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Individual Rotation and Flex: Blended Learning Models

Individual Rotation and Flex: Blended Learning Models

Jessica Hunsinger

Jessica Hunsinger

Product Manager, Kiddom

Former educator passionate about building human potential. Saving teachers time through interoperability is what currently drives me. 

In the third of our blended learning series, we cover two models that are the best fit for classrooms with central learning labs.

In the first post, view the accompanying infographic to find out which blended learning model is best for your classroom. In the second post, learn about station rotation and lab rotation.

Let’s Start with the Basics.

The individual rotation model, included under the rotation model umbrella, has students rotating between different stations and learning opportunities, but is different from other rotation models in that students don’t necessarily rotate to every station. Each student has an individualized playlist of activities and only rotates to the stations or modalities identified on their personalized schedule, determined by the teacher or, in some cases, an algorithm.

In the flex model, online instruction is the primary mode of accessing content and materials, with additional support from a teacher face-to-face. Teachers share learning activities with students who access them at their own pace, and then teachers use data to intervene in real-time. This model is dependent on self-directed learning and allows for a fluid schedule that is more flexible than other models as online learning makes up the bulk of a student’s direct instruction.  

We grouped these two models together because they require the same technology access and they look very similar in classroom practice. In both of these models, the learning space is designed to have a central learning lab or collaborative space.

As explained in “A Deeper Look At the Flex Model” by Blended Learning Universe, these models “benefit from a larger, open learning space instead of traditional classroom walls. The value of an oversized classroom space is that it allows for students to flow among multiple formats and for teachers to roam more easily among the students.” The main difference is who is in control of the student flow. In the flex model, the student has far more autonomy, whereas the individual rotation is personalized but dictated by a teacher or a data system.   

Choosing the Individual Rotation Model

The individual rotation model is a good choice when you have enough devices for every student to use and you want to use those devices to plan personalized lessons for each student. Data is the main driver of student schedules and materials in this model. With the right tools, individual teachers can manage these decisions, but many schools use a data manager to help dictate the student’s schedule or the stations they rotate to throughout the day.

Students checking out their individual rotation schedule for the day in a Teach to One classroom

One example of an individual rotation model is demonstrated through Teach To One, an offshoot of the School of One model that many schools have adopted. It is a personalized math program that uses the individual rotation model to tailor learning experiences to learning styles and rates of progress. The program includes nine different learning modalities that support a variety of learners. The video demonstrates how having students identify their learning styles helps students take ownership of their learning and advocate for themselves.

If your goal for exploring a blended learning model is to increase student ownership of their learning, you can also create stations based on learning modalities.  At the individual level this may seem daunting, but teachers can use a individual rotation model that does not require a different schedule each day.

At the default station, students always have work to complete online at their own pace. When teachers use the data from the self-paced curriculum they can intervene as misconceptions arise or mini-lessons are needed. You may use a messaging system or classroom display that informs students that they should rotate to offline stations: “You are scheduled for a small group discussion today” or “Rotate to group work station at 11.”

One way that teachers or schools do this is by using playlists. A playlist is a group of related learning activities. With a playlist, students are given a clear sense of the path they are going to take but it is also easy to work student choice in along the way. Heather Starks, a blended learning teacher explains how she uses playlists in her blog piece “Why I am Loving Instead of Hating the Beginning of this School Year”.

By using playlists, you can schedule different checkpoints for students. When students need more frequent check-ins, you can easily differentiate their playlists by including more face-to-face teacher time. Kiddom supports the creation of playlists in the Planner feature, which allows you to create a “Teacher Check-In” assignment, like the one in the image below, that will prompt students to see their teacher.

Getting Started with the Individual Rotation Model

Just like with the other rotation models, you can experiment with individual rotation in your class by choosing a day of the week to introduce the concept to students and practice it to work out the kinks. It would be helpful to decide how you want students to rotate in advance.

Will you use a playlist model which tells students to “rotate” when they get to a certain point in the curriculum or when misconceptions arise? Or will you establish learning modality stations and have students rotate based on their learning preferences? Either way, you can use Kiddom to support this practice.

An important thing to consider when adopting the individual rotation model is how to incorporate social emotional development. Critics of this model argue that it works best for self-motivated individuals. However, putting in the effort to help students develop that type of intrinsic motivation can be a great impetus for future success.

