Centers OR stations?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by TeachCafe, Oct 5, 2019.

  1. TeachCafe

    TeachCafe Comrade

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    Oct 5, 2019

    What do you call it?

    IMO, centers sounds more primary while stations sounds more upper elementary.

    I just made my station name cards and I'm searching for tracking sheets and other resources and I keep seeing "centers" for 3rd-5th.

    Am I alone in this? Is there a difference?

    My students will be rotating through stations in their math groups working on different review concepts, with me, and technology. While for ELA, they will have choice stations. They still have to interact with each other to get their goals met so it's not so "center" like where it's alone time but accountability with their group in math and a partner for ELA.
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I call it centers in first grade, but that's only because it's the common term at my school. I've also heard it called stations. To me, they are one in the same. I think it's just a matter of personal preference or school culture.
     
  4. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Oct 6, 2019

    I used to say "centers" but now I call them "stations", and my students are ages 5 and 6. There's no real reason, but for some reason I like the term "stations" more.
     
  5. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    The word "centers" got a bad name about 15 years ago because they lack "accountability." Centers were very open ended, and had no actual "sheet" you could turn in to show you were actually engaged and accountable. (As if the teacher couldn't see whether or not the students were doing the "right thing.")

    So enter the "workstation" which had a written component to it that you could turn in, and your engagement could be evaluated. But now days, both terms are used interchangeably.

    I'd say call it whatever you wish.

    Believe it or not, some schools (like the last one I worked at) actually BAN centers or workstation! They say they have no accountability and aren't worth the time. Isn't that ridiculous?
     
  6. TheGr8Catsby

    TheGr8Catsby Rookie

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    Oct 6, 2019

    There technically is a difference between centers and stations and how they run.

    Stations: Everyone completes all in an a sequence for a set amount of time. There's a pattern to moving (like clockwise), with the same group of students.

    Centers are more flexible. There may not be an order to completing them; they may be of varying lengths; students may not visit every center. Students may complete a center more than once. Some students may be in centers while others are not.

    I technically run stations in my room. I would LOVE to be at the point where I run centers correctly, but I just am not there.
     
  7. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    My centers definitely have no accountability. I prefer to keep it that way. The main purpose of my centers is to keep students occupied while I teach a small group. So as long as they are engaged, I’m satisfied. I don’t have time to grade/check any busy work that would be turned into me if accountability were a must.

    My centers are a hybrid of how the PP described stations and centers. They get assigned to particular centers with a particular group. But they don’t go to all centers every day. They have an assigned one or two centers per day, and they are free to float between them within the time period we have available.
     
  8. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Oct 7, 2019

    There are pros and cons to using one or the other. I see centers as being designed to be abused much easier than stations. But they allow students to get more of what they need, but that is not what students tend to choose. They tend to stay or return to the comfortable. Stations which are poorly designed can be a waste of time for those who are advanced if the stations aren't set up to address this difference with varying levels of challenge for the students. For example, a station could have several levels and each student having a guide sheet to tell them what level of challenge they need to meet that day. All will be doing similar work at a station but on varying levels of difficulty. However, that is A LOT more work.
     
  9. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I guess it's all in how you set it up and the expectations you have. In my district, art and creativity are highly valued. One of my centers is watercolor painting. Other teachers have sketching or self-portraits. There is nothing academic about it. It allows for a creative outlet and keeps them busy while I am teaching small groups. There is nothing major I have to do for upkeep, and no leveling or differentiation is necessary. Of course, I do also have academic centers, like listening to reading on Epic Books, reading big books, writing, and math games, but all of those also allow for an element of choice. None of them have anything that gets turned in, and I do very little, if any, upkeep from week to week.
     
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  10. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Cohort

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    Oct 11, 2019

    Stations are finally making it to my neck of the woods where everything gets here 10 yrs late. ( It is often a blessing.) I remember centers and stations were popular in the late 60's. Kids behaved better then. There were consequences for misbehavior. They worked. I first started out trained in Montessori and believed kids would learn if you let them have a lot of choices. ( Not always true... 1 of my cousins , a rocket scientist, chose to never go to the reading center and did not learn to read.) He had to be moved to a public school to learn to read. I am happy for those of you who like stations, but I do not see them working for our student population. I wish trends like this were optional. They aren't here.
    I am wondering when the "Open Optional" idea will come back and they take away our walls. :(
    OK..sorry! It is Friday and late. There has just been a huge push on this the last 2 yrs here and it is not working! ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
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  11. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Oct 12, 2019

    It’s possible to provide some requirements within the choices being offered. I assign my kids to anywhere from 1-3 centers per day. They can choose only between the centers they are assigned to. So, for example, they can choose between reading big books, reading books from the classroom library, or reading an e-book, but they are reading regardless.
     
