Review Stations

I did something different for the “review” for the final exam today. Instead of giving the students a packet of problems, I created review stations.

Eleven different pages were posted around the room. Each page was identified by a capital letter and had anywhere from one to four problems listed. Like this:

As the students walked into the room, they were handed a mostly1 blank table. On top of each I had written where they should begin. I alloted about three minutes per station. I had a total of 11 stations, so with the beginning instructions, transition time between problems, and instructions at the end of class, it worked out pretty well.

In the past I found that when I’ve given review packets, students don’t use them well. They either start at the beginning and work their way through, only do the problems they know how to do, or just stare at it. I liked this as it encouraged the students to work on each question/set of questions, without spending too much time on any one question. It also encourages them to think about what they need to study. The column on the right was a place for them to write notes to themselves about each problem: “Uh-oh I don’t know how to do this” or “Easy” or “Double check tonight”.

Their homework is to look over their comments and try to answer their own questions. Tomorrow we’ll go over the solutions.

I liked the way both classes went. They worked well with their partners, they were actively working the whole time, they know what they need to review tonight, and what they know well.

A better teacher would have had a bunch of three minute songs cued up to signal station changes. Oh well, there’s always next year.

1Mostly blank. Any geometric figures were already in the table for them. As were the axes for the graphing problems for C.

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18 Responses to Review Stations

  1. Sarah says:

    Now that I’m out, I’m getting more review ideas…. As you say, I’m glad there’s next year.

  2. CH says:

    @Jackie – Great idea. I’ve done similar things for younger (grade 6) students but for some reason these activities never filter to the more advanced classes for me. It’s a lot of work on the front end, but subsequent years should be much easier to set up.

  3. samjshah says:

    Love it! I will definitely try this next year!

    I did the review for our last semester’s unit test (“midterm”), and that was okay, but I also found that it was hard to address everyone’s needs.

    What I did this for the final was give out a review packet with 20 different pages (a few problems per page) – each page on a different _general_ topic (e.g. quadratic formula; imaginary numbers; rational root theorem, etc.). Then when I handed them out, I gave everyone 10-20 minutes to look through it and decide which 6 were the ones they REALLY wanted to review in class.

    I tallied my student responses, and noticed that 5 topics consistently were tough for them. They were topics that are hard to teach, hard to learn, and students would have trouble teaching each other. No wonder they all picked the same topics! (There were also a number of topics that students didn’t pick, which was nice.)

    We have 3 review days, so I prepared 10 minute reviews of each of those 5 topics; I did a couple each day. Those that wanted to listen could listen, those that wanted to work on the packet (and check their answers against the solutions) could do that. I spent the rest of the time circulating around the class – answering individual questions.

    Because they’re feeling the crunch of the term ending, I didn’t really encounter any kids not doing work. It worked pretty well, I think.


  4. Ξ says:

    I like these ideas! Thanks!

    What I do before each exam is to give a review outline, so all the topics are there in a nested fashion. This seems to help students study, but also shows them how the different parts fit together. In a few classes I started added a sample of the questions I could ask, which usually looked like:

    “Take the derivative of [a polynomial, rational function, or quadratic] using the definition of derivative”

    “Take the derivative of [some harder function] using short-cuts.”

    “Find the tangent line of [some function] at x=3.”

    I can list a whole bunch of questions and give them a sense of what language I use, but it’s not overwhelming because they are not actually review problems — I don’t give any specific functions in there. But the suggestions here would complement that nicely for the times that I do have in-class review, usually at the very end of the semester.

  5. Jenny says:

    Great way to review. I’m impressed also that it allows them to work in groups and harness the intelligence of their classmates.

    Isn’t it always true that there are things a ‘better teacher’ would do…

  6. CdnMathTeacher says:

    Great idea! I’ve always wondered how learning stations could work at the secondary level and this is a great example! (With my use of the adjective ‘great’ twice it becomes very evident that I’m a math teacher not an English teacher, eh?). You have given me lots of neat (even ‘great’) ideas to try next year. I think your constant striving to be a better teacher will indeed make you a better teacher. And by sharing your ideas, questions, struggles, insights, etc, you are making us (your readers) better teachers!