If you are interested in trying the individual rotation model, be sure to learn from the efforts of early adopters and pay special attention to organizing opportunities for social interaction and development.

Choosing the Flex Model

One of the biggest advantages of a flex model is that it lets students, not teachers, dictate when they rotate. They rotate between various stations when they need them and they are not constrained by time limits. If you’re hoping to increase student motivation and autonomy, this may be the model you choose. This form of blended learning is most often implemented at a whole-school level but can be accomplished at the class level with careful planning. 

The organization Blended Learning Universe explains how this impacts teachers: “Because of the heavy emphasis on student autonomy, the role of a teacher changes in a Flex model. Instead of delivering instruction to whole groups, teachers spend most of their time providing face-to-face tutoring, guidance, and enrichment to supplement online lessons.”  

The amount of advanced curriculum planning that goes into developing, curating, and creating the online course materials that allow for students to independently progress through the material may be a shift for most teachers. Rather than planning throughout the year, with a Flex model you will plan and prepare most of your materials in advance.

Another example of this new teacher and student dynamic is illustrated by the case study of  Summit Schools, produced by Khan Academy. At Summit Schools, students sign up for assessments with the teacher when they feel like they are ready to demonstrate mastery. This shift in responsibility also helps to support many social emotional learning skills. Most implementations of a flex model also incorporate some form of weekly check-in between students and teachers that allows teachers to guide students to develop goal setting skills.  

Getting Started with the Flex Model

To get started with a Flex Model, you will first need to choose or create a self-paced online curriculum. There are a growing number of available online curricula but many teachers prefer to organize the online materials to match their style or even to develop their own digital lessons and activities.

Kiddom’s Planner is one way to organize and store your curriculum for a self-paced flex model course. In Planner, you can easily organize all of the curricular materials in units and playlists (groups of related assignments).

When you assign a playlist to students, they can work through the learning activities independently and check in with you when they have completed the tasks. Students can also communicate with teachers by commenting on the assignment and open the dialogue when a teacher is working with other students.

Finally, as mentioned above, the flex model shifts many responsibilities to the students which is a great way to teach social emotional learning competencies.  These competencies can easily be tracked using the 5 CASEL standards available on the Kiddom platform.

This blog post is based on our Blended Learning 102 Guide. For more information, we encourage you to download it here.

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How Marshall County Differentiates Instruction with Kiddom (Watch Mini-Documentary Here)

How Marshall County Differentiates Instruction with Kiddom (Watch Mini-Documentary Here)

Abbas Manjee

Abbas Manjee

Chief Academic Officer, Kiddom

Abbas Manjee is Chief Academic Officer at Kiddom. Before Kiddom, Abbas taught high school math serving at-risk youth in New York City. 

Three years ago, the Marshall County Department of Education in Benton, Kentucky abandoned their traditional curriculum and instructional model in favor of individualized, project-based models to offer students more choice and voice.

A change of this magnitude not only requires new furniture, new hardware, teacher training, and community buy-in, but also software to develop a new set of criteria to measure academic success.

Watch “How Marshall County Individualizes Instruction Mini-Documentary” here:

Marshall County decided to trust Kiddom’s K-12 operating system as a centralized source of valuable data to measure student achievement and enable individualization. Since implementation, other districts are following Marshall County’s example as they rethink their own approach to teaching and learning. Since our first pilot with Marshall County, the district has expanded their use of Kiddom. 

It is so rewarding to see how schools and districts tailor Kiddom to fit their pedagogical models as they move towards individualization. The Kiddom team values Marshall County’s vision to use technology to help them transform their instructional practices and we are grateful for the opportunity to have made a difference in this community.

Is your school or district ready to follow Marshall County’s lead?

We’d love to support you in your journey. Book a demo with one of our education specialists below and we’ll be in touch soon.

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Three Ways to Increase Collaboration in your Classroom or School

Three Ways to Increase Collaboration in your Classroom or School

Sarah Gantert

Sarah Gantert

Success Specialist, Kiddom

Sarah has 10 years of public education experience, including being a founding staff member of a STEM high school in Pennsylvania.

