game before leaving this station so that the next group can get started quickly! I usually have a post-it at this station that says EXIT THE GAME in capital letters. This helps*
#4 Guerra de Miel
Reusable game cards, but new game boards needed for each pair/small group. I make 10 per class
I love using this review game in class, but I love it even more as a stations activity because students are motivated to move quickly due to the time crunch. This game comes with unique game cards, so I recommend playing at least once before you use it with stations.
Students pull a card from the deck, and follow the instructions on the card to claim a honey space. The card may have a number, in which case they claim the space by writing the correct verb conjugation on the line. The card also may have a special power, such as ROBA 1 ESPACIO or TOMA 2 TURNOS. There is also a MIEL GRATIS card. Unfortunately, if they pull a card that says LO SIENTO their turn is skipped!
Students compete to claim honey spaces by answering correctly on the line and then writing their initials in the honeycomb. I provide an answer key, and since the numbers on the game board are scrambled you can provide it to students without too much fear of them being able to cheat. As long as their partner makes sure they are just taking a quick glance at the answer key, they shouldn’t be able to hunt for other answers.
Students love this game because it is different than a typical conjugation practice activity and because it is unique to our class.
You can see all of my Guerra de Miel sets here
, as well as my EDITABLE TEMPLATES
that are ready for you to create your own!
If you like the idea of this game but would like your students to have TWO OPTIONS before answering,
you should check out my Doble Donas game sets
. Similar directions and setup, but the student can choose between two verbs before answering. Some of my advanced classes love to make an additional requirement amongst themselves that they actually have to answer both instead of choosing one… and I don’t hate it!
#5 Taco Tuesday
New game boards needed for each pair/small group. I make 10 per class. I also provide markers at this station. Any highlighters, colored pencils, or crayons would also work. You will only need 6 of those for the whole day.
This is a favorite among my classes on review days. They get even more excited if it actually falls on a Tuesday. And of course, whenever we have extra time on Tuesdays this is my #1 request.
Imagine using it as a station activity, where THEY get to be the teacher! Students always fight to be the one announcing the game. To avoid too lengthy a struggle here, I usually leave a die at the table. Highest roller gets to be the announcer; easy peasy. Rock-paper-scissors could also work in a pinch.
Taco Tuesday game boards are filled with vocab words or verb conjugations. To play, the announcer describes the word in Spanish or simply give the English equivalent. The students playing (competing in pairs or groups of 3 max) race to find the correct word on the Taco Tuesday game board. The student who finds it first colors it in their color. At the end they count up the Tacos to see who claimed the most!
You can find my Taco Tuesday games here
, including my EDITABLE TEMPLATES
so that you can create your own! The templates include two game board sizes ready for text or to print and go.
*Reusable, only 5-6 copies needed for the entire day*
We use music in my class pretty regularly. My students love using songs to discuss culture, but we also often inspect the grammar within the lyrics.
As a stations activity, I provide copies of the song lyrics at the table. Students are instructed to read along with the lyrics and watch the music video on their iPads individually, or on a shared iPad if one forgot their headphones. (I make sure the video is appropriate before using in class!)
Their goal is to identify the current grammar or vocab theme in the song. For accountability, I provide post-its for them to pass to me or lined paper that they can hand in. Alternatively, a Google Form would work just as well. You would only need one or two questions on the form: “Where did you find the subjunctive tense in the lyrics? What was the artist trying to communicate?”
Students *love* being able to use headphones in class. “Wait, we CAN put our headphones in at this station!?” and I love teaching them to use technology as a tool for learning 😉
You can find my favorite songs to use in class here
, but this can be completed with any song that you like!
#7 Llama Mía
*Reusable game pieces and game boards, only 5-6 copies needed for the entire day* You also need 1 die, or students can use Siri or Random.org to roll a die digitally.
So far we have included stations activities that address READING, LISTENING, and WRITING
. Students have not, however, had to SPEAK
yet! Llama Mía fixes that easily.
In Llama Mía, students choose an adorable llama game piece that they will move about the board. Students then take turns rolling the die. They start at the ENTRADA, and their goal is to make it to the SALIDA in the center. Students move around the board, and at your behest they must either speak a simple conjugation or a full sentence in order to advance to the space. I love this activity because it works wonders as an explicit speaking activity. Students don’t have to worry about writing anything down, but they must be using the target language!
My Llama Mía sets provide options for differentiation. For example, I have game sets with the irregulars are identified for novice or struggling learners. I also have game sets that cover regular verbs exclusively.
You can find my Llama Mía game sets here, or check out my EDITABLE TEMPLATES so that you can create your own! The templates are ready for text or to print and go.
Some other ideas for SPEAKING stations activities:
#8 La Lluvia
Each student would preferably get their own sheet throughout the day, so I often offer this one to be completed via Google Classroom on the iPad. 0 printing required!
This final activity provides a low-stress opportunity for students to succeed individually. Each student will complete this activity, so this is one where I like to observe and see who is moving quickly and who is relying on their group for assistance.
The La Lluvia game sheet motivates students to identify any raindrops that contain a verb conjugated in the designated tense. The teacher then decides if the students will complete the written extension activity, where they must use the discovered verbs to create an original sentence. Answer key provided for students to self-check at the station.
You can find all of my La Lluvia sets here
. I love using this activity in my lower level classes to build confidence with my struggling learners. Building confidence is a huge stepping stone to achieving proficiency 🙂 I require even my novice learners to complete the written extension activity as well!
Additional ideas for stations activities
For this post I wanted to focus on my favorites, and I also didn’t want to bore you with my explanations. The activities below are the ones I always have ready for backup. Out of these 5, I’d say my favorites would be the Dice Games, Quick Conjugations, and ok actually all of them I can’t pick!
Thank you for reading! I hope you try stations with your students!
There are FREE versions of almost all the resources I mentioned available in my store right here
If you try any of these ideas, be sure to tag me on social media @theengagedspanishclassroom so that I can see! I absolutely love seeing my resources “in the wild.”
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