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Creative Communicator

Express Yourself!: Comparing Frameworks to Foster Creative Communicators

Express Yourself!: Comparing Frameworks to Foster Creative Communicators

When I first formulated my research question for this module, my intention was to explore digital tools for students to communicate their learning that would also help ease teacher workload especially for the current remote learning environment. This seemed appropriate for our Module 4 focus which is connected to ISTE 6 Creative Communicator. I do love learning about new digital tools or considering how others use the same tools in different ways for effective teaching and learning. However, I feel like there are already plenty of resources online that already explain what a tool is and how it can be used. I then struggled mightily to formulate a question that wasn’t so tool focused for this particular ISTE standard. 

I started to read Carol Ann Tomlinson’s work about the differentiated classroom, Katie Novak’s writing on Universal Design for Learning, and the Danielson Framework for Remote Learning and noticed strong connections between the three. Each promotes designing flexible learning pathways that address ISTE 6. This helped me generate a meaningful question which focused on pedagogical design rather than tool summary.

My Question: How do Tomlinson’s differentiated instruction, UDL, and the Danielson Framework for Remote Learning support student learning of ISTE 6?

ISTE 6 Creative Communicator: Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.

  1. Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
  2. Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
  3. Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
  4. Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

Developed by Charlotte Danielson, the Framework for Teaching is an evolving framework that outlines a roadmap for effective teaching. After the pandemic hit in 2020, The Danielson Group reevaluated their framework to fit the environment of remote teaching and learning. The Framework for Remote teaching has a focus on fewer components, updated components and elements, and no rubric. In addition to the components, the group also designed a recommended pathway to implore users to gain a deep understanding of students to build responsive learning environments in order to plan and facilitate engaging instruction to meet students where they are at. Component 1e of the framework concentrates on designing learning experiences that provide flexibility and are student-centered. This includes tasks and activities that encourage student agency, create authentic engagement opportunities, and are tailored to individual student needs (The Danielson Group, 2020). This component is directly aligned with ISTE 6. Designing opportunities for students to choose platforms and digital tools that suit their needs and interests empowers student agency while also creating learning tasks that are authentic and engaging to the individual. 

Katie Novak’s advocacy for Universal Design for Learning (UDL) also emphasizes choice and flexibility when designing learning experiences. UDL is an educational framework that is intended to create learners who are purposeful and motivated, resourceful and knowledgeable, and strategic and goal-directed. At its core, UDL emphasizes student-centered learning experiences that embrace learner variability. Kim Schiefelbein, a guest blogger on Novak Education, stresses educators to focus on key learning goals or standards when designing lessons for remote learning (Schiefelbein, 2021). When a clear target for assessment is in mind, educators can design more opportunities for students to communicate and express themselves that is meaningful to them. Schiefelbein offers reflective questions for teachers to consider when designing a remote learning lesson with UDL in mind: 

  • What are the key takeaways for the lesson?
  • How will all students express they met the goal of the lesson?
  • What methods and materials will be used?

These questions are important to ask when considering which digital tools to utilize in a lesson or unit. In the words of Novak, “students have choices… [a]nd those choices allow all students to access rigorous, standards-based curriculum” (Novak, 2021). The patterns of choice in UDL can show up in goal settings, methods for instruction and learning, materials, and assessments. This correlates to ISTE 6 by affording students to use digital tools creatively to fit their learning needs and lesson objectives throughout the learning process. Novak specifically calls out designing multiple means of action and expression that allow students to use technology to express knowledge which cuts to the core of ISTE Creative Communicator. 

Carol Ann Tomlinson’s ideas about differentiation also adhere to the standards of ISTE 6. Tomlinson explains that students in a differentiated classroom “have multiple options for taking in information, making sense of ideas, and expressing what they learn. In other words, a differentiated classroom provides different avenues to acquiring content, to processing or making sense of ideas, and to developing products so that each student can learn effectively” (Tomlinson, 2017). Another way to consider this is differentiating by:

  • Content – input or what students learn
  • Process – how students go about making sense of ideas/information
  • Product – output or how students demonstrate what they have learned. 

