Noticias em eLiteracias


Using AI in Service of Strong Pedagogical Practice

Por Catlin Tucker — 17 de Novembro de 2023, 23:29

Last week, I participated in a panel discussion with Jay McTighe and Tony Frontier on leading in an era of artificial intelligence. During the conversation, we discussed AI’s potential to transform education. Despite my optimism about the benefits of AI in education, the buzz online is focused on the exciting new AI-powered education tools and not on the transformative impact those tools could have on how we design and facilitate learning experiences to meet the needs of diverse groups of students.

The Danger of a Myopic Focus on AI Technology Tools

It reminds me of the early days of the edtech boom when I would attend the Computer Using Educators (CUE) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conferences, and the most popular sessions had titles like “50 Tech Tools in 50 Minutes.” I remember questioning how effective those sessions would be at improving teaching and learning. Yes, attendees were exposed to a list of fun tools they might use, but they were not learning how to use those tools in service of strong pedagogical practices. That is the same concern I have now.

Scrolling through Instagram or TikTok, I see endless videos of teachers sharing AI-powered tools. They demonstrate the efficiency and simplicity with which these tools generate lists of questions, create quick assessments, and plan lessons or entire units. I can appreciate the excitement since lesson planning is a time-consuming endeavor. The piece of the design puzzle missing for me is how educators can use these AI tools to architect student-centered learning experiences that better meet the specific needs of learners.

We teach beautifully diverse groups of students with various skill levels, needs, language proficiencies, and learning preferences. Before AI, designing for learner variability was an arduous process that may have felt unsustainable. I remember facilitating workshops on blended learning models and universally designed learning to provide students with flexible pathways. One of the biggest hurdles I encountered working with teachers using the whole group, teacher-led, teacher-paced model was their lack of time to design. Despite the lackluster outcomes of the whole group model for teachers and students, most educators felt trapped in this one-size-fits-all approach because they didn’t have the time to design more equitable and student-centered learning experiences.

AI Should Elevate, Not Eliminate the Intentionality of Our Design

AI promises to simplify this work on several fronts, alleviating the pressure on teachers to spend hours designing lessons, providing feedback, and, in the not-too-distant future, accurately assessing student work. Yet, I want AI to elevate the teaching profession and empower educators to design with a higher level of intentionality (not less).

I don’t want AI to replace the human element of education; I want it to elevate it. While AI can significantly enhance educators’ ability to address specific learning needs, it’s crucial that we deeply understand our students’ unique requirements and preferences. This knowledge is essential to effectively harness AI’s potential in a way that truly benefits our students.

If we simply plug a standard or topic into an AI-powered tool to generate an activity, a set of depth of knowledge (DOK) questions, a vocabulary list, or an assessment, it saves us time. It doesn’t necessarily change the quality of the learning or improve the student experience.

We need to think of AI as a powerful thought partner, inspiring us to design with purpose and creativity in a fraction of the time we could have done this work before.

  • Can we lean on AI to provide students with more agency, meaningful choices, and flexible pathways through the learning experience?
  • Are we asking AI to generate exemplars, scaffolds, and other supports to ensure all students can access the learning experience?
  • Can we leverage AI to find ways to make learning more interesting and relevant for our learners?

As great as AI tools are, they don’t know our students the way we do. As AI technology advances, the human part of the work we do designing and facilitating learning is what will make us relevant in education. AI can make an intentional educator almost superhuman in their ability to design effective and equitable lessons, but we must stay mentally engaged in the process. Similarly, using AI to churn out feedback is a wonderful way to support students, but we still need to actively engage with them and their work to understand their needs.

Harness AI to Become Architects of Student-centered Learning

I often compare our work designing student-centered learning experiences to the work of an architect. I like this comparison because it’s the architect’s job to design the blueprint, but they do not do the hard work of building the structure. It’s the contractors and subcontractors who do the heavy labor of constructing the home or building. In the same way, I want teachers to create accessible, inclusive, and equitable learning experiences that position students (not the teacher) to do the heavy cognitive lift of making meaning.

So, let’s consider an analogy. Think about an architect who is equipped with cutting-edge design software. While these high-powered tools enable the creation of innovative structures, it’s the architect’s deep understanding of the people who will inhabit these spaces that truly shapes a functional and meaningful design. Similarly, educators use AI tools to enhance their educational ‘blueprints,’ or the learning design. The technology offers efficiency and innovation, but it’s the educator’s knowledge of their students’ unique learning needs and preferences that ensures the educational experience is tailored to them and relevant. Just as a well-designed house must reflect the needs of those who live in it, effective educational design, enhanced by AI, must be grounded in a deep understanding of the students it serves.

Check out my other blog posts on AI, here.

The post Using AI in Service of Strong Pedagogical Practice appeared first on Dr. Catlin Tucker.


Troubleshooting the Flipped Classroom: Dealing with Unprepared Students

Por Catlin Tucker — 13 de Novembro de 2023, 03:37

Why Would a Teacher Use the Flipped Classroom Model?

First, let’s establish the value of the flipped classroom in case you have never used this blended learning model. The flipped classroom was designed to invert the traditional approach to instruction and practice/application. Instead of spending precious class time transferring information live for the whole group in the form of a lecture or mini-lesson, which presents myriad barriers (e.g., auditory processing, attention deficit, lack of background knowledge or vocabulary, absences), teachers record video instruction and assign those videos for homework.

The benefit of assigning video instruction for homework is that students can control the time, place, and pace of the learning experience when they watch the video at home. They can pause, rewind, or rewatch a video. They may also be able to add closed captions and adjust the speed of a video to increase their understanding and acquisition of this new information.

Then, class time is dedicated to practice and application, which has traditionally been assigned as homework for students to complete independently. Moving practice and application into the classroom provides students with peer and teacher support as they attempt to apply new information. Teachers are freed from the front of the room and work directly with individual students and small groups, supporting their individual progress and providing additional support, scaffolds, models, or reteaching.

The Biggest Challenge with the Flipped Classroom

Teachers who want to use this model are most challenged and frustrated by students who do not watch the video for homework and come to class unprepared. If several students in the class still need to watch the video for homework, teachers may be tempted to scrap their lesson and dedicate class time to reteaching the content that was covered in the video.

I caution teachers not to do this. It’s akin to a parent asking their child to clean their room before company comes over, but when the child doesn’t do it, the parent cleans the room for them. By doing so, the parent inadvertently sends the message that the child doesn’t need to take responsibility for their chores because the parent will always step in and do it for them. In the same way, when teachers reteach video content in class because some students come unprepared, it conveys the message that watching the video and coming prepared is optional because the teacher will provide repeat instruction during class. Not only does this discourage students from watching the video, but it penalizes those students who completed the assignment and forces them to sit through another explanation instead of working with their peers and teachers to practice and apply their new learning.

Start with WHY

So, what can a teacher do to combat unpreparedness when using the flipped classroom? First, I want to encourage every teacher using a blended learning model to clearly explain WHY they are using this model to students and their families . What is the value and purpose of flipped instruction? How will this benefit students, making it easier for them to acquire new information? How will class time be used more effectively to ensure all students are making progress toward understanding complex concepts and applying key skills?

Without a clear understanding of the value and benefits, students may not truly understand why they are being asked to watch videos at home, and parents may push back. Always communicate the WHY behind new instructional practices to get buy-in and increase students’ likelihood of completing the assigned work.

Now, let’s explore some strategies you can experiment with to address the issue of students coming to class unprepared.

Strategies to Encourage Students to Watch Flipped Instruction

#1 Pair Videos with an Engagement Strategy

It’s essential that students mentally engage with the information presented in a video. We do not want them to slip into a passive, consumptive role. We want them to think about the concepts, processes, phenomena, issues, or skills presented in the video. Teachers should pair videos with an engagement strategy to encourage students to think more deeply about the information being presented.

The engagement strategy can ask students to identify the key points, make connections between concepts, ask questions, make predictions, infer meaning, compare and contrast, and/or classify. The goal is for them to contextualize this new information and begin to make sense of it before they return to class. Below are engagement strategies teachers can pair with videos.

  • Concept Mapping: Have students create concept maps or mind maps that visually represent the relationships between key concepts presented in the video.
  • Content Questions: Use a platform like Edpuzzle or your learning management system (LMS) to insert questions into the video so students are prompted to pause and answer questions as they watch the flipped instruction.
  • Guided Notes or Graphic Organizers: Provide students with a guided note template or graphic organizer to complete as they watch the video. This helps them identify the key information and organize it to aid comprehension.
  • Sketchnotes or Storyboarding: Ask students to create sketchnotes, storyboards, or visual narratives that illustrate the key points and concepts from the video and make connections between them.
  • 30-Second Synopsis or Summary on Flip: Have students record a 30-second explanation of the video’s main point[s], putting the ideas in their own words. The goal is to help younger students understand the video.
  • 3-2-1 Reflection: As students watch the video, ask them to identify three things they learned (facts/information), two connections they made, and one question they have.
  • Online Discussions or Debates: Design an online discussion question or debate that encourages students to consider questions related to the video content and post their thoughts, opinions, questions, and reflections. Encourage them to respond to two or three other students’ posts to encourage collaborative meaning-making.

The engagement strategy becomes the students’ documentation of learning and their “entrance ticket” into the actual lesson. They only get to proceed to practice and application if they have evidence they completed this engagement activity. Instead, I encourage teachers to have a designated area in the room for students who need to watch the video and complete the activity before joining the rest of the class.

#2 Use a Quick Quiz to Assess Completion and Comprehension of the Video Instruction

If teachers are worried about whether students watched or understood the flipped instruction, they can begin class with a quick formative assessment strategy, like an entrance ticket or quiz.

Teachers should use a Google Form in quiz mode or build a quick check for understanding in their learning management system (LMS). Using a digital platform to assess student learning makes it possible to quickly identify what students know or understand and surface that data quickly.

That way, the teacher can identify which students are ready to enter the practice and application section of the lesson and which students are not prepared either because they did not watch the video or did not understand the content presented in the video.

Students who did poorly on the assessment because they did not watch the video must spend time completing that assignment. Meanwhile, those students who watched the video but struggled to perform well on the assessment can be pulled into small group differentiated instruction with the teacher while the rest of the class moves onto practice and application with the support of their peers.

#3 Provide Alternative Forms of Media for Students to Choose From

Some students may find it challenging to acquire information in the form of a video. Learner variability reminds us that students learn differently, and one mode of representation is unlikely to work for all students.

Giving students a meaningful choice provides them with agency and allows them to choose a preferred pathway to acquire new information. Some students may enjoy reading and engaging with a text, while others may opt for a podcast or recording on a topic. When possible, providing a “would you rather” option, like inviting students to read an article or watch a video, will likely result in more students completing the assignment because they enjoy a higher degree of autonomy over their experience.

Below is a template I designed to encourage the teachers I work with to build a metacognitive practice around flipped instruction. The assignment begins with a goal-setting activity and then provides students with meaningful choices about what type of media they engage with to learn about a topic and which strategy they want to use to engage with that information. It also requires that they complete a self-assessment to get them thinking about how they performed on this assignment. The metacognitive pieces of goal setting and self-assessment help students think more deeply about the impact of this work on their progress toward academic goals and their overall development as a learner.

Move Flipped Instruction into the Classroom

If teachers continue to find that a significant number of students do not watch videos for homework, there may be barriers preventing students from completing this work in their home environment. Students may not have a quiet space to concentrate or responsibilities (e.g., watching a younger sibling) that make it challenging to complete the video lesson. Unreliable internet and a functioning device can present potential barriers.

If the issue of unpreparedness continues, teachers can incorporate flipped instruction into the classroom using various blended learning models, such as whole group rotation, station rotation, and the playlist or individual rotation. Using video instruction in the classroom has the following benefits.

  • Students control the pace at which they acquire and process new information.
  • Students have 24/7 access to video instruction when teachers record lectures and mini-lessons, making them available online.
  • Teachers do not have to repeat the same explanation multiple times.
  • Students who transfer into the class late or are absent have access to the instruction.
  • It frees the teacher to move around the classroom, supporting individuals and small groups of learners.

