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5 Mistakes You're Making with Workstations

Are you struggling to make music workstations work for you.  Learn about 5 mistakes you may be making and their solutions for your music classroom.

Are your struggling to make workstations work for you?  You could be making some of these mistakes.  Don't worry!  I have some solutions that might work for you.

1.  Planning activities that are finished too soon.  An activity that is too simple means that students will finish right away and then start talking or causing problems.

SOLUTION:  Plan activities that can be repeated until it is time to move to a new station.  If they are completing a worksheet or exit ticket, give them instructions for what to do when they are finished.  For example, when my students finish a worksheet they can turn the paper over and draw a picture or write me a letter.  They love this!

2.  Making too many noisy centers. 
I want my students to have many opportunities to make music, not just learn about music so I have fallen victim to this.  Trust me, it is definitely a loud lesson to learn.

SOLUTION:  Now I like to plan noisy activities in a 1:2 ratio.  One noisy activity to two other quieter activities.  So on a normal workstation day I have 6 stations set up.  Two of those stations would include singing, playing an instrument, etc...

When you set up your stations put those louder stations as far away from each other as is reasonably possible.  I like to set up the stations in opposite corners so that the sound isn't all flowing to the center of the room raising the volume level of the whole room.

3.  Assessing each station.
If they are doing something, it should be assessable, right?  Maybe, but you don't have to take a grade on every single thing you do.  You will just stress yourself out and your students too.

SOLUTION: Plan experiences for your students.  Let them explore, create, arrange, improvise, talk about music, invent and discover.  You don't always have to assess.  When I plan to add an assessment to the rotation of workstations I use a worksheet or another written assignment OR I am a station and students rotate to me and we will do singing games, name games or games.

4.  Planning activities that students can't complete by themselves.
I think my students can do anything!  It turns out that sometimes they need me to keep an activity going, to help them stay on task or to constantly help them review.  As a teacher, it is what I do every day; however, when I plan workstations I need students to be able to work independently or with their small group to complete tasks.

SOLUTION:  When planning your workstations, be sure to think about the variety of learners that will use them.  It is likely that you will have IEP or 504 students that will need accommodations.  Can you record the directions so that students can listen to them?  Can you include materials that help students choose the correct answer?  What are things that you can do to make sure they are successful and independent?

For example, if you have students working on naming pitch names try including a "cheat sheet" that helps students remember those names.  Working on musical math and adding together notes and rests?  Try this sheet by Sara Bibee:  Note and Rest Duration Chart.  Plan ways for students to help themselves.

5.  Not having fun!
I'm not sure who loves workstations more, my students or me!  Workstations allow students time to explore to experience differentiated experiences and to talk about musical experiences with their classmates.

SOLUTIONS:  Consider adding a few more games to your workstations rotations.  If you would have fun completing the activity, so would your students.  Include stations that don't require a ton of setup time.   Check out this list of 99 Workstations You'll Love and be inspired.

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Are you struggling to make music workstations work for you.  Learn about 5 mistakes you may be making and their solutions for your music classroom.

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