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Math Stations

A differentiation strategy to meet the diverse needs of mathematics students.

The Math Stations strategy is based on the work of Carol Ann Tomlinson. She differentiates between centers and stations. Centers are areas in the classroom where students refine a skill or extend a concept. Stations are different places in the classroom where students work on tasks simultaneously, and whose activities are linked.

During Math Stations students do not rotate round-robin style; instead, the teacher carefully plans which students will visit which stations, and when. In this way, the station tasks will support meeting the instructional needs of individual students.

The Teaching Station

Students receive direct instruction from the teacher. Students work at the board or in pairs on the floor or at the table on focus lessons, guided practice, or reteaching opportunities.

Proof Place

Students use concrete or pictorial representations to explain and defend their work. They may work individually or with a partner. When the task is completed, students may fill out "audit cards" to document their work.

Practice Plaza

Students practice with concepts on which they need additional experience. They check their work with a calculator or answer key. Students complete a self-evaluation and leave signed and dated work at the station.

The Shop

Students work with math applications. Mr. Fuddle, who always seems to need help, runs the shop. Items in the shop vary from time to time, as do the tasks. Students leave notes for Mr. Fuddle explaining the problem he has and what he should do to solve it or what he should do next time to avoid the problem. The notes are left in Mr. Fuddle's mailbox.


  • Math Stations is a strategy for differentiating instruction. Students only need to visit stations that will move them towards mathematical proficiency. All students need dedicated time with the teacher.
  • Use an anchor activity center to manage students who finish early, get stuck, or don't need to visit any of the stations that day.
  • Build time in at the Teaching Station for you to circulate.
  • Spend time modeling the expectations you have for how students should behave and the types of tasks they will encounter at each station.
  • Collaborate with your colleagues to develop tasks for review, practice, enrichment, and acceleration.
  • Think big, start small, and go for the easy win.

What would a math block look like?

  • Whole-class warm-up
  • Review station assignments made based on pre-assessment
  • Pull a group to the teacher's station for a structured focus lesson.
  • Other students work at their stations. You move around to monitor their progress when students at the teacher's station are working in pairs or independently.
  • Whole-class closure activity.
  • Whole-class warm-up
  • On-grade-level focus lesson for most of the class
  • Above-grade-level students work on an anchor
  • After focus lesson, students refine their understanding at a specific station or through an anchor activity
  • Above-grade-level students receive their focus lesson at the teacher's station.
  • Whole-class closure activity.

Math Learning Stations (Power Point 157K)

Generated from the works of Carol Ann Tomlinson.


For more information contact The Division of Accelerated and Enriched Instruction.