The Blended Classroom: A SIMPLE Station-Rotation Model

How can you use technology to do stations in secondary education? Easy! This simple Station-Rotation model, which is very much like what is commonly use in elementary schools, is a great way to incorporate at least one digital station while getting your students moving and practicing different skills.
So, we're mixing pen and paper with digital in our blended classrooms, and everything's going great. At first (for me) it was just about throwing in some digital resources. The kids love it. It's easy for me. But now that I'm getting a little more comfortable with it, I'm starting to experiment with different ways to do it.

I began my digital journey with what is closest to a flex-model. My students primarily did their work in Google Classroom at their own pace. I was there to help them individually. As they submitted assignments, I would re-mediate.

I like the flex-model. I think it benefits the students greatly. But I also like to mix things up, and I knew that there were other models out there that I wanted to integrate. So that is what I'm trying to do.

Last week, I began experimenting with the Station-Rotation Model. Station-Rotation is pretty much exactly what it sounds like--the teacher sets up several stations, at least one of which is digitally-based, and the students rotate through the stations in small groups.

This model is most commonly used in elementary schools, but I think there is a place for it in secondary. It's good that the students are moving and it offers the opportunity for flex grouping and small group instruction.

But a very practical benefit is that as schools are transitioning to 1:1, not all students have devices yet. I know at our school, our hall shares a Chromebook cart and an IPad cart. As more of us are blending, this results in epic battles over possession of the carts. With the Station-Rotation model, I can send a group to the media center to use computers, a group down the hall to another teacher's classroom (he has 8 computers and is generous enough to share), or split the Ipads or Chromebooks with another teacher.

I played with Station-Rotation last week, and I like it. I'm visual and need to keep things simple, so I made a basic visual structure for the Station-Rotation Model. I have the luxury of having 90 minute classes, but if you have shorter periods, think in terms of halving the assignments for each station.

Here Is My Simple Blended Station Rotation Model

How can you use technology to do stations in secondary education? Easy! This simple Station-Rotation model, which is very much like what is commonly use in elementary schools, is a great way to incorporate at least one digital station while getting your students moving and practicing different skills.

How can you use technology to do stations in secondary education? Easy! This simple Station-Rotation model, which is very much like what is commonly use in elementary schools, is a great way to incorporate at least one digital station while getting your students moving and practicing different skills.As students enter the classroom on the first day of the unit, they pick up a sheet that lists their groups, station numbers and locations, and times spent at each station. The sheet also serves as a pass if they are going to the media center. I also make sure they have a copy of the unit study guide up front for their paper interactive notebooks so that they can answer questions dealing with what they've just learned if they happen to finish early.

Forgive me if I use world history as an example, but that's the course I'm experimenting with now. I think this model can apply to any subject, though.

On day one, I introduced the unit of the Middle Ages in the East (the Byzantine Empire, Early Russia, the Mongols, and Islam) with a five minute bellringer that asks the students to list reasons why they think the Eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire) prospered for a thousand years after the Western Roman Empire collapsed. We then discussed their speculations.

You can definitely have more than three stations, but I'm using three as an example for simplicity. Station 1 was the unit's vocabulary in Google Classroom. I have digital flashcards with film clip links, a cloze reading, and matching activities. You can preview the vocabulary HERE.


How can you use technology to do stations in secondary education? Easy! This simple Station-Rotation model, which is very much like what is commonly use in elementary schools, is a great way to incorporate at least one digital station while getting your students moving and practicing different skills.
Station 2 was a gallery walk with pen and paper cloze notes for the students led by me. I printed out my PowerPoint slides and hung them around the room.
1. I gave each student a copy of the cloze notes to go in their paper interactive notebooks.
2. I started by writing an important concept on the board and inviting students to the board to create a word web for that concept.
3. I used the word web to give them a brief overview of what they will be learning.
4.Then they moved around a section of the room, filling in the blanks in their notes with the information hanging on the walls.
5. When they finished, we met back briefly to discuss what they learned and to ask and answer questions.

For Station 3, I used another tech option--a primary source analysis comparing the Justinian Code to our current state law code.

For Formative Assessment, I used one of my exit tickets. I have a digital and a paper version of each, depending on computer access that day.