Therefore, learning in a differentiated classroom must be student-centered. The connection to ISTE 6 again is clear: leverage digital tools to allow students choice in the content and product of their learning. Teachers can offer different tools for different approaches to what students learn, how they learn it, and how they demonstrate what they’ve learned or this can be designed by the students themselves. 

The common thread amongst these authors works is student agency and choice. By designing multiple means of engagement, representation, and expression, students can then think creatively for how they wish to communicate their learning. We can even promote students to design their own learning experiences when there are clear learning targets and aligned assessment rubrics. In order to support ISTE 6, we must build learning partnerships with our students. We must get to know our students to better understand their readiness, interests, and learning profile. This information can then be used to design richer learning experiences universal for all students, differentiate to respond to student differences, and prioritize effective teaching practices for remote learning. Doing so allows students the freedom to be creative communicators. 

References

The Danielson Group. The Framework for Remote Teaching. Danielson Group. https://danielsongroup.org/what-we-do/framework-teaching.

Novak, K. (2018, December 11). What is UDL? . Novak Education. https://www.novakeducation.com/blog/what-is-udl-infographic.

Novak, K. (2021, February 25). Million Dollar Question: What Does UDL Look Like? Novak Education. https://www.novakeducation.com/blog/million-dollar-question-what-does-udl-look-like.

Schiefelbein, K. (2021, February 3). Remote or Not, UDL Lessons Still Apply. Novak Education. https://www.novakeducation.com/blog/remote-or-not-udl-lessons-still-apply.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2017). How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms. What Differentiated Instruction Is-and Isn’t. http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/117032/chapters/What-Differentiated-Instruction-Is%E2%80%94and-Isn’t.aspx.

Categories
Uncategorized

Decomposing Computational Thinking within Social Studies

Introduction:

The classic definition of computational thinking was created in 2006 by computer scientist Jeanette Wing. According to Wing, computational thinking (CT) involves solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior, by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science (Wing, 2006). CT isn’t just for computer scientists, but a fundamental skill for everyone. It is a way humans solve problems and it is not trying to get humans to think like computers (Wing, 2006). We all practice CT in some capacity even without computers. Packing your bag with things you need for your trip or retracing your steps to find an item you lost are problem-solving strategies relative to computational thinking. Wing’s hope is that CT competencies become more widely recognized and spread to other disciplines (Wing, 2006).  

In 2012 , ISTE and Computer Science Teachers Association developed an operational definition of CT to help K-12 teachers introduce it in their classrooms. The timing of generating these standards is consistent with growing employment opportunities in the United States. According to the National Science Foundation, more than 600,000 high-paying technology jobs are open across the US, and as of 2018 more than 51% of all STEM jobs will be in computer science-related fields (Lindstrom et al., 2019). Therefore, teaching CT as a critical problem-solving process will better equip our students to be prepared for the job market that they will be entering. Not all our students will enter a computer-science related field, but CT is universally important in solving and understanding complex problems. 

ISTE recognizes that bringing CT to K-12 classrooms faces challenges of introducing it to the curriculum to getting teachers fully onboard. Many teachers don’t yet know what computational thinking is and get hung up on the definition (Fingal, 2018). I can recall the day I attended an ISTE training put on by our district and thinking how irrelevant CT was for social studies. I didn’t realize at the time that I had been teaching facets of CT, but I didn’t have the knowledge and understanding to communicate these processes to students. 

Fast forward to my role as a digital education coach, I wish to help educators understand that they are already engaging their students in CT, find new ways to integrate CT into their existing curriculum, and foster a better understanding of the characteristics of CT so that it is explicit for our students and to empower them transferring these processes to other problems. More specifically, I want to investigate how CT is integrated into social studies to better support some of the teachers I work with. 

My question – What is computational thinking and how can it be integrated into social studies?

ISTE 5 Computational Thinker –  Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.