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  12. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Cohort

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    Oct 12, 2019

    It is great you, as a teacher, are given a choice of how to do your stations! :) Your reading choices sound very reasonable and require little planning which is awesome! . Plus, everyone gets to go to read. :)
    Our "new" stations are required to provide a lot of choice and varied complexity. Making prep time a nightmare for teachers. Teachers here are having a hard time w/ the way certain groups of kids behave while they are trying to teach another group. ( The teachers I am talking about have top notch classroom management just a bunch of really troubled kids..
    Our school is even scoring pretty decently despite the nonexistence of test prep here. I like that part.)
    My whole problem w/ stations is when teachers have little choice. So I guess the problem is really not with stations, but lack of choice. Many experienced teachers, who have been getting good results for years ( kids learning to read, do math, and get along despite the lack of support w/ severely emotionally disturbed kids in their room), are being told to change the way they teach. I think if it ain't broke, don't fix it! :)
    I have been fortunate to have spent very little time in a school that made me follow any 1 program to a tee. I did have a few yrs where fidelity to the program was chanted mindlessly while I cringed. It is not impacting me personally this yr. I just see what it is doing to a couple of friends who have been staying at school every night until 6-7 setting things up. I got a special 1 year deal this yr that makes my life way easier than everyone else's here. I am thankful for it, but feel bad for those struggling to make something work when they already were doing a really good job.
     
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  13. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Oct 12, 2019

    What is your 1-year deal?
     
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  14. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Cohort

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    I do not want to out myself to say, I am so sorry. Our admin actually told us that he monitors some of these sites and to be careful what we say. I never told anyone, but last year I was ready to quit mid year. I think the P saw it in my face. I had a range of ODD, ADHD, Reactive Attachment Disorders (2), Autistic, students and I am not a Sped teacher.
    At 1 point, he offered it to me, but I did not trust him 100%. ( Maybe 50%) I figured I'd come back and if he lied, I could quit. There is only 1 yr funding for a position that is let's just say is really easy. If I can, I'll inbox you, but have never been able to start a message. Maybe because I do not have enough posts. I am not sure why. I'll try now.
     
  15. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Cohort

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    I went to your page, but could not find an envelope or way to PM you. From my page, all I see is conversations started, but there is only 1 and someone else started it. I have been on another site for many yrs and I do not remember how many posts you had to do to PM people, but there was a number. I am guessing I just don't have enough posts yet to start one. Some day, I'll totally out myself because I won't be working. :)
     
  16. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I am not a huge centers fan, mostly because they're so hard to please people, to train, to get right, etc. I like the Daily 5 style, but it's not always popular.

    I believe I saw studies that said from a purely academic mindset, most centers don't make the cut. Which is fine if you're looking for practice or even just occupying students, but it seems many schools want them to be more instructive, which is very hard to do.
     
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  17. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    But if a school says students get a 45 minute reading block but most of the time is on their own out just being entertained, you can't really say they had 45 minutes of reading when they had 10 minutes of real instruction. That is why schools expect that centers will be better.
     
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  18. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Weird. I just tried to send you a PM, and it stated that I'm not allowed to start one with you specifically. It seems like you have a fair amount of posts. I'm surprised that you aren't able to communicate via PM. That's disappointing.
     
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  19. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    The issue is that by most studies, the best learning does is with a teacher, not a center.

    Instead of trying and hoping for these cutting-edge centers with no funds and a lack of training to create them, wouldn't it be better to put that energy into finding ways to make sure students are more frequently with an instructor?
     
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  20. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Cohort

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    Oct 13, 2019

    It is disappointing! Kind of weird too. The person who messaged me before was a "moderator" and started a conversation between a small group.. She must have magical powers. :)
     

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