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.
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.
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
Individualized assignments (i.e. remediation or extension)
Interactive activities (i.e. discussion boards)
Group work with roles
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.
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.
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:
Teacher delivers a mini lesson and does a formal check for understanding.
Students who demonstrate proficiency are ready to rotate to the computer lab to complete independent practice or personalized practice.
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.
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 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.
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But so often at conferences or schools, our team hears teachers lamenting the number of dry lectures about decontextualized strategies they are forced to sit through.
In a 2009 report, the School Redesign Network at Stanford University found these characteristics to be most important in creating high-quality PD:
Focused on Content
Active, engaged learning
Coaching from experts
Opportunities for feedback and reflection
Sustained over time
At Kiddom, we help teachers take charge and lead professional development for and with each other by allowing you to build digital sessions to meet those requirements. Benefits of developing your PD resources using Kiddom include:
Flexibility: It can be impossible to find time to sit down together. With resources accessible online, teachers can access them when and where they want, instead of trying to cram learning into their only free period. Use your lunch break to eat or take a walk… learn when you’re ready!
Accessibility: Materials are stored in the classes until you archive them — they can be used and referenced over time, instead of getting lost in a pile of handouts on your desk.
Engagement: Your colleagues can ask you questions, or send you back attachments to share additional student work, reflections, or feedback. Learning is a dialogue!
Transparency: If you’re an administrator or instructional coach and want to provide targeted feedback, you can align materials to standards like ISTE’s or your own school’s goals for teachers. Help them improve by clearly defining growth areas.
Define your goal: Do you want teachers to learn a new skill, explore new content, or reflect on their practice? Set a learning objective to guide your materials. Make a new class in Kiddom with a related title.
Collect your resources: Add these as assignments to topical playlists in your Planner.
You might include:
Articles about the topic to ground teachers in common understanding
Videos, lesson plans, and student work from exemplar classes to model best practices
Case studies from other schools
Data protocols for individual reflection on student achievement
New curriculum materials for review and discussion
An assignment for teachers to complete at their own pace ahead of a team meeting
Share: Send your colleagues the class code from your settings, and ask them to join the class as students with a username. They should keep their student accounts separate from their teacher ones. When a new colleague joins your class, select them from the drop down menu in your timeline, drag and drop the resources from your Planner, and they’ll have access to the materials.
As the new school year gets underway, teachers across the country will be working to develop positive learning cultures in their classrooms. Many will extol the virtues of a growth mindset, pushing their students to try, fail, and try again in the name of learning.
Carol Dweck’s popular (and often misunderstood) research has become a pervasive force in classrooms, asking students to change the way they view effort and success. In one classroom I visited, I saw a poster that gave examples of fixed vs. growth mindsets, including “Instead of: “This is too hard.” Say: “This may take some time and effort.” The students were prompted to add “yet” each time they said “I don’t know how to do this,” and were rewarded with stickers of superheroes saying “I never give up!”
We demand this of our children, but what about ourselves?
When I facilitate sessions about incorporating technology in the classroom, I see teachers disengage, roll their eyes, and start skimming Facebook after the first few things they tried took longer than they anticipated.
Technology is moving quickly, and our brains don’t move as quickly as our students in adopting it. There’s not enough time in the day; we have too many classes and not enough planning periods. Our principals already paid for one tool — why one more? Yes, sure, I hear you. But more than that, I believe every educator owes it to themselves (and the students they serve) to try a new technology tool this year, and I mean really try it with an open mind.
The International Society for Technology in Education, a.k.a. ISTE, defines this challenge in one of their standards for teachers, emphasizing a cycle of exploration, reflection, and planning that can take entire school years to get right.
Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness
Regardless of our own difficult experiences learning new technology, limiting the way we teach to the ways we were taught can only set them up for failure. The jobs of the future demand students that are adaptable, reflective learners. Using technology to seek information, present ideas, and collaborate increases student engagement, builds confidence and communication skills, and makes it easier for teachers to support a variety of learning styles. We must adapt to our students’ futures, not ask them to adapt to our pasts.
