How do I Set Up Digital Workstations in the Classroom?

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group elementary school students in computer classAs we incorporate various technologies into the classroom, the need of the hour is to set up workstations that allow for optimal learning. Here are some tips that can help you get started:

Plan your targets and stations: List out the skills you would like to facilitate using your workstations. When starting out, focus on immediate needs like a workstation for reading, listening, and spelling or for learning new things. Once you decide on your goals, title your workstations creatively, so as to make them more appealing to the students.

Assemble your tools: Find all the tools and devices that are essential for each workstation. This can include both old devices like a cassette player, Mp3 player, books on tapes, digital cameras and new tools like iPad, computers, clickers, interactive boards, and so on. Decide the technology best suited to promote learning at a particular station. For example, books on tapes and cassette player are best suited to enhance listening skills.

Rearrange your classroom: Set up the stations within your classroom, in a way that it encourages freedom of movement around the stations and easy monitoring of students. Take into consideration placement of windows and doors (to prevent glares on computer) and electrical sockets (the equipments should be near the sockets to prevent tripping on wiring across the room). Incorporating a “teacher-student station,” allows you to have a sit down interaction with each group.

Create your schedule: The next step is to plan out grouping of students, rotation schedule and the duration spent at each station. However, for learning to be effective, students should spend at least a minimum of 10-15 minutes at a particular station.

Easing into the routine: Introduce the students to the different workstations. Explain the use of each workstation, and the activities and skills associated with it. You can also print up written or pictorial representations of the instructions; the goals associated with station and paste them near each station.

Next, show them the rotation schedule that you have posted up. Each group and workstation can be color coded, allowing for easy understanding of the schedule. Arrange similar colored bins, containing the essentials for each station.

Use a bell to signal the start and end of each session at the station. The first bell can be for students to gather the materials from the bin and stand next to their partners. The second bell signals the start of the session and the third bell, the end and replacing the material in its appropriate bin.

Student involvement and sharing: At the end of the session, initiate a small discussion, with students sharing their experiences. You can also encourage them to provide feedback and suggestions regarding activities or technology that can be added to the station.

Benefits of workstations:

Workstations in the classroom encourage students to work in pairs or small groups. They promote learning through active engagement, sharing and collaboration. Students are aware of the skills and goals to be achieved at each station. With students engaged at different stations, you are also left with time to provide personalized instruction to each group along with assistance and clarification, thereby practicing effective teaching strategy.

Discuss here: What are the biggest challenges faced while using technology in the classroom? How have you overcome them?

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