Station Rotations

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(Excited that Jess Gilcreast is a co-blog post writer for this post)

Station Rotations: A way to move from teacher lead learning to student lead learning. Our high school has 77 minute blocks. Students don’t want to listen to teachers talk the entire time and teachers don’t necessarily want to deliver content to students for the entire time either. 

Jess Gilcreast, high school librarian, and I have been working with humanities teachers to re-think how to deliver introduction content for a particular unit. Below you will find resources and activities that were completed in a sophomore humanities course. We are both very proud of what was accomplished.

The Civil Rights Movement Unit

Layout of Classroom

Our humanities teachers can have anywhere between 35-55 students in their team taught humanities classes. On a typical day, these classrooms can be set up where students are sitting in rows with shared table top desks. In an effort to help support the learning objectives of the lesson, we altered the layout of the classroom. Each activity was arranged in each of the four corners in the classroom.


Sierra Dolce’s, History Teacher, vision was two fold. First she wanted to learn what students already knew about the Civil Rights Movement. She knows that they have seen some events of the time period, prior to her class, in elementary school. Secondly, she wanted to highlight some misconceptions that most students have prior to learning about the content in more depth. Together we came up with the following four stations:

Station 1: Peardeck – Student Paced “What do you know?”

Students were asked to provide one piece of info that was new to them from the lesson on last slide

In past years, Mrs. Dolce would share a presentation and students would be required to take notes. We decided to flip this around. We took the information that was in the presentation and converted it into a Peardeck presentation that was student paced. (This is a feature that not many of our teachers have used yet.)  The thought was to have students answer some questions to see what they already knew. To make this happen, we asked a question, then provided the answer to the question on the next slide. These questions ranged from true/false, to multiple choice, to short answer. Below are examples. A couple short YouTube videos were also linked to help support the facts. 

Students walking through Self Paced Peardeck

At the end of the block, Mrs. Dolce ended the student paced Peardeck with Student Takeaways (this a valuable paid feature of the product). With Takeaways, each student received their own Google Doc with the slides from the activity and the answers that they selected. Under each slide, students have the opportunity to write any additional notes that they want to include in the future. 

Want to see what this self-guided presentation looks like in another window? Click HERE

Why we liked this activity…

  • Students were not just consuming information and listening to a teacher talk for 20 minutes
  • Students were interacting with the content
  • Students were not taking notes for the sake of taking notes
  • Students responses were provided through a Takeaway Google Doc and students have the ability to add more notes on the unit in the future
  • Met needs of students who are auditory and visual learners

Station 2: Google Expeditions – Civil War Virtual Reality Field Trip

Students experiencing VR expedition

It just so happened that the Google Expeditions app already had a Civil Rights Movement tour that we were able to use to have students experience. We had students sit in a circle with a teacher in the middle walking students through the different scenes. 

Why we liked this activity…

  • Students were not asked to complete anything. We wanted them to sit, listen and observe what they are hearing
  • Met needs of students who are visual and auditory learners
Students experiencing VR expedition

Station 3: Jamboard – The “Where” of the Civil Rights Movement

Jamboard Activity

For this station, the goal was for students to find out where some of the major Civil Rights moments happened in America. To do this, students used Jamboards to annotate a map. Mrs. Dolce created a Jamboard template that had the map of the US along with different location stickies next to the map. She wanted students to connect the sticky with the map by drawing a line.  They also provided facts that they already knew and questions that they had on the right side of the stickies. Students used their chromebooks to research answers to the location of events.

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Jamboard file prior to annotations

Why we liked this activity…

  • Students were required to look up locations rather than be told where they were located
  • Students were able to get up, work together and interact with the Jamboard
  • Met needs of students who are kinesthetic and visual learners
Students working collaboratively on Jamboard

Station 4: TableTop Timeline – The “When” of the Civil War

Timeline activity with Librarian

For this station, the goal was for students to chronologically know when events happened. We wanted students to understand the time span. Nine major events were written on the board. Then, students were asked to place the events on a timeline. Students used expo markers to create their timeline on two table top desks. Students were required to include dates, events and facts about the event. Students used their Chromebook to gather information for the timeline. (Yes! You can use expo markers on your table tops – the writing will come off.) 

Why we liked this activity…

  • Students were required to look up information rather than be told the order
  • Students utilized the tables that they sit at on a daily basis differently
  • Students worked together to create the final product


Final Thoughts

I know that I would have been more interested in humanities classes when I was a student if I would have experienced lessons that were similar to this station rotation model. It was really great to see students working together and staying on task throughout the block. Having students constantly move to a different activity kept student attention. Changing the type of activity also helped with making sure that all students were able to connect to the content. We were all very proud of what was accomplished and look forward to seeing where Mrs. Dolce and other teachers can take station rotations.

If you would like to talk about how station rotations can be implemented in your curriculum, reach out to Jess Gilcreast and I…we would love to talk more about this.

And that is ‘our’ Spiel…

One thought on “Station Rotations”

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