This activity has students working at a variety of math stations to practice skills, complete projects and reinforce mathematical concepts.
Main Curriculum Tie:
Mathematics - 5th GradeStandard 2
Students will use patterns and relations to represent and analyze mathematical problems and number relationships using algebraic symbols.
- Paper and pencil
- Station Log
- Pattern blocks
- In/Out function cards (prepare ahead of time)
- Word problems with variables
- Equation practice problem sheets
Family Math: the Middle School Years by Virginia Thompson and Karen
Cooperative Learning and Mathematics by Beth Andrini
Challenge Math for the Elementary and Middle School Student by Edward
Lessons for Algebraic Thinking by Maryann Wickett, Katharine Kharas,
and Marilyn Burns
Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom by Susan Winebrenner
The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners
by Carol Ann Tomlinson
- Patterns in Mathematics
* This online activity could also be used by a few students or an
individual as an extra math station or early finisher.
Background For Teachers:
Math stations serve many purposes. Not only do they provide opportunities to
differentiate curriculum according to student needs, but they also give the
teacher a chance to work with smaller groups and better assess progress and
understanding. This not only benefits gifted and talented students, but students
who are struggling as well, because planning is well thought out to help each
Before beginning, the teacher should put students into four different groups
according to their needs and level of understanding (e.g., one advanced group,
two medium groups, and one group with students who need more instruction and
practice). I put students names on business card magnets (so I can use and rearrange
them all year) and put them on the board under the station that they will be
starting at. The following stations can be used as four rotations in one day
or two one day and two the next.
Also, stations should be generally be self-correcting so that the teacher
is freed up to work with the teacher team station. Answer sheets could be made
available so that when students are finished, they can check their own work.
This requires a high-level of trust and an independent-working classroom atmosphere
that must be established prior to doing stations.
Intended Learning Outcomes:
2. Become mathematical problem solvers.
6. Represent mathematical situations.
Invitation to Learn
Review with students the procedures of how to rotate among the stations, how
to record information in their logs, and what to do if they finish one station
- Teacher team: At this station, students work with the teacher and
do several word problems that involve one-step equations and variables. The
teacher serves as a guide and can watch individuals as they go through their
thinking process to solve the problems. The level and type of problems can
vary according to each group. Students who are struggling can receive more
instruction and guided practice with simple problems as the teacher corrects
any mistakes or misunderstandings; students who have mastered word and real-life
problems can be introduced to two-step problems or problems using larger numbers.
Have your lowest group start here so you can re-teach and give them more help
before they move to the other stations. Use “Find the Missing Addend”
worksheet for this station.
- Practice: At this station, students work on solving a variety of
simple one-step equations with single variables. These are not word problems
but lists of equations for the students to solve. Use the “Equation
Mysteries” worksheet for this station. Problems 11-15 have simultaneous
equations with twovariables. This will be a challenge but some students could
be ready for it.
- Project: Here students may complete a project that could possibly
extend over a few days. This station usually involves building or making something
that directly relates with the subject matter previously taught. At this station,
students will be able to freely explore with pattern blocks to create designs,
patterns, and tessellations. If the pattern blocks are cut from paper, the
students could glue down their design for display. If they are working with
pattern block sets, then the students could continue to create designs as
- Proof: This station usually involves doing a few problems with
emphasis on having students explain how they came to a solution. Here students
will use “in/out” cards, decide what the rule is for each card,
and write the rule in an algebraic sentence. Students can start on different
cards, but make them aware that the rules do become more complex as the card
number increases. Manipulatives like beans or counters should be available
for the students to use if wanted.
A fifth station could be added that focuses on Science. Students work with their
group to look for patterns in the Science or Social Studies topic that you are
discussing at that time. For example, during the “Earth’s Features”
unit, students could look for patterns of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.
Students could describe patterns in landforms and how future patterns could
be predicted according to erosion and weathering. Students could look at patterns
created by magnets and iron shavings during the “Magnet” unit.
Many patterns emerge in history and students could look for patterns and make
connections in their study of America. This could lead to written reports or
graphic organizers showing the repeating patterns.
As mentioned, adaptations can be made with each group of students. If one group
needs addition practice with equations, you could have them do that for two
station rotations. Or, if one group doesn’t need you as the teacher to
guide them at the teacher team station, you could let them work independently
while you assisted other groups. Stations allow for differentiation of curriculum
and of teaching processes.
Students use a “station log” to record what activities they worked
on, whether the activity was completed or not, what they learned while working,
and how they scored (if applicable). This log should be kept in a journal/folder
that could also hold any worksheets they worked on and lined paper to show any
If stations are used frequently, students could then turn in their logs to
you every week or every other week for you to look over and evaluate. The best
assessment often comes from the actual “working out” of the problems
and the notes taken while completing the various station requirements.
Created Date :
Sep 03 2003 16:33 PM