Solution:

Computational thinking forms links between computing and the real world including a set of problem-solving processes that builds on the power and limits of computing. The focus is on thinking skills or processes and the four most commonly cited of CT are decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithmic thinking. Many social studies educators may realize that they are already fostering these thinking skills in their curriculum and with their students. The following includes a breakdown of CT thinking skills as well as examples of how they could be integrated into social studies curriculum:

Decomposition is the breaking down complex problems into smaller parts or tasks. Decomposition is great for breaking down essential questions or historical topics/processes to better analyze and understand. Students can break problems down into smaller tasks to work at one at a time to limit the chance of being overwhelmed (Güven & Gulbahar, 2020). This is a common skill in social studies as historical events and periods are broken down into parts such as causes and effects or varying perspectives. For example, while investigating The Great Depression, students could look into the main causes for the stock market crash and how the results affected the country, its economics, and people. They could then analyze the different parts to infer why the period is known as “the Great Depression” (Güven & Gulbahar, 2020). Similarly, there is a common social media trend where large topics are broken down into simpler and more easily digestible parts. These posts often begin with: “so you want to talk about _____”. This is a great example of decomposition that can be engaging for students to leverage digital tools to communicate complex information in a way that is appropriate for a target audience. It is common for educators as the drivers of this thinking often categorizing or breaking up topics for students. Instead, educators should consider empowering students to participate and collaborate in this process as much as it is appropriate.

Pattern recognition concentrates on finding similarities and differences in systems that can also be used to make predictions. Like decomposition, pattern recognition is common and easily integrated into social studies curriculum. We can study history, for example, to identify patterns to make better decisions in the future. Investigating change over time or compare/contrast already lends itself to pattern recognition that can then be used to make predictions or arrive at conclusions. For example, students can investigate maps of settlements or population distribution, investigate the rise and fall of civilizations, or examine primary source data to study patterns of voting rights in a nation (Hammond et al., 2019). 

Abstraction can be described as reducing detail to make a problem or analysis more understandable. Another way to think about CT abstraction is the filtering information to glean the most relevant information. In other words, can I remove details to make it easier to see patterns or connections? For example, students discern the most important details shared in articles they research to write informatively about the subject. In civics, abstraction can be used to filter data to be analyzed then generate conclusions. Build in time for students to continually ask questions as this will help them consider new ways to analyze data and patterns. 

Algorithmic thinking/design is developing processes through logical, precise, and repeatable steps (Güven & Gulbahar, 2020). It would be helpful to preface this CT with some basic knowledge of coding including vocabulary like sequence, selection, and repetition, but it isn’t critical. Students can develop their own algorithms to teach processes. Students could be empowered to research and create algorithms for how a bill becomes a law or the process of gentrification. Generally, students may use algorithmic thinking to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes developments, and turning points throughout history (Güven & Gulbahar, 2020). Simulation games like Mincraft or the oregon trail really exemplify this particular CT skill when the user is creating or playing through a narrative.  

Conclusion

To be clear, computer science is an academic discipline involving the study of computation and application using computers while CT is a way we go about tackling problems using big picture processes (2016). CT helps increase student confidence with ambiguous, complex, or open-ended problems. Many social studies educators are naturally teaching CT though it may not be explicit. There is crossover between common historical thinking skills and CT. It is then critical to teach students the vocabulary associated with CT to support a deeper understanding of the thinking skills as well as increase ability in transferring those skills to other problems. In addition, providing space for students to choose, evaluate, and discuss their CT process can support higher level critical thinking. Encourage students to generate questions. Questions ignite the thinking process and also redirect the thinking process. Students may start with a driving question that evolves into other questions that affords a much deeper learning experience. New questions also may determine different ways to manipulate data or look for alternative patterns.

References

Fingal, J. (2018, November 27). Teaching computational thinking more important than defining it. ISTE. https://www.iste.org/explore/Computational-Thinking/Teaching-computational-thinking-more-important-than-defining-it.   

Güven, I., & Gulbahar, Y. (2020). Integrating Computational Thinking into Social Studies. The Social Studies, 111(5), 234–248. https://doi.org/10.1080/00377996.2020.1749017  

Hammond, T. C., Oltman, J., & Salter, S. (2019). Using Computational Thinking to Explore the Past, Present, and future. Social Education, 83(2), 118–122. https://www.socialstudies.org/social-education/83/2/using-computational-thinking-explore-past-present-and-future#:~:text=Using%20Computational%20Thinking%20to%20Explore%20the%20Past%2C%20Present%2C%20and%20Future,-Social%20Education&text=The%20incorporation%20of%20elements%20of,for%20analyzing%20discipline%2Dspecific%20data 

