This chapter was reviewed by Catie and Kerry. Please feel free to comment on either or both segments. It is a very meaty chapter with lots of rich take aways.
Part 1 Catie SkiboPart 3: Blended Learning: Exploring Classroom Models This is the part in the book where we get to learn exactly how to make blended learning a reality in our classrooms. Tucker tells us about her own experiences keeping students engaged in the classroom and her frustration at her inability to reach all students. After teaching an online college course, she takes the online learning techniques and uses them in her high school classes. Tucker’s blended learning classroom engages students and allows them to be leaders of their own learning. This section of chapters includes information on station rotation, whole group rotation, the flipped classroom, and other possibilities. Chapter 9: Station Rotation Model The Station Rotation Model is exactly what it sounds like. Students rotate through a number of learning stations. In a blended learning environment, one station must include online learning. This seems to be one of the easiest ways for classrooms to include technology in learning. The Station Rotation model boasts all of the 21st century teaching buzzwords: different learning modalities, Backward Design, UDL, differentiation, and individualization. This model allows for smaller learning communities within a large classroom that can be personalized and target different skill levels. A special note to say that Tucker (p. 110) suggests it might be easier for elementary schools to implement this model because they most likely already have a station rotation in place, where middle and high schools usually do not. Station Rotation encourages students to take ownership of their learning by being the main drivers of learning at each station. Teachers can spend time with small groups and give more individualized feedback. The benefits of smaller learning communities also include: active participation among learners, specific skill levels can be targeted, and your school needs fewer devices to bring the online learning element to life. This is one of the biggest selling points for me! Other benefits of the Station Rotation Model include: increased engagement because teachers can tap into multiple intelligences to engage with students in different ways, direct instruction with smaller groups, and the ability to use adaptive technologies for students to master their individual goals. I always think students have fun in stations because they get up and move, and it is more interactive and fun than being passive listeners to a lecture. Tucker (p. 112) reminds us of Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory and how the station rotation model supports the theory providing different modalities (ways to learn and show their knowledge) for students. How does it work? Well, we should remember to be flexible and make it work for our own classroom based on our schedules, the physical class set-up, the number of stations, and timing. There is no “one size fits all.” The example given tells us about a rotation with 4 stations: a collaborative station, a teacher-led station, an individual station, and a “maker” station such as a STEM bucket with challenge activities or ideas. Tucker suggests leaving instructions at each station (middle and high school) or taking time at the beginning of each class to set expectations and give instructions (elementary). When planning use a template detailing time, objective, materials and description of the activities. Think about which groups should start where (ex. students that need more help start with teacher), and take the time to observe teachers in your workplace that are already doing this successfully. The MAIN point is that ONE of these stations (if not more) involve ONLINE learning. Here is my example for a Blended Learning Station Rotation for a kindergarten ADW Collaboration day on the topic of BLENDED LEARNING: (5 teachers in each station) Station 1: Teacher led direct instruction: teacher explains what blended learning is and briefly covers main topics from this book Station 2: Students (other kindergarten teachers) watch short videos about blended learning on a shared device, discuss what they see Station 3: Individual Practice: “Students” explore online a list (made by teacher) of age appropriate apps on their OWN device that they brought, gives teachers a time to try-out this new technology Station 4: Collaborate: small groups of “students” discuss the technology available in their classroom and how they make it work/ use it, what works, what doesn’t Station 5: Collaborate: create a Station Rotation lesson plan together Station 6: Individual Collaboration: On their own device “students” find blogs/tweets/web pages about Blended learning and comment on a blog page set up by the ADW instructor, sharing their findings, and commenting on others findings
This Station Rotation allows for a teacher to work with small groups to answer questions and inform through direct instruction about blended learning. The other stations promote individual and collaborative practice. You could create groups that have one technology leader and others that are familiar with technology and one that is very new to technology. My question for you: What challenges do you see implementing the Station Rotation Model in your classroom? What excites you about this model?
Part 2 Chapter 9: Tips for Designing a Station Rotation by Kerry Stone We have come to the meat of the book...strategies. The author guides the reader through designing and implementing a station rotation. There are two points of view we get to experience: elementary and middle school grades, but first, we have to decide what kind of lesson we are implementing. We have two choices here. A horizontal lesson - one lesson broken up into smaller parts or a skill-based lesson. I like the idea of the horizontal lesson. Station lessons are likely to be more challenging to the middle school teacher as they are often more familiar with the lecture/notes method. Elementary grades often engage in stations (centers) and so really just have to integrate the technology piece. However, the author makes an important point here - “Don’t just throw technology in for technology’s sake. Make sure the digital station(s) enhance the lesson.” This reminded me of something Christine said in her summary of Chapter 8, and I’m paraphrasing here, an engaging lesson doesn’t automatically mean the students learning anything of value. Whether you are a middle school teacher or an elementary level teacher, stations are not only engaging to students but allow the instructor to work closely with individuals or small groups. The student, no longer a passive learner, is in the driver’s seat and the teacher takes the role of coach and/or facilitator. As the facilitator, it is important to put thought into the groupings of the students. Note, if you teach a large class, you will need more stations. I teach smaller groups. My largest group is 14 so I can effectively implement four or five stations. Whether you teach a class of 14 or a class of 30, there are challenges to stations that you must be aware of: 1.) Access to technology - If you do not have access to technology, incorporating digital lessons can be challenging. If you do not have enough technology, perhaps you could ask the students to bring in their device from home. I understand, as a middle school teacher, that this is much easier for me than say a third grade teacher. 2.) Adaptive software can be expensive. However, there are many free options out there. Kahn Academy, for example. That’s just one. I recommend joining a facebook or twitter group to get some suggestions. I belong to a science group on facebook, and I often go to them for advice. It’s a very friendly group and I’ve learned about so many resources from them. 3.) Class size. Again, if you have a large class, you will to set up more stations. Ideally, your groups should stay between three to five students, depending on the ability level. I actually have one class with eight students. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy working with such a small group. However, there are not a lot of grouping choices here. When setting up groups, consider learning styles, ability levels (both homogenous and heterogeneous), and student choice. 4.) Lesson pacing - If students finish a station early, behavior issues may arise. A simple fix? Have an extra activity ready for wait times, or the students may read silently. I have run into this problem before. I often print two copies of the station, or have more than enough computers for two groups so a backup can be avoided. 5.) Classroom size and furniture - If you have a small classroom, you will have to get creative. Swing desks around. Do what you have to do to make sure there is a nice flow. If this isn’t an option, perhaps a colleague will let you use their room once in a while. 6.) Availability to the students - I run into this issue as well. As facilitator, you must informally assess students, address questions, work with small groups, monitor behavior, and perhaps, clarify directions. I loved the author’s solutions. One, younger grades have an advantage here because they often have aides. If you do not have an aide, consider a parent volunteer, or enlist students that have mastered the content, or the station as helpers. 7.) Language or skill levels may present some challenges. The teacher can record videos, clearly explaining the directions. One could make a google doc with screenshots or links to provide extra support. Stations offer a fantastic opportunity to individualize learning with engaging lessons. Questions 1.) Do you know of any free adaptive programs? 2.) Older grade teachers - do you still lecture? If so, do you plan to phase that out completely?