Station Rotation Model
When I first started visiting Mrs. Justice's room, she already had a station rotation model in action. Students spent time in three stations each class period -- small group, individual, games. With my presence, we were able to add a fourth station -- technology. Since it's really hard to get meaningful work done with four rotations a day, we rotated through the four stations over two days.
The big question at the time was WHAT technology to use. We use Envision Math at our school, and they have a website with student activities. The original goal was to use that site for the tech station, but it just wasn't conducive for personalized learning. So, we went with MobyMax, a site I use with younger students.
What is great about MobyMax is its personalization. Before you do any work in math, you take a placement test that figures out your holes in learning and gives you lessons to help fill those gaps. Another thing MobyMax does well is review math facts in an app called Fact Fluency. However, as students continued learning missing skills, we realized there was obvious things missing with MobyMax. For one, it lacks a lot of bells and whistles. While a second grader may not realize the difference, a fifth grader will visibly react to "the MobyMax voice" and less than optimum graphics. Another thing that tripped us up was the lack of flexibility. If a student bombed a kindergarten skill in the placement test, the only way to get past that skill was to go through all the lessons and practices -- even a retest didn't solve the problem.
We had to find something else.
Our simultaneous searching lead various places with great blogs and articles, but we hit pay dirt when Mrs. Justice found Mrs. Meehan's math website for a couple reasons.
For one, this led us to the Engage NY curriculum which is something Mrs. Justice was familiar with from her previous school. She printed out the modules and used them to revamp her entire approach. Students were assessed and given a starting point in the curriculum based on their assessments. This helped students start exactly where they need to learning.
We also found the resources for blended learning page, and that opened my eyes to a whole new set of math websites I didn't know existed. For now, we've landed on Zearn as a favorite. In Zearn, students are placed in specific lessons by the teacher but are scaffolded through the process from there. Each lesson has warm-ups, fact practice, a video lesson, more practice, and a wrap up that will teach a particular skill. And, say good-bye to freaky voices. Zearn has actors who play the part of teachers on their instructional videos.
That leads us to our next blended learning model, which I'll call flexible learning for lack of a better name. Students are expected to learn in three modes:
1. Small group instruction. Some students are required to spend 10-20 minutes with Mrs. Justice each day. Others are expected to check in face-to-face a couple times a week to make sure they are learning the new content.
2. Individual work. Students are given paper lessons to work on in class and are expected to complete 3-5 a week. If questions arise, they can ask peers or a teacher for help. As mentioned above, students are given papers each week based on how they have performed on assessments so they are personalized to an extent.
3. Technology. While we really like Zearn, we also have left the door open for them to continue with MobyMax or use DreamBox (a site they had been using since the start of school). Each of these sites enable personalization based on performance and allow students to move at their own pace.
And the room looks different than it used to look too as evidenced by this panoramic picture I took.
Moving forward we want to work toward a math menu model, where students will be able to choose each day between main dishes, side dishes, and desserts. These will include some of the pieces mentioned above but will also include creating and playing math games and creating and watching math videos to name a few. We'd also like to open up a few other math programs to students as well. (Click the link for my most recent ideas.)
We are constantly reading up on new ideas, so if you have an idea, web site, or blog you could recommend, please send it my way!