Searching for just the right tool for your classroom will take time. Your students are unique, and your teaching style is developed authentically over time. So, you’ll need to invest time to learn the ins and outs of your new toy. You’ll click the wrong buttons. You’ll screw up the settings. Start over. Try again. Ask for help. Get frustrated. Have a breakthrough.
Just as we demand that our students pause and reflect before they say, “I can’t” and return to the comfort of the known, teachers should do the same. Invest in your own teacher toolbelt. Just as when your new smartphone comes, you spend time to download your favorite apps and music and make it your own, invest that time in your classroom technology.
Administrators — it’s on you to make space for this in your schools. ISTE has standards and resources to support school leaders in developing a culture of genuine inquiry and innovation. Give your teachers time and ask them lots of questions — it’s what they’re asking for!
I lead professional development at Kiddom. At Kiddom, we meet you where you are: schedule a free 20 min consult with us to learn how our tools might save you precious time and energy.
I support educators by designing customized professional development resources for those seeking to improve their practice. To plan meaningful learning for educators, I bring my own experiences as a former educator, both informing what effective PD looks like and what it doesn’t. When I designed professional development for New York City educators on blended learning, I modeled atrue blended learning environment for participants (you won’t believe how many workshops I’ve attended on blended learning that don’t actually blend the learning). My goal was to help teachers learn more about blended learning by learning about it in practice, otherwise implementation rarely occurs. By design, my blended learning PD provided differentiated paths to learning, various online media resources, self-paced tasks, and data-informed instruction. During planning, I ensured every educator that attended my blended learning PD would walk away with new strategies to implement blended learning. Although I had prepared an effective PD, I was surprised by the obstacles we encountered later.
In practice, modeling blended learning the way I had envisioned was a challenge. Depending on where we hosted the blended learning workshop, we had to work around wireless internet issues, websites blocked by proxies, and a lack of tech devices for all participants. It’s clear the motivation was there — the teachers wanted to learn, but were held back due to the archaic, structural roadblocks rooted within our dated education infrastructure. Naturally, this only harms teachers who go to PD thinking they have 90 minutes to learn and explore, but end up with only 45 minutes (or sometimes less). Since roadblocks to learning and lack of resources is not uncharted territory for educators, I’m always met with patience and resilience as we work through the problems together so learning can take place.
At Kiddom, we’re trying our best to work around technology constraints and we’re also learning a lot as we do. Moving forward, we’re providing headphones for blended learning sessions and printed resources and guides for those without a device. Of course, we’re always available for short, 1-on-1 consults, which participants can schedule as follow-up to our PD session. While there’s a lot of work left to be done, we’re excited the educators that do attend our professional development experiences leave our sessions saying, “This was the first time I’ve attended a session where they modeled the practice.” I sincerely hope more educators start expecting to attend a blended learning PD and see the practice modeled. With the rise of tech devices available to schools, more educators should speak up and demand quality professional development on blended learning. This goes not only for Kiddom, but for others that operate in education technology: we must exceed expectations for educators as they prepare students for the workplace in the 21st century.
So I’m asking you, educators, what are the best ways in which you’ve learned about blended learning? What are some PD approaches that we haven’t thought of? What more can be done to bring engaging PD working around tech constraints? If you’ve experienced similar obstacles, how did you problem solve? I would love to hear and learn from you!
Reach out to us for professional development support or to collaborate with us. We’d love to learn more about your school community and its educator learning needs!
“Teaching is not what it used to be,” says a 40-year veteran teacher at my building. I’ve been around for 10 years, but I can agree, things have changed a lot in the past decade. It’s hard to articulate exactly what the change is or where it’s coming from. However, I think most teachers can agree that things are increasingly more… stressful.
