The Power of Centers/Stations

The Power of Centers


The Educator’s Call, LLC


“Settle down class.” “Ms., I’m bored.” “Do we have to this?”

stressed teacher

“Differentiated instruction will save you, or at least help you reach your teaching goals.”

In the elementary and secondary classroom, we have multiple types of learners that can be categorized as:

  1. Verbal/linguistic
  2. Logical/mathematical
  3. Visual/spatial
  4. Bodily/kinesthetic
  5. Musical
  6. Interpersonal
  7. Intrapersonal
  8. Naturalist
  9. Existential


Whew… *wipes sweat*. I get it, educators have superhuman strength and superhuman powers, said no one ever. However, we are responsible for making sure every student regardless of their learning style is reached. Often, we find ourselves stressed and overwhelmed with completing this task with only forty-five minutes in a classroom that has a ratio of 1:30 students.

What if I told you that there is a way to make your life less stressful, in the classroom at least. Allow me to introduce you to stations or centers.

Stations are designed to provide students the same information but in multiple forms; students can teach themselves as you facilitate. Having a student-centered classroom is important when you are differentiating instruction. It allows creativity, responsibility, and accountability among your student. This is the reason I love stations. My students also loved doing the stations because they were able to do the work on their own versus listening to a lecture for the entire class period, hopefully, you do not lecture the entire class period, but you get the point.

Each station focuses on a certain aspect of the lesson. These stations can be categorized as the following:

  1. Read & Comprehend: In this station, students are provided an article in relation to the topic being covered; students read an article, complete a KWL chart and complete four sentence stems summarizing what they learned from the article.
  2. Explore: In this station, student will create a model of your choice that represents the topic being covered; you can also use this a mini lab activity if you teach science. This station is intended to be used for a hands-on activity such as creating a foldable or building some type of representation that students can hold in their hands.
  3. Organize It: Students will create a graphic organizer to organize their notes that may be found in a resource provided by the teacher. Students will organize information so that it makes sense to them. Remember as the teacher you are the facilitator; you can provide them with an example of a graphic organizer, but allow them the opportunity to figure it out first. This holds students accountable for learning the information.
  4. Center Activity: Students will research and watch a short video that explains the given topic; here’s the catch, students can find any video that they chose via YouTube or any other educational platform you allow. Students must in a paragraph explain their findings and include an image that demonstrates their findings.
  5. Vocabulary: Students will use a four-square model that includes the word in the middle, definition, an example of the word, and a non-example. I had my students define key terms for the topic or lesson being given.

Stations also allow small grouping and pairing to take place; stronger students are placed with weaker students to challenge and help the other. This is great if you have higher level learners that get done with their classwork quickly; this allows them to help others when they are finished with their work.

Stations also allow active monitoring, informal assessments, self-assessment, mini-teach, and re-teach.

When I first began using stations/centers, I found an amazing packet/template created by The Science Penguin on Teachers Pay Teachers. You can have your students rotate to at least two stations during the class period; I did this so that Thursday could be our review day on what we’ve learned, and Friday would be our quiz day and the day to turn in our station packet. I made each station worth a total of 20 points. At the end of the station bundle, students had to write what they believed their grade would be and explain why and two interesting facts they learned to complete their rotations.

Published by Andrea Pickens and Associates, LLC

Greetings: My name is Andrea S. Pickens; I have several years of experience in education and youth development all of which include teaching and leading youth in under-resourced and economically disadvantaged communities. I believe that it is critical to the academic and over success of our youth to have proper academic and social-emotional support. This support is often found in schools and after-school programs that intervene by providing tutoring/enrichment services and are equipped with effective teachers and leaders. My belief is that each child can learn, but not all children learn the same; diversity and equity is crucial to youth development. It is my mission as an educator, entrepreneur, and servant-leader to equip and empower others in youth development and education to reach our youth beyond the secondary classroom. Yours in Education, Andrea S. Pickens, M.Ed

2 thoughts on “The Power of Centers/Stations

  1. Hi there. Nicely written piece. The idea of stations is something I’ve look at before. As a secondary school mathematics teacher, this simply isn’t practical. There is substantial evidence that suggests increasingly difficult tasks are beneficial to mathematical thinking. In practice, this means providing everyone with the same set of questions, but they just become slightly more complex each time.

    Whilst studying for my education degree, I read lots of journal articles and books chapters which started their dislike for ‘learning styles’. Primarily this is because the evidence used to support ‘learning styles’ were produced by the same people marketing the educational programme.

    That’s not to say learning styles are completely fictional – to the contrary, I just think we change our preferred learning style depending on the task and our mood. So your grouping idea sounds perfect.

    Love your student centred approach too. Far too often teachers ramble on for ages without actually teaching anything!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with everything you’ve written, especially the point you made about how we change our learning style depending on the task and mood. I do this often. I believe it is important to have the option to learn information in multiple ways and use the style that suits you best. Sometimes our students aren’t given that option, and this is a disservice and unfortunate circumstance. Student centered is so necessary with our millennial babies because they are easily distracted and need to stay engaged.


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