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The Ultimate Guide to Station Rotation

I remember when I first started using station rotation as a teacher. It was a bit nerve-wracking and I was afraid of chaos, but I quickly realized the benefits it could bring to my students. By combining different stations around the classroom, I was able to create a more interactive and engaging learning experience for my students.


I set up various stations around the room, including a research station, a writing station, a digital station, and a teacher-led station. My students were able to rotate around these stations, spending time and working together at each one. This allowed me to personalize the learning experience for each student, while also giving them more control over their own learning.


The best part was seeing my students' excitement and enthusiasm for learning. They loved the variety and independence that station rotation provided. And, let's be honest, I loved it too! It was a great way to keep things interesting and keep my students on their toes.


Of course, there were some challenges along the way. It took some time to get everything set up and organized, and there were a few hiccups here and there. But overall, it was a huge success. My students were more engaged and motivated, and their progress showed it.

In the end, I was grateful for taking the leap into station rotation. It was a learning experience for me as well as my students, and it helped us all grow in ways we never expected.



In this blog post, we will go over…

  • Getting started with the station rotation model.

  • Reasons to try the station rotation model.

  • Ideas for each station.

  • Station rotation to-do checklists.

  • Taking it to the next level.





Blended learning has become a popular way to improve educational outcomes by integrating digital tools into classroom instruction. The station rotation model is one of the most commonly used models of blended learning, consisting of a series of stations or learning activities in the classroom that students rotate through. This approach allows students to work at their own pace and receive targeted instruction that meets their unique learning needs.


Getting started with the station rotation model can be overwhelming for teachers who are new to blended learning. However, by taking small steps and incorporating one or two learning stations into their lessons, teachers can gradually increase the number of stations as students become more comfortable with the model. It is essential to consider the number and duration of stations, as well as the collaborative nature of the tasks, to keep students engaged and interested. Additionally, incorporating student agency and UDL can enhance the station rotation model, promoting active involvement and inclusive teaching. Ultimately, the goal is to enhance student learning and engagement by providing a personalized learning experience that meets the needs of all learners.





Getting Started

Blended learning is a powerful way to enhance student learning and engagement. However, it can be a daunting task for teachers who are new to this approach. That's why it's essential to start slow and take small steps when introducing a new model of instruction. The station rotation model is an excellent starting point for teachers who want to incorporate blended learning into their classrooms because it can be completed with as little as just one station.

The station rotation model of blended learning involves dividing students into groups and rotating them through different learning stations. These stations can be a mix of online and offline activities, such as computer-based tasks, small group discussions, or individual assignments.


Before implementing this model, teachers must carefully consider their teaching style and their students' learning needs. It's crucial to choose the right mix of online and offline activities that align with the curriculum and standards. Teachers can use data to monitor students' progress and adjust instruction accordingly.

Some teachers may feel apprehensive about trying something new, but it's essential to understand that even the best teachers are always striving to improve their teaching techniques. By modeling a growth mindset, teachers can help students feel comfortable taking risks and learning from mistakes.



This approach allows students to work at their own pace and receive targeted instruction that meets their unique learning needs.


Number of Stations: 2 or 3 per day

2 Days: Approx. 4 or 6 stations
3 Days: Approx. 6 or 8 stations

One common question about the station rotation model is how many stations are required in a rotation. Well, there is no magic number. The number of stations should be determined by class period length and the number of students in each station. In general, a station rotation includes a teacher-led station, at least one online learning station, and at least one offline learning station.


If a teacher has a traditional 45-minute schedule and sees all their classes in a day, it may not be practical to move students through a 3 or 4 stations in one class period. Instead, it may be more feasible to think about a 2 or 3 day rotation where students hit two stations one day and two more stations the next day. This allows for a more manageable pace and ensures that students have enough time to complete each station.


When determining the number of students per station, it is important to consider the collaborative nature of the task and the potential for distraction. Six to eight students per station is a good range to aim for but adjust as necessary based on the needs of your classroom. For example, if the task requires a lot of collaboration, it may be better to have fewer students per station to ensure that everyone has a chance to participate.


Another factor to consider when designing a station rotation is the type of activities at each station. This could include a mix of online and offline activities, such as group projects, labs, online discussions, or simulations. Whatever the case, it is important to ensure that each station offers a variety of activities that meet the students’ learning preferences. One great way to make sure the students get what they need is to offer student choice at the stations.


Duration of Stations: Between 20 and 30 minutes

Another thing to consider with the station rotation model is the duration of each station. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, a good rule of thumb is between 20 and 30 minutes. This allows enough time for students to complete the task while keeping them engaged.


However, it's important to note that not all stations need to be the same length. Depending on the task, some stations may require more or less time than others. For example, a teacher-led station may take longer than an online station, where students can work at their own pace.


