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.
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)
- Adaptable software
- Digital presentations
- Interactive activities (i.e. discussion boards)
- Group work with roles
- Hands-on activities
- Makerspace 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.
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.