Reflection: Station Rotation pHantastic Chemical Reactions Day 1 - Section 4: pHantastic Chemical Reactions Lab Rotation


Throughout my teaching career, I have had an increase in student engagement when students are allowed to travel through a series of lab stations connected to the same learning targets.  Each station provides them with an experience or encounter with the same target which promotes learning. 

Moreover, through experience and research on the adolescent brain, I have found that students can benefit from the kinesthetic movement between stations and the number of meaningful “starts” and “stops” in a lesson.  Both in teaching and coaching, I have found students most remember the first and last thing I say!  A set of lab stations allows them many “starts” and “stops” which increases the number of focused moments they dedicate to their learning.

Station rotations are a fabulous way to provide middle school students with an opportunity to learn new content, but there are also some considerations to make prior to doing a lesson such as this.  Just as it is imperative that students are aware of what they need to be learning, they also need to be aware of their behavioral expectations when rotating through lab stations.  While there is no one right answer to these questions, it is important that you answer the following questions for students prior to this lesson.  And, then, explicitly let students know what their expectations are.

1.  Safety is always the first priority.  The procedures for these stations provide safety precautions.  Do not rely on students reading this.  Say them out loud!  Explicitly tell students what the safety precautions for each station are.

2.  How will they be grouped?  Will they pick their own groups?  Will you group them?  There are positives and challenges to each of these answers.  I always tell students that this is the last question I will answer for them.  Groupings should be the LAST thing you let them know about.  If you let them know in the middle of your directions, they will spend more time worrying about who is in their group than to the important directions you are providing them.

3.  Will they rotate on their own?  Or, will you rotate them? If you have enough materials, I love having students have the independence to rotate themselves and work at their own pace.  However, there is a benefit to keeping a time schedule to stay organized.  If you are going to rotate them, be clear about how long they have at each station.  Let them know the order they will rotate in.  If they are rotating themselves, be clear about the entire amount of time that they have to complete all the stations so that they can pace themselves.

4.  Do they have to answer all of the questions for each station completely before they can rotate?  Or, can they do a station and just collect the data, move on to the next stations, and do all of the writing at the end?  Allowing students to collect data and move on allows students to have one exciting class period in which they get to complete many fun stations and allows you the opportunity to not have the "mess" for multiple days.  However, requiring students to complete the questions as they go allows students to really process what they have observed at each station.

There are many questions that you as an educator need to make when setting up a lab rotation.  Whatever the answers are for your personal teaching style, make the expectations clear and explicit for the students.  Students will thrive within the structure that these expectations can provide.

  Lab Station Rotations Work For Middle Schoolers!
  Station Rotation: Lab Station Rotations Work For Middle Schoolers!
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pHantastic Chemical Reactions Day 1

Unit 6: Chemical Properties and Reactions
Lesson 6 of 9

Objective: Students will be able to identify evidence that the chemical properties of the reactants and products are different in a chemical reaction and identify common acids and bases by measuring their pH using various pH indicators.

Big Idea: Students create a rainbow of bubbles in a test tube, write a mystery message, and more during labs on chemical changes! Students also try to find an explanation when the teacher models a new medical innovation by revealing a "bloody" hand print!

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Science, Acids and Bases, acids, pH, acid-base reactions, Chemical Reactions and Balancing, physical properties, middle school, chemical reaction, chemical properties, hydrogen ion, hydroxide ion, base, pH indicator, signs of a chemical change, chemical change, physical change, reaction
  140 minutes
phun with citric acid lesson
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