Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
Ask teachers what things would make their teaching experience better and reduced class sizes are sure to be on the list.
Not all teachers are lucky enough to have a co-teacher or teacher aide in the classroom, so it can be challenging to give personalized instruction and differentiate content for students.
What if we told you there was a way to structure your classroom so that you could work with small groups, without needing to have a co-teacher? You’ve guessed it, that’s what the station rotation model can do!
We’ll take you through the key components of the model, tips for implementing it, and examples from teachers using station rotation in their classrooms. By the end of this article, you'll have everything you need to implement your own Edpuzzle station!
What is the Station Rotation Model?
If you’ve ever used learning centers or stations in your class, you already understand how practical it is to divide students into small groups and have them work on varied tasks. That way, students can learn through a variety of ways (with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic tasks for example).
The station rotation model takes this idea but has students rotate through different stations on a fixed schedule.
It’s recommended that students spend anywhere between 10-15 minutes at each station. But because kindergarteners and highschoolers have different attention spans (although it doesn’t always seem that way!), this amount of time can vary depending on age.
In recent years, station rotation has adapted to modern times and nowadays you probably won’t see a version in action that doesn’t include an “online” station. Station rotation and blended learning (the balance of offline and online learning) are a match made in heaven.
In a blended station rotation model, students pass through at least one of the following stations:
- A teacher-led station: Lets teachers work with small groups of students and address any student misunderstandings.
- A offline station: Lets students work on collaborative problem-solving with hands-on activities.
- An online station: Gives teachers a more dynamic ways to deliver content. At the same time, technology can give students more control over the time, place, pace, and path of their learning.
A good online station is key to this model. But with so many edtech options out there, what’s the best choice for your class? That’s where Edpuzzle comes in.
Station Rotation and Edpuzzle
Using video is not only practical, but it's also educational and therefore a great choice for your online station. It activates both visual and auditory learning at the same, something that today’s YouTube and TikTok generation will appreciate.
With Edpuzzle, you don’t have to worry about students zoning out during the video. You can turn any video into a video lesson and ensure that students are actively watching.
In the example above, students watch a video that reviews key concepts they've been covering in class. The video could be one that you find on YouTube or one that you make yourself. Either way, Edpuzzle lets you embed questions to keep students engaged and hold them accountable.
At the offline station, students apply what they learn using math manipulatives and play a game with a partner.
Then, at the teacher-led station, the teacher can give students immediate feedback on the most recent homework assignment.
At the end of the day, the learning that is happening at each station is equally important. Students get the chance to learn at their own pace and teachers get the chance to help them every step of the way.
Station Rotation in Elementary School
Elementary teachers are often worried about making their already tech-savvy little ones even more technology-dependent. That's why the station rotation model is a perfect way to incorporate video in the elementary classroom without having students stare at a screen all day.
Susie, a math instructional coach for 4th and 5th graders, makes Edpuzzle videos for other teachers. In a typical station rotation model at her school, the Edpuzzle video station is used to deliver a mini-lesson.
At the teacher-led station, students work directly on the learning target and build off what was shown in the video. The teacher adjusts how they teach a group depending on the skills students have demonstrated so far.
After meeting with the teacher, students usually move on to a station for independent practice with a math worksheet.
The fourth and final station is usually reserved for collaboration, where students pair up to complete a math game together.
In Susie’s case, she sometimes creates Edpuzzle tutorial videos with directions on how to play a math game for her offline station. This is a great way to give students a chance to see the game in action before attempting it themselves!
Station Rotation in Middle and High School
Although high school teachers might more commonly assign a video as homework (such as in the flipped classroom model), the way they use Edpuzzle in a station rotation model can be quite similar.
Mr. Vlahakis, a high school social studies teacher, shares his experience using the model:
“While I mostly use Edpuzzle outside the classroom, sometimes when we do stations I set up an Edpuzzle station. One station may be direct instruction from a teacher, another station might have Chromebooks set up so that students can complete a 5-minute Edpuzzle video, and a couple other stations with independent book work.”
Today in our taught pre-ap social studies class, @ktomiak413 and we did 3 map stations, 1 lecture/notes station, and 1 @edpuzzle station (8 min/station). #richinStations #movement pic.twitter.com/xptpDUnd9G— Mr. Vlahakis (@MrV_history) September 10, 2019
With older students, you could even take out the teacher-led station and instead, walk around the room monitoring you students. As students work and move from one station to another, you can check in with groups or individual students, to see how they’re progressing.
Worried that the station rotation model would make classroom management more difficult? An Edpuzzle station can actually help to keep the classroom focused. As Mr. Vlahakis puts it:
“The Edpuzzle station not only accomplishes some direct instruction via video, it serves as a silencer in the room. When one station is plugged in, they are naturally not talking or interacting with other students, making all of the other interactions in the room easier to manage.”
By using Edpuzzle to embed questions, notes, and audio in your video, you can ensure that students will be fully engaged with the lesson instead of just passively watching.
That makes the learning your students do with technology at an online station just as valuable as the learning that happens offline with a teacher or peers.
How to Create Your First Station Rotation Lesson
Don’t feel pressured to have multiple stations and try and tackle every aspect of your lesson. Start small (3-4 stations) and focus on making the learning objectives and tasks as clear as possible.
Think about how much time students will need at each station. For example, if you want to give your students time to self-pace while watching a 5-minute Edpuzzle video, make sure you give them at least 10 minutes to answer questions and rewatch portions if they need to.
Speaking of technology, make sure you plan for all the materials you’ll need at a station. How many devices will you need for your online learning stations?
Even if you work in a school where every student has access to a device, don’t try to include technology in every station. Remember the principles of blended learning and give your kids a break from screens. Offline stations can give your students the opportunity to engage in small group discussions and collaborate on shared projects.
Finally, think about how you’ll give students directions. If you teach older students, you might decide to provide instructions in written form at each station. Younger students, on the other hand, might benefit from receiving their instructions through a mini-video tutorial (Edpuzzle for the win!).
At the end of the day, just remember to make the model your own and don’t worry about it being perfect. You know what structures work best for your students and what combination of stations will help them learn about a topic.
Hybrid and Remote Learning Adaptations
If you’re excited to try the station rotation model but are currently doing hybrid or remote learning, not to worry! It’s easy to adapt the model so that it works for your classroom.
Students won’t all complete the video lesson at same time when they’re learning from home. So give yourself some flexibility and don’t worry about keeping static groups or maintaining the same fixed schedule.
Remember how blended learning is at the core of the modern-day station rotation model? The same principles should still apply with remote or hybrid learning, with variations on what tools students use to interact with the content.
Although your students wouldn’t physically move between stations like in the normal model, they could still progress through a series of activities that are teacher-led, independent, or collaborative.
Edpuzzle can continue to be the tool you use for students’ independent practice and provide you with the data you need to inform your next lesson. Meanwhile, video-conferencing platforms like Zoom can help you and your remote and in-person students connect and work together from your respective locations.
If you haven’t realized it already, the station rotation model is awesome because of how flexible it is. No matter how many students you teach, what access to technology you have, or what your classroom circumstances are, this model can work for you.
So why not give it a go? Edpuzzle will be there to help you wherever and whenever you need it!