Workstations for reviews (young learners)

I saw my boss use a simple workstation activity during a peer observation. It was a really good way to prepare students for their final task. I often include a quick 10-15 minute workstation activity in my YL classes now. Here’s an example from the other day.

The task was for my teens to produce a doctor/patient dialogue. During the lesson we reviewed vocabulary for illnesses, listened to a model conversation, identified important language (e.g. giving advice), and so on. As a pre-task students worked in groups of 4 and completed a short review task at various stations around the room:

workstation1

At station 1 students listed target language or other useful phrases that might help them when writing their dialogues.

workstation2

At station 2 students reviewed a dialogue from the lesson. They put the dialogue in the correct order and practiced reading it (text from Beyond A2+ published by Macmillan).

workstation3

Note: thanks to Rabia Ahmad who pointed out the spelling error in the above dialogue!

At station 3 students practised saying chunks of language, with a focus on how they sound in connected speech. During the activities this was the station I monitored as students required clear modelling of each phrase. On reflection, using a pronunciation task at one of the stations was problematic (classroom management-wise) but still useful.

At station 4 (the interactive whiteboard) students reviewed useful vocabulary by playing a game on Quizlet.

I could have used various different tasks during the workstations. The review game proved to be a bit of a distraction on a couple of occasions, but it was a fun feature to include. The activity at station 1 was probably the most useful as students had some good ideas to refer to while creating their dialogues.

Learning points

  • During the CELTA YL extension course we had an input session on workstations. Most of the workstation tasks seemed much longer or more substantial. However, there’s no reason why workstations can’t just be a short and snappy way to review learning and provide a change in classroom dynamic.

If you want to try something like this…

  • If you use the same set up then make sure each task is ‘stand-alone’. You can’t have one task as a prerequisite for another in the way I’ve arranged it here, but you could make some tweaks if you want that to happen.

Feature image: Puzzle by Davo Sime from the Noun Project

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5 comments

  1. I like the idea of using workstations for reviews with stand alone activities. Do you plan for all students to work at each station in one class?

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    1. Hey Lisa. Yeah, I normally put the students in pairs or groups to complete each task (rotating to diff stations), depending on how big the class is. I’d probably include one or two more activities if I felt the class were too big and certain students were dominating. As for time limits… when I’ve done this review activity I keep things fairly short and sweet – say five minutes at each station. As you can imagine though, student need some encouragement to extend tasks at certain stations, and they can get off task if things go on to early – you’re relying on them to buy into the tasks a bit. It’s hard to think of tasks that should roughly task the same amount of time – like arranging a dialogue and practising it is quite long compared to playing a quick fire vocab game… bit of a challenge. Do you use workstations much? Any views on them ?

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      1. I haven’t used workstations Peter, although I have been doing a lot of cooperative learning tasks in class recently. The difference however is that all the class are doing the same task. I like the idea of rotating and doing different tasks however. I think it could work well with my teens who have a short attention span. Like you say the activtities have to be well thought out, timing is an obvious difficulty… Will definitely give it a go though.

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