The primary objective of flipping instruction in the classroom is to empower students by giving them autonomy over their learning experience. This approach also allows the teacher to reallocate their time and energy away from traditional whole-group instruction, which, due to time constraints, limits the use of high-impact instructional strategies. Instead, teachers can focus on more personalized and effective teaching methods that cater to individual student needs and promote deeper understanding.

Wrap Up

The flipped classroom model promises to shift the transfer of information online and use class time to promote active, student-centered learning. However, I know challenges arise when students come to class unprepared.

In this blog, we’ve explored strategies you can use to address this issue effectively. From formative assessments to online discussions and creative representations of information, these strategies empower educators to foster a deeper understanding of the content presented in videos and encourage students to take responsibility for their learning.

Yet, I also recognize that despite our best efforts, some students may continue to come to class unprepared. It’s important to remember that the flipped classroom model can adapt and evolve. Teachers can explore blended learning models, such as whole group rotation, station rotation, or playlist models, to offer students more control over the pace of their learning journey. These approaches not only accommodate diverse learning preferences but also free teachers from their traditional role of “expert” stuck transferring information at the front of the room. Instead, leaning on video and other forms of media strategically can free them to use their precious class time to provide tailored support to small groups and individuals.

Ultimately, remaining flexible and responsive to your students’ needs is the key. Whether through innovative engagement strategies or adaptable instructional models, the goal remains: We must strive to empower students to become active, self-directed learners who can thrive in the flipped classroom and beyond.

Want to learn more about the flipped classroom and how to design effective instructional videos? Check out my mini-course!

The post Troubleshooting the Flipped Classroom: Dealing with Unprepared Students appeared first on Dr. Catlin Tucker.


How and When to Give Feedback

Por Catlin Tucker — 6 de Novembro de 2023, 18:28

Feedback is a powerful tool that can profoundly impact student learning and success. However, not all feedback is created equal; some approaches to feedback can propel students toward growth, while others may hinder their progress. What is the secret to effective feedback? How can educators unlock its power and potential to maximize student growth? How can teachers pull feedback into the classroom to ensure it is timely and actionable?

Let’s Review the Characteristics of Effective Feedback

In an article for ASCD, Grant Wiggins identifies key elements that make feedback particularly effective in enhancing student learning. These qualities include:

  • Goal-Oriented or Goal-Referenced: High-quality feedback is closely aligned with clear learning objectives and goals. It gives students a sense of direction, helping them understand what they are striving to achieve and how their current performance is positioned in relation to those objectives.
  • Transparent and Clear: Feedback should be transparent and easy for students to understand. It should clearly communicate the strengths and areas in need of development or revision in their work and suggest specific strategies the students can use to make improvements.
  • Actionable: Effective feedback is not just informative but also actionable. It offers specific guidance on what steps students can take to improve while they are still working on the piece (not after it is completed). Actionable feedback goes beyond pointing out errors; it provides concrete suggestions for how to correct those errors and make progress.
  • User-friendly (more specifically, student-friendly): It’s important that the feedback is communicated to students in language they can understand. If they do not understand what the feedback is saying or what it means, they will not be able to successfully act on it.
  • Focused and Specific: Specificity in feedback is vital. Rather than providing general comments, high-quality feedback zooms in on particular aspects of a student’s work. It highlights what was done well and what needs improvement in a precise and detailed manner.
  • Timely: Timeliness is critical when it comes to feedback. It should be given as close to the learning experience as possible. Delayed feedback may lose its relevance and impact. Timely feedback allows students to apply it to their work immediately.

By incorporating these qualities into the feedback process, educators can create a feedback-rich environment that not only informs students about their progress but also empowers them to take meaningful steps toward improvement.

Focus on Process-based Feedback

Process feedback focuses on evaluating and improving the steps, strategies, or techniques that students employ during the learning process. Instead of assessing the end result, process feedback focuses on the journey and supports students as they make progress toward a clear objective or desired result. This form of feedback can have a profound impact on student learning in several ways.

Promotes Metacognition

Process feedback encourages students to think about their thinking, fostering metacognition. When students receive feedback on their learning strategies, they become more aware of how they approach tasks, make decisions, and solve problems. This self-awareness can lead to more effective learning strategies in the future.

Targeted Improvement

It provides specific guidance on what students are doing well and where they can improve in the learning process. This specificity enables students to focus their efforts on particular aspects of their work, leading to more precise and efficient learning.

Enhances Self-Efficacy

Process feedback can bolster students’ self-belief and confidence. When they receive feedback that acknowledges their effective strategies and effort, it reinforces the belief that they can succeed. This increased self-efficacy can lead to improved performance and a willingness to tackle more complex tasks.

Reduces Fear of Failure

When students receive feedback that focuses on the process rather than just the end result, they are less likely to fear failure. They understand that mistakes and setbacks are part of the learning process and opportunities for growth rather than indicators of inadequacy.

Process feedback is vital in enhancing student learning by honing their metacognitive skills, guiding their efforts, boosting motivation, and fostering a growth mindset. By focusing on the process rather than the product, educators can help students become more effective and resilient learners.

Actively Engage Students in the Feedback Process

In John Hattie and Helen Timperley’s (2007) paper, The Power of Feedback, they assert that effective feedback should answer three questions. By encouraging students to delve deeply into their work and the feedback they receive, these three questions pave the way for enhanced understanding, growth, and academic success.

  • Where am I going?
  • How am I going there?
  • Where to next?

The first question Hattie poses is deceptively simple yet profoundly significant: Where am I going? This question prompts students to articulate the learning goal or objective for a particular task or assignment. This ensures that they comprehend the destination or desired result of the activity or assignment at hand. This approach creates clarity and transparency, enabling students to navigate their tasks with purpose and intention.

The second question is, How am I going there? It engages students in reflective thinking. This reflection centers on the process-based feedback they receive and what it reveals about their progress, growth, strengths, limitations, and areas where they need further support. By actively contemplating feedback and its implications, students gain insights into their individual learning journeys. This self-awareness empowers them to take ownership of their progress and identify areas where they can collaborate with their teachers to further develop their skills.

It is Hattie’s final question, Where to next?, that holds the key to transformative growth. This inquiry challenges students to formulate a declarative sentence or statement about their intended actions in response to the feedback received. By contemplating their next steps, students solidify their commitment to leveraging the feedback and actively integrating it into their learning process. This forward-thinking mindset propels them towards continuous improvement and fosters a growth-oriented approach to education.

When we challenge students to answer these three questions, we help them develop their metacognitive muscles and develop a clearer understanding of their skills, abilities, and areas of need.

To facilitate this reflective process, I have created a graphic organizer that educators can employ to encourage students to delve deeper into their tasks, feedback, and personal growth. This tool serves as a catalyst for critical thinking, enabling students to extract maximum value from the feedback they receive. By exploring the task, the feedback, and its implications, students develop a more profound understanding of their own abilities and how they can utilize the feedback to elevate their learning experience.

Pull Feedback into the Classroom with Blended Learning

Too often, teachers take feedback home because they are stuck at the front of the class guiding a whole group lesson and don’t have the time and space to sit alongside learners, supporting their individual progress toward learning objectives. This creates mountains of work for teachers outside of school, and students do not receive the feedback they need to improve the piece as they work on it. This is one of the workflows Dr. Katie Novak and I reimagined in our book The Shift to Student-led. We note that this traditional, teacher-led workflow often results in feedback on finished products instead of a focus on giving feedback during the process when it can have the greatest impact on student learning.

Teachers using universally designed blended learning models, like the station rotation model and the playlist model, can pull feedback into the classroom, ensuring that it is timely, focused, and actionable. Adopting these models not only enhances the immediacy and effectiveness of feedback but also promotes a healthier work-life balance for educators, affording them the chance to disconnect after school hours.

The Station Rotation Model

The station rotation model does exactly what the name suggests. It is a series of stations, or learning activities, that students rotate through. Typically, there is a teacher-led station, an online station, and an offline station. To be considered a blended learning model, at least one station must be an online learning station. Teachers typically use their teacher-led station for differentiated direct instruction, but it is a wonderful opportunity to provide feedback on work in progress.

For example, a teacher might run a series of stations, like those pictured below, to make time for real-time feedback sessions at the teacher-led station. In this rotation, the instruction is delivered via a video that students can self-pace through, and the offline station engages students in a peer feedback activity.

The following are tips for making a real-time feedback session at the teacher-led station run smoothly.

  • Explain the purpose or value of this feedback session
  • Focus on giving feedback to a single skill or element of student work
  • Provide students with a place or routine for capturing their questions (e.g., add a comment to a digital document or write it on a Post-it).
  • Keep your eye on the clock since you have limited time with each student’s work.
  • Use technology to speed up feedback with keyboard shortcuts and links to instructional videos to support revisions.
  • Require students act on the feedback during the session (e.g., use the 3 questions graphic organizer).

The Playlist Model

The playlist, or individual rotation model, is a blended learning model that empowers students to take ownership of their learning by giving them control over the pace of their learning. This model presents a sequence of carefully curated learning activities designed to move students toward specific learning objectives or desired outcomes.

When I support teachers in designing playlists, I encourage them to add “teacher check-ins” to strategic moments in their playlists. When a student hits a teacher check-in, they pause and conference with the teacher. This one-on-one time can be used to review formative assessment data, discuss student progress, or provide feedback on works in progress (e.g., writing assignments, performance tasks, projects).

Feedback during a teacher check-in is a wonderful way to support students as they work and better understand their individual progress and needs. Teachers can use what they are learning during these feedback sessions to make modifications or additions to the student’s playlist to personalize their learning experience, ensuring they continue to progress toward the learning objectives.

Wrap Up

Effective feedback is the cornerstone of a dynamic and responsive educational environment. It goes beyond mere evaluation, serving as a bridge between what is understood and what is yet to be mastered. Effective feedback is clear, direct, and specific; it provides learners with actionable insights tailored to their individual learning pathways. It encourages reflection, fosters resilience, and promotes a growth mindset.

To ensure feedback is prioritized during class time, teachers should integrate it into the very fabric of their instructional models. Designing lessons using blended learning models like station rotation and playlist models, educators can create dedicated time and space for feedback, which is as integral as providing instruction. By prioritizing effective feedback, educators do not just teach; they prepare students for a lifetime of learning and growth.

The post How and When to Give Feedback appeared first on Dr. Catlin Tucker.


Station Rotation Tip #5: What Does Each Station Look Like and Sound Like?

Por Catlin Tucker — 25 de Outubro de 2023, 12:01

I was recently facilitating a training session on the station rotation model when several educators expressed concern about the noise level of the classroom during a station rotation lesson. They asked how I keep the noise level down at the stations that are not teacher-led. Like most classroom expectations, I spend time directly teaching what each type of station should look and sound like. 

When introducing station rotation, I have students practice physically rotating from station to station. This helps students understand how to rotate to each station and what to do when they arrive at a new station. After they practice rotating a few times, I bring the class back together and explain that to get the most out of each station, I have certain expectations for what each station looks and sounds like.  

I start by explaining that because I will be facilitating the teacher-led station, I need them to stay on task and use appropriate volume when speaking. I emphasize that the teacher-led station is my opportunity to work with small groups to ensure every student in the class is getting time with me, ensuring that everyone feels supported and makes progress. Once I’ve clearly articulated the value of my teacher-led station and why I need to be able to focus on the students at that station, I’ve found it helpful to engage students in the process of identifying what learning should look and sound like given the learning task.

What Does Each Station Look and Sound Like?

I used the following slide and had students work in pairs to discuss what they think each type of station should look and sound like and then jot down their ideas on a piece of paper. Depending on the age of the students, they can write down phrases and words, or draw simple sketches. I provide guiding questions for students who may need it, such as:

  • What materials should be out on your desk? 
  • How should you be interacting with others at your station? 
  • How loud should your voices be at this station? 
  • What should you avoid doing at this station? 

After students had a few minutes to discuss and write down what they believed each station should look like and sound like, I invited them to share their responses as I documented their ideas on the whiteboard. Once they shared their thinking, I presented my expectations. We compared their thoughts about the volume and types of interactions at each type of station to my expectations. When their responses were different from mine, we talked about why their description of the station was different from my own.

Below are some of the questions I used when facilitating this discussion about the differences between their answers and my thoughts about the stations.

