Some schools have implemented a rotation instructional model that has students learning by moving in small groups among working in teacher-directed instruction, a collaborative learning activity, and an independent learning (often technology-based) task. Some approached this strategy as a way of increasing differentiation or personalization. Some were focused on a process for increasing students’ opportunities to use technology as a tool for learning.
Here is how Lampeter-Strasburg School District in PA describes its program:
The Hybrid Rotational Learning Model enables teachers to meet the diverse learning needs of students by blending digital and traditional teaching methods in a differentiated format. Students rotate in ﬂuid, ﬂexible groups among three learning stations within the classroom. Each station is strategically designed to provide students with individualized learning opportunities to demonstrate mastery of course content.
Direct Instruction – Students are provided direct instruction based on their needs moving through concepts within the curriculum. Instruction for each group looks diﬀerent based on that group’s needs.
Independent Instruction – The independent station gives students the opportunity to interact with digital content, providing both the student and teacher with immediate feedback.
Collaborative Learning – The collaborative station provides students the opportunity to draw connections among ideas, use information in new situations, produce new and/or original work, and justify or support decisions based on data and knowledge gained from content and fellow students.
Exploring the rotational model with instructional coaches and administrators has lead me to focus on the student learning-production behaviors needed as students move among the stations. It’s critical that students know and can take responsibility for the behaviors on their part that will maximize learning at each station in the rotation. They should be able to identify “how they are learning” rather than just thinking “what work needs to be completed.”
Here’s my first attempt at identifying needed learner behaviors that are common within each station. Specific tasks would add additional production behaviors. What would you add?
Focus on what the teacher is saying/showing. Ask yourself what is most important? Consider taking notes on those items
Continually volunteer to answer questions the teacher asks. This gets you feedback that reinforces or corrects your understanding.
Answer all questions the instructor asks to yourself and compare your answer to the ones others give. This gives you more feedback.
Check your understanding with a question or statement to the teacher. “Is it important that the lines are even?” “So, congress can override the president’s veto.”
When you don’t understand, ask the teacher a question that can guide you. “Where do I find that on the map?”
If too confused to ask a question, tell the teacher you’re not understanding.
Complete all practice examples the teacher provides. When your answer is wrong try again and/or seek help. Then ask, “What did I learn from that mistake?”
Ask yourself, “Why are we doing this task?”
- We are matching the words and definitions to identify the ones we know and don’t know. Repeating the process will help me remember new vocabulary. Also, I’ll find out which ones I should study.
- By building the model we will reinforce our understanding of the life cycle.
If you are unclear how the task helps you learn, ask your partners or teacher.
Commit that each person in your group will gain from the tasks. Offer assistance to your teammates and ask questions of them that will help you understand.
Encourage each other. Use all the collaborative verbal skills like giving appropriate feedback and approval.
The social part of group work often helps us stay with the task. Remember to stay with the task while being social.
Think out loud and listen to others’ thinking. It’s part of the value of collaborative learning.
Use problem-solving skills when the group is stuck. “What else can we try?” “Let’s start over step-by-step.” “Can we ask another team for a clue?”
Remember the learning process is often more important than the product.
Check that you understand the purpose of the task. Are you practicing, applying, or assessing understanding? If unclear check with the instructor.
It can be helpful to set a goal that you want to accomplish during this independent time. “I will outline my essay and draft the opening paragraph.”
Monitor your degree of focus. If your mind is wandering as you read or are on the computer screen, stand up, stretch, and refocus.
This is the time for effort and perseverance. Commit to stretch your “stick-to-it-ness.”
Know the guidelines for seeking help during this time. Can I ask other students? Search online? Do you want to record a question to take to the teacher at another time?
When time is up, do a debrief. How did you do on your goal? What goal will you set next? This reflection leads to an increased understanding of the learning process.
If we want students to take increasing ownership of their learning, it will be critical that we identify, teach, model, and coach the needed student learning-production behaviors.