The Power of the Station Rotation Model

I recently attended BYU’s Instructional Leadership Conference and came away with so many ideas for collaborating with teachers, approaches to coaching, and reflecting on my own practices. While watching Catlin Tucker’s sessions on Blended Learning I was inspired by her explanation of the power behind the Station Rotation Model. I have used stations in my own classroom and have coached teachers to implement them, but the way she connected the model to key competencies of blended and personalized learning (embedding online integration, using data practices, creating personalized instruction, and infusing online interaction) gave me new ideas for implementing them during our hybrid learning. Inspired, I reached out to a teacher to see if she wanted to try it and was so excited to get her enthusiastic reply of “YES!” With intentional planning and a partnership approach, I am excited to share how we implemented the station rotation model together.

Planning the Stations

A few minutes after we sat down to plan our initial brainstorm, another teacher walked into the classroom and asked us what we were doing. We told her about the model and without hesitation she said, “sounds awesome, let me grab my computer, I want to join in!” This set the tone for the collaborative partnership that was formed and we immediately started discussing the details. In Dr. Tucker’s blog posts, she describes various approaches one could take with three stations (a teacher led station, an independent practice station, and a collaborative practice station), and what functionality each station could serve. We were excited to give students a new routine of practice, but also knew we needed to help students feel, and stay, engaged with this new balance of independent and group work practice. So, as we dove into how we would group students and what tools we would use to support the learning, we kept that goal of evidence of engagement in mind.

Grouping Students: In discussing grouping students, we found that we needed to be very intentional. We decided that we would have a lesson of whole group instruction before starting the stations to allow us to formatively assess and identify students who would need intervention and those who were ready for extension during the stations. The students who came to the teacher led station first would be a part of the intervention group- by going there first, they received reinforcement both academically and socially from the teacher to feel confident in doing the other independent practice stations. The group that came to the teacher led station second, got reinforcement from the teacher after one independent practice station. And, we identified students who came to the teacher led station last as ones who were ready for extension. In this group, the teacher provided differentiated questions to enrich the learning. This intentional structure allowed for a great balance of intervention and extension all within the class period.

Learning Tools: Next, we discussed what platforms we would use for each station. At the teacher led station, we decided whiteboards would be a simple tool to engage students while providing immediate feedback (timely feedback being something Dr. Tucker spoke about as an important piece). The second station was an independent station that Dr. Tucker explained could serve as a purpose for revisiting or reviewing concepts. We decided EdPuzzle would be a perfect fit for this as it again provides the immediate feedback students would need, and also enables them to pace their own learning. For the third station and since we were doing stations for 2 days, we decided to use two different collaborative tools- on the first day we used Blooket and on the second day we had students work on error analysis with peer feedback through Google Jamboard. To keep things organized, especially with our hybrid setting, the teacher posted the following rotation individually to each student on GoogleClassroom.

Group 1:

Teacher led

Blooket/Jamboard

EdPuzzle

Group 2:

EdPuzzle

Teacher led

Blooket/Jamboard

Group 3:

Blooket/Jamboard

EdPuzzle

Teacher led

Each of these platforms, coupled with intentional grouping, created a space for the key competencies that Dr. Tucker spoke about to come alive (online integration and interaction, data practices, and personalized instruction).

What Made this Different

Watching the stations in action made me realize this was different than other stations I have previously implemented. The stations weren’t just planned based on content, but also on structure and purpose. In terms of where I am positioned as the teacher during stations, I usually found myself (unintentionally) following one group around, giving most of my attention to that group throughout the class period. This model and the intentionality of our grouping/learning tools allowed the teacher to give time to each group and differentiate as needed. When we reflected on engagement in this model, we saw and heard students actively engaged; they were asking questions in their small group with the teacher, pausing and restarting the EdPuzzle video, actively completing the collaborative stations, and we was impressed with the detail they put into their answers on the Jamboard.

What Students Said

Finally, I wanted to be sure my observations that this was a success were supported with evidence of feedback from students. Towards the end of class, I asked various students what their thoughts were on the structure of the day and how they felt about the learning. Hearing students’ responses such as “I felt more involved today” and “it felt different in a good way…I liked that we had groups and we had more attention from the teacher” was validating and affirming to continue implementing this model in the future.

Thank you to Erica and Sam, the two teachers who so willingly implemented this with me. I was so inspired by the creativity, attention to detail, and intentionality you two planned with, and I can’t wait to continue to see this model in action. And finally, thank you, Dr. Tucker, for you for sharing your resources and knowledge of this model.

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