  • Can you share what influenced your expectations for this type of station?
  • Were there any specific experiences that shaped your ideas about what learning looks or sounds like at this type of station?
  • Do you think your personal learning preferences played a role in your expectations?
  • How do the specific learning objectives for this station align with your expectations?
  • Can we identify common elements in our ideas and merge them to create a more comprehensive set of station expectations?

Engaging students in the process of setting expectations for noise levels and interactions at a small group learning station before implementing the station rotation model has several significant benefits from increasing ownership and accountability while also creating clarity about what is expected of them. Involving students in this way can lead to a more successful and seamless implementation of the model. When students have a voice in shaping their learning environment, it is empowering and boosts their confidence in their ability to be successful. They also feel that their opinions are valued, leading to increased motivation and engagement.

Use Visual Aids to Reinforce Expectations

Once students have a clear and explicit understanding of the expectations for each type of station, I use visual aids to reinforce these norms. Specifically, I create and display posters for each type of station, which stay up throughout the year so we can easily reference or revisit expectations. These posters serve as constant reminders, illustrating both the desired appearance and ambiance of each station.

Regardless of whether you are working with young learners or older students, being clear about what is expected creates a foundation for mutual respect and understanding. By having these expectations visually presented, students can regularly self-check their behaviors and actions, leading to a more self-regulated learning environment.

Teaching classroom expectations isn’t merely a formality; it’s an essential step in classroom management and in setting up any instructional model, including the station rotation model. By taking the time to be explicit about these expectations and using visual reminders like posters, educators set the stage for a smooth, productive, and harmonious learning experience. This approach ensures that the station rotation model is not only introduced but is also sustained effectively throughout the academic year.

Additional Tips

  • Review the expectations by referring to the posters in the room when needed. Students will need reminders throughout the year. 
  • To help keep the noise level down during a station rotation lesson, have at least one independent station. For example, if I have four stations, two of them may be collaborative, and the other two may be independent. This way, you have fewer students talking at any given time. 

If you are interested in learning how to design and facilitate learning with the station rotation model, check out Dr. Tucker’s self-paced mini-course online or grab a copy of her book The Complete Guide to Blended Learning!

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The Equity Advantage of Small Groups

Por Catlin Tucker — 17 de Outubro de 2023, 13:54

Part III: Transitioning from Whole Group to Small Group to Achieve Equity in Education

In the first blog post in this series, Time Efficiency vs. Equity in Education, I wrote about the tension between the demands on teachers’ time and the desire to provide equitable learning experiences. In the second blog, Leveraging AI to Save Time Architecting Equitable, Student-centered Learning Experiences, I highlight how teachers can use AI technology to significantly decrease the time required to design differentiated and personalized learning experiences. In this final blog, we’ll explore how the move from whole-group instruction to differentiated small-group learning requires a shift in mindset and skill. Together, these shifts can help us cultivate dynamic learning communities where all students have the confidence and competence to lead the learning and make academic progress.

Mindset Shift

Let Tech Do What Tech Does Well. For years, classrooms have been a hierarchy with teachers at the top, experts disseminating information, and students below receiving that information. Before technology permeated every aspect of our lives, that made sense. It was a necessity. Beyond the teacher, books were the only source of information in a classroom before the internet. Now that information is easily accessible from any device, teachers must recognize that their actual value is in their ability to listen, observe, empathize, and organically respond to student needs. Technology and our unprecedented access to information should allow teachers to focus on the aspects of this work that are uniquely human. Let’s acknowledge that what technology does well is information transfer. We can read an article, watch a video, listen to a podcast, view an infographic, or interact with a website to learn. And, when we engage with information in a digital form, we have more control over the experience. If technology effectively handles information transfer, why use our finite classroom time doing the same?

Let Tech Amplify Learning, Not Define It. In the evolving educational landscape, it’s crucial for educators to view technology not as a replacement for people but as a catalyst for change. For too long, the perception has been that the more technology enters our classrooms, the more automated and impersonal the learning experience becomes. The opposite is true.

At its core, technology is a powerful, transformative tool. When harnessed effectively, it can handle many of the time-consuming tasks teachers are responsible for that prevent them from deeply engaging with small groups and individual students. As discussed in the previous blog, teachers can leverage AI to drastically reduce the time it takes to design differentiated learning experiences and provide feedback. We can be more strategic about how we transfer information and allow students agency and meaningful choices about how they want to acquire information (e.g., read, watch, listen). Technology isn’t the end but the means. It’s the vehicle that can pave the way for more intimate, tailored educational experiences.

Letting Go Is Scary but Necessary. As educators, it’s innate for us to want control. We want to ensure that the content is being covered efficiently and that every student is on task. The downside of us having control in a classroom is that many students spend all day every day in classrooms where they do not get a voice in what they learn, how they learn, or what they produce to demonstrate their learning. That places them in a powerless position and can negatively impact their motivation over time. As the educational landscape evolves, so must our approach to teaching. While undoubtedly daunting, letting go is a pivotal step in fostering student-centered learning.

Designing lessons that allow for self-directed learning doesn’t mean abandoning structure; it means entrusting students with the autonomy to navigate within a structure. The initial steps can feel overwhelming – for both educators and students. It requires building a foundation where students have the tools, confidence, and responsibility to steer their learning and make productive choices.

We have to help students develop the skills necessary to drive learning in classrooms so we are free to work with individual students and small groups of learners. If we do not trust our students to manage their own behavior, make responsible choices, and complete the tasks assigned, we will never be comfortable focusing our energy on differentiating learning experiences for diverse groups of learners.

Skillset Shift

To achieve this shift from whole group to small group, teachers need flexible instructional models that position students at the center of the learning experience. Blended learning provides educators with technology-enhanced instructional models that strive to shift the focus from the teacher to the students. The result is a learning experience where teachers can embrace their roles as facilitators of learning, and students are positioned as active agents making meaning.

Blended learning models leverage technology strategically to allow teachers to provide differentiated instruction and personalized support, ensuring that each student progresses steadily toward clearly defined, standard-aligned learning objectives.

For example, teachers using the station rotation model have time in the lesson to work directly with small groups and customize instruction, models, scaffolds, feedback, and support to meet the needs of that particular group of learners. By contrast, teachers using the playlist model allow students to self-pace through a customized sequence of learning activities and use their class time to pull individual learners for personalized instruction and support at strategic moments in the playlist. Leveraging these different models allows teachers to provide the specific inputs students need to reach a particular output.

Designing for Small Groups and Maximizing Our Impact. Blended learning models provide multiple pathways for educators to prioritize small group interactions, maximize their impact, and develop relationships with students. Below are strategies teachers can use in a blended lesson where they have time to work with small groups of learners to ensure each group of students is getting exactly what they need to make academic progress and build confidence.

Differentiated Small Group Instruction

When teachers group students for differentiated instruction, they can tailor their explanations, word choice, process, and scaffolds to ensure all students in the group can access the information. Students are also more likely to ask questions and seek support in small groups. The teacher can more easily make adjustments to respond to specific gaps, misconceptions, or wonderings.

Differentiated Modeling Sessions

When onboarding students to a process, strategy, or skill, teachers facilitating small groups can carefully select problems, prompts, tasks, and questions at different levels of academic rigor and complexity appropriate to each group’s skills, abilities, and needs. They can use a gradual release (I do, we do, pairs do, you do) approach to help students build confidence around their abilities to employ the process, strategy, or skill. As teachers transition the small group to the “pairs do,” they can listen and observe to identify students ready for the “you do” and those who need more time with the teacher before transitioning to independent practice.

Real-time Feedback

Shifting feedback into small groups in class is the best way to ensure it is timely and actionable. Teachers can divide their time between students in small groups to give focused feedback as they work on a piece in progress (e.g., writing assignment, performance task, project). Real-time feedback ensures that all students get the support they need as they work instead of being left to complete work outside of school where they may not have access to support.

Differentiated small group instruction, modeling, and support can remove barriers, meet the diverse needs of students, and provide teachers with time to engage in the human side of this work, fostering stronger relationships with students. When educators implement these small-group strategies, they ensure that every student, regardless of their background or proficiency level, has an optimal learning experience. By focusing on the unique needs of each group, teachers create an inclusive environment where every student has the tools and support necessary to succeed.

Toward a More Equitable Future

As we conclude this series on the transformative shift from whole-group to small-group instruction, we must reflect on the driving force behind this evolution: equity. Every student, regardless of their background or starting point, deserves an educational experience tailored to their unique needs and potential. Our commitment to equity means that we don’t just teach to the middle but design lessons that reach every student where they are in their individual learning journeys.

Harnessing the power of AI and blended learning isn’t merely about staying abreast with technological trends; it’s about leveraging these tools to streamline and elevate the educational process. By integrating AI into our instructional design, we reduce the time and effort traditionally required to create equitable learning experiences and enhance the precision and adaptability of these lessons.

However, it is essential to note that this transformation isn’t solely about tools or techniques. It demands a profound shift in both mindset and skill set. Educators will need to embrace their evolving roles as facilitators and collaborators, nurturing students to become expert learners. These students are not just recipients of knowledge but are resourceful, motivated, strategic, and self-aware – equipped to thrive in an ever-changing world.

In essence, while challenging, this transition promises a symbiotic relationship of growth. As educators refine their methods and harness new tools, students, in turn, blossom into active agents of their learning. It’s a paradigm where teachers and students find the educational journey more rewarding, impactful, and resonant. As we look to the future, it’s clear that an investment in this blended, equity-focused approach is an investment in a brighter, more inclusive tomorrow.

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Leveraging AI to Save Time Architecting Equitable, Student-centered Learning Experiences

Por Catlin Tucker — 28 de Setembro de 2023, 20:30

Part II: Transitioning from Whole Group to Small Group to Achieve Equity in Education

The first blog in this series, “Time Efficiency vs. Equity in Education,” explored two major barriers teachers face when shifting from whole group, teacher-led, teacher-paced model to student-centered blended learning models. Time and control are powerful enforcers of the status quo. What if teachers could dramatically reduce the time it takes to design equitable lessons that free the teacher to work directly with individual and small groups of learners?

Increasing Demands on Teacher’s Time

In today’s educational landscape, teachers face a daunting array of demands on their time. Large class sizes, demanding parents, a constantly evolving digital toolset, shifting leadership initiatives, and teacher shortages have created a perfect storm of time constraints. These challenges often force educators to sacrifice their prep periods, substitute for other classes, or take on additional teaching duties. Amidst these pressures, the task of crafting equitable and student-centered learning experiences becomes increasingly challenging. It’s within this demanding context that the potential of AI stands out as a promising solution, offering teachers a way to save time designing lessons while more effectively meeting the diversity of needs in a class.

Understanding Our Students’ Needs

When I work with teachers to design learning experiences that strive to meet students where they are in their individual learning journeys, the first item on the agenda is pre-assessments. Learning is not like lining up for a race shoulder to shoulder. Students come into our classrooms with different life experiences, prior knowledge, and language proficiencies. To design effectively for a diverse group of students, teachers must find out where everyone is beginning in relation to the material we plan to teach.

Beginning with an access prior knowledge activity, diagnostic, or pre-assessment can help us better understand what students know, understand, and can do before we design a sequence of lessons or a unit. That way, we can identify gaps, misconceptions, areas of need, and existing competencies. This is critical if we want to design equitable learning experiences that strive to give individual learners the inputs they need to reach a particular learning goal.

Using AI to Generate Pre-Assessments

Imagine a high school math teacher is about to embark on a new unit about algebraic equations. Before diving into the unit, he administers a pre-assessment to his diverse class of 30 students. The pre-assessment consists of a series of algebraic problems of varying difficulty and specific vocabulary related to algebraic equations. The results reveal that while some students grasp the fundamental concepts and basic vocabulary, a significant portion of the class struggles with basic algebraic operations, such as solving for variables, and subject-specific vocabulary. In addition, the data indicates that a few students already have advanced knowledge of algebraic equations and would benefit from more challenging material.