If you’re no stranger to Kiddom, you know that our curriculum sharing capabilities make working with colleagues easy, even if you can’t meet in person. The great news is that Kiddom isn’t just about sharing curriculum. There is a whole array of ways users can collaborate and share with teachers and students alike!

Here are three advanced collaboration techniques Kiddom helps you super-charge collaboration in your classroom  (feel free to mix and match based on your needs — and if you come up with a new way to collaborate and share using Kiddom, we’d love to hear from you!).  

 

Are you a faculty advisor for a student-run club? Give your student leaders editing access to the class so that they can post announcements, assignments, and other important information for their members.

Step 1: Set up a “teacher” account with Kiddom for your student leaders and add that account as a collaborator to your students’ club on Kiddom.

Step 2: Provide the credentials to your student club leaders.

Step 3: Step back and let your student-run club truly be student-governed! When students have the authority to create and post club information, it gives the ownership of the club back into the hands of those it belongs.

Calling all administrators, team leaders, and curriculum leads: Are you tired of the same old professional development days? Do you need to create a space for teachers to learn on their own time, at their own pace, without the need to always bring everyone together in a room to go over simple housekeeping items? Kiddom has you covered!  Create a PLC in Kiddom for your cohort and start uploading materials from Google Drive, your computer, the web, etc. It’s that simple!

    1. If you are a Drive user and want to continue using Google Docs to collaborate en masse, check out this article about the variety of ways you can use your Google Docs for assignments, using Kiddom.
  1.  2. If your school is on the MS O365 platform, you can easily link documents, .pptx files, and more by copying and pasting a link in the description of the assignment. From there, teachers can download and make copies of any materials you want to disseminate to them.

Not only will this help to disseminate information more quickly and efficiently, but you can also start using your face-to-face PD time for deeper inquiry and creation!

As educators, we know it’s important to meet with colleagues outside of our grade level so that we can plan scope and sequence for our content area. Kiddom makes it easy to share curriculum, lesson ideas and comments with colleagues teaching other grades.  

    1. Create a class that houses cross-grade level curriculum
    2. Add your colleagues as collaborators to your existing classes/curriculum
    3. Go further: Create a PLC for teachers across the district that teach your content area.

Once the PLC is created in your Kiddom account, the world of planning became a whole lot nicer. You won’t have to rely on monthly or quarterly district/school-wide content area meetings; you can plan and build ideas together without needing to be in the same room. It’s a great way to get a head start on those infrequent meetings with colleagues in different grade levels and schools.    

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Station Rotation & Lab Rotation: Blended Learning Models

Station Rotation & Lab Rotation: Blended Learning Models

In the second of our 4-part blended learning blog series, we cover two models that are the best fit for a classroom with limited technology access.

This is the second post of our 4-part blog series on Blended Learning Models. View the first post and accompanying infographic to find out which blended learning model is best for your classroom.

Many people think you need to have a 1:1 laptop ratio to do blended learning, but with the station rotation and lab rotation models, teachers are able to maximize a classroom with limited technology.

In this post, which comes from our Blended Learning 102 guide, we’ll give you an overview of the similarities and differences between two of the most common blended learning models: station rotation and lab rotation. We’ll also share some tips to set up each model, and include a few ways Kiddom helps with implementation along the way.

 

Rotation Models: The Basics

Station and lab rotation are two blended learning models which belong under the larger umbrella of “Rotation Models”. A rotation model is when students move between learning stations, either 1. on a fixed schedule, or 2. at the teacher’s discretion, where at least one station incorporates online learning.

Fun facts: Station rotation and lab rotation models

While one group of students is engaged in independent online learning, the teacher facilitates activities for another group; activities such as small-group instruction, group projects, individual tutoring, or independent practice.

 

Choosing the Station Rotation Model

In a station rotation model, the teacher organizes students into groups within the classroom, where at least one station is a computer-based learning experience. These groups can be fixed (remain the same each day; grouped by learning styles) or dynamic (change depending on student skills/needs).

This model allows you to differentiate your teacher-led instruction by creating small-groups in class and personalized learning experiences on the computers. As mentioned, station rotation is a great option when you have limited classroom technology or limited access to a school laptop cart. It addresses many issues caused by large class sizes and can be used in classrooms of all ages, even kindergarten. You can also introduce students to the 21st century technology skills they need in small chunks of time. The possibilities are endless, which can be a bit overwhelming, so let’s get specific.

