Several assignments in my blended learning courses asked us to imagine which of the models we could realistically implement in our classrooms with the time and tools at our disposal. Here are five reasons why I believe the station rotation model is the best choice for elementary teachers looking to start blending their learning:
- Stations/centers already in place — Elementary teachers already rotate students in groups during their reading blocks for guided and small group reading time. The structures and procedures for transitions, equipment, and accountability are oftentimes already there. This model especially works well if you use the Daily 5 structures in your classroom.
- Lack of computers — Unless you are a 1:1 school or write a grant for a class set of Chromebooks, many elementary schools still have a lack of devices to share across a school. The station rotation model really only requires 6-8 computers depending on your class size.
- Makes use of computer licenses and hits required usage minutes — In order for many adaptive programs to be effective, students must use them a certain number of minutes per week. This model, which has every student on the computer daily, ensures they will hit and even exceed the target. Plus, an adaptive program is basically like having another teacher teaching (if you’ve selected the right program).
- Builds personal relationships in big class sizes — I remember not really knowing my previous class of 35 fifth graders as individuals before I started blended learning. So much time was spent teaching whole group that when it came time for parent conferences, I didn’t really know what to say about each child’s progress (especially the advanced students who I rarely pulled into a group). Now that I’ve dropped whole class lectures and teach every student, every day in small groups, I have gotten to know and see each student’s strengths and areas of improvement like never before (especially in math).
- Increases engagement — Younger students do not have the attention span of those in secondary, who might favor a flex or flipped classroom model. Elementary students need to switch activities frequently and get up and move. This model attends to both those needs.