Given these insights, the teacher can now tailor his instruction more effectively. He can design differentiated lesson plans, grouping students based on their pre-assessment results. He can then use a model, like the station rotation, to circulate students through a series of learning activities, including a needs-based teacher-led station. For those struggling with the basics, the teacher can tailor instruction and learning activities to focus on foundational concepts and skills necessary to solve equations while also providing more scaffolds and support. For the advanced students, he can prepare extension and enrichment tasks to keep them engaged and challenged. As a result, the teacher’s approach becomes more equitable, addressing the specific needs of each student, and increasing the likelihood that all students will successfully reach the learning goal of mastering algebraic equations. This example illustrates how starting with a pre-assessment can be pivotal in designing equitable learning experiences.

Teachers hesitant to use pre-assessments because of the time it takes to generate them can now lean on AI technology to do that heavy lifting for them. is a robust free teacher resource that makes creating diagnostics and pre-assessments quick and painless. If the teacher in our scenario above wanted to generate a pre-assessment to better understand where each student was in terms of their prior knowledge and understanding of algebraic equations, they could input the topic and grade level to have generate a list of 5, 10, or 15 questions they can include in their pre-assessment.

Whenever AI generates questions for a pre-assessment (or anything else for that matter), it is important to look at the content and consider the following before using it.

  • How reliable is the data generated by the AI tool? Are there any potential biases or inaccuracies in the questions or answers provided?
  • Will the AI-generated questions effectively gauge students’ knowledge and skills related to the subject or topic?
  • Are the questions clear and unambiguous? Are there any issues with the way the questions are worded that might create confusion or incorrect interpretations?
  • Do the pre-assessment questions generated vary enough in difficulty or complexity to reveal where students are in terms of the depth of their understanding or abilities?
  • Do the questions include words or symbols that students might not understand or be familiar with? even has a translation tool that is in Beta that can translate your pre-assessment into another language to ensure the math teacher is getting an accurate representation of what every student knows and can do.

Once teachers have pre-assessment data, it’s time to design differentiated students-centered lessons!

AI Drastically Reduces The Time Required to Design Differentiated Learning Experiences

As our classrooms become increasingly diverse in terms of skills, abilities, learning preferences, and language proficiencies, differentiating instruction is an essential part of the equity puzzle.

“Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Whether teachers differentiate content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction.”

— Carol Ann Tomlinson

When teachers differentiate instruction, they adjust the content, process, or products to meet the specific needs of individual students or groups of students. This may involve modifying the depth or complexity of the material or the supports and scaffolds provided. For instance, advanced students might delve deeper into a topic, while those struggling may receive more foundational instruction.

As teachers, understanding the concept of differentiated instruction is just the first step. The real magic happens when we put this approach into practice. Now, instead of being daunted by the need to differentiate, AI can do much of the heavy lifting for us!

Let’s look at how we can use MagicSchool’s conceptual understanding generator to help students at different levels. To extend our previous math example, I selected 9th grade and entered “algebraic equations” as my topic in the conceptual understanding generator, and it produced the following ideas.

Building Conceptual Understanding in Algebraic Equations

  1. Real-world Problem Solving: Present students with real-world scenarios that can be modeled using algebraic equations. For example, ask them to create equations to determine the cost of buying multiple items at a store or the distance covered by a moving object over time. By connecting algebra to practical situations, students can develop a deeper conceptual understanding of how equations represent relationships and solve problems.
  2. Visual Representations: Use visual aids, such as graphs, diagrams, or manipulatives, to represent algebraic equations. For instance, when introducing linear equations, plot points on a graph and guide students to identify the pattern and relationship between the variables. By visually representing the equations, students can better comprehend how changes in variables impact the equation and its graphical representation.
  3. Concrete to Abstract Progression: Begin by using concrete examples or physical objects to introduce the concept of algebraic equations. For instance, use objects like blocks or tokens to represent variables and constants. Students can then manipulate and rearrange the objects to solve simple equations. Gradually transition to more abstract representations, such as using letters or symbols instead of objects, to help students understand that algebraic equations can represent a wide range of situations beyond the specific objects initially used.

    These activities designed to build conceptual understanding of algebraic equations can be adjusted for students at different skill or ability levels to ensure the learning activity or guided instruction can be differentiated for different groups to ensure all students can feel successful.

    If I wanted to use the first suggestion to have students engage with real-world problem-solving, my next stop would be to jump over to ChatGPT and ask it to generate real-world scenarios that can be modeled using algebraic equations that are at three different levels of rigor and complexity.

    Scenario #1: Beginner LevelSolving for a Single Variable

    You are planning to buy some video games from an online store. Each video game costs $20, and you want to buy “x” number of games. You also need to pay a shipping fee of $5. Write an equation to find out how much money you will spend in total.

    Scenario #2: Intermediate Level–Solving for Two Variables

    You and your friend are planning a road trip. You will be driving at a constant speed, and your friend will be following in another car. You leave at the same time, and after “t” hours, you are “d” miles apart. Write an equation to represent the relationship between time and distance.

    Scenario 3: Advanced Level–System of Equations

    You are considering two job offers. Job A offers a monthly salary of $3,000 plus a commission of $200 for each product sold. Job B offers a monthly salary of $2,500 plus a commission of $300 for each product sold. You want to determine the number of products you need to sell for the two job offers to be equivalent. Write a system of equations to represent this situation.

    A math teacher might use these real-world scenarios in a teacher-led station to help students understand how to use algebraic equations to solve real-world problems and challenge them to create their own scenarios or provide them with practice problems at an appropriate level of rigor.

    Once students have received instruction on solving algebraic equations, these types of real-world activities could be used to reinforce conceptual understanding and encourage independent or group practice at offline learning stations.

    Reimagining Our Approach to Designing and Facilitating Learning Experiences with AI

    The emergence of AI tools has opened up a world of possibilities for customizing and enhancing learning experiences. From differentiating texts and lessons to providing tailored scaffolds, support, and assessments, the options are abundant. I’ve used several education-focused AI tools, including, Diffit, and Curipod, and each with its unique strengths. Just as learners vary in their needs, preferences, and strengths, so do we as teachers. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to AI tools. What truly matters is the willingness to invest some time in exploration and experimentation. It’s astonishing how, with AI as our ally, we can swiftly craft engaging and equitable learning experiences.

    I encourage you to invest time exploring and playing. Not only is it incredible what we can accomplish as architects of learning experiences in a short amount of time with AI, but if you are anything like me, you’ll leave the experience feeling inspired and energized, buzzing with ideas about how you can use AI to be more effective and efficient. I hope the experience leaves teachers feeling invigorated and equipped with new ideas and strategies to better meet the diverse needs of our students. (And the time our future selves will save designing lessons will thank us!)

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    Time Efficiency vs. Equity in Education

    Por Catlin Tucker — 25 de Setembro de 2023, 15:56

    Part I: Transitioning from Whole Group to Small Group to Achieve Equity in Education

    In the ever-evolving education landscape, one of the most pressing challenges teachers face is striking the right balance between time efficiency and ensuring equitable learning opportunities for all students. As educators embrace innovative technology-enhanced instructional models, they often grapple with letting go of the time-saving practices inherent in the traditional teacher-led, teacher-paced whole group approach to instruction. In this blog series, we’ll explore the delicate balance teachers face when trying to meet the diverse needs of their students while making the most of their limited and valuable instructional time.

    The Time-Saving Nature of Traditional Teaching

    When I ask educators why so many use the whole group, teacher-led, teacher-paced model predominantly or exclusively, two answers always surface repeatedly: a) it is more time efficient to plan a single lesson for the entire class, and b) it gives teachers control over the content, pace, and classroom management. Both of these perceived benefits are important to acknowledge and explore.

    Yes, designing a single experience for the entire class is absolutely easier. I started my career doing this very thing. I would write the day’s learning objectives and agenda on the board and spend each class period moving my students as a unit through a series of learning activities. In terms of design time, it is efficient, and it required less from me cognitively and creatively. However, a one-size-fits-all approach to designing lessons does not result in an equitable learning experience. When every student gets the same experience and teacher time and energy resources, that falls under the umbrella of equality. If we want to strive to provide an equitable experience, we must acknowledge that individual learners will need individual inputs to reach a particular output.

    “If we want to create equal opportunities for all learners to suceed, we have to ditch out one-size-fits-all practices and provide flexible pathways for students to learn.”

    — Dr. Katie Novak & Dr. Catlin Tucker, UDL and Blended Learning

    The Appeal of Maintaining Control

    The second reason teachers tend to rely on the whole group lesson is the desire to maintain control. In a whole group teacher-led lesson, we can “cover the content” in our limited time with students. However, it is essential for educators to reflect critically on this approach: Did the students comprehend the subject matter? Will they retain the information? Can they transfer or apply their learning effectively?

    While the intent behind controlling the learning environment is often to ensure uniform content delivery, this can inadvertently create a significant equity issue. The emphasis frequently falls on disseminating information and instructing students. As a result, insufficient time is allocated for practical application, review, and personalized support. In the whole group lesson, the teacher’s voice often overshadows the students’ needs, creating a learning environment that fails to address individual learning skills, preferences, or interests.

    When teachers devote extensive time to explaining, unpacking, modeling, and guiding, it robs them of the time they need to support and provide feedback as students grapple with complex concepts or apply specific strategies and skills. This disproportionate focus on content transfer impedes students’ ability to practice, review, and apply their learning in an environment where they can receive the necessary support to thrive.

    This is especially problematic from an equity perspective because it does not accommodate diverse learning needs, preferences, and paces. If we want to provide a more equitable experience, we must create a learning environment and employ instructional models that are responsive, adaptive, and free the teacher to work alongside individual and small groups of learners. This necessitates a shift from teacher-centered to learner-centered instructional strategies, where students are given the autonomy and support to navigate their learning journeys with confidence.

    Honoring Learner Variability and Diverse Student Needs in Our Design

    While working with Dr. Katie Novak to write UDL and Blended Learning and The Shift to Student-led with UDL and Blended Learning, we emphasize the fact that learner variability is the norm, not the exception in classrooms. Students are different from each other in terms of how they learn. They bring different skills, abilities, needs, language proficiencies, backgrounds, learning preferences, and interests into the classroom. Yet, the whole group, teacher-led lesson is not flexible enough to honor learner variability or the diversity of needs in classrooms.

    “Yet, if there is one takeaway from the burgeoning learning sciences research, it is that no two of us learn in exactly the same way. Each of us go to school with a backpack filled with very different experiences that we draw from to master content, create meaning, work in groups, share our voice, and achieve our potential.”

    — Barbara Pape, Learner Variability Is the Rule, Not the Exception

    If we want to create more equitable learning experiences, we must know our students and be proactive in identifying potential barriers that might make it challenging for them to acquire information, engage in a learning activity, or navigate a particular task. When working with teachers, I emphasize the importance of providing flexible pathways through a lesson by leveraging technology and prioritizing student agency. For example, some students will acquire information more effectively by reading a text or article, while others will prefer to listen to an audio track or podcast. Some students may thrive self-pacing through a video lesson, while others may be more successful participating in a small group differentiated teacher-led instructional session.

    Designing lessons that offer multiple pathways demands a higher level of intentionality and additional time, yet if our goal is to help every student progress toward standard-aligned goals, it is a worthy investment. The result is a learning experience that is more attuned to individual needs and differences, ensuring each student has a fair chance at success.

    A well-designed, equitable lesson not only accommodates diverse learning preferences but also minimizes the need for extensive reteaching. This can ultimately save teachers instructional time in the long run. Additionally, if teachers are not trapped at the front of the room orchestrating the parts of a whole group lesson, they can allocate their precious class time to working closely with students on valuable teaching tasks. This includes providing timely and actionable process-based feedback as students work, a practice that not only enhances the students’ learning experience but also reduces the amount of work teachers bring home.

    Taking Stock of Current Teaching Practices

    I encourage educators to question the prevailing reliance on whole-group, teacher-led instructional design. Is it truly fostering an environment where every student feels supported and successful? Is it accommodating the myriad learning needs, preferences, and paces of a diverse group of students?

    The journey towards equitable learning involves moving beyond traditional teaching methods, which often offer uniform experiences to all students, to adopting approaches that allow teachers the flexibility to provide the individualized support each student needs to achieve specific learning goals or outcomes. This transition is not merely pedagogical but is fundamentally rooted in recognizing and respecting the diverse array of learning needs, preferences, and backgrounds in our classrooms. By embracing a more personalized, student-centered approach, we affirm our commitment to valuing and honoring the rich tapestry of learner variability, ensuring that every student is given the opportunity to succeed.

