Doing the Stations of the (Maths) Class!

Post date: Aug 24, 2013 9:02:07 PM

As the new school year quickly approaches, you or your staff might be considering incorporating station teaching as a way to teach maths (or literacy) in your class or school. If so, read on for some suggestions and tips.

What is station teaching?

In station teaching, the co-teachers divide the instructional content, and each takes responsibility for planning and teaching part of it. The classroom is divided into various teaching centres, such as the stations listed below. Each teacher is at particular stations; the other stations are run independently.

Some advantages of this approach are:

· Each teacher has a clear teaching responsibility.

· The students have the benefit of working in small groups.

· The teachers can cover more material in a shorter period of time.

· Fewer discipline problems occur because students are engaged in active, hands-on learning.

· It is possible to separate students who need to work away from each other.

· All students get access to teaching manipulatives even if they’re in short supply or are smaller pieces of equipment that are not as effective in whole class teaching.

· It encourages co-operation

Some disadvantages of this approach are:

· To work effectively, this approach requires a lot of preplanning.

· All materials must be prepared and organized in advance.

· The noise level will be at a maximum.

· All stations must be paced so teaching ends at the same time.

· One or more groups must work independently of the teacher.

· Since students rotate around stations, this does not suit topics that are developmental in nature

Station Teaching in Mathematics

Math stations are a great way to create a learning environment where students are interacting somewhat independently with math. During math stations, students rotate around pre-planned math activities. These activities are promoting practice of key math concepts that are being taught or need reinforcement.

Example of station teaching

Strand: Measures Strand unit: Money

Station 1- Instructional station: the teacher provides context problems that require students to count out various amount of money using appropriate coins. Each child will explain what coins they used to get to the asked for amount.

Station 2- Instructional station: the teacher provides different amounts of coins for students to count and state the amount. Each student will model how they arrived at their answers.

Station 3-Independent station: Students will make a 4 page scrapbook, finding a picture of something in a catalogue (that has a price) and use cut out paper coins or coin stamps to show different coin configurations that could purchase the items (at least 2 per item) (The planning for this could be split between both teachers, e.g. one finds items and the other provides the cut out coins and stamps.)

One example for a middle/senior class (approx. 30 Students)

Monday: (Mainly whole class) Introduce new topic, elicit prior knowledge, establish WALT and WILF, oral and mental work.

Tuesday, Wed & Thurs: Class divided into 5 groups (mixed or similar ability, depending on topic, resources etc), with each numbered group moving clockwise around the stations (see grid below).

Friday: Whole class, revision & recap, oral and/or written work, reinforcement or extension activities for certain groups, reflections in Maths Journal.

Other possible stations for senior classes:

Problems/Puzzles: Students could solve these working in 1s, 2s or 3s.

Buzy Bees: Students completing written tasks in 1s or 2s eg workcards, worksheet, activity from pupil’s book/workbook etc.

Quiz Time: Students work together to memorize important maths facts on which they then test one another.

Possible stations for a senior infant class (5 mixed ability groups):

(to see video clip of these stations in action please clink on link below:

ST: Counting Game, children roll 2 dice and collect that number of pegs

ST: Make 5 game, turn over 2 dot cards if they make 5 you can keep them, if not return them face down to table.

SNA: Number Stories: Using dominoes to make number stories, winner is whoever can make biggest total

CT: Weight activity: estimating and balancing objects using non-standard measures.

Independent group: copying, extending and creating patterns using cubes, links, pegs and master copies of patterns

Possible stations for a first class:

CT: Ten Bus (development of ten frame)

ST: Ordering “Multiples of 10” cards

ST: Number line activities & Numeral flips

Suitable Topics for Station Teaching:

Examine your chosen topic closely; is it developmental (i.e. do the children learn something new every day and need this new learning to proceed on to the next day’s work)? If so, this might not be a suitable topic for station teaching.

In general, station teaching is suitable for the stand units in shape and space, measures and data, especially where resources (e.g. scales, trundle wheels, 3D shapes) might be in limited supply. It can also be a useful methodology for number in the junior classes (e.g. ten frame activities, number fact reinforcement games etc.). While it might not be suitable for every aspect of number and algebra in the senior classes (e.g. operations with whole numbers and/or fractions), other topics such as place value, exploring patterns and directed numbers for example could easily be explored and reinforced through station-based activities


  • Establish rules for station teaching with the class and re-visit these when necessary.

  • Set up a loud timer; train the children to respond immediately when it goes on and to move quickly and quietly to next station

  • Some of the station tasks could be introduced initially in a whole-class setting until the children are familiar with them.

  • Assign a group leader to keep groups on task.

  • When the group moves on each time, one member could stay behind to briefly make sure the next group understands what is required at that station.

  • Stations need to be clearly recognisable with clear instructions and all necessary equipment (copies, notebooks, calculators, spare pencils, sharpener, eraser etc.) to maximize on time efficiency

Further Reading:

  • Check out the Learning Support page and scroll down to the section on Co-Teaching; included here are links to examples, videos, suggestions etc. relating to the various models of co-teaching, which include station teaching.

  • New Zealand Maths have a whole suit of mini-lessons (usually 10 mins or less) which would be ideal to use at an instructional station; check them out here.

  • If somebody in your school has done a Maths Recovery course, they may have these books: Teaching Number in the Classroom with 4-8 year olds and/or Developing Number Knowledge: Assessment, Teaching and Intervention with 7-11 Year Olds. Both of these books have an excellent selection of short, targeted, instructional activities for every theme in number, and they can also be easily printed off from the accompanying CD. These activities would be ideal to use at an instructional station or may be adapted to suit the independent stations.

  • For some ready-made maths stations check out these Place Value Maths Stations from my TpT Store.

  • Station Teaching is one of the core teaching methodologies used in the Literacy Lift Off program; if you'd like to see some this in action click here and scroll down to video 3.

  • Scoilnet have a set of Literacy Station Teaching Activities that have been created for infants to fourth classes, featuring a mix of online and offline learning based on popular children’s books. Find them here.