The station rotation model changes the role of a teacher by allowing for greater flexibility through small group instruction. This impacts how you plan your instruction for each day, although, it doesn’t mean you plan completely different lessons for each group.

Your lesson plan format may change to include the student groups and how you plan to address their unique needs with varied question types or examples. The beauty of grouping is that the groups can be dynamic, as student achievement levels or needs change. This will inspire more daily data-driven planning as well, rather than waiting until the end of the term to look at student data. Using a platform like Kiddom makes it easy to track student performance in real time and make decisions about student groupings or send individual assignments based on mastery levels.

Mastery Groups Kiddom UI

How you plan to differentiate is also flexible. You can hear a teacher’s’ first-hand explanation of these changes by accessing the Khan Academy Case Study of Kipp Los Angeles School. In this case study, you can hear how using stations allows the teacher to support her english language learner students by giving them more opportunities to speak in a small group.

 

Activities to Maximize the Potential of Each Station

Computer Station

  • Individualized assignments (i.e. remediation or extension)
  • Adaptable software
  • Research
  • Digital presentations
  • Interactive activities (i.e. discussion boards)
  • Simulations

Collaborative Learning

  • Group work with roles
  • Hands-on activities
  • Makerspace station
  • Projects
  • Games

Teacher Station

  • Direct instruction
  • Facilitate discussion
  • Oral assessment

 

The computer station can be used for many learning goals. Some teachers or schools sign up for an adaptive learning platform, but paying for that type of resource isn’t necessary — you can get creative with your stations by accessing free content.

One option would be to use Kiddom to send personalized assignments to individual or groups of students. On Kiddom, students can access those assignments, check their scores, ask questions or make comments, and monitor their own progress towards mastery.

Helpful Kiddom features for station and lab rotation

Getting Started with the Station Rotation Model

An easy way to explore how a station rotation model might impact your class would be to establish a “stations” day once a week. Depending on how many devices and students you have, you can start with 2–3 small(er) groups.

One small group could work independently or in pairs on activities appropriate for their current achievement level, such as practice from the previous days lessons, independent reading, journaling, etc. Another group could be working with the teacher on either a mini-lesson or a teacher-facilitated group discussion. In a third group, students use a computer to develop their social emotional skill of self-management by doing a progress check and setting a goal for the week. Using the computer station to allow students to check their progress is a way to ease into the benefits of this blended learning model. It wouldn’t require much additional software and can help you establish and refine the classroom routines needed to make transitions from station to station.

Working in stations one day a week would allow you to experiment with the classroom management supports you’ll need for your classroom to help things run smoothly. For example, you’ll learn how long it takes your students to transition from one station to the next and you can adjust accordingly. Anyone trying out stations knows that routines are very important and it’s okay not to get it right the first time.

A visual schedule like this one can help students know where they should be at the appropriate time and help them take ownership of their schedule.

Station Rotation or Lab Rotation Chart

Choosing a Lab Rotation Model

The lab rotation model is another option that works when you don’t have a full set of computers in your classroom. In this model, students rotate to a separate computer lab for the online-learning station. Many schools that use lab rotation have a co-teaching staffing model or have paraprofessionals in the classroom to facilitate transitions, but that is not a requirement. Students can either rotate to the lab as part of a class or as an online learning class of its own. This model can be used for all grade levels.

One common way the lab rotation model is used:

  1. Teacher delivers a mini lesson and does a formal check for understanding.
  2. Students who demonstrate proficiency are ready to rotate to the computer lab to complete independent practice or personalized practice.
  3. Students who need additional assistance get to work with the teacher in a small group in the moment.

This blended learning model allows you to intervene right away when students need additional support. The teacher’s role in a lab rotation model can be very similar to a traditional teaching model, in that you may still deliver whole class instruction.

The main difference is that you can intervene with a small group without having to manage the entire class of students at the same time. If you do not have a co-teacher or paraprofessional, you would rotate with your entire class to the lab and sit with the small group in the lab.