Passing in the hallway, an appropriate greeting consists of a grunt or at best, “It’s Friday.” Conversations in the staff lounge center around the uncertainties and anxiety facing our teaching profession from the greater political cultural climate. A recent survey cited 51% of teachers feel significant stress at work several times a week. While technology and innovation have considerable benefits, the new skills and information we are expected to personally process and then apply to our instruction, has teachers feeling like hamsters on a wheel. Not to mention the data on us! Teacher performance is being continually monitored and tracked by standardized testing.
As I sit at my back table, administering a reading test, I look up and see the little girl sitting in front of me. Except, I see her, seeing me. Hunched shoulders. Furrowed brows. Clenched jaw. My body communicates what my brain can’t fully comprehend. I am stressed. Much to my surprise and horror… her body language was matching mine. She was mirroring me.
This realization hit me hard. I noticed students all around exhibiting stress signals. Hiding under tables. Making excuses to leave the classroom and wander the halls. Destroying classroom supplies. These behaviors were symptoms of emotional turmoil, and it was standing in the way of students achieving their academic potential.
Now, I know that many of these issues are complex and multilayered. I am by no means blaming teachers for all behavioral problems. However, the first step to an emotionally regulated classroom is to be emotionally regulated yourself.
YOU are the intervention
The good news is, even if your brain is not yet convinced, you can begin with your body.
Here are three tips to get started.
Set an intention for the day for yourself and your classroom
Before you get out of bed, think about how you want to show up today. Words like strong, healthy, at ease, organized, peaceful. Imagine what it looks like and feels like. Now imagine the one thing that would make your classroom great today. This intention could be, “students working well together in pairs” or “excitement for a new project.” Visualize these intentions then write them down. I have found that writing an intention down and visualizing the outcome takes less than a minute. However, most days, this fortune actually comes to fruition. A worthy time investment.
2. Take a breathing break
Teachers never stop. Heck, we usually don’t even slow down. I have seen teachers eating their lunch while walking down the hallway! During your prep, your lunch, transitions between classes… intentionally take 5–10 breaths. Inhale for 2 counts and exhale for 4 counts. I even like to close my eyes and bring back my intention from the morning.
3. Unwind your nervous system
Good ol’ fight or flight. Your body doesn’t know if you are running away from a hungry predator or if you are preparing to be observed by your principal. All it knows, is it’s time to send in the stress hormones! Your frontal cortex can’t talk its way out of this response. “Body, I am not being chased by a predator, it’s just my annual observation.” However, there are key trigger points in the body that activate when the sympathetic nervous system kicks in. This means, if we can release the body, the brain will believe that everything is okay.
Inhale breath and when you exhale stick out your tongue. For added effect add a nice long “hah” sound. I even like to massage the opening that is created next to my ears while my jaw is open.
Rub your hands together to create heat and place them on your eyes. And/or gently smooth out the brow line from center to outer eye, say to yourself “soft eyes”. (Yes, unfurrow that teacher brow.)
Interlace fingers behind your back for a chest expansion and take three slow deep breaths. Teachers spend a great deal of time hunched over students, and simply opening the shoulders can be a total mood changer.
Lunge back with right foot and left foot forward in a bent knee lunge, take a few breaths, then switch sides. Your hip flexors and psoas are your flight muscles, so release them!
I began to realize that same little girl, mirroring my furrowed brow and hunched shoulders, began to mirror my deep breathing. When doing a backbend stretch during a transition she commented, “It feels good to stretch, doesn’t it?” Yes. It does.
This isn’t the magic bullet. However, when we release the tension and anxiety held in the body, we are able to be present.The present moment has no stress. This intervention for your body is an important first step for creating a peaceful classroom for your students.
As I began this body work, I noticed other things around me begin to shift. I realized that being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing. I changed my focus and redefined what was important.
This process led me back to my students. How can I bring this mind-body awareness into my instruction? I began working with 1000-petals, an organization training educators in Mindful Movement, to integrate these strategies via Social Emotional Learning standards and Academic Learning Standards. The results were amazing. Follow this blog series to learn more about creating a positive, emotionally regulated classroom through mindful movement.
Stephanie Kennelly is a third grade teacher in West Saint Paul, Minnesota. Contact her here for comments and questions.