Now is the time to spice up your classroom for 2020. It’s time to excite students and provide them with meaningful, rigorous, and engaging lessons during the testing season. Time to shift from traditional teaching practices to innovative 21st century classrooms that students love. Time to add more personalization and differentiation to ensure the needs of all your students are met. I suggest a great place to start and add zest to your current practice is with the Whole Group Rotation blended learning model.
Whole group rotation (WGR) is “a modern spin on the ‘Lab Rotation Model’ of blended learning. Instead of going to a lab to participate in digital learning as a whole group, students rotate into digital learning activities as a whole group in a 1-1 setting within a classroom environment (Blended Learning in Action, 2016).” Here are some quick tips and tools to support you in rolling out WGR. For those of you already using WGR, these suggestions will help you enhance the experience.
First– Ensure that you have 1:1 devices ready in your classroom. If you share computers with another teacher, be sure that you have communicated and scheduled this ahead of time. Also, it is important that computers are sufficiently charged. In a WGR, we encourage students to have agency over their pace and you should acknowledge that some students may be online for a longer period of the time so fully charged computers are a must. If some computers have technical issues, you can overcome this by pairing students momentarily or switching over to offline activities that you have planned for another day while you or your student “tech helper” attend to the issue. Don’t let the fear of technical issues stop you from taking innovative risks. Use these moments as critical thinking and learning moments for yourself and your students.
Next– Decide which online and offline activities you will implement. WGR is not a time to simply lecture “offline” to students for one section of the class period and then place students “online” for the second half of the lesson to do randomly assigned activities and digital games. Rather, you want to make sure that the offline and online activities you choose are coherent, intentionally planned, and connect to the necessary skills and objectives of the lesson. For online activities, choose various adaptive learning tools and online digital software that allow students to connect and collaborate with each other. Offline time, on the other hand, can be spent on learning activities where students can solve problems collaboratively or share with each other in small group discussions. Offline work can also be a mix of teacher modeling and inquiry-based learning. Having a maker space in your classroom is an added bonus tip that provides students with real world, solution-oriented, and hands-on activities.
There are several online tools that analyze student’s performance in real-time and personalize tasks for them. Tools such as IXL, Freckle, or Prodigy are great online software apps with which students can work. While students are online, it is important to ensure you have support in place for students who may struggle or need review resources. One way you can provide support to students during online activities is by using tools such as Edpuzzle, which allows you to pre-assign videos to students so that they can immediately begin practicing specific skills and reference videos as needed. By simply including your online activities in a playlist and sharing it with students, you are able to meet the needs of all of your learners.
Finally– Decide how you will use your time effectively when students are on their devices. A major benefit of WGR is that it allows a teacher to conduct 1:1 student conferences or pull small groups. This 1:1 time is extremely valuable and should be planned out with great intention. In addition, this WGR time offers a great opportunity to build a strong classroom culture and ensure that students are on task while using devices. Periodically scanning the room from your “perch” (a place where you can see all students) and using various strategies and incentives to reinforce positive behaviors helps create a fun and safe learning environment.
Now you are ready to start enriching your classroom and allowing students to drive their learning. Have fun bringing learning alive on your WGR journey! If you would like to connect and share with me your experiences using WGR, feel free to send me a message at email@example.com or follow me on Twitter @Bernier_Jenn.