Stations Anyone? Please respond if you have experience or opinions!

Our math curriculum co-ordinator had us visit a Chicopee school that has 90 minute blocks, access to amazing technology (IPADS for almost every student) and three teachers (or paras) per class.  The setup was that they had a 20 minute full class lesson then about 3 rotations of 20 minutes each in each station.  The stations were one full of a specific lesson with the teacher with 6 students while the others rotated through either a Versatile station, some with worksheets relating the topics, an online station teaching a skill, a game station with one other student.

It was stated that this station technique is pervasive throughout the school and has been able to bring the school from a level 4 to a level 3.  The students were well behaved and seemed on task.

We were told to adopt the station approach in math and this has been pushed through to reading classes as well.  The problem is that we only have 50 minutes for a class, are for the most part teaching alone for the majority of classes and have very limited technology.  The students on IEP’s have mainly severe ADHD and lose their work from one station to the next and tended to “break up” the work between the students so that they only did a portion and copied the rest.

I tried this for 2 months and became so behind in the curriculum that I gave up trying to do them.  The students were complaining the whole time during this and they felt they weren’t learning anything.  I am sure they weren’t.  If you are alone, you can’t give them new work to work on since they can’t access you for questions.


Does anyone have a successful station setup without long blocks?  I feel if I don’t adopt this approach in the future, I will have to look for a new job!

Hands on approach to understanding inequalities in the 7th grade

My co-worker, Liz Mattarazo, shared this great lesson on inequalities.  Most of my students have no trouble understanding why you need to change the inequality signs when multiplying by a negative number now.

Have students create their own number line from -15 to +15 using the long side of wide copy paper.  They will also make “A” and “B” markers from small pieces of colored paper.

Give the students two tables with three columns filled in with starting numbers under the “A” and “B” headers and 12 rows of blank cells under that.   Write in arrows with the operation that you want students to perform that take you from one row to the next.  Have the students use the markers to reflect the changes in the table and enter in the inequality sign on each row in between.   So if you start with “A” equal to 2 and “B” equal to 5, have the students first add 1 to each value, subtract 2, then multiply each value by 2.  You can then have them multiply each number by -2,

This doesn’t show up on visual basic too well so I will add more when I can take a photo of the page.  The steps are hand written but the students did not have any type of confusion when completing this.








fun about teaching, not necessarily about math but still fun

This morning, about half way into math class, my mobile phone goes off.   I usually shut it off before school but I didn’t today, I just forgot.  Anyhow, it is from one of the students that were supposed to be in class.  This kid, I don’t know why, specifically, has wormed her way into my heart, stopping by every morning with a greeting, asking me to her birthday party, all the stuff I am trying to avoid, trying not to feel favoritism.   I answer the phone against better judgment, but thinking to myself, “what if she is in trouble and really needs me?”  Instead, I get this, “Hey Ms. Boski, I am at Dunkin’ Donuts, do you want me to bring in a coffee for you when I get to school?”


I have to say, I couldn’t help but laugh!  I wish I knew how to act stern all the time, but it just isn’t in me.

The Locker Experiment

During one of our professional development days, our history teacher made a plea to the principal to perform a prank on one of the students.  He wanted to fill up their locker with “fun balls,” the balls usually used for a ball pit at Chucky Cheez.’   He was only allowed to do this as long as  there was some type of lesson build around it so I felt obliged to write one based on what we were learning lately.  Here is that lesson!

As seen this morning, fun balls aren’t just for little kids anymore.  It really makes people laugh early in the morning and it is fun to pull pranks on each other.  The team that finishes the most work on these experiments will get to pick a person to pull the same prank on, with the correct amount of balls to fill the locker!  There are a couple assignments, the more you do, the better your chances are to pick the next victim!  All teams must at least complete Exercise #1.


Exercise #1 Measurement of the ball diameter

The circumference (distance around) of a ball is .  Use a piece of string to wrap around the ball then measure the length of the string.

You will want to get a few different measurements on this to be able to complete this whole assignment so have at least 3 people in your group measure the string and perform all the calculations.


  1. The string measures ­___ ___.___ =

(find  on the calculator and use it in your calculations for the most accurate this way.  If you can’t use it, use the value of 3.14)

  1. The radius is then: = ____.___ ___ cm  (round to hundredths place)
  2. The diameter is twice the radius (d=2r).  Calculate this and write it here:  d= ___.___ ___
  3. Round your number to the tenths place correctly:

D = ___.___ cm

  1. Change your number to millimeters:


(Cross out units that appear in both the numerator and denominator)



Show your work to the teacher, the teacher will give you the specifications written on the package of the balls, this will be your “actual” value that you will use in the % error calculations.


Exercise #2  % Error Calculations



% Error is calculated by this equation:




Calculate % Error using three different values that you found:

Measured Value % Error % Error rounded to   tenths place



Exercise #3 Percentage (%) of Color

This activity is to find the correct % of each color at your table.  Fill in the table below to help you with your calculations.  Please round to the thousands place on your decimal and to the tenths place on your percent.

Color Amount(count) Fractional amount  Amount as a decimal 


Amount as a percent % 


Totaleach column


Question:  If your table’s balls represented of the colors found in a large container of these balls, how many of each color would you expect have if the bag contained 1,200 balls?


Exercise #4 Volumetric calculations


How many of these balls could fit into a locker?

The volume of a ball is calculated to be .  Use the actual measurement of the ball to calculate the volume of the ball.  Remember that radius (r) is ½ the diameter (d).





The volume calculation tells you how much space one ball will take up.  Calculate the volume of a locker and try to figure out how many balls can fit into the locker:


Calculate the volume of the locker by measuring the following with a piece of string:


Depth (how far in):  ___ ___.___ cm

Width (how wide):  ___ ___.___ cm

Height (how tall):  ___ ___.___ cm


Use this formula to figure out the total volume of the locker (the shape is a rectangular prism):

V= ­___ ___ ___ ,___ ___ ___.___

With these two formulas for volume, how would you calculate how many balls would fit into one locker?  Do you feel this would be completely accurate?  Why or why not?

Excuse me Miss, I think I found a pattern…

One of my 7th graders stopped me while I was going over squares and square roots.   We have just finished up some work on the distributive property using the area model and were about to get into a little geometry.  Anyhow, he said that he noticed when he was squaring numbers that if he took the number that he just squared and added it to the number squared, then added the next number, it came out to be the next number squared.  What a gem!  I was pretty excited.  I said, “That is super!  You have just found a wonderful link between algebra and geometry.”

I used the area model to show him why this worked.  I let “n” be the original number and n+1 be the next number.  Using an area model made it clearer to the students in 7th grade.  We had seen this done before with the distribution property in the CMP book.  I reminded the class of this before we started and created a model first with numbers then with “n” and “n+1.”  They wanted to know if it also worked with other values, such as “n+5.”  We used the same area model and showed that it would work with those values too.  It was one of the best classes we had all year, in my book.