In my work as a blended learning coach, I observe a lot of teachers facilitating blended lessons. The Station Rotation Model is particularly popular because teachers do not need a device for every student to make it work. Instead, students rotate between offline and online stations.
One concern I have about this model is the way teachers design and facilitate their teacher-led station. Instead of using this station exclusively for direct instruction, I’d like to see more teachers mix it up. Below I describe five different strategies teachers can use to design their station to avoid talking the entire time. When teachers engage students at their teacher-led station, they can collect invaluable formative assessment data that can help inform future lessons.
#1 Hook the Group
Begin your station with a challenge or problem and allow pairs of students to work together to solve it. As they discuss the challenge or problem, observe them. Their conversations will provide invaluable information about what they know, what they are unsure of, and what additional instruction or practice they may need. As they work, you also have a few minutes to “take a lap” around the room to check in with the other groups and make sure they understand what they are supposed to do.
Then when you return to your group, you can ask pairs to share their process for solving the problem. You can use their explanations to drive a debrief in which you highlight strong strategies and answer questions. Finally, you can provide instruction/modeling for the group.
#2 I Do, We Do, You Do
This is a classic flow that works well at a teacher-led station. You begin with an explanation and model how to do something (e.g., solve a problem or structure a written response). Then you guide the group in another example where students chime in with their ideas. Once the group has worked through a problem or task, you can put students in pairs (random or strategic pairing) to work through another problem with peer support. Finally, students work independently to continue applying and you can circulate around the group to support individual students who may be struggling to complete the practice on their own.
In this flow, the moments when the pairs are working to solve the problem or apply the new information, you have time to take a lap and check in with other groups.
#3 Homework Check & Review
Many teachers collect homework and take piles of student work home to grade. Homework is designed to be practice, so I’ve never understood why it is graded and often becomes punitive. If teachers are assigning homework, it would be more powerful to use that practice to encourage students to reflect on their progress and identify the gaps in their understanding of concepts and skills.
If you provide students with a model, exemplar, or answer key for their homework, you can begin this station by giving them time to check their work, identify the places where they made mistakes or answered incorrectly, make the necessary corrections and capture any questions that surface for them. This can be done individually or in pairs. I often pair students up to encourage them to discuss their work and ask each other for help. While students check their work, you can take a lap around the room.
When the group is done checking their work, you can facilitate a follow up conversation addressing questions and providing additional explanation. You can then build on this homework check with the next level of instruction.
#4 Real-Time Feedback
When students are working on a process piece (e.g., argumentative essay, formal lab report, research project) that requires several steps and multiple days to complete, I encourage you to dedicate time at your teacher-led station to give students real-time feedback as they work. This approach shifts your energy into supporting the process instead of waiting to assess a finished product. It also means you don’t have to take stacks of rough drafts home to give students feedback.
Students should come to this station with a draft of one section of work completed. For example, if they are writing a formal lab report, they might bring their procedures section. If they are writing a formal essay, they might bring their introduction paragraphs. If they are working on a research project, they might bring their quotes and source citations. Then as they move onto the next section, you can hop in and out of their documents providing feedback on the section of work they’ve completed. It is helpful to keep the scope of your feedback narrow since you have limited time and encourage students to capture their questions on a post-it so they do not interrupt you as you work.
Providing feedback during the process is incredibly rewarding because students feel supported and the finished products are much stronger.
#5 Quick Assessment & Individualized Support
Begin your station with a quick quiz. I’d suggest using a quizzing tool that automatically grades the students’ answers (e.g., Socrative, Google Form in quiz mode, Schoology quiz feature). While students are working on the quiz, you can take a lap around the room to check in with the other groups.
Once you’ve collected their data, you can see exactly how each student did on the quick assessment. Some students will be ready to move onto the next challenge or level of instruction, which others will need additional support and practice.
It is important to have two assignments ready for students based on their performance on the quiz. For those students who need additional practice, you can provide them with a review activity and spend your time working with them. For students who are ready to move on, you can provide them a flipped video with additional explanation or provide them with practice that is more challenging or builds on their prior practice.
There are so many different ways to leverage the teacher-led station. I encourage teachers to think about the objectives of the lesson and which strategy will best meet those objectives. Even though it is a teacher-led, I encourage teachers to think about how they can actively engage their students at this station.
If you have another strategy you use and love at your teacher-led station, please take a moment to post a comment and share it with me!