This semester I’ve had one of those classes that has been a bit challenging to get engaged. I have a number of students who are quite shy, a couple who feel insecure using the language, a few who are easily distracted, and then a handful that come ready to jump in and get to work.
I’ve tried various things. We’ve had some really great days, but we’ve also had a few days where things just didn’t flow. We’re reading the book I Am Malala in the class, and I’ve noticed that in their book groups, there are a number of people who don’t participate. I decided to create a partner activity that would engage everyone, so I came up with a station activity. It worked great as a post-reading activity, but I think it would also work well for other topics as well.
To do this activity, create enough stations equal to half your class size. So, if you have a class of 18, create 9 or 10 stations. Provide station directions that will get the pairs to engage in some way with a topic or reading you’re doing in class. I’ll summarize my stations below, so you can get an idea.
I created stations that would help my students dig into the book and prepare for the essay they’ll write about it. Once they’ve completed this activity, the class has a bank of resources to use to help them as they start to outline and write their essay.
Station 1: Deep Question Grid
I can’t take credit for this one. I found the idea on Twitter from @MrsEpark1 who shared it. It’s great because it gets students to practice writing various WH questions while at the same time thinking deeply and digging into the reading.
I used a large post-it and created a space for the students to write a question and then respond to questions. I also provided them with this handout for examples that matched the one I created and provided examples of each question structure. I gave students the following directions:
Questioning: Help fill in the question grid. Analyze the structure and the example, and then work with your partner to write 2 of your own questions. Then answer two questions from other pairs (unless you’re the first pair).
Station 2: Summary
At this station, the pairs chose a chapter from the book to summarize. I provided them with a list of chapters, so different pairs wouldn’t end up summarizing the same chapter. After writing the summary, the students left their summary at the station for other students to read.
Station 3: Discussion
I gathered a list of discussion questions about the book, printed them, and cut them apart. When students went to this station, they sat down, drew a question, and chatted about it.
Station 4: Art Project
I told my students that this was the place to go when they needed a bit of a mental break. This station included some paper and markers for them to create a visual representation of something in the book. There was a paper for a graphic timeline and other paper if a student wanted to do something different.
Station 5: Creative Writing
At this station, students selected from a list of prompts asking them to write from the perspective of the main character Malala. Below is the list I gave students:
Write a Facebook status update from Malala after she learns about the first school bombings.
Write an email from Malala to her best friend Moniba after Malala has finally recovered from being shot.
Write a tweet from Malala about the fun afternoon her friends and her spent at the White Palace on a field trip.
Write a letter from Malala to her father while Malala, her mother, and her siblings were at their family’s house in the mountains after fleeing SWAT to get away from the Taliban.
Write a letter from Malala to a current world leader where she asks that person to support education development throughout the world.
Write a journal entry that Malala wrote the day before her school was supposed to be shut down.
Stations 5-8: Quote Sandwiching
For each of these stations, I provided several different prompts that would get students focusing in on some themes in the upcoming essay. I asked each pair to find a quote from the book that could be used to explain the question. I then asked them to introduce it using a signal phrase, quote it, and then provide explanation of how the quote relates to and supports the question. Below you can see my examples directions and prompts from the different stations.
Supporting: Work with your partner to find and sandwich quotes to support the following prompt. Explain how each quote supports this question.
What things did Malala’s father do to support her in learning and becoming a brave, outspoken girl?
How is Malala a strong and brave character? What things does she do in the book that show her unique and fearless spirit?
Do you think Malala is a good role model? Why? Why not?
My students really enjoyed this activity. They were fully engaged and created useful notes that the whole class can use to help them as they go to write the next essay. How have you set up station activities before? What did students do at each station? What topic/activity were you working on? Share in the comment box below.