Thursday, January 4, 2018

Input Based Stations for an Advanced Class

I LOVE this book.
Thanks to other great thinkers, I created my own input based stations as an introduction to the Fluency Matter’s novel Esperanza.  

As I was preparing to teach this for the first time last year, I felt totally overwhelmed by the resources available and the huge amount of background that I think is important to teach this novel.  Add to that the simple fact that I love Guatemala and having lived there several times and worked with a language school focused on worker’s issues and other social justice concerns, I have a ton of schema and a serious passion for this material.  I also wanted to experiment with some technology tools like Edpuzzle.

I decided to use these resources to create mostly input based stations for my most advanced class. This group is a very strong class  of 8th graders, roughly Spanish 2 Honors.  The idea is that they work in pairs or small groups and I float and support them.  


You can never give directions often enough.
  • I used our learning platform (Canvas) to create an instruction page for each station with directions, links, etc.
  • I also made 1 page directions to slip into each station folder.  (You can never have too many directions.) 
  • Since I am deskless, instead of having locations for the stations, I just put all materials in folders and kids work where ever makes sense for them.
  • Our school utilizes a “big brother” type program called GoGuardian that allows me to see all the students’ screens at once to monitor them when they are sprawled around the room.  
  • Fast finishers: groups tend to finish at different times, so students have the following options if they finish before everyone else: read their FVR novel, work on their Chicken Bus designs (after doing station C), or color their 6 facts sheet (after doing station D).  This way, students could work at different rates but still be occupied.   


I quickly realized that a couple of the activities were very challenging and prone to misunderstanding, and I needed either to work with that group directly or scaffold and adapt the materials.

It is hard to monitor comprehension when kids
are sprawled everywhere, but that is OK once
in a while. 
Also, I don’t grade much in my classes other than assessments, so I found that it was tricky to see if they understood (or more critically) misunderstood the core concepts without grading every activity.  To get around this, I decided to let go of the idea that they needed to get EVERYTHING PERFECTLY. Instead, floated from group to group.   I spot checked their work, asked questions, and asked them to find the evidence in the text for their answers.  I also have a pretty good sense now of what they are going to misunderstand (and who is most likely to do so) and I can spot check that too. 


Station A
Resources adapted from Sharon Birch, (both her TPT store and her blog) and the song, Ave que Emigra, by Gaby Moreno

Students do a matching activity to review vocabulary.  Students read a short booklet that is a narrative of the song.  They listened to the song, read the lyrics, and answered a few questions about it (and drew a line from the song) and an accompanying video.  
I really love manipulatives.
This is a matching activity for mapping.

Station B- Resources adapted  from Martina Bex: Geography lesson
Students read an informational text about the geography of Guatemala and answered comprehension questions.  Then, they placed pictures of geographical features in their approximate place on an 11 x 17 map using internet resources and the reading. 

Station C- Resources adapted from Martina Bex:Central American Chicken Busses

Students did a fan-n-pick type discussion with a partner for 4 minutes to connect prior knowledge of transportation systems (especially public transport and busses).  Then, they watched a video that I modified on EdPuzzle and embedded some short, comprehensible discussion questions (what did you see? What colors do you see? What do you think that bus driver likes to do?) Students responded out loud with their partners in short phrases or simple sentences, depending on their level.  Finally, they read a comprehensible text about chicken busses and did a compare/contrast activity about the system of transportation here and in Guatemala.  For fast finishers, they also got to design and color their own chicken bus.  
Drawing...and summarizing.

Station D- Resources adapted from the Teacher’s Guide published by Fluency Matters, my own materials, and various sites around the internet.  
Students watched a slideshow with very basic facts about Guatemala (kind of an overview with facts about $, clothing, population) and students simply summarize six facts and draw their understanding.  
There is a LOT of drawing (and coloring) during these four days and I think, for the most part, they really like it.  My 8th graders are still kids at heart, and I know that when we finish the stations, we are going to dive into some of the uglier sides of this amazing country, the internal armed conflict, the genocides, and the violence.  So, I don’t mind coloring for a bit.  

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