How can you use technology to do stations in secondary education? Easy! This simple Station-Rotation model, which is very much like what is commonly use in elementary schools, is a great way to incorporate at least one digital station while getting your students moving and practicing different skills.

When we moved on to the next component of Station-Rotation, I had looked over their exit tickets and assignment progress for flex grouping.

The bellringer was a review question about the Byzantine Empire.

In Station 1, I would re-mediate, enrich, or review.
1. I had students, for example, who were struggling to complete their vocabulary, so I put them in one group and used station 1 to help them.
2. I had several students who expressed confusion about Orthodox Christianity in the Byzantine Empire on their exit tickets, so we talked about that.
3. For the smaller group that was caught up and seemed at ease, we read a snippet of a racy (but not too racy :)) primary source about the Empress Theodora (quite a character) and discussed it.

In the map for day 2 and beyond above, I call Stations 2 and 3 Re-enforcing, but world history is such a content-heavy course, that I used them to introduce more content within the unit. So Station 2 was digital notes in Google Classroom over the Rise of Islam.
How can you use technology to do stations in secondary education? Easy! This simple Station-Rotation model, which is very much like what is commonly use in elementary schools, is a great way to incorporate at least one digital station while getting your students moving and practicing different skills.

Station 3, 4, 5, 6, whatever, could be anything, but since my Islam notes contain a very good film clip about the faith with a guide, I took that slide out of the notes and assigned it to station 3. It goes in the notes if you're flipping your classroom, but it makes station 2 about 30 minutes longer than it needs to be, and my students are more receptive to snippets of assignments.

Formative Assessment for this was a short quiz over the Rise of Islam.

For this unit, my class did the Day 2 model for two more days.

How can you use technology to do stations in secondary education? Easy! This simple Station-Rotation model, which is very much like what is commonly use in elementary schools, is a great way to incorporate at least one digital station while getting your students moving and practicing different skills.

How can you use technology to do stations in secondary education? Easy! This simple Station-Rotation model, which is very much like what is commonly use in elementary schools, is a great way to incorporate at least one digital station while getting your students moving and practicing different skills.At this point, my students would have been working on the study guide throughout the week. I have them take a picture of their answers for me, submit it in Google Classroom, and then the evening before the test, I post my answer key in classroom so that they can check themselves. (As such, the study guide is one assignment I don't accept late.)

I enjoyed review and test day because at Station 1, I got to play a game with a small group of students. I like that a lot better than whole class review.

At Station 2, students completed a sorting assignment in Google Classroom using the study guide answer key, terms, and a "virtual sorting mat." I don't have this posted anywhere yet, but you can get a general idea of it in the preview HERE.

Station 3 was a good old fashioned pen and paper task card review. I love task cards for test review--they really encourage students to bring everything together.

Summative Assessment was a multiple choice/matching/short essay test (very short essay). Again, I can do this all in one day because we are on the block schedule. I would do the test the following day if I were on traditional schedule.

The Take Away?

The Station-Rotation Model takes more up-front planning than the Flex Model. Class time is very smooth and super-engaging, and it gets easier the more you do it. I will not be ditching the Flex-Model, however. The students and I will all need those days. So, it looks like I'll be blending my blended classroom.

Be sure to check out my video blog over this topic (coming Monday) on the Tools For Teaching Teens website.

Do you blend? Are you looking to blend? Join the conversation! Leave a question or a comment below or on this FORM

Hang around and check out my other posts about the digital classroom:

Google Classroom: The Why and How
Google Classroom Troubleshooting for Beginners
Stations and Submitting Pen and Paper Work in the Digital Classroom
Blending My Classes One Unit at a Time
The Top 5 Reasons to Go Digital


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3 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey with us Leah! I too have wanted to experiment in the station model, but have not had time to think through the semantics...This post def helps! Question--What do you do for the kids that don't finish a given activity at that station that day? Are these multiple day stations? Do they complete unfinished station work on their own? This was one of my issues doing this when I was in an elem class...Would love to hear some advice!

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  2. Thank you for sharing your examples! I agree 100% that the station-rotation model can work in secondary classrooms, it just takes some getting used to like anything else. I'll definitely be sharing this with the Blended Learning Cohort I'm working with this year as a great secondary example!

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  3. Like the idea of creating connections between history and literature.

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