Lindstrom, D. L., Schmidt-Crawford, D. A., & Thompson, A. D. (2019). Computational Thinking in Content Areas and Feminine Craft. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 35(3), 126–127. https://doi.org/10.1080/21532974.2019.1622917  

What is computational thinking? (2016). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJKzkVZcozc&feature=youtu.be

Wing, J. M. (2006). Computational Thinking. Communications of the ACM, 49(3), 33–35. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/usr/wing/www/publications/Wing06.pdf

Categories
Knowledge Constructor Most Recent Post

The Process of Knowledge Construction

Introduction 

Information literacy is the ability to identify, locate, evaluate, and use information effectively (Information Literacy, 2017). A now necessary skill because of how abundant and accessible information is. If we, as educators, are to address the rampant spread of misinformation, then we must support students’ development of information literacy. To avoid being duped, students must develop skillful research habits, but the landscape of research has changed over the last few decades. 

In 2012, Pew Research Center conducted a survey focusing on how teens do research. Pew concluded that the internet has changed the meaning of research (Purcell et al., 2020). Today’s digital environment has had a significant impact on student research habits. Both teachers and students reported that research equals “Googling”. The process has shifted. What was once a “relatively slow process of intellectual curiosity and discovery” is now a “fast-paced, short term exercise aimed at locating just enough information to complete an assignment” (Purcell et al., 2020). That isn’t to say there isn’t any value in locating information quickly, but without a focus on an information problem-solving process, students will struggle to develop the crucial skills and habits to successfully construct meaning for themselves and others. 

The general perception is that the internet and digital technologies have a “mostly positive” impact on students’ research habits. Although, teachers are still concerned about students’ expectations and use of “instant information”(Purcell et al., 2020). Deficits include using multiple sources effectively to support an argument, recognize bias, and the inability to judge the quality of information. The latter being a skill the majority of teachers in the Pew survey deemed “essential” for their students’ future success (Purcell et al., 2020).

So how can we support our students with the habits and skills to be successfully curious and combat the side effects of instant information? How can we empower students to be knowledge constructors who actively explore real-world issues to develop ideas and pursue answers? To address these large questions, I contend that an educator’s energy should be invested towards information skills instruction that focuses on the process and is supported by cooperative learning structures. 

ISTE 3 – Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.

My Question – “How does an inquiry process model support critical information literacy skills? How can this process be supported by culturally responsive, cooperative learning structures?”

Solution

One process that could be used to teach information literacy and support inquiry is the Big6 and Super3. The Big6 is a student-centered research process that can help anyone solve problems or make decisions by using information. The process can be applied across subject areas and age levels. The goal is to teach the process, to have it be habitual, so that students can become systematic problem solvers who successfully curate, evaluate, and synthesize information.   Included in its name, the Big6 has 6 distinct stages that align to the ISTE Knowledge Constructor standards:

  • Task Definition – this first part involves the ability to recognize that information is needed, to define a problem, and to identify the types and amount of information needed. Some framing questions include: what is my current task?; what are some topics or questions I need to answer?; what information will I need? Here, a digital KWL thinking process may be helpful (Borrero Blog). Students could leverage digital communication tools to consult with experts locally or globally. Additionally, The Question Formulation Technique, created by the Right Question Institute, is a research-backed process to help students generate questions that could be used as a strategy to create questions based on a problem or another stimuli (What is the QFT?, 2020) .
  • Information Seeking Strategies – once an information problem has been identified, students brainstorm to consider all possible information sources and develop a plan to find the sources. This step is crucial in addressing some of the issues caused by “instant information” gathering as mentioned earlier. Some framing questions include: what are all the possible sources to check?; what are the best sources of information for this task? Students should explicitly evaluate pros/cons of each source and assess for relevance. There are plenty of mnemonic devices available to scaffold this, and the Big6 website offers CAARS and CLAAASS. Collaborating with your school’s librarian is also essential in identifying what source libraries are available to your students that don’t cost money. Lastly, allow students to plan a reasonable timeline for the information problem-solving tasks.
  • Location and Access – After students determine their priorities for sources, then they must locate and access those sources. Access is key and teachers should help students understand what credentials they need and where they can access the sources (at home, at school, or both). Some framing questions include: where can I find these sources? Where can I find the information in the source? Another critical step here is to support students with understanding how to effectively use appropriate search terms when they access online databases. Teachers in the Pew survey rated only 24% of students above average or excellent in this skill. Using the Four NETS for Better Searching website can be used to support this skill. We can also leverage digital tools to help students collect and organize information. Digital tools like Zotero and Wakelet are just a few of many examples. 
  • Use of Information – Students then engage with their information to extract relevant information. Some framing questions include: what information do I expect to find in this source?; what information from the source is useful? We can continue to use digital tools like Zotero and Wakelet to support this work. Another idea would be to create a Form template that students can copy and fill in to generate an excel sheet of their research. Sites like citationmachine or easybib can also be used to build references data based and then copied to a document. I can recall from my experience that this step would often happen at the end of the research process with my students. Too often would sources get lost or forgotten, so focus on building a habit of this as you go. 
  • Synthesis – learners organize information from their multiple sources in a way to construct knowledge, make meaning, and present. Framing questions include: how will I organize my information?; how should I present my information? It is valuable to make this thinking visible. Synthesizing thinking routines from ProjectZero’s toolkit can help scaffold the cognitive process. Digital whiteboards and sticky notes can help make that thinking visible. Not specifically called out, but this would be the appropriate stage for students to then use digital tools to present their understandings and arguments. Student agency can be increased by allowing for learners to self-select their medium/tool they want to construct their information with.
  • Evaluation – the final stage focuses on how well the final product meets the original task. This is a judgement phase examining not only the product(effectiveness), but more importantly the process(efficiency). Framing questions include: did I do what was required?; did I complete each of the Big6 stages efficiently? It is important to allow students the opportunity for self-assessment here. 

(Eisenberg et al., 2017)

thebig6.org

The Big6 is applicable for all age levels, but there is also the Super3 that condenses the Big6 into 3 major steps written for the youngest age groups.

thebig6.org

At first glance of the Big6 website and overview materials, the process suggests that it is mostly an individual undertaking by the student who receives feedback from the instructor. This isn’t true, but cooperative learning is an integral component to inquiry. We can then look at the tenants of the Community of Inquiry (COI) framework and fold that into the Big 6 process. Also referred to as the Practical Inquiry process, there are 3 overlapping presences that support inquiry and critical thinking especially in remote/distance learning. The authors of COI define it as “a group of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding” (Bektashi, 2018). In addition, COI describes how learning occurs at the intersection of social, cognitive and teaching presence (Bektashi, 2018). I would recommend K-12 teachers consider the characteristics of these presences and how they fit into a more appropriate age-level, and student friendly, framework.

  1. Teacher Presence – design inquiry opportunities and organize classroom learning communities, facilitate discourse, and direct instruction.
  2. Social Presence – the ability for students identify with the community, communicate purposefully, and develop interpersonal relationships 
  3. Cognitive Presence – the way in which students construct and confirm meaning through activities, reflection, and discourse.

The social presence is the collective learning space that is indispensable to include in the inquiry process. A learner’s construction of knowledge and support is thoroughly elevated when an individual is able to comfortably engage in social and communal collaboration. Fostering successful social presences builds classroom community, provides beneficial peer-peer technology support (a time consuming and difficult challenge for teaching online), presents healthy discourse and multiple perspectives, and better supports critical thinking and cognitive development. This is especially helpful in the remote learning environment to support the social and emotional well-being of students who often feel isolated and depressed (Curtis, 2020). What might the social presences explicitly look like in the Big6? At each stage students would be moving “iteratively between private and shared words… between critical reflection and discourse” (Garrison et al., 2004).  In other words, one should plan to allow for a opportunity in small professional learning communities (PLCs) with peers to: set goals, share, discuss, provide feedback, and connect their learning. 

