Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Setting Up Digital Workstations

Encouraging Choice, Collaboration, and Fun!
- give away at the bottom of this post - 

Have you ever ran out of time when teaching a lesson?  Ever wish there was just twenty more minutes for your students to extend a lesson with an engaging game?  Try utilizing existing tools in your classroom to set up digital workstations that allow for differentiation, collaboration, choice, and active engagement.  

Digital Workstations provide a structure without the confines of a script or a program.  Simply organize a rotating schedue where your students can be in partnerships or small groups for 40 - 60 minutes during your school day.  During this time, they can rotate to either 2 or 3 stations, depending on your available time.  As your students are engaged in station activities or projects, you can meet with individuals, small groups, or facilitate each group as needed.  Each station can offer a variety of activities so that students have choice.  They can even have the opportunity to develop their own ideas based on the available tools at the station.  How creative!  You may be amazed with what their inquisitive minds develop!

When you set up your stations, aim for 6-9 different rotations.  This way, students can visit a different station each day throughout the week.  It helps for teacher preparation, too.  Teachers do not have to switch out materials as often.  Start with thinking about what you wish you had more time for during the day: math games, lab expeirments, creative writing, digital storytelling, geography activities, etc.  Those can serve as the basis for your stations.  

Then, gather mateirals that can assist student in each station.  If you only have one iPad, you can use EduCreations to internally flip your classroom for a specific station/content area.  If you only have one desktop computer, think about allowing students to partner up and use it for a creative station throughout the day so they can begin creating content to demonstrate their leaning.  Students even enjoy listening to cassaette tapes while following along to books being read aloud.  Digital cameras can be a simple yet effective tool when put in the hands of children.  You'd be amazed with what tools you can find laying around your home and classroom.  It takes a bit of time in the beginning, but it's worth it!  

It Doesn't Always Have to Be a Project...

You will notice that I use a variety of tools in my room to support the work students do.  I like to provide the tools and allow the students to decide how to utilize the tools to demonstrate their own learning.  However, sometimes, it is simply fun to play with a gadget.  Because I like to provide choice within my stations, sometimes I will simply include an affordable electronic device that allows for practice with foundational skills.  These sorts of devices are great for days when our station time is cut short due to assemblies or such.  Students may not have time to dive into a project or engage in rich discussion and collaboration.  These days, they often finish a previous project, continue working or a collaborative idea, or just play with a simple and fun app, game, or device.  

Image Credit: Learning Resources
I have a partnership with the educational company, Learning Resources.  I often receive products from the company to try out in my room.  One of the products I received last year was Cash Bash.  The first one I received did not work, so I had to send it back.  However, the second one I received worked well.  My students loved using it in the math station.  Because we do a lot with money and work on learning how to give correct change, this game was perfect!  I spoke with Jenny at Learning Resources, and she is able to offer one for my readers, too.  How exciting!  

Enter to Receive your Cash Bash Electronic Game 
from Learning Resources
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. Hi Erin.

    These are awesome ideas! I wrote a similar post on setting up literacy centers last fall. I wish I'd seen your set up back then.


  2. Thanks Beth... enjoyed your post, too!


  3. great ideas! I would love to have more ideas for setting up digital centers. Like you, I have 1 ipad, a smartboard, desktop and iphone. It doesn't seem like enough with 18-20 kids. Would love to try and implement more digital and less paper.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hi Tama,

    Thanks for your feedback. I found that it was easier when I didn't focus on tech tools like iPads and such... I just started looking for items that would enhance the work we were doing. When I opened my mind up for creative solutions, there was a lot available that I didn't notice. :)



  5. I love your blog and your ideas. I'm in Chicago and can't wait for your session!

  6. Hi Susan,

    Thanks so much! I look forward to meeting you tomorrow.


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