I've been trying to do a math workshop model, but after trying assigned daily stations, a math menu, and my own version of a Daily 5 type math, I hadn't found anything that felt right. It seemed that this model was very similar to stations, so I thought I would give it a go. You guys. I'm loving it. So much so that I signed up for a three day training this summer to really develop an understanding of what I'm doing since I know I'm not quite there yet.
The premise of the hybrid rotational model is that the students rotate through three stations: direct, independent, and collaboration. During the independent station, the students get their instruction in the form of a video or some method besides the teacher lecturing (think flipped classroom, but instead of the work happening at home, it just happens before they meet with you). The collaborative station allows the kids to work together on some sort of meaningful, challenging project, and the direct station is where the kids work with you, ideally to practice the skill they learned in the lesson.
It was a comfortable place to start because it seems just like stations or a workshop setting, and it was really easy to get the kids into the flow. When I started, I started in a more traditional way; I did what I would have done in a whole group lesson during the direct session, and then gave the kids work to do during the independent. I know that's not optimal, but it gave me a place to start. Now that I'm getting more comfortable with it, I feel like I may be able to start transition to what it's really supposed to look like.
But here's the thing. Because of a huge time discrepancy and a pretty significant difference in the levels of my classes, I was doing this with my morning group and not with my afternoon group. (I teach math and science to one group of kids in the morning, and then I do the same with a completely different group of kids in the afternoon.) And it felt yucky. I felt yucky because my mornings were amazing. The kids were engaged, I felt like I was REALLY getting to talk with every one of my kids every day, I felt like I knew where my kids were and what my kids needed, and we all were pretty happy. IT FEELS GOOD! So the fact that I hadn't figured out a way to do it with my afternoon kids..... well, it made me feel yucky.
We had PSSAs this week, and I just couldn't bear the thought of doing the same old thing today. So I sat down during my planning and I figured out a way to take my math and science and make it a hybrid rotational model. You'll see I noticed that I added a 4th station to cover our science lesson, so the stations looked like this:
- Independent - complete our ticket out the door for measuring angles, work on the Geometry strand in Front Row (now called Freckle)
- Collaborative - work together to create a Tiny House
- Direct - lesson on polygons, perimeter, and area
- Science - watch a video and take notes on bar graphs, begin working on analyzing data on bar graphs
Before we started this afternoon I was honest with my kids. I told them that the other teachers and I were talking about how we didn't think kids could do anything this afternoon. I told them how we felt like they had "lost it" since we did PSSAs, and they weren't going to be able to do what they needed to do. And then I told my kids how awful I felt thinking that, and I decided to change my mindset and see if they could prove me wrong.
I introduced each station and answered any questions. I reminded the kids that if I was working at the direct station, I couldn't babysit; they had to take responsibility for their own learning. And I assigned each group a leader to be my eyes. Their job was not to boss anybody around. Instead, their job was to ask their teammates what they needed, and they were also asked to report back to me and tell me what I needed to do to help the kids be more successful.
The students stayed in each station for 20 minutes, and I felt like that was a good amount of time. The kids were able to work on their tasks for the full time, but it gave them the opportunity to transition and move onto something new before they got burned out. My learning support teacher was in for about 1/2 an hour, and she provided support to the different groups while I was doing my direct instruction. I didn't like this part; I need to figure out how to get her involved with the direct instruction even though her schedule only allows her to be in my room for 1 full rotation and 1/2 of the second. I also had an instructional paraprofessional, and when she arrived (after the 1st rotation) she assisted the other three groups with the video and note taking at the science station.
It. Felt. Amazing.
When the last timer went off the kids were like, "Wait? What? It's time to go home already????" They were engaged. They were trying tasks that were REALLY challenging. One of the leaders came to me at the end and said, "The first three stations went great, but the Tiny House - we were just fighting and arguing. I think it's because we really didn't understand it." That was music to my ears because I know what that group, and likely others, needs to be successful.
But you know what really feels good? It doesn't matter that I don't have the same time, and it doesn't matter that my afternoon class may not be at the same level of my morning class. They took charge of their own learning, and they were proud to do so. I have a lot to work through, but the way I see it, if my kids can do this on a Friday afternoon after three days of PSSA testing, they are going to knock it out of the park the rest of the year. I'm so excited, and I can't wait to see what we can accomplish!