 

Getting Started with the Lab Rotation Model

Kiddom can help maintain consistency of expectations while in the lab. Establishing a routine and leadership roles for students when they rotate to the lab can alleviate classroom management concerns. Using Kiddom in the lab will enhance the lab rotation model by allowing you to direct student learning in advance, so you can focus on teaching instead of giving instructions.

It also opens the line of communication. While you may be working with the small group of students, students can comment/respond to comments on assignments. You can support student interests and learning needs by sharing personalized assessments. Finally, just like in the station rotation model, students can access their progress reports on Kiddom and know how they are performing at a skill based level.

One of the biggest considerations for implementing a lab rotation model is scheduling. Whether you are piloting the model yourself, or your entire school is transitioning to a lab rotation model, you will need to be on the same page with your colleagues about how and when the lab can be used by your class. Just like in station rotation, it may be easiest to start with a lab rotation day. In this case, you can reserve the lab for your class on a given day and experiment with rotation options on that given day.

This blog post is based on our Blended Learning 102 Guide. For more information, we encourage you to download it here.

Which Blended Learning Model is Right for Your Classroom? Infographic

Which Blended Learning Model is Right for Your Classroom? Infographic

In the first of our 4-part blended learning blog series, use this infographic to determine the right model for you and get a brief overview of each model.

 

In today’s schools, blended learning is becoming increasingly utilized due to improvements in technology and growing access to online learning materials. According to the Christensen Institute’s Blended Learning Universe, there are seven generally accepted blended learning models — so you might be wondering, which one is best for my class?

In this four-part blog series we will provide you with the right resources to answer that question and then explore each style in depth. For part one, we’ve created this infographic based on our Blended Learning 101 and 102 guides. You can use the infographic to determine the right model for your class, get a brief overview of each model, and learn some fun facts and helpful Kiddom features along the way.

In the following posts, we’ll cover the models in more depth, including how to get started, how our free product for teachers helps with implementation, and further resources if you wish to go deeper.

 

Recap: What is Blended Learning, again?

Blended learning, commonly understood as combining traditional instruction with computer-based learning experiences, can address many common pedagogical challenges. A widely accepted definition from Horn and Staker includes the following components of true blended learning components:

1. It involves teaching and learning within a formal education program

2. Students learn at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction

3. Students have some level of control over time, place, path, and/or pace

4. Part or all of instruction is delivered away from home in a supervised, brick-and-mortar location

 

 

At Kiddom, we believe a successful blended learning program is the intentional integration of educational technology within the classroom to enhance the learning process. Students engage with content via multiple modalities and gain some control over their learning pace. Effective blended learning models have curricula designed for integration, student buy-in, and access to appropriate technology and resources.

 

Why Choose Blended Learning?

To ensure that you are planning intentionally, first you must determine whyyou want to try blended learning or, more specifically, which instructional issue you hope to solve.

Are you constantly torn between the range of needs of your students and want a more efficient way to differentiate instruction? Are you hoping to revive student motivation by increasing student choice? Do you feel passionate about embedding tech skills into your assignments to prepare students for college and careers? Maybe you have heard buzz about the benefits of asynchronous learning, small group instruction, and paperless classrooms, and want to pilot something new.

 

 

In Blended Learning 101 we discuss four reasons to consider changing your instruction style:

1. Improved Communication

2. More Personalized Instruction

3. Student-Driven Learning

4. Improved Self-Management Skills

In the same guide, we seek to provide educators with a better understanding of how to implement blended learning programs, particularly in schools using standards-based or competency-based grading.

In Blended Learning 102, which our infographic is largely based upon, we have broken the models up into three main categories depending on the availability of internet enabled devices, in class or at home, needed to implement each model. Along the way, we also explore how Kiddom’s collaborative learning platform can be used to expertly implement a blended learning model in your classroom.

So without further ado, we invite you to check out our blended learning infographic to get the basics on which blended learning style is best for you.

Click the arrow above to download!

 

Over the next few weeks, we’ll post a series of articles to cover these models in more depth. In the meanwhile, we encourage you to check out our Blended Learning 101 and 102 guides, which you can access at our blended learning resources resources page.

Read the 2nd blog on Station Rotation and Lab Rotation Models here. 

