Discussion Stations: A Strategy to Encourage Authentic Participation
Juliet Radford is an English teacher at Albany High School in Albany California and a Mills Teacher Scholar teacher leader at her site. As part of her inquiry into supporting students’ participation in her AP English class (described in this blog post), she implemented Discussion Stations, a strategy that she found was particularly effective in encouraging equitable and engaged student participation. Students select to visit several stations during a class period — each station presenting a broad question or an artifact related to the text at hand — and spend about 15 minutes before everyone would move on to another station. New students arriving at a station find the notes, drawings and musings from the previous group and can build on that if they choose or start down a new path. Station work culminates in a whole-class wrap-up.
How to Set up Discussion Stations in Your Classroom
- Set up five (or appropriate number based on topics) small discussion circles around the room. These are the stations. Consider setting out markers and paper in addition to a copy of the station prompt.
- Before beginning discussion, introduce the topics to students briefly, Station five can be a freebie station where students can discuss whatever they want about the text.
- Students can start at any station. There must be at least two students to run a discussion station.
- Students remain at a station for 10 to 15 minutes, discussing and taking notes, drawing, and leaving a record of their discussion for the next group.
- Students rotate through three stations that they choose; after the first round of discussion, new student groups may use the notes left from previous groups to provide some direction for their conversation.
- After stations, students report out on discussion topics/points they found most interesting and thought-provoking.
Sample Stations Based on Kafka’s Metamorphosis
- DRAW REPRESENTATIONS OF THE SYMBOLISM AND ALLUSION USED IN CHAPTER 2. WITH ANY SKETCH, MAKE NOTES ON YOUR INTERPRETATION OF THE SYMBOL. WHAT DOES IT REPRESENT AND HOW DOES IT FURTHER KAFKA’S MESSAGE?
- KAFKA AND FOUR -ISMS: expressionism, surrealism, existentialism, and Freudianism
- KAFKA BIOGRAPHY — CONSIDER THE EXTENDED BIO OF KAFKA AND APPLY TO THE TEXT.
- FRANZ KAFKA COMPOSED A LETTER TO HIS FATHER IN 1919. READ THE FOLLOWING EXCERPTS AND DISCUSS.
- FREEBIE STATION: WHAT ARE YOU INTERESTED IN CHATTING ABOUT?