    This shift necessitates a critical examination of existing instructional models. A pivotal component of this re-evaluation is acknowledging the critical role of technology, student agency, and small-group instruction in addressing and honoring learner variability. These elements foster a learning environment where individual needs are acknowledged and met, paving the way for more accessible, inclusive, and equitable learning experiences. By questioning the status quo and exploring innovative instructional strategies, teachers can become architects of learning experiences that truly serve all students.

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    Shift to Self-assessment

    Por Catlin Tucker — 18 de Setembro de 2023, 16:35

    Who decided that grading and assessment should be the exclusive responsibility of teachers? Why do we sideline students when it comes to assessment?

    Self-assessment is a powerful strategy that encourages students to become more invested in their learning journeys. It is a process where students evaluate their work, reflecting on what they’ve learned, how well they’ve understood complex concepts, how much progress they’ve made toward mastering key skills, and where they may need to invest time and energy to improve their concept knowledge and skill set (Siegesmund, 2016). Self-assessment shifts the focus from a grade-centric perspective to a learning-centric one. For those of us who want to encourage students to adopt a growth mindset, believing they can always improve and develop with practice and hard work, self-assessment is a critical piece of that puzzle (Wang, Zepeda, Qin, Del Toro & Binning, 2021).

    The beauty of self-assessment lies in the empowerment it provides learners. It promotes ownership of learning, motivating students to be more engaged, active participants in their education. When students assess their work, they develop a deeper understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, fostering an innate drive to improve, and helping them to develop as expert learners (Tucker & Novak, 2022). They learn to set realistic yet challenging goals for themselves and devise strategies to reach those goals. It creates an environment where mistakes are seen not as failures but as opportunities for growth and exploration. In addition, it cultivates critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills – all of which are essential for lifelong learning and success beyond school. Self-assessment is not simply a tool for academic growth but also for personal development, cultivating students who are self-aware, self-directed learners ready to navigate their learning with confidence and resilience.

    Self-assessing Practice and Review

    Too often, when teachers assign review and practice in class or for homework, the responsibility for checking the accuracy of that work falls on the teacher. It’s the teacher who collects a class’s worth of assignments, spends precious time marking papers, and evaluates each student’s progress. Why should the responsibility of checking accuracy and thinking about student progress fall solely on the teacher? This traditional approach is not only a drain on a teacher’s time but also limits the learning opportunities for students.

    Firstly, this process deprives students of the chance to critically engage with their work. As a result, students miss out on the opportunity to recognize their strengths, identify their limitations, and target areas for growth. When students evaluate their own work, they gain invaluable insights into themselves as learners.

    Secondly, the time teachers invest in marking many of these assignments could be better spent designing dynamic, differentiated learning experiences that are more student-centered. Since most teachers have anywhere between 30-170 students, the workflow that positions the teacher to assess all student work is unsustainable and makes it impossible to strive for a healthy work-life balance.

    Thirdly, this traditional approach overlooks an opportunity to foster peer-to-peer support. Engaging students in self-assessment of review work and practice can be an excellent tool for promoting collaboration. In pairs or groups, students can compare their answers to an answer key or a strong exemplar and work together to check, correct, and discuss their questions. They can use this time to troubleshoot issues, engage in creative problem-solving, and learn from their mistakes together.

    It’s essential to remember that review and practice should provide a safe space for students to make mistakes. When teachers grade these exercises, it creates anxiety among students still grappling with new concepts or skills. We should treat review and practice not as tests of competence or compliance but as stepping stones towards mastery, encouraging a growth mindset in our students.

    Transforming Our Rubrics Into Self-Assessment Tools

    Providing a rubric helps students understand how they’ll be graded on a large-scale assignment and creates clarity about what they are working toward. It serves as a roadmap, helping them understand the criteria on which they’ll be evaluated. Rubrics can also serve as powerful self-assessment tools as students work.

    In the example below, elementary students working on a narrative are encouraged to look at their rough draft and evaluate where they believe they are in relation to specific criteria.

    Self-assessment can also serve as a catalyst, inspiring students to reflect on their classroom participation and engagement in learning activities. For example, if teachers are shifting from whole group, teacher-led discussion to small group, student-led discussion, they can use self-assessment to encourage students to think about their strengths, limitations, and areas of growth as participants in a student-led discussion. This reminds students that participating in discussions is their responsibility and that discussion itself is a skill they can improve on over time.

    In The Shift to Student-led, Dr. Katie Novak and I unpack ten teacher-led, time-consuming, and often frustratingly ineffective workflows and reimagine them to allow students to lead the learning. Workflow shift #8 focuses on moving from teacher-led assessment to student self-assessment. The chapter establishes the challenges presented when teachers are the only ones engaged in assessing student work, dives into research about the value of self-assessment, and presents multiple strategies teachers can use to position students to think critically about and reflect on their own work and what it reveals about them as learners.

    The Shift to Student-led

    To learn more about this shift, check out our new book, The Shift to Student-led. If you are interested in a discounted bulk order of 10 or more books, complete this form.

    Siegesmund, A. (2016). Increasing student metacognition and learning through classroom-based learning communities and self-assessment. Journal of microbiology & biology education, 17(2), 204-214.

    Wang, M. T., Zepeda, C. D., Qin, X., Del Toro, J., & Binning, K. R. (2021). More than growth mindset: Individual and interactive links among socioeconomically disadvantaged adolescents’ ability mindsets, metacognitive skills, and math engagement. Child Development, 92(5), e957-e976.

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    The Power of See, Think, Me, We

    Por Catlin Tucker — 7 de Setembro de 2023, 19:05

    Part V: Thinking About Thinking Series

    This is part five of a five-part series focused on using thinking routines to drive metacognitive skill building. Click here to revisit my last blog in this series on using the “Claim-Evidence-Question” routine.

    To recap, metacognition is a cognitive ability that allows learners to consider their thought patterns, approaches to learning, and understanding of a topic or idea. Teachers can leverage the power of thinking routines developed by Project Zero at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education to help students develop their metacognitive muscles. The thinking routines are a collection of purposeful and structured thinking patterns designed to stimulate students’ cognitive engagement and cultivate higher cognitive awareness.

    Teachers can use these thinking routines to design online or offline stations in a station rotation or embed them into a playlist to encourage students to pause and intentionally spend time thinking about their learning. Thinking routines offer more than just a structured pathway for students to delve into their thinking and explore the content deeply; they also serve as a window into their cognitive processes, offering invaluable formative assessment data.

    I See, Think, Me, We Thinking Routine

    The “See, Think, Me, We” thinking routine promotes deeper understanding and encourages discussion. This routine aims to scaffold the thinking process by breaking it down into manageable chunks, thereby facilitating rich classroom conversations or introspective thinking. The routine can be applied to various situations, from analyzing a piece of art to discussing a historical event.

    In the see phase, students are encouraged to make objective observations about what they see in front of them. This could mean describing the visible aspects of an image, identifying key elements in a text, or noting particular occurrences in a real-life situation. The goal is to collect as much raw data as possible without making judgments or interpretations.

    In the think stage, participants move from observation to interpretation. They think about what these observations might mean, offering explanations, hypotheses, or interpretations. This is where analytical thinking comes into play. It’s a move from “What do I see?” to “What do I think about what I see?”

    The me phase asks participants to reflect on their personal connection to what they’ve observed and thought. Questions in this phase could include “What does this remind me of?” or “How does this connect to my own experiences, ideas, or feelings?” The focus here is on introspection and personal relevance.

    Finally, the we stage encourages participants to think about their observations, thoughts, and feelings in a broader social context. This could mean considering how a community or group (which could be as small as the classroom or as large as humanity) would perceive the subject or how it might affect or be affected by it. The aim is to promote social thinking and consider multiple perspectives.

    By moving through these four phases—See, Think, Me, We—participants engage in a comprehensive thinking process that takes them from initial observation to personal connection and social relevance. Teachers often use this routine to deepen students’ engagement with material and to foster complex, critical thinking skills.

    Using See, Think, Me, We…at the Elementary Level

    Analyzing a Picture Book

    See: The teacher shows an illustration from a picture book and asks the children what they see. Students might point out elements like the characters, objects, or actions taking place in the picture.

    Think: The teacher then asks students what they think is happening in the picture. Students might say, “I think the girl in the picture is sad because she is sitting alone,” or “It looks like they are setting up for a birthday party.”

    Me: Next, the teacher can ask how the picture makes the students feel or if it reminds them of anything in their lives. A student might say, “The picture reminds me of my birthday last year,” or “I feel happy when I see the balloons.”

    We: Finally, the teacher asks how this picture might be important to other people, families, or communities. Students could discuss topics like the importance of friendship or how birthdays are celebrated differently in various cultures.

    Studying a Historical Figure

    See: The teacher presents a portrait or image of a historical figure. Students describe what they see: “He’s wearing a hat,” “She has a serious face,” etc.

    Think: The teacher asks students to think about what kind of person this might be based on the image. They can discuss the historical figure’s potential characteristics or importance.

    Me: Students are then encouraged to relate this historical figure to their lives. “Does this person remind you of anyone you know?” or “How would you feel if you met this person?”

    We: In the final phase, the teacher asks how this person might have impacted a community, country, or the world. This can lead to a discussion about the figure’s contributions and larger impact.

    Exploring Natural Phenomena

    See: The teacher asks students what they see when they look at a diagram or model of the water cycle. Students might note clouds, rain, rivers, etc.

    Think: Students are then asked to think about how these elements interact with each other. “What happens to the water after it rains?”

    Me: In this phase, students could discuss personal experiences with rain, like jumping in puddles or seeing a rainbow.

    We: Finally, the class could discuss broader implications like the importance of the water cycle for life on Earth or how communities are affected by weather patterns.

    Introduction to Fractions

    See: The teacher displays shapes divided into equal parts, some of which are shaded. Students are encouraged to observe these shapes and identify elements like the number of divisions and shaded portions.

    Think: Next, the teacher prompts students to think about the mathematical concept represented by the divided and shaded shapes, guiding them toward understanding that these represent fractions of a whole.

    Me: Students relate this concept to their personal experiences, such as sharing a food item equally among friends or family members, thereby connecting the mathematical idea to real-life scenarios they have encountered.

    We: Students think about the broader importance of understanding fractions. This could include discussions about how fractions are used in various professions, such as cooking or construction, or how understanding fractions contributes to fairness and equity in sharing resources.

    Using See, Think, Me, We…at the Secondary Level

    Literature and Language Arts

    See: Students identify key elements in a pivotal scene from a novel or a specific stanza from a poem, such as characters, actions, or descriptive language.

    Think: Students consider the themes or emotions conveyed, speculating on the author’s intentions.

    Me: Students relate the scene or poem to their experiences, discussing how it evokes personal feelings or memories.

    We: The class explores the cultural or historical significance, discussing the work’s impact on society or a particular community.

    History and Social Studies

    See: Students analyze details of a primary source, like a historical letter or photograph, including date, author, and content.

    Think: Students speculate on the source’s historical context and what it reveals about that period.

    Me: Students connect the source to their own lives or current events, discussing its resonance or impact on their understanding of history.

    We: The class considers broader implications, like how the source affects our collective understanding of history or current viewpoints.


    See: Students observe critical components in a scientific diagram or a physical demonstration, such as cellular respiration or the water cycle.

    Think: Students discuss how these components interact and what they signify in scientific terms.

    Me: Students relate the scientific concept to personal experiences, like how cellular respiration is related to exercise or the water cycle to their local climate.

    We: The class debates the broader implications, such as how understanding the concept impacts healthcare or environmental policy.


    See: Students identify variables, coefficients, or other mathematical elements in an equation or graph.

    Think: Students consider the real-world problem or mathematical relationship that the equation or graph represents.

    Me: Students share personal experiences where similar mathematical problems or reasoning were encountered.

    We: The class discusses wider applications of the concept in fields like engineering or economics and its societal impact.

    Art and Music

    See: Students identify elements like color, form, or melody in a painting, sculpture, or piece of music.

    Think: Students discuss the mood, themes, or messages they interpret from the artwork or musical piece.