Another factor to consider is the age and attention span of the students. Younger students may need shorter station durations, while older students can handle longer durations. Additionally, if the task is particularly challenging or complex, it may be necessary to allocate more time to the station.


Ultimately, the most critical factor to consider is student engagement and learning. If students are disengaged or not learning, it may be necessary to adjust the duration of the stations. It's essential to be flexible and make changes as needed to ensure that students are getting the most out of the blended learning experience.


Classroom Management

  1. Start by openly discussing the rationale and expectations for blended learning with your students.

  2. Involve them in the process by crowdsourcing expectations via digital platforms like Wakelet or Jamboard.

  3. Make sure to establish clear consequences for misbehavior to maintain a focused learning environment.

  4. Design activities that align with your students' interests to reduce distractions and enhance engagement.

  5. Stay actively present in the classroom, moving around to answer questions and provide guidance, especially while working with a small group at the teacher-led station.

Sometimes classroom management may seem like a never-ending battle, especially when introducing a new model like station rotation. Nonetheless, with the right approach, teachers can ensure a smooth transition and a successful learning experience for all students. To begin, it's essential to have an honest conversation with the class about what to expect. Teachers should explain the rationale behind using a blended learning model like station rotation and make sure students understand what is expected of them. By doing so, students will be more motivated to engage and cooperate.


Crowdsourcing expectations using a digital platform like Wakelet or Jamboard is a great way to create a sense of community and ownership among the students. It is critical to establish clear consequences for misbehavior and ensure that everyone understands the path of consequences. When expectations are clear, students know what to expect and are less likely to test boundaries or misbehave.


Another key element of successful classroom management during station rotation is designing activities driven by student interests. The more authentic the activities and invested students are in their learning, the less likely the distractions or problematic behavior. By encouraging students to pursue their interests and providing opportunities to drive their learning, teachers can ensure a productive and positive learning experience for all students. Lastly, it's crucial to be present in the classroom, moving around to answer questions and redirect students who may be off-task, while working with a small group at the teacher-led station.





Reasons To Try The Station Rotation Model

Do you feel like your classes are too large to effectively meet the needs of all your students?

It can be tough to give each student the individual attention they deserve when you have so many kids every day. By using the station rotation model, you can create smaller learning communities within your larger class. This allows for more meaningful interactions between students and provides a more personalized learning experience. Think about how many more opportunities for collaboration, discussion, and hands-on learning your students will have. And with the ability to customize each station to fit your specific learning objectives, you can create a truly personalized learning experience for your students. Plus, it's a great way to mix things up and keep your students engaged.


Is the lack of time preventing you from providing small-group instruction to your students?

With the station rotation model, you can carve out dedicated time in your lesson to work with small groups of students. By breaking your students into smaller groups that rotate through different learning stations, you can create a dynamic learning environment that facilitates personalized attention and support. And with the ability to customize each station to fit your specific learning objectives, you can ensure that each student is receiving instruction that meets their unique needs.


This small-group dynamic also allows you to connect with every student during the lesson, responding to their specific needs and providing individualized feedback. You can identify areas where students are struggling and provide targeted support, ensuring that no one falls behind.


Are you struggling to keep up with the demands of differentiating your lessons for every student in your class?

By using the station rotation model, you can strategically group students based on formative assessment or diagnostic data. This allows you to provide targeted models, supports, and scaffolds, as well as adjust the level of academic rigor and complexity of the tasks you're asking students to complete.


By rotating through different learning stations, students have the opportunity to work at their own pace and receive instruction that is tailored to their unique needs. And with the ability to customize each station to fit your specific learning objectives, you can ensure that each student is getting the instruction they need to succeed. Plus, the flexibility of the station rotation model allows you to adjust your approach as needed, providing even more opportunities for differentiation.


Would you like to foster a more collaborative and communicative learning environment in your classroom?

By using the station rotation model, you can position groups of learners to work together as they navigate tasks, engage in conversation, and provide peer support. This collaborative approach not only builds important social skills, but also helps students to deepen their understanding of the material by working through problems and discussing concepts with their peers.


The beauty of the station rotation model is that it allows you to create an active learning environment that facilitates communication and collaboration in a variety of ways. Whether it's through partner work, small group discussions, or collaborative projects, the station rotation model provides ample opportunities for students to work together and learn from and with each other.


Plus, the collaborative nature of the station rotation model makes it a great way to build a positive classroom culture. When students feel like they are part of a supportive learning community, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated to succeed.



