K-5 Curriculum Newsletter

Volume 2 - Issue 7

Station Rotation Model (2.0)

I know I’m preaching to the choir by saying the station rotation model is an extremely effective instructional strategy. I’ve observed multiple lessons where students are engaged in a variety of learning activities tied to the lesson’s objective, while the teacher is working with a targeted group at the teacher table. As always, there are varying levels of implementation of this instructional strategy. Simply creating stations and rotating students does not make this a distinguished practice; there are many options within the model to exceed the expectations of daily instruction. Below are some suggestions based on observations and research that will, hopefully, give you some ideas when designing your centers.

Teacher Table

I see the teacher table as the heart of the station rotation model. Here’s where we are teaching our required standards, and reinforcing the current lesson’s objective. We have the ability to differentiate assignments, as well as instruction based on the ability level of the current group. This also where our shyest and most introverted students get a chance to speak-up in a more controlled, less intimidating environment. I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. Quiet compliance shouldn’t be the norm here; academic conversation and engagement should dominate. Refer back to Danielson’s Domain 3b: Using discussion and questioning techniques. Read through the language of the distinguished box; how are you achieving this at the teacher table?

Technology Station

Not being a 1:1 district, the station rotation model works seamlessly with integrating technology into instruction. Only needing a handful of Chromebooks, students can interact with technology on a regular basis (understandably not every day, if each student doesn’t get to go to every station). There are plenty of online resources through Think Central, RAZ-Plus, ReadWorks, and Newsela (among many others) for students to use technology to practice the current skill. Consider moving past the individual nature of these tasks, and tap into the collaborative potential Google Apps for Education (now referred to as G-Suite) has to offer. The beauty of Google allows students (who might not be in the same station group) to work on a collaborative project - maybe a Slides presentation - asynchronously. Students can peer edit writing tasks using the share and comment feature in Docs, or create math quizzes for their classmates to take using Forms. There’s also the option of incorporating aspects of blended learning into this station (refer to the piece below about Edpuzzle).

Offline Station(s)

I love when I see choice boards, menus, contracts, etc. used to provide students with choices on what to work on when not with the teacher or on a Chromebook. Here’s where we can really tap into students’ creative nature, and authenticate learning. Engagement can really be amplified by moving past the skill and drill independent practice worksheets, and providing more hands-on, interactive, design thinking tasks. Games are a fun way to promote respectful interaction, while still practicing key skills. Consider projects/problems/learning tasks (doesn’t matter what you call them) that might span the course of a few days or few weeks. See below for an example of something I used to use with my 7th/8th graders. Obviously, the skills you’re covering are different, but it demonstrates the concept of creating a multiple step problem that covers multiple skills. Again, this is something that can be included in a choice board, with the requirement that it is completed at week’s end; this allows a student to attempt to tackle the entire problem in a day, or work on pieces throughout the course of the week.

Click here for math problem example.

Whether we call it Daily 5, Daily 4, Math Workshop, or by any other moniker, we get the flexibility to differentiate and tailor instruction to the specific needs of our classes. If you haven’t done so already, consider taking the next step; our kids deserve it!


EDpuzzle is a great tech tool that fits nicely into the station rotation model that many of us use on a daily basis. The site gives you the ability to edit videos from major sites such as YouTube, Khan Academy, and National Geographic. You have the ability to crop the video to start and stop when you want, you can have the video automatically pause and ask a question that needs to be answered before moving on, and you can even add in your own voice over and/or audio comment as the video plays.

EDpuzzle is a free resource that you sign-in using your Google account. The site automatically syncs with any Google Classroom you have created. Data is collected for your review based on the students' answers.

With a limited number of Chromebooks available at any time, this is a great tool to use with small groups of students working in a center. Options can range from longer videos reinforcing the lesson's objective, or as a quick formative assessment.

Click here for an example (because this is not shared in a Google Classroom, it is not tracking the answers to each question; it's just meant for a demonstration).

Build Your Own Document Camera

So, you don't have a document camera? Well tap into your inner maker mindset, and build one. All you need is a smart phone and cardboard. Refer to the pictures below for how to create your apparatus.

Once constructed, create a Google Hangout on the computer that is connected to the projector. Download the Google Hangouts app onto your phone, and connect to the hangout. Place your phone's camera on top of your cardboard. Now, whatever you place underneath your phone, will be projected onto your board.

Notes from Mr. Scotto

Our three-part series focusing on Assessment Design & Implementation is now complete.

I hope you found your sessions with Dr. Tienken to be productive and focused on your professional needs. The next step is to make sure we continue to place a careful watch on our assessments. Do the tasks:

  • require application?
  • have students think critically?
  • allow the student to demonstrate their learning?

You have been given the tools to make this happen; please keep "the momentum" going.

Thank you!

Joseph R. Bond

District Supervisor of Elementary Education