learning stations in high school

So I'm taking the bus home with my sons, both in first grade, and they're telling me about how they have stations in their classroom, and they rotate between different activities, or sometimes the activities rotate to them. And I started thinking how great this setup would be in an upper school classroom as well, and I ask a lot of questions about how it works.

At the same time, I notice something with my IB Diploma Language and Literature class (grade 11). I had spent 2-3 class sessions presenting information to them as we had a lot of material to move through. However, when they do their orals, they clearly do research on their own, more or less ignoring what I had presented.

So today I need to get through a lot of information about Online Language, so I think, why not do stations? I quickly put together a Google doc identifying four different sets of texts and accompanying questions, get them all devices from which to watch and read, put them in groups and get them started.

I set the time of the rotation at fifteen minutes, but adjust it to twenty to encourage discussion. Also, during the first station, I decide that I want them to rotate not as a group, but to change groups each time. There are only 12 students, and I use a spreadsheet to quickly set up twelve different patterns of moving between A, B, C & D. I print them and handed them out. That works great.

Generally, I really like how the stations worked. I gave the background information to the students so they could move through it, getting what they needed but having the freedom to focus on it as they wished. The conversations in the groups was less than I would have hoped, but they did ask each other questions for clarification rather than asking me first. And again, the amount of collaboration was their choice.

I will definitely do this again, but perhaps try to design activities that forces them to be more collaborative. Keeping them in the same groups for the entire time might encourage that as well, but I really like the concept of speed-collaboration that I set up here. But I can also see the potential of having smaller tasks done more rapidly.