Ideas For Each Station

Teacher-Led Station

At this station, differentiated instruction and support can be provided to meet the needs of all learners. The "I do, we do, groups do, you do" approach is often used to guide students through the learning process. Additionally, the station allows for guided practice and application, with real-time feedback on work in progress. Teacher-facilitated discussions or fishbowl sessions can also be conducted to encourage dialogue and peer-to-peer learning. Finally, hosting a question-and-answer session about a text, topic, or assignment can help students to deepen their understanding and clarify any confusion they may have.


Online Station

Here, personalized practice can be offered using adaptive software or online programs that can be customized to meet the needs of individual learners. Students can build their background knowledge by engaging in online research and exploration. Multimedia lessons, such as texts, videos, student-friendly podcasts, and interactive websites, can also be incorporated to make learning more engaging and interactive. The online station allows for virtual field trips and online scavenger hunts, which can help students to connect with content in new and exciting ways. Asynchronous online discussions that are video-based or text-based can also be used to encourage peer-to-peer learning while allowing students to move at their own pace. Review games and creating online artifacts of learning can be used to help students consolidate their learning and showcase their understanding of key concepts.


When setting up Online Stations, I would aim to include at least one of the 4Cs: Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, or Creativity. This helps keep kids interested. Often, online stations just have students working alone on software or watching videos, and they lose interest pretty fast.


Offline Station

During the offline station, pencil-and-paper practice and review can be used to help students consolidate their learning and develop important skills. Students can also read and take notes to deepen their understanding of key concepts. Writing tasks can be used to help students express their thoughts and ideas while observing and documenting (either through writing or drawing) can be used to help students develop important observation and documentation skills. You can include interview activities, which, similar to some online activities, can encourage collaborative learning. Discussion activities, such as the teacher-facilitated fishbowl or the four corners conversation, can also be incorporated to encourage dialogue and promote critical thinking skills. Experiments, STEAM challenges, and art projects can be used to help students connect with content in new and creative ways, while developing important skills and knowledge.





To-Do Checklists

Teacher To-Do Checklist

  • Use a variety of offline and online learning activities to keep students engaged and motivated.

    • Collaborative Online

    • Individual Online

    • Collaborative Offline

    • Individual Offline

    • Teacher-Led

  • Design stations and activities that are age and ability-appropriate.

  • Incorporate choice and agency into the rotation model to promote student ownership and engagement.

  • Collaborate with colleagues to share best practices and ideas for effective station rotation models.

  • Start with a small station rotation model and gradually add complexity over time.

  • Provide clear instructions and expectations for each station, including how to use technology tools effectively.

  • Use formative assessments and data to monitor student progress and adjust the rotation model as needed for all levels.

  • Make sure the stations are tied to the standards, objectives, and/or goals. You don’t want them to be just random activities.

  • Incorporate the 3 key elements of blended learning:

    • Student agency

    • Differentiation & Personalization

    • Control over the pace of learning


Tech Coach & Administration To-Do Checklist

  • Work with teachers to identify and implement technology tools and resources to support blended learning, including online learning platforms and offline learning activities.

  • Provide ongoing training and support for teachers on how to use technology tools effectively.

  • Collaborate with teachers to design and implement effective station rotation models that integrate technology in meaningful ways.

  • Provide professional development opportunities for teachers on blended learning models, including station rotation.

  • Encourage teachers to start small with blended learning and provide support and resources to help them implement it effectively.

  • Allocate time and resources for teachers to collaborate and share best practices on blended learning.



The station rotation model of blended learning is a valuable approach to enhance student learning and engagement in the classroom.


Take It To The Next Level

The station rotation model of blended learning can be taken to the next level by incorporating two key principles: student agency and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Student agency promotes active involvement and decision-making in learning, which can improve student responsibility and independence. In the station rotation model, teachers can facilitate student agency by giving students the opportunity to select their learning stations or activities based on their interests, needs, and goals, as well as reflect on their learning.


UDL is a framework that promotes inclusive teaching by giving all learners what they need to succeed in the classroom. This can ensure that all students, regardless of their learning preferences or abilities, can access and engage with the learning materials. By incorporating UDL into the station rotation model, teachers can provide diverse learning materials and activities that are accessible to all learners, such as closed captioning, graphic organizers, and text-to-speech software. By doing so, teachers can create a more personalized and inclusive learning experience for all students. The station rotation model of blended learning is a valuable approach to enhance student learning and engagement in the classroom. Teachers who are new to blended learning can take small steps to incorporate this model into their instruction, gradually increasing the number of stations as students become more comfortable. By considering the number and duration of stations, as well as the incorporation of student agency and Universal Design for Learning, teachers can create a personalized learning experience that meets the needs of all learners.


It's important to remember that there is no magic formula for implementing the station rotation model, and teachers must be flexible and willing to make adjustments as needed. By modeling a growth mindset and encouraging students to take risks and learn from mistakes, teachers can create a positive learning environment that fosters student success.


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