    Me: Students share personal emotional responses to the art or music and how it resonates with them.

    We: The class considers the artwork or music’s cultural or historical importance and its impact or reflection on broader societal themes.

    As I bring this five-part series on thinking routines to a close, I want to emphasize that these routines aren’t just pedagogical techniques; they are foundational building blocks that foster genuine curiosity, encourage introspection, and deepen understanding. As educators, our mission extends beyond teaching a curriculum – it’s about shaping self-aware, critical thinkers who can navigate an increasingly complex world. By integrating these thinking routines into our classrooms, we provide students with the opportunity to delve deeper into the subject matter and gain insights into their developing identities as learners. These thinking routines encourage students to question, connect, and reflect with the goal of helping them become more knowledgeable, confident, and self-aware.

    The post The Power of See, Think, Me, We appeared first on Dr. Catlin Tucker.


    The Power of Claim-Evidence-Question

    Por Catlin Tucker — 1 de Setembro de 2023, 20:28

    Part IV: Thinking About Thinking

    This is part four of a five-part series focused on using thinking routines to drive metacognitive skill building. Click here to revisit my last blog in this series on using the “I used to think…Now, I think…” routine.

    To recap, metacognition is a cognitive ability that allows learners to consider their thought patterns, approaches to learning, and understanding of a topic or idea. Teachers can leverage the power of thinking routines developed by Project Zero at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education to help students develop their metacognitive muscles. The thinking routines are a collection of purposeful and structured thinking patterns designed to stimulate students’ cognitive engagement and cultivate cognitive awareness.

    Teachers can use these thinking routines to design online or offline stations in a station rotation or embed them into a playlist to encourage students to pause and intentionally spend time thinking about their learning. Thinking routines offer more than just a structured pathway for students to delve into their thinking and explore the content deeply; they also serve as a window into their cognitive processes, offering invaluable formative assessment data.

    Claim-Evidence-Question Thinking Routine

    The Claim-Evidence-Question thinking routine is an instructional strategy designed to promote critical thinking, evidence-based reasoning, and active engagement among students. It encourages students to develop and articulate their ideas, support them with relevant evidence, and generate thoughtful questions that further deepen their understanding and stimulate curiosity. The routine can be applied across various subject areas and is valuable for individual and collaborative activities.

    In the Claim step, students are prompted to articulate a clear and concise assertion or statement about the topic. This encourages them to synthesize their knowledge, form their own interpretations, and express their perspective on the matter.

    During the Evidence step, students are tasked with supporting their claim with relevant and compelling evidence. This evidence can be drawn from various sources, such as research articles, data sets, personal observations, or historical examples. Teachers can use this step to encourage students to assess the credibility of their evidence and select information that effectively strengthens their claims. This phase underscores the significance of critical evaluation, research skills, and reasoning.

    In the final step, the Question phase, students are encouraged to pose thoughtful and probing questions related to the topic and their claim. These questions might explore nuances, seek further information, or address potential counterarguments. By generating these questions, students demonstrate curiosity and an eagerness to explore the topic in more depth. This step also fosters metacognition, as students reflect on what they don’t know and what aspects of the topic warrant additional investigation.

    Using Claim-Evidence-Question at the Elementary Level

    Literature Analysis: After reading a story or book, students make a claim about a central theme or main character’s motivations, provide evidence from the text, and pose questions about the main idea or character.

    Science Experiments: Students make a claim about the outcome of a science experiment, present data as evidence, and ask questions about variables that might have affected the results.

    Historical Events: Students make claims about the causes or impact of historical events, provide evidence from historical documents or images, and ask questions about the events that are still unclear or confusing.

    Nature Observations: After a nature walk, students make a claim about nature, offer evidence from their observations, and pose questions about animals, plants, or natural phenomena.

    Math Problem Solving: Students make claims about solutions to math problems, provide evidence by showing their work, and ask questions about different problem-solving strategies.

    Artwork: After viewing a piece of artwork, students make a claim about its meaning, provide evidence by pointing out specific elements in the artwork, and ask questions about the meaning of the piece.

    Current Events: Students make claims about news stories, provide evidence from reputable sources, and ask questions about potential consequences or future developments.

    Health and Nutrition: Students make a claim about the importance of a balanced diet, provide evidence from readings and other resources, and ask questions about the effects of specific food choices.

    Character Traits: After reading about a character in a book, students make a claim about that character, provide evidence from the text, and ask questions about the character’s motivation, relationships, or impact on the story.

    Personal Reflections: Students could make claims about their learning experiences, provide evidence from their assignments, and ask questions about how they can improve their skills.

    Using Claim-Evidence-Question at the Secondary Level

    Literary Analysis: After reading a novel or play, students make a claim about a thematic interpretation, provide evidence from specific passages, and ask questions about the author’s intent.

    Scientific Investigations: Students could make claims about scientific hypotheses, provide evidence from experiments, and ask questions about variables, controls, or potential sources of error.

    Historical Debates: Students could make claims about historical interpretations, provide evidence from primary and secondary sources, and ask questions about different historical perspectives.

    Ethical Dilemmas: Students make a claim or take a stance on an ethical issue, provide evidence gathered from research or their own life experience, and ask questions about the implications of different choices.

    Real-world Math Challenges: Students make claims about how to solve a real-world math problem, provide evidence and support with mathematical reasoning, and ask questions about alternative approaches or unclear aspects of the problem.

    Artistic Interpretation: Students make claims about the meaning of a piece of artwork, provide evidence drawing from the visual elements and techniques, and ask questions about artistic techniques and/or cultural context.

    Biodiversity Loss: Students might claim the reasons for declining biodiversity, provide evidence from ecological studies, and ask questions about the consequences for ecosystems and human societies.

    Renewable Energy: Students could claim the benefits of renewable energy sources, provide evidence from energy production data, and ask questions about the barriers to wider adoption.

    Historical Comparisons: Students could make claims about similarities and differences between historical periods, provide evidence from various time periods, and ask questions about the factors that influenced change.

    Fitness and Health: Students could claim the benefits of a specific fitness regimen, provide evidence from health studies, and ask questions about long-term impacts on cardiovascular health.

    In the final post of this series, we’ll delve into the practical uses of the “See, Think, Me, We” thinking routine for educators. Discover how this powerful tool propels students to think deeply, make personal connections, and consider the larger implications of what they are learning.

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    The Power of I Used to Think…Now I Think

    Por Catlin Tucker — 22 de Agosto de 2023, 21:06

    Part III: Thinking About Thinking Series

    This is part three of a five-part series focused on using thinking routines to drive metacognitive skill building. Click here to revisit my last blog in this series on using the “Connect, Extend, Challenge” routine.

    To recap, metacognition is a cognitive ability that allows learners to consider their thought patterns, approaches to learning, and understanding of a topic or idea. Teachers can leverage the power of thinking routines developed by Project Zero at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education to help students develop their metacognitive muscles. The thinking routines are a collection of purposeful and structured thinking patterns designed to stimulate students’ cognitive engagement and cultivate higher cognitive awareness.

    Teachers can use these thinking routines to design online or offline stations in a station rotation or embed them into a playlist to encourage students to pause and intentionally spend time thinking about their learning. Thinking routines offer more than just a structured pathway for students to delve into their thinking and explore the content deeply; they also serve as a window into their cognitive processes, offering invaluable formative assessment data.

    I Used to Think…Now I Think…Thinking Routine

    The “I used to think…Now I think…” thinking routine helps students reflect on how they used to think about a topic, subject, or issue and how their thoughts have changed as a result of a learning experience or engagement with information (e.g., article, video, podcast). This helps students understand the impact of their learning better and how their ideas have developed over time.

    In the initial “I used to think…” stage, students reflect on their beliefs or opinions about a specific topic, subject, or issue. They are encouraged to think about what they used to believe before they had a deeper understanding or encountered new information.

    In the “Now I think…,” they articulate their current or updated perspectives on the same topic or issue. At this point, they are encouraged to consider how their thoughts have changed, evolved, or expanded as they’ve gained more knowledge or insights.

    In the final stage, “My thinking shifted because…,” they explain the reasons or factors that influenced their shift in perspective. It could be due to new evidence, experiences, conversations, or further exploration of the topic. This step helps them analyze and understand the driving forces behind the change in their thinking.

    This routine encourages critical reflection and self-awareness, allowing you to see the progression of your thoughts, from their initial state to their current form, and to recognize the triggers that prompted your evolution of understanding.

    Using I Used to Think…Now I Think… at the Elementary Level

    Science Experiment: After conducting a simple science experiment, the teacher could ask students to reflect on their initial hypotheses and compare them with the outcomes. This helps students understand the scientific process and how their understanding changed based on evidence.

    Reading a Story: After reading a story with a surprise ending, the teacher could guide students to discuss how their predictions evolved as they read. This encourages them to monitor their comprehension and adapt their thinking as new information is presented.

    Math Problem Solving: After introducing a new problem-solving strategy in math class, the teacher could ask students to share how their approach to solving math problems has shifted. This helps students become aware of different strategies and their evolving problem-solving skills.

    Learning About Historical Figures: When studying historical figures, the teacher could ask students to reflect on what they initially thought about a person and how their understanding changed as they learned more. This promotes critical thinking and historical empathy.

    Exploring Different Cultures: When discussing cultural differences and traditions, the teacher could prompt students to share their initial assumptions and how their views changed as they learned about diverse cultures. This encourages cultural sensitivity and open-mindedness.

    Discussing Feelings and Emotions: During a lesson on emotions, the teacher could ask students to reflect on how they used to think about certain feelings and how their understanding has evolved. This promotes emotional intelligence and self-awareness.

    Exploring Nature: After learning about the role of insects in ecosystems, the teacher could encourage students to share their initial thoughts about bugs and how they’ve come to appreciate their importance in nature. This promotes an understanding of ecological relationships.

    Using I Used to Think…Now I Think… at the Secondary Level

    Literature Analysis: After reading a complex novel or short story, the teacher could ask students to reflect on their initial interpretations of characters or themes and how their understanding deepened or shifted through close reading and discussion.

    Debates or Controversial Topics: When discussing controversial issues in a history or social studies class, the teacher could prompt students to reflect on their initial opinions and how exposure to different viewpoints has influenced their perspective.

    Science Concepts Evolution: In a biology class, the teacher could have students reflect on how their understanding of a particular scientific concept, such as evolution, has changed over time as they’ve learned more about the evidence and theories.

    Mathematical Problem-Solving Approaches: After exploring various mathematical problem-solving techniques, the teacher could ask students to share how their approach to solving complex math problems has evolved based on different strategies and lessons.

    Personal Growth Topics: During a health or life skills lesson, the teacher could prompt students to reflect on how their understanding of self-esteem, resilience, or healthy relationships has changed as they’ve matured and gained life experience.

    Artistic Interpretation: In an art class, the teacher could ask students to reflect on how their perception of a particular art style or genre has changed after studying different artists and techniques.

    Ethics and Morality Discussions: When discussing ethical dilemmas in an ethics or philosophy class, the teacher could encourage students to reflect on how their ethical perspectives have evolved as they explore different philosophical frameworks.

    Foreign Language Learning: After studying a foreign language for a while, the teacher could prompt students to reflect on how their perception of the language and its nuances has shifted from their initial exposure.

    The “I used to think…Now I think…” routine helps students engage in deeper reflection about their evolving thoughts and understanding of complex subjects. This practice fosters metacognition, critical thinking, and self-awareness as students navigate more advanced concepts and analyze their growth over time.

    In the next installment of this series, we’ll delve into the practical uses of the “Claim, Evidence, Question” thinking routine for educators. Discover how this powerful tool propels students to grasp the profound influence of learning encounters on their evolving perspectives.

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    The Power of Connect, Extend, Challenge

    Por Catlin Tucker — 15 de Agosto de 2023, 16:25

    Part II: Thinking About Thinking Series

    This is part two of a five-part series focused on using thinking routines to drive metacognitive skill building. Click here to revisit my first blog in this series on using the “I see, I think, I wonder” routine.

    To recap, metacognition is a cognitive ability that allows learners to consider their thought patterns, approaches to learning, and understanding of a topic or idea. Teachers can leverage the power of thinking routines developed by Project Zero at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education to help students develop their metacognitive muscles. The thinking routines are a collection of purposeful and structured thinking patterns designed to stimulate students’ cognitive engagement and cultivate higher cognitive awareness.

