Learning lessons from my first experience with stations, I’m happy to report that my second lap around the track with this technique was more successful. Right before we left for our two-week winter vacation, I used Poetry Creation Stations with my freshmen. The result? Oh, this one’s a keeper.

With the help of a few student volunteers, we rearranged the classroom’s regular set-up into “tables” of three-to-four desks. I built five different activities, creating two sets of each station to help control traffic. Over two class periods, students visited all five stations and worked individually to complete each task. Here are (almost) all of the materials you’d need to use the same procedure with your classes (Click on the photo bar to enlarge the images):

StationsInActionBlackout Poetry
You’ll need:
• This instruction sheet to place at the station
• Two or three internet-enabled devices for students to view the instructional Prezi
• Dark markers and/or crayons
• Photocopies of novel pages for students to mark – here are the pages I used from Fahrenheit 451, Of Mice and Men, and The House on Mango Street (works we’ve discussed or studied this fall), but you could copy pages of any novels your students might enjoy. Be sure to print two or three per student. Most of my kids wanted to do more than one of these.

Paint Chip Poetry
You’ll need:
• This instruction sheet to place at the station
• A variety of paint chip sample cards from your local hardware store (choose ones with poetic-sounding or interesting paint color names)
• Paper and pens/pencils

Reversal Poetry
You’ll need:
• This instruction sheet to place at the station
• Copies of this fill-in-the-blank form
• Paper and pens/pencils

Acrostic Poetry
You’ll need:
• This instruction sheet to place at the station
• Examples of strong acrostic poems on an overview sheet (These materials are available in my shop for two bucks, but you can also find lots of great examples at various poetry websites and build your own overview sheet.)
• Envelope filled with topics (We used popular film titles.)
• Paper and pens/pencils

Roll of the Dice Poetry
You’ll need:
• This instruction sheet to place at the station
• Enough dice so that each person at the station has two dice to roll
• Paper and pens/pencils

I planned on giving students about 20 minutes at each station, but ended up only suggesting, not requiring, that they move at the time mark. Whenever I’m deep into creating something cool, I don’t want to uproot and start something new until my first task is done. My freshmen were the same and both days had a gentle ebb and flow of student bodies as they slid from station to station on their own timetable.

My kids were focused as they worked, so I decided not to collect any of their poems because the stations were designed for creativity, not assessment – that’ll come in January. If students had veered off task, though, I would’ve assigned them to bundle their five poems, placing their favorite on the top of the stack for grading. I’m always a fan of they-write-five/I-grade-one assignments. Happily, though, I was able to bypass the grading altogether and just enjoy reading over shoulders and helping writers who sought my advice smooth out any rough patches.

Toward the end of the second day, one early finisher asked if he could use the remaining time to study for another class. My answer was no and I directed him to revisit a favorite station to create another poem. If I’d allowed that geometry textbook to crack open, I just know the focus of the whole classroom would’ve shifted from the poetic to the practical. Glad I held the line.

Finally, a shout-out to Barbara Comstock, a talented teacher-friend in my school district. Most of these stations are adaptations of ideas that she shared with us back in October, which you can read more about here.

Teach on, everyone!

Join the conversation! 16 Comments

  1. This is absolutely wonderful!!! Thanks so much for sharing your ideas with us!! My 8th grade babies will love this 🙂

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  2. So glad to share, Samantha! One of the hardest pieces of stations is doing all of the prep work. Figured I’d save some folks the hassle and just let ’em enjoy the fun. Happy (almost) new year!

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  3. Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas with us! Giving us these stations with all of your prep work is one of the best Christmas presents I have received this year! You are the best, Laura!

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  4. My pleasure, Michelle! I actually tried to finish this post right before the holiday, but family fun, a trip to the snow, and a board game marathon took priority. Still, belated gifts are nice, right? Merry Christmas and a happy 2016! 🙂

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  5. You are so awesome! I wish you were my English teacher when growing up!

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  6. Ah, thanks, Tanya, that’s so sweet! 🙂

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  7. Doing this as a “return from break” project before jumping into research papers. I am also using some of the others that you referenced. I have 12 stations (taking three days–and we still won’t finish them all probably), and I am LOVING what some of these kids are coming up with! (Others ask me continually if it has to rhyme [no], if it has to make sense [well, to SOMEONE–that would be nice], and sadly, “what’s a poem again?”.) This has been a great “back at it” project to get us started this semester. Thank you! 🙂

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  8. So glad you’re getting some good mileage out of the materials, Carrie. Awesome!

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  9. Thank you so much for all you share. I work in a small, rural district, and our school serves grades 7-12. My junior high teacher colleague and I are practically your “groupies.” You keep us fresh, and we appreciate all you share. I can’t wait to try this!

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  10. Ah, Kathie, your note made my day! So glad you’re finding some usable ideas and resources here. And remember, I’m right down the hall (metaphorically) if you ever need me! 🙂

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  11. I just love your blog and frequently search for ideas in your posts. I teach in a secondary alternative learning environment so anything new and different from the “norm” usually works for my kids. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  12. So glad you found me, Kimberly! Hope your kids enjoy these grab-and-go stations. 🙂

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  13. This is amazing!! Thank you so much! Can’t wait to try this in my class 🙂

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  14. So glad you like ’em, Ashlyn! 🙂

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  15. Wonderful ideas! Thank you for sharing. I did blackout poetry with my sixth graders and they loved it! Do you have a completed example of the reversal poetry you could share?

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  16. Thanks, Amy! I don’t have any samples from my students to share because everyone took the work home when we finished, but here’s the inspiration for the activity:

    Hope this helps,
    🙂 Laura

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high school English, middle school, Uncategorized

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