As part of Seattle Pacific University’s Digital Education Leadership Program, we are learning about ISTE Coaching Standard 3: Digital Learning Environments . For this standard I wanted to investigate how to help teachers who may not be familiar with technology learn how to implement a blended learning model into their primary classroom (K-6).
I choose to investigate this topic as the new technology communication specialist for my school. It is my job to meet with teachers and help them begin implementing technology into our curriculum. I am aware that many of the educators at my school are nervous about the implementation of technology within their routines and I want to be able to show them how they can continue their routines while also implementing technology.
Through research and interviews, my focus for this investigation was to cover the following standard indicator:
3a. Model effective classroom management and collaborative learning strategies to maximize teacher and student use of digital tools and resources and access to technology-rich learning environments
Blended Learning Models
Blended learning can be defined as, “an innovative model of education that combines the best of face-to-face instruction from the teacher with adaptive technology to give students a more personalized learning experience.” (Anthony, 2019)
Heather Staker and Michael Horn classify 4 different models of Blended Learning shown below:
The Station-Rotation Model
For this blog post I will be exploring the Station-Rotation Model which can be found under the first blended learning model labeled the Rotation Model. (Staker, 2012)
Jenny White explains, “Station Rotation is one of the most popular blended-learning approaches. The model isn’t new or unique to blended learning; teachers have been using learning activity ‘centers’ in their classrooms for decades, particularly at the elementary level. What qualifies Station Rotation as a blended model is when at least one station involves student-led online learning. By definition, the model allows students to rotate through stations on a fixed schedule, typically established by the teacher.”
Many teachers I know including myself have been using learning centers for quite a while now and are quite familiar with the foundation of a rotation model. The key difference of the station-rotation is “the rotation includes at least one station for online learning, while other stations might include activities such as small-group or full-class instruction, group projects, individual tutoring, and pencil-and-paper assignments.” (Staker, 2012)
Elizabeth Anthony provides us a visual by detailing,“If you walked into a blended elementary classroom, you may not immediately realize it’s blended. In a blended classroom, students are using online programs that continually assess their knowledge and skills, and adjust instruction accordingly, to work on material at their “just-right” level. The key is what the students are doing with technology and how teachers are using the data they receive to inform their instruction. “
To see an example of what a blended learning station rotation would look like, feel free to watch the video below:
Jenny White provides 3 “secrets” that have helped her begin implementing station-rotations into the classroom:
- Spend Small-Group Time Strengthening Relationships With Students.
- Use Data To Drive Direct Instruction, But Consider The Tools.
- Make The Model Your Own. (One size does not fit all)
Some Helpful Advice
While researching about the station rotation model I came across some helpful advice for teachers who are just beginning to implement blended learning into the classroom:
- Define Blended Learning in Your Classroom (Shorr, 2014)
I found this list of questions that Jeremy Shorr suggests educators should answer to help them define what blended learning means to them and their classroom:
- What will the infusion of technology look like in my classroom on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis?
- Will student opportunities for collaboration increase or decrease due to the amount of time that devices are used?
- Based on the technology tool that I have, what is its optimal use?
- What does assessment look like?
- How do I know if students are learning?
2. We Are All Learners (Shorr, 2014)
Times have changed and asking for help from other educators or even your own students is completely acceptable and understandable. Not one person has answers to every question or scenario and maybe it is time for us to take our own advice and focus on the process rather than being solely focused on the product.
3. It’s Not Failing, It’s Learning (Shorr, 2014)
So what, it didn’t turn out perfectly the first time, it never does! Teaching and learning can be messy and frustrating but learning from your mistakes and finding what works best for your group of learners is what all of this is about. As educators we aim to do our best to provide students with the best education and sometimes that means taking a step back and analyzing why something isn’t working the way it was planned out to. Don’t give up and remember to reach out to others in your school and community, they may have answers or need your support as well.
Blended Learning Tools
Working with young learners can be extremely rewarding, but sometimes finding technology tools that are designed around younger grades can be difficult. Many times I find myself trying to scaffold models down to my young learners levels, so when I found this resource I knew I had to share it:
Allen, S. (2017, September 27). What Blended Tools Are Developmentally Appropriate For Young Learners? Retrieved from https://conference.iste.org/2018/program/search/detail_session.php?id=110863279
Anthony, Elizabeth. (2019. March 11). How to Implement Blended Learning in an Elementary Reading Classroom. Retrieved from https://ace.nd.edu/blog/how-to-implement-blended-learning-in-an-elementary-reading-classroom
Blended Learning Universe (BLU). (2019). Blended Learning
Models. Retrieved from https://www.blendedlearning.org/models/
Edutopia. (2017, October 3). Station Rotation: Differentiating Instruction to Reach All Students. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kg38A1ggYiE
Shorr, Jeremy. (2014, September 17). Blended Learning in the Mix: The Proactive Teacher. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/blended-learning-proactive-teacher-megan-kinsey
Staker, Heather and Horn, Michael. (2012, May). Classifying K-12 Blended Learning. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED535180
White, Jenny. (2019, March 21). 3 SECRETS TO SUCCESSFUL STATION ROTATIONS. Retrieved from https://www.blendedlearning.org/3-secrets-to-successful-station-rotations/