When I train teachers on blended learning, I am often asked, “Is this the right way to do this?” My response is always the same, “There are lots of variations on each blended learning model. They are constantly evolving. You need to make the models work for you and your students.” Even though people try to pin down the various blended learning models with specific definitions, they are really just a starting place. There is no right or wrong. Teachers must feel empowered to make the models their own.
I love to share the different ways I am modifying the Station Rotation Model to work for me and my students. One of my favorite new variations is the One Stop Differentiated Station Rotation. This variation doesn’t actually require students to rotate to various stations. Instead, there are multiple stations designed to challenge students at various skill levels. I typically design a One Stop Differentiated Station Rotation Lesson if we are focusing on a specific skill, like reading, writing or grammar, where there is a large degree of variation in the skills or abilities within a single class. I design tasks that target that skill in each station, but the degree of challenge is different for each station.
For example, if students are working on annotating and analyzing a text, I’ll pull an article from Newsela or Smithsonian Tween Tribune that is written at different Lexile levels and assign different groups easier or more challenging reading based on their reading level. Then the task I assign with each reading is also different. I always spend my time with the lowest level group to support their work–providing feedback, support and additional scaffolding.
The trick with the One Stop Differentiated Station is to use a strategy for breaking students into groups that does not explicitly designate one group as lower level or another group as higher level. Instead, I put a colored post-it note on each student’s desk and they go to the group with their color post-it. I also make sure to change up the groups depending on the skill we are targeting since some of my students are extremely strong readers but struggle with an aspect of writing, grammar or vocabulary.
Hopefully, this is a strategy other teachers can employ when attempting to differentiate instruction or practice in a class with a wide range of skill levels.