    Teachers can use these thinking routines to design online or offline stations in a station rotation or embed them into a playlist to encourage students to pause and intentionally spend time thinking about their learning. Thinking routines offer more than just a structured pathway for students to delve into their thinking and explore the content deeply; they also serve as a window into their cognitive processes, offering invaluable formative assessment data.

    Connect, Extend, Challenge Thinking Routine

    The “Connect, Extend, Challenge” thinking routine offers a structured approach to deepen understanding and reflection. Learners can more effectively assimilate and interrogate new concepts by connecting new information to prior knowledge, extending ideas beyond initial comprehension, and pinpointing areas of challenge or uncertainty. This routine fosters critical thinking and enhances the meaningful integration of new learning into an individual’s cognitive framework.

    The “connect, extend, challenge” routine fosters deep reflection and comprehension. In the “connect” phase, students anchor new information or ideas to their prior knowledge, making unfamiliar content more accessible and resonant.

    Next, students progress to the stage of “extend.” Learners consider how new concepts can push the boundaries of their current understanding, promoting a broader, more nuanced, or complex perspective.

    Lastly, the “challenge” phase compels students to confront uncertainties, contradictions, or gaps in their understanding of new content, setting the stage for targeted inquiry and clarification. The inherent versatility of this routine ensures its applicability across many subjects and educational levels.

    More than mere content digestion, this method nurtures metacognitive growth. By guiding students through these reflective stages, they are better poised to develop their self-awareness, becoming independent and discerning thinkers ready to tackle complex challenges.

    Using Connect, Extend, Challenge at the Elementary Level

    Story Time Reflection

    • Connect: After reading a story, ask students to relate a character or situation to something from their own lives.
    • Extend: Prompt them to think about how the story might continue or how a character might act in a different setting.
    • Challenge: Have students identify something puzzling or confusing in the story.

    Exploring Nature

    • Connect: During an outdoor class, ask students to find something in nature that reminds them of something they’ve seen before.
    • Extend: Ask them how this object or creature might change in different seasons or environments.
    • Challenge: Encourage them to think about a question they have about this object or creature.

    Math Problem Solving

    • Connect: Relate a new math concept to a daily life scenario or a previously learned concept.
    • Extend: Ask students how they might use this math concept in a more complex real-world situation.
    • Challenge: Have them identify parts of the concept or problem they find tricky or puzzling.

    Art Exploration

    • Connect: After creating a piece of artwork, ask students to describe what inspired them or what personal experiences influenced their creation.
    • Extend: Encourage them to imagine how they could expand or transform their artwork using different materials or techniques.
    • Challenge: Discuss any difficulties they faced during the creation process.

    Cultural Practices and Celebrations

    • Connect: When learning about a specific cultural practice or celebration, ask students to find parallels in their own culture or celebrations they’re familiar with.
    • Extend: Discuss the historical, religious, or social roots of the celebration and how they might be shared or differ across cultures.
    • Challenge: Encourage debates or reflections on aspects of a practice or celebration that might be misunderstood outside its original context.

    Physical Education and Movement

    • Connect: After introducing a new sport or game, ask students if it reminds them of any other games they have played before.
    • Extend: Discuss how rules or strategies might change if the game were played in a different environment (e.g., playing soccer on sand vs. grass).
    • Challenge: Encourage students to come up with their own modifications to the game that could make it more challenging or fun.

    Music and Sound

    • Connect: After listening to a musical piece, ask students if the music reminds them of any place, story, or emotion.
    • Extend: Discuss how the song might sound different with different instruments or if played in a different style.
    • Challenge: Encourage them to identify parts of the music that they found unexpected or unfamiliar.

    Using Connect, Extend, Challenge at the Secondary Level

    Literary Analysis

    • Connect: Have students relate a theme or character trait from a novel to current events or personal experiences.
    • Extend: Encourage discussion on how this theme might be relevant in different cultural or historical contexts.
    • Challenge: Ask students to critically evaluate any ambiguities or contradictions in the text.

    Scientific Investigations

    • Connect: Relate a newly introduced scientific concept to previous lessons or real-world applications.
    • Extend: Encourage students to hypothesize about future implications or advanced applications of this concept.
    • Challenge: Ask students to generate questions about any controversial or debated aspects of this scientific concept.

    Historical Events

    • Connect: Ask students to draw parallels between a historical event and current events.
    • Extend: Encourage them to speculate on how a different outcome in history might have affected the present.
    • Challenge: Discuss any discrepancies or uncertainties in historical records or interpretations.

    Advanced Math Exploration

    • Connect: Relate new mathematical theories or concepts to real-world scenarios or professions.
    • Extend: Prompt students to explore the potential advancements or innovations that could arise from these mathematical concepts.
    • Challenge: Encourage debates on any paradoxes, contradictions, or complexities in the theory.

    Visual Arts and Media Studies

    • Connect: After analyzing a piece of visual art or a media clip, ask students to draw parallels with other works or media trends they’re familiar with.
    • Extend: Discuss how the message or impact of the artwork or clip might change in a different sociocultural context or era.
    • Challenge: Encourage students to critique any biases, stereotypes, or messages conveyed in the piece, and how it might be received differently by diverse audiences.

    Technology and Computer Science

    • Connect: When introducing a new software application or algorithm, have students relate it to other technologies they use daily.
    • Extend: Encourage them to speculate on future advancements or innovations that this technology could lead to or be integrated with.
    • Challenge: Prompt a discussion about potential ethical, security, or social implications tied to the new technology or its applications.

    Economics and Business Studies

    • Connect: After studying an economic trend or business strategy, ask students how it mirrors or deviates from other models or periods they’ve studied.
    • Extend: Discuss the potential long-term impacts of this trend or strategy on global economies, societies, or environments.
    • Challenge: Encourage debates on any controversial aspects, potential pitfalls, or criticisms of the discussed trend or strategy.

    The “connect, extend, challenge” thinking routine encourages students to delve deeper into their understanding and broaden their perspectives while confronting uncertainties head-on. This thinking routine strengthens the links between prior knowledge and new learning, paving the way for deeper learning. It helps cultivate resilient thinkers ready to tackle the complexities of the world with a discerning eye and adaptability.

    In the next installment of this series, we’ll delve into the practical uses of the “I used to think… now I think” routine for educators. Uncover the myriad ways this reflective tool can help students understand the impact of learning experiences on their thinking.

    The post The Power of Connect, Extend, Challenge appeared first on Dr. Catlin Tucker.


    The Power of See, Think, Wonder

    Por Catlin Tucker — 5 de Agosto de 2023, 20:03

    Part I: Thinking About Thinking Series

    This is part one of a five part series focused on using thinking routines to drive metacognitive skill building. Metacognition, often referred to as “thinking about thinking,” is a cognitive skill that empowers learners to reflect on their thought processes, learning strategies, and understanding of a concept or subject. By becoming metacognitive thinkers, students develop the capacity to monitor their learning, recognize gaps in understanding, and be strategic when attempting to solve complex problems.

    Teachers can leverage the power of thinking routines developed by Project Zero at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education to help students develop their metacognitive muscles. The thinking routines are a collection of purposeful and structured thinking patterns designed to stimulate students’ cognitive engagement and cultivate a higher degree of cognitive awareness.

    Teachers can use these thinking routines to design online or offline stations in a station rotation or embed them into a playlist to encourage students to pause and intentionally spend time thinking about their learning. Thinking routines offer more than just a structured pathway for students to delve into their thinking and explore the content deeply; they also serve as a window into their cognitive processes, offering invaluable formative assessment data.

    In a series of blogs, I’ll be exploring each thinking routine and providing suggestions for how teachers across grade levels can harness the power of these thinking routines with students.

    See, Think, Wonder Thinking Routine

    “I see, I think, I wonder” is a simple yet versatile thinking routine that can be used in elementary and secondary classrooms. During this process, students observe closely, interpret their observations thoughtfully, and generate questions that spark curiosity and drive inquiry.

    At its core, the routine starts with the fundamental act of “seeing.” Students are encouraged to closely observe their surroundings, texts, artworks, or any subject matter presented to them. This initial step prompts them to engage their senses, stimulating curiosity and opening their minds to the richness of details they might otherwise overlook. Whether exploring scientific phenomena, literary works, historical events, or visual art, observation is the foundation of deeper exploration and understanding.

    Next, students progress to the stage of “thinking.” As they reflect on their observations, learners are prompted to construct meaning, make connections or predictions, and explore possibilities. This critical thinking process encourages them to draw inferences, identify patterns, and make informed interpretations. Whether analyzing literary themes, scientific data, historical evidence, or artistic techniques, this analytical thinking nurtures their ability to approach subjects with a more discerning and insightful lens.

    The final stage of this thinking routine is “wondering.” Students are encouraged to generate questions that surface from their observations and interpretations. These questions are the gateway to inquiry-based learning, stimulating curiosity, and driving further exploration. Encouraging students to ask thought-provoking questions not only fosters a deeper understanding of the subject matter but also leverages their natural curiosity, inspiring them to seek answers and become lifelong learners.

    Using See, Think, Wonder at the Elementary Level

    Science Exploration: Use this routine during nature walks or while exploring the schoolyard. Have students observe plants, insects, or other natural phenomena. They can record what they see, what they think might be happening, and questions they wonder about the environment.

    Reading Comprehension: Before reading a story, ask students to look at the cover and think about the visual details on the cover, make predictions about what they think the story will be about, and capture their wondering about the story they are about to read. After reading a story or a chapter from a book, ask students to identify what they see in the text, what they think the main idea or theme is, and what questions they have about the characters or events.

    Art Analysis: Display a piece of art or a photograph and guide students through the routine. They can describe what they see in the artwork, interpret its meaning or message, and share questions they have about the artist’s choices.

    Historical Events: When studying historical events, people, or places encourage students to analyze primary sources. They can share what they see in the documents or images, their thoughts about what they see, and questions they have about the time period, person, or place.

    Math Problem Solving: Present a math word problem to the class, and have students articulate what they see in the problem, their initial thoughts on how to approach it, and any questions or uncertainties they have about the solution.

    Using See, Think, Wonder at the Secondary Level

    Scientific Investigations: During labs, experiments, or data analysis, students can use this routine to describe their observations, form hypotheses or explanations, and generate questions for further investigation.

    Literature Analysis: Apply this routine when analyzing complex literary works, such as poems or novels. Students can delve into the imagery, symbolism, and themes while also questioning the motivations of characters/people or the author’s choices/biases.

    Informational Texts: Use this with informational texts that may include graphics and charts. Encourage students to closely observe the visual elements, articulate their interpretations, and generate insightful questions, fostering critical thinking and a deeper understanding of complex information presented in diverse formats.

    Media and Current Events: Use this with news articles or multimedia sources. Students can critically examine the content, consider potential biases or implications, and raise further questions for deeper understanding.

    Historical Perspectives: When studying historical events, encourage students to analyze multiple sources and perspectives. They can share what they see from different viewpoints, what they think about the causes or consequences, and what further questions arise.

    Political Cartoons and Propaganda: Use when exploring political cartoons and propaganda. Encourage students to observe the visual symbolism, analyze underlying messages, and write questions about the persuasive techniques employed, cultivating media literacy and driving critical thinking.

    Ethical Dilemmas: Present ethical scenarios or case studies, and ask students to articulate what they see as the core moral issues, their initial thoughts on the situation, and the questions they have about possible resolutions.

    Art: Encourage students to observe the intricate details, interpret the artist’s intentions, and ponder thought-provoking questions about the meaning and emotions conveyed, fostering a deeper appreciation for artistic expression and enhancing visual literacy skills.

    The “I see, I think, I wonder” thinking routine can empower students to become more engaged, reflective, and self-directed learners. This versatile routine serves as a stepping stone towards fostering metacognitive skills and cultivating critical thinkers capable of navigating the complexities of the world with curiosity and confidence.

    In the upcoming blog post of this series, we will explore the practical applications of the “Connect, Extend, and Challenge” thinking routine for educators. Discover how this versatile tool can deepen connections, foster growth, and inspire intellectual curiosity among students.