Conclusion

Much of my attention as a digital learning specialist is concentrated on coaching work with teachers to address instructional challenges. I support teachers in implementing strategies to address instructional challenges, but every classroom is different, and my role is then to help teachers adapt those strategies that fit their environment while choosing the right digital tools that are supported. Teachers can then create their own inquiry model to fit their classroom context and still preserve the necessary components of the Big6, Super3, and/or COI framework. A great example of this is the Quest model, created by Dr. David Wicks, that is better aligned to the Seattle Pacific University’s Digital Education Leadership program (Wicks, 2018).  While an inquiry model is helpful to teach the process and skills of ISTE Knowledge Constructor, equally important is fostering a social presence in your model. Furthermore, educators should continuously assess and teach the necessary research skills to help students be successful at each stage of the inquiry process. These lessons should be folded into the timeline allotted for your inquiry assignment. Jennifer Gonzalez, Digital Educator and author of the Cult of Pedagogy, offers an example of this as a curation lesson (Gonzalez, 2017). Finally, in order for students to grow in their research skills, the inquiry framework must be a continuous routine in your classroom year round. Practice can then transform to permanence. 

References

Bektashi, L. (2018, July 9). Community of Inquiry Framework in Online Learning: Use of Technology. Go to the cover page of Technology and the Curriculum: Summer 2018. https://techandcurriculum.pressbooks.com/chapter/coi-and-online-learning/.  

Curtis, C. (2020, October 13). Isolated Students May Struggle to Stay Mentally Healthy. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/isolated-students-may-struggle-stay-mentally-healthy.  

Eisenberg, M., Johnson, D., & Berkowitz, B. (2017). Information, Communications, and Technology (ICT) Skills Curriculum Based on the Big6 Skills Approach to Information Problem-Solving. Library Media Connection, 24–27. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59a303936a49631dd51f9a7d/t/5b92e343b8a045c01cc38a21/1536353091802/LMC_Big6-ICT_Curriculum_LMC_MayJune2010.pdf.  

Garrison, R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2004, May 4). Critical Thinking, Cognitive Presence, and Computer Conferencing in Distance Education. http://cde.athabascau.ca/coi_site/documents/Garrison_Anderson_Archer_CogPres_Final.pdf.  

Gonzalez, J. (2020, June 13). To Boost Higher-Order Thinking, Try Curation. Cult of Pedagogy. https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/curation/. 

Information literacy. (2017, August 7). Common Sense. https://www.commonsense.org/education/digital-citizenship/information-literacy.  

Purcell, K., Rainie, L., Buchanan, J., Friedrich, L., Jacklin, A., Chen, C., & Zickuhr, K. (2020, May 30). How Teens Do Research in the Digital World. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2012/11/01/how-teens-do-research-in-the-digital-world/.  

What is the QFT? Right Question Institute. (2020, June 26). https://rightquestion.org/what-is-the-qft/.  

Wicks, D. (2018, May 21). The QUEST model for inquiry-based learning. David Wicks: Digital Education. https://davidwicks.org/iste-2-design-and-develop-digital-age-learning-experiences-and-assessments/quest-model-for-inquiry-based-learning/

Categories
Empowered Learner

Rotations to Support Empowered Learners

Introduction:

Shifts to remote learning due to the pandemic has challenged educators to rethink and adapt pedagogy to fit the new environment of their classroom. Many experienced the urgency to prepare students to be successful in a constantly evolving technological landscape. As my district approaches 1 full-year of remote learning, preparations have begun to support the transition to back to in-person learning. Simultaneously, remote learning continues and we have to prepare for flexible learning environments customized to the needs of our students.

I have the opportunity to speak with both teachers and students of all different grade levels about these questions. It is really easy to focus on the negatives of remote instruction, so I often try to ask questions about what is working well. Small group instruction models and flexible learning options have been common conversations, and although whole group instruction has its purpose, teachers have been finding success in engaging students much more in smaller instructional settings especially when there is an element of choice. These interactions inspired my research question to address the ISTE standard for this module:

ISTE Student Standard 1 – Empower Learner

Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. 

My Questions:

How can station rotation and other rotation models create custom learning environments that facilitate student networks of support? How can this design model be adapted to fit the needs of remote and in-person learning?

Solution

What is the station rotation model?