    P.S. When you get the list of 3 minute songs can you share it? I’m very low on the musical part of the multiple intelligences scale (literally a 0 or 1 if I stretch the truth a bit!).

  7. Jackie says:

    Sarah – Yep. Next year has been my motto as of late. Next year I need to do better at…

    CH – I need to add more elementary ed. bloggers to my feed. I think there are many things that are done in the earlier years that I could modify for high school use. Thanks for the reminder.

    Sam – I like the idea. I just haven’t found it to work well for me. I think I need to do a better job at polling the students to determine what they’d like covered.

    Ξ I like the topic list – it puts the ownership to study on the student. I had given a similar list to the students the Friday before hand. I’m just not sure that freshmen are ready for this. I (of course) may be wrong.

    Jenny – Collaborative work is something I’ve been stressing all year. I think they’re getting it!

    Erin – Great! Uhm, on the list of songs, I was just going to sort iTunes by time. I’ll email you a list.

    Everyone – one of my coworkers used the same set of question sheets. However instead of having the students move from letter to letter, she had them pass the questions around the room. Just another option!

  8. CdnMathTeacher: I’d say to set iTunes to sort by time, but I take it you don’t have a big library (or iTunes at all?). I just tried it myself, and evidently Lobachevsky comes in at 3:10. Perfect for math class!

  9. Druin says:

    Wow – amazing idea. I also have tried every year to figure out a “better” way… I am definitely trying this one next year!

  10. CdnMathTeacher says:

    I just used this in my grade 10 class. One student’s unsolicited comment was that he really liked it. The students were able to see what types of things that they needed to work on. I ussed an online counter to allow the students to see how much time was left for each question set. The only thing that I’ll do next year make sure there is time that class to go over the answers (this class would not use an answer key appropriately).

  11. Jackie says:

    Druin – If you have any suggestions for improvement after you use it, please let me know!

    Erin – Yay! By the way, I had the next day set aside to go over the methods and answers. I also had extra problems (mostly of the type with which they had struggled) ready for extra practice. I’m glad to hear it worked well for you.

  12. murcha says:

    Wow, I am so glad you visited me as I am returning the visit. We have been trying to find other maths bloggers ot encourage our maths staff to come on board. Well, one of our maths/science is blogging so I shall share your site with her. I find it so interesting that you people are finishing up and are only halfway through our school year. Reports are about to be written by me …… like now, but I just cannot settle.

  13. Jackie says:

    Murcha – Thanks for stopping by (and I’m always looking for new math blogs to read).

  14. Hello

    That is a great idea. I also found that my students didn’t know what to do with a review paper, I created an attached worksheet to the review that asked them for each problem to identify the concept taught, the section in the textbook, the pages in the interactive notebook, and the test that it was tested on this semester. The assignment was due at the end of class and they could work in groups of four where one person could work on one column. The next class period, I returned the papers back and had them work on answering the review problems using their assignment paper.

  15. Jackie says:

    @My Math Class – I have some questions about your method. When you say that each person can work on one column, does that mean that one student works on concept, one on page number, …? I’m not sure what each student is getting out of this (except a completed sheet with the information). Perhaps it would be better to have students divide the problems up evenly so they could find the information?

    Also, I’m not sure what your goal is with the assignment. What do you want them to learn from this?

  16. Cossondra says:

    Love this review technique. Reminds me of a gallery walk activity. I will do this for review for all “big” tests. My 7th graders will love the get up and move around aspect.

    Your comment about a “better” teacher is tooo funny. Aren’t we our own worst critiques? Your ideas are phenomenal and show much reflective thinking on your part. Impressive and useful to ME for sure. But I am thinking how to create a slide show to play during this activity with music and interesting fun slides for transition times. hmmm….. yeah, like THAT will happen, but cool idea.


  17. Sarah says:

    I finally actually used this today. Snow and movie days meant the quiz before break had been postponed. I think this gave students a low-pressure way to find out how much they’d forgotten over the break.

  18. Pingback: Reviewing « Continuities

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