 

Teaching the Gray Areas of Conflict: an Opportunity for Critical Thinking

Teaching the Gray Areas of Conflict: an Opportunity for Critical Thinking

Dan Thalkar

Dan Thalkar

Middle School Teacher, Los Angeles, CA

I try to teach and learn. Middle school teacher in Los Angeles.

We like tidy narratives. Heroes and villains. Beginnings, middles, and ends. You need only look at the latest Marvel Blockbusters to see the formula writ large. There is an inherent danger to this structure, as we impose labels and story-arcs over people and events that rarely, if ever, conform to such a convenient structure. The opposite, though, the absence of narrative, is no better.

Unfortunately, for an example of the latter, you could just watch the news.

Not only do we increasingly like our current event stories to be clear-cut, they often seem to move so quickly that there is no time for ambiguity or complexity to evolve. Google “news cycle” and you will see a plethora of quantitative data and existential hand-wringing about the increasing speed — or complete erasure — of the news cycle. “Donald Trump killed the news cycle,” writes the Columbia Journalism Review. “Self-contained storylines that once would have risen and fallen in distinct waves of public attention have given way to information overload and frequent confusion.” The New York Times opines that, “. . . nothing matters long enough to matter.”

Labels and the illusion of character arc are still present — look at any recent story about North Korea — but context is left behind.

Forget simplistic narratives; it seems that in the news we’re often left with no narrative at all.

What does this mean for educators? It means that we need to complicate. . . everything.

We can no more teach Westward Expansion as a clear-cut moral story than we can allow our students to believe that a story no longer being talked about consistently is equivalent to the story no longer existing.

Any educator who teaches in the humanities or has the opportunity to develop students’ civic engagement, whether in class or an advisory period, has the responsibility to help students make sense of the world around them.That means identifying fake news, reading multiple sources, and identifying bias and assumptions. It also means acknowledging that very, very few events have easy-to-trace beginnings and ends or fit into convenient, all-encompassing summaries.

Case in point: Syria. The war there, which started in 2011, is still happening. It is also very, very complicated. The same can be said for Yemen, which also isn’t exactly in great shape, though you aren’t likely to hear about it either if you glance at the latest headlines. And the justifiable uproar of family separation has masked the potentially more destructive removal of asylum for those seeking refuge from domestic abuse or gang violence.

It’s impossible for every teacher to help their students fully understand every one of these issues. It’s impossible for any person to fully understand every one of these issues. But we can refuse to buy into the mindset that nothing matters long enough to matter.

We should work with our students to identify issues they are interested in, research context, and follow events as they unfold over the course of a school year. This is different from just learning history or just talking about headlines. It’s a shift in the way we perceive time and learning. Instead of a predetermined lesson or objective, we have ambiguity. Instead of a backwards-planned unit, we have uncertainty. Instead of resolution, we have the beautiful, chaotic mess of life.

If we want our students to genuinely enact democracy, to engage with the world, then our classrooms need to authentically engage with the world while it is happening. As John Dewey wrote, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

I am not advocating that we forego curriculum in order to only follow current events, or that it’s even possible to track every major news story. (What counts as a “major” news story, anyway?), but I am advocating that we open our classrooms to uncertainty and vulnerability.

Watching the world unfold in real-time is a terrifying, wondrous proposition. Follow any story closely enough, and conflict will arise in your community. Students will have differing opinions, will question why something matters, will venture into realms that are uncomfortably personal. Rather than seen as a cause for concern, we should view this for what it is — a beautiful opportunity.

Conflict within the context of learning is an opportunity not just to speak about civics and civil discourse, but to actually practice it. Not just to speak about restorative justice, but to struggle through it. Not just to theorize about right and wrong, but to wrestle with its embodied meaning for us as human beings.

So, as you develop your curriculum for the upcoming year, schedule some room for ambiguity. Give students a chance to decide what stories they want to follow. Learn what matters to your community. Make a few predictions about issues that you think will become increasingly important. And then, over the course of the year, get to know the people involved. Research the places, the histories, the futures. Help students see the connections between the content you are studying and the events unfolding around them.

Situate your classroom in the world and dwell there. Let the world matter long enough to matter.

Guest Post by: Dan Thalkar (@dthalkar) Humanities Teacher in Los Angeles, CA