At first glance, station rotation doesn’t seem like a revolutionary pedagogy, but traditional rotations can fall into traps of teacher-led/paced instruction, focused on compliance, and lacks collaboration. This effectively forbids students of their choice and generates one-size-fits-all instruction. A station rotation model, however, can be described as a model that utilizes concepts of blended learning to create dynamic station activities that allow for more differentiation, individualization, and networks of collaboration. Blended learning implies that at least one station uses some form of online learning. To address the ISTE Empowered Learners standard, we should also consider flexibility in time, place, path, and pace.  

(insert picture)

Catlin Tucker, a digital educator and advocate of blended learning, highlights that the benefits of a station rotation model are that it creates smaller learning communities within the larger class, implements varied tasks, and provides teachers with space to work individually or in small groups to meet each student’s learning goals (Tucker, 2017). It is imperative to use backward-design to drive the planning of station rotation. Understanding your lesson goals and assessments will help you make better decisions about time, place, path, and pace of your lesson (Douma, 2020). 

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A key design model to support Empowered Learners is to build stations for collaboration allowing students to build networks with others to support the learning process. Here students could seek feedback from one another, discuss ideas, or collaborate on an activity together. In addition, provide space in stations for students to set personal learning goals and reflect on those goals. This could take form in an entry/exit task station where all students are participating simultaneously before/after rotating stations. 

We also can empower students to choose a station that best fits their learning goals or interests. This is especially useful with practicing or reviewing concepts and you could support students’ choice of station by using an if ____ then ____ board. Stations can be designed with different learning modalities in mind to allow for students to choose which station best suits their own needs. “Some students may benefit from beginning with small group instruction before moving onto practice. While other students, who are accelerated learners or tactile, may learn better by starting with a practice activity where they get to explore and practice before they receive direct instruction” (Tucker, 2017). Individual practice stations can also leverage online tools or adaptive software and empower students to make the choice that is right for them. The pacing of the rotation can also be chosen by the individual student and the rotation does not necessarily need to be finished within one class period or day. Planning rotations with these considerations in mind allow for students to leverage technology and to choose learning environments (stations) that best suit their learning goals (Staker and Horn, 2012). 

(insert picture)

4 Station Considerations for Remote Learning

  1. A station for independent learning/practice – The key here focuses on practice. Empower your students to set their own personal learning goals in this station. You can also consider utilizing an online learning platform that offers immediate data informed instruction.
  1. Teacher-led, small group station – this station is crucial to allow teachers to get to know their students and to better plan for and support their progress. Students could try out the learning with immediate feedback/support from the instructor. Or the teacher could be facilitating discussion and allow for more student-centered learning. 
  1. An offline station – provide a menu of options for students to practice SEL or engaged in non-screen activities with tactile learning. This could be using manipulatives, journaling, discussion of their learning with family, and/or reflection on their learning goals.
  1. A collaborative-learning station – provide opportunity for students to build a network of support and collaborate. It is critical to think about a deliverable piece for student groups to produce. For example, this could be students filling out student-created feedback forms or engaging in a cooperative learning activity that challenges them to submit something for feedback. This station is especially important in the remote setting because it can help support socialization during student learning to grow understanding. 

(Douma, 2020)

 

Planning Recommendations

  • Keep groups less than 5
  • Sketch out stations:
    • What is the objective of each station? Will students produce something?
    • How much time do students need at each station?
    • What materials are needed?
    • How will directions of each station be delivered to students? Will they be frontloaded or presented at each station (video or typed directions)?
    • Consider transition time – how will students know when/where to go? How can you support quicker transition to maximize time? (for example -use QR codes to direct students more quickly or support sign-on)

(Tucker, 2015)

References

Douma, K. (2020, September 28). How to Make Station Rotation Work During Hybrid Learning. https://www.edutopia.org/article/how-make-station-rotation-work-during-hybrid-learning.  

Staker, H., & Horn, M. B. (2012, May). Classifying K-12 Blended Learning. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED535180.pdf

Tucker, C. (2015, July 20). Create Small Learning Communities with the Station Rotation Model. Dr Catlin Tucker. https://catlintucker.com/2015/07/creating-small-learning-communities-with-the-station-rotation-model/ 

Tucker, C., Wycoff, T., & Green, J.  (2017). Blended learning in action: A practical guide toward sustainable change. Corwin.