We had a great time recently using learning stations in an 8th grade science classroom. The topic we were studying was Mitosis, which is not the most exciting topic in the world, but it is necessary to understand this concept before moving on to meiosis, genetics, and heredity. Our station activity took a total of 3 – 45 minute periods where the students worked at their own pace on 7 different stations. A brief description of each station is given below:
Game On – Students played a Hangman and Who Wants to be a Millionaire game off the Quia website.
Microscopes – Students viewed a prepared slide showing plant cells undergoing mitosis. Students had to draw 10 cells and tally the number of cells in each stage.
Mitosis Manipulative – Students had to first place cell diagrams showing mitosis in order, then place description cards under the appropriate diagrams.
Fantastic Cell – Students viewed the cell animation video by XVIVO and try to identify 7 organelles that they saw.
Flip Camera – Students separated color photos of plant and animal cells into their appropriate group. Students then used the Flip camera to record themselves explaining the differences in Mitosis between plants and animals.
Clothesline Mitosis – Students write each step of mitosis on a paper shirt and hang it on the line. A description of the step is then written on a pair of paper pants that are hung on the line next to the appropriate step.
iPod Mitosis App – Students complete the tutorial on the free Mitosis app, then complete the 10 question quiz on the app.
Students could either work with a partner or work on their own. Each station took the students an average of 10 – 15 minutes to complete. The science teacher I worked with had 4 stations running in her room ( Game on, Microscopes, Manipulatives, Fantastic Cell) and I had 3 stations in the room across the hall ( iPods, Flip Cameras, Clothesline ) Every station was able to handle 4 student groups at a time. We started the activity by showing the students a video we made explaining each of the 7 stations. The video was out of focus in some parts, but it seemed to really help orient the students with the activity.
After the orientation, students went with their partner to their first station. When student were done with the activity, they had to raise their hand for the teacher to check their work and give them a stamp on their Cell Passport. Once stamped, they could proceed to another station that had an open spot.
The students really seemed to react well to the activity. Many students after the second day said they were starting to understand how the different steps all fit together. The iPod app, while being fairly dry and straightforward, kept their interest by requiring them to tap on certain parts of a cell animation to proceed to the next step. In fact, some students told us the next day that they had gone and downloaded the app on their own iPod touch. The students stayed on task as they journeyed from station to station, collecting their stamps on their passport. Almost every period we heard student remark about how fast the class period had gone by.
The science teacher I worked with, Cathy Drapiewski, was very happy with how the activity had turned out. One of the things she liked was that as she would work with one group on clarifying or explaining some of the content, the rest of the students were still on task at their station. The students were really engrossed in their tasks. Cathy also liked that she could observe improvement in student comprehension as the students progressed through the stations. Each station was able to help students construct meaning for the process of cellular mitosis.
Resources from the Lesson
iPod Mitosis App Handout – general instructions for students to navigate within the app