    The post The Power of See, Think, Wonder appeared first on Dr. Catlin Tucker.


    3 Pillars of High-quality Blended Learning

    Por Catlin Tucker — 30 de Julho de 2023, 17:34

    Blended learning seamlessly weaves together online and in-person learning experiences to boost student engagement and meet the unique needs of a diverse class by providing flexible pathways through learning experiences. Blended learning aims to lean on technology to do what it does well–information transfer–and free teachers to do what they do well–support individual and small groups of students as they progress toward firm standards-aligned goals. As teachers use blended learning models to design their lessons, they can elevate the experience for students by prioritizing three pillars of high-quality blended learning.

    Taking Blended Learning to the Next Level

    In this blog post, I will explore three critical pillars of high-quality design in blended learning: student agency, differentiation, and control over the pace of learning. By incorporating these elements into the design of blended lessons, educators can provide a more robust and impactful learning experience for themselves and their students.

    The 1st Pillar: Student Agency

    Student agency, which offers students meaningful choices in their learning experience, is a core component of blended learning. Educators who provide options throughout a student’s educational journey nurture a sense of responsibility and ownership over the student’s education. This positively impacts their motivation to engage with tasks.

    As educators, the aim should be to create opportunities for students to make critical decisions about what they learn, how they learn, and what they create to demonstrate their learning.

    Content-based Choices

    Giving students the agency to make decisions about what they learn or the lens they look through as they approach a particular topic or subject positively impacts their interest in learning. When students have a voice in their education, they become more engaged and invested in the process. Having the autonomy to choose topics, texts, or projects that align with their interests allows them to connect with the material on a deeper level.

    For instance, in an elementary science class, a teacher designing a unit focused on ecosystems can empower students by allowing them to choose an ecosystem they are genuinely interested in exploring. Some might opt for the rainforest, while others may be captivated by the desert or ocean ecosystems. This element of choice amplifies students’ interest in their studies as they feel connected to the material they are learning about.

    In a secondary English language arts class, rather than assigning a single text to the entire class, teachers can provide a curated list of books or short stories, each highlighting different themes or literary styles. Students can choose a book or story that appeals to their interests or curiosity. A student interested in social issues might select a text focusing on these themes, while another intrigued by mysteries could choose a book or story in that genre.

    Process-based Decisions

    Inviting students to participate in process-based decision-making enhances their competence and confidence in successfully tackling tasks. Empowering students with the autonomy to determine their approach, select materials, work online or offline, collaborate with a partner or work individually cultivates a more profound sense of ownership and investment in their learning. By acknowledging and valuing their choices, students feel more capable and responsible for their educational experience. Such personalized decision-making opportunities foster intrinsic motivation and active engagement and allow students to discover their strengths and understand their preferences, further bolstering their confidence and belief in their abilities.

    In an upper elementary English or history class, students may have the opportunity to decide which discussion technique to use to discuss a short story. Teachers can spend time at the beginning of the school year onboarding the class to a few discussion strategies, like team roles, fishbowl, and graffiti team time. Once students understand and have had time to practice each, the teacher can provide a choice board of options and let students group themselves based on the discussion technique they want to use.

    In a high school math class, when learning about graphing equations, teachers can invite students to decide if they would like to graph on paper or use Desmos, an online graphing tool. Those who prefer paper benefit from a tactile experience, honing their drawing skills and understanding graphing intricacies. On the other hand, Desmos users enjoy the efficiency of a digital platform, exploring graphs dynamically and visualizing equation transformations in real time. This approach acknowledges diverse learning preferences, leading to a more meaningful and effective learning experience.

    The 2nd Pillar: Differentiation

    The second pillar that underpins high-quality design in blended learning is consistent and effective differentiation. Differentiation involves adjusting teaching methods to address students’ unique needs and abilities, supporting their learning journeys.

    For a math topic like addition and subtraction, the teacher could differentiate the learning by providing various assignments based on the students’ proficiency levels. For example, students who have mastered the basic concepts could be given more challenging real-world word problems. At the same time, those who need extra support could work on additional practice exercises with teacher support in small groups to reinforce their understanding.

    In a secondary history class, teachers can differentiate the experiences of conducting research to accommodate diverse learning needs and interests. They can invite students to choose research topics related to the broader historical theme or era being studied and provide structured research guides or graphic organizers for students who might benefit from additional support in organizing information. They can also allow students to work with a research partner or in small groups. Collaborative research can foster teamwork, peer support, and the sharing of diverse perspectives and ideas.

    The ultimate goal of differentiation is to leverage formative assessment data as a compass to continually identify and address students’ diverse learning needs. By proactively adapting instructional approaches, content, and learning experiences, educators aim to provide every student with a pathway that aligns with their strengths and challenges, leading them toward mastery of standards-aligned goals. Through this tailored and inclusive approach, differentiation fosters a dynamic and supportive learning environment, empowering each student to thrive and achieve their full potential.

    The 3rd Pillar: Control Over Pace

    The third pillar of high-quality blended learning centers around student control over the pace of learning. Many classroom management issues and unproductive behaviors can be traced back to a misalignment between the pace at which the learning is moving and the pace at which the learner needs it to move. If the pace of learning is moving too quickly, students may feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and decide to disengage. By contrast, students get bored and distract each other if the pace is too slow.

    Blended learning strategically shifts control over the pace of learning to students, giving them the autonomy to control the speed at which they acquire and process information as well as complete tasks. Encouraging students to approach learning activities at a comfortable pace enhances their engagement and improves their chances of success.

    For example, if teachers use video in class to transfer information, they should build a buffer of time around that video. That way, students can pause, rewind, or rewatch the video. Similarly, teachers using the playlist model can give students a high degree of control over how quickly they move through a sequence of learning activities to ensure all students can move at a pace that works for them.

    As educators, we must strive to approach blended learning with these three key pillars at the forefront of our minds. Blended learning isn’t simply about transitioning students through a series of stations or a playlist; it’s about empowering students, personalizing and differentiating their experience, and giving students control over their learning pace.

    By cultivating student agency through meaningful choices, consistently differentiating instruction and support, and providing opportunities for students to manage their learning pace, we can create dynamic blended learning environments that accommodate the diverse needs of our students. These three pillars of blended learning ensure that technology integration is not shallow but a transformative approach that enhances student engagement, instills a love for learning, and ultimately leads to improved educational outcomes.

    The post 3 Pillars of High-quality Blended Learning appeared first on Dr. Catlin Tucker.


    The Station Rotation Model Tip # 4: Encourage Offline Student Collaboration Using Talking Chips

    Por Noelle Gutierrez — 17 de Julho de 2023, 18:53

    When first implementing the station rotation model, many teachers express concern about designing offline student-led collaborative stations. Although they understand the benefits of these collaborative conversations in station rotation, including increased self-efficacy, relationship building, and constructing knowledge together,  teachers usually feel more comfortable designing teacher-led collaborative stations where they can control the discussion and ensure everyone is on task. However, the goal of the station rotation model, specifically and blended learning more generally, is to provide students with opportunities for agency, including selecting the questions they choose to answer and working at their own pace.  

    A simple strategy that I have used to help teachers design offline student-led collaborative stations is talking chips, also known as discussion chips. The process itself is simple:

    1. The teacher provides a list of questions for students to discuss.  
    2. The students are each given a set amount of talking chips. 
    3. Each time a student contributes to the discussion, they put a chip in the center of the table.  
    4. Once all the chips are used, the students collect their chips and continue the conversation until the time is up. 

    Station Set Up

    When designing these student-led offline stations, I encourage teachers to arrange the desks and chairs into groups of 4-5. That way, there are enough students to keep the conversation going but not too many students, which can make it easy for students to stay quiet and not contribute to the discussion. 

    At each table group, place the talking chips at the center of the table in a basket or bag. Teachers can create their talking chips using anything from plastic poker chips to laminated pieces of paper. Decide on how many chips students will use during the discussion; I personally like to provide each student with six chips, but anywhere in the range of four to eight chips works well. I also recommend that each set of chips is a different color, which allows the teacher to see at-a-glance who has been contributing to the discussion. 

    In addition to having clear written directions at each table, provide multiple copies of the questions that the students will be discussing. I recommend providing each group with a list of six to ten related questions. Let your students know that they do not need to answer every question, and they do not need to answer the questions in order. This is an easy way to promote student choice in the classroom and allow the conversation to feel more natural and free-flowing.  

    If students are referring to a text or other materials, you should have copies of those texts or materials at each table group. 

    Keep the Conversation Going

    Depending on the needs or dynamics of the class, teachers may also want to assign a “conversation captain” for each group. This student encourages others to share and helps to keep the group on task. Teachers indicate who the conversation captains are by putting an asterisk next to their names on whatever document they use to project the student groups.

    If needed, the teacher can also provide a tent for the conversation captain in each group. On the back side of the tent are tips to help the captains facilitate the conversation. To make a copy, click here. 

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    To help students clearly articulate their ideas and opinions, teachers can also provide sentence frames for students to refer to as they participate in the discussion. This is a helpful strategy for English Learners and students who need extra support when formulating their thoughts. 


    At the end of the activity, ask students to reflect upon their collaborative discussion, assessing their personal contributions as well as the overall quality of the conversation. Teachers can facilitate this metacognitive practice by having students reflect in writing or using a Google Form like the one pictured below.

    Student reflections provide teachers insight into what the group discussed as well as the overall effectiveness of and engagement during the conversations. It also provides students an opportunity to set a goal for the next time they encounter talking chips during station rotation. 

    Additional Tips

    • Have students participate in talking chips as a whole group activity before implementing it during station rotation. This is an important scaffold that allows you to monitor all students as they first use the discussion strategy and address any issues.  
    • While designing the teacher-led station, incorporate a two-minute activity in which students are working independently. Take these two minutes to circulate the room and monitor the groups using talking chips. If you are using different colored chips for each member of the group, you can see who has been contributing to the conversation and who needs encouragement.  
    • If you want students to fill out the reflection form during the station, provide the groups with a timer. If your stations are 20 minutes each, on your written directions, instruct students to set the timer for 16 minutes for discussion, so they can spend the last 4 minutes filling out the reflection piece.
    • Meet with your conversation captains prior to the station rotation. Explain to them what their role is in the station. Their goal is not just to share their own ideas but to help others share their ideas.  

    In their book, The Shift to Student-Led, Dr. Catlin Tucker and Dr. Katie Novak write, “When we shift toward student-led discussions, we are supporting the development of expert learning as well as critical social-emotions learning skills, including self-awareness, empathy, perspective-taking, and responsible decision making.” Implementing the talking chips during an offline student-led collaborative station is one strategy to help students build upon these necessary 21st-century skills. More often than not, students find this strategy both engaging and fun. 

    The post The Station Rotation Model Tip # 4: Encourage Offline Student Collaboration Using Talking Chips appeared first on Dr. Catlin Tucker.


    Shift to Providing Feedback as Students Work

    Por Catlin Tucker — 2 de Julho de 2023, 17:43

    How can pulling feedback into the classroom help students develop confidence and improve their self-regulation skills?

    Feedback is one of the most powerful tools a teacher has to support students in achieving standards-aligned goals. Feedback also

    • Provides clarity on learning goals and expectations.
    • Guides students in understanding their strengths as well as areas in need of improvement.
    • Supports skill development and mastery of concepts.
    • Enhances metacognitive skills, such as self-regulation and self-monitoring.
    • Encourages engagement and active participation in the learning process.
    • Promotes a growth mindset and a belief in the potential for improvement.
    • Fosters effective communication and dialogue between teachers and students.
    • Builds confidence and self-efficacy in learners.

    Despite the myriad benefits of focused, timely, and actionable feedback on learning, it is often neglected due to time constraints. Teachers typically provide feedback on completed assignments, which may not significantly impact students’ conceptual understanding and skill development. Additionally, feedback often focuses on minor details, making it difficult for students to respond effectively and make improvements.

    In this workflow shift, Dr. Novak and I want teachers to focus on pulling feedback feedback loops into the classroom so students feel seen and supported as they work.

    Shifting to Giving Feedback During the Process

    In this chapter, Dr. Novak and I explore strategies designed to transform the way teachers give feedback. The chapter emphasizes three key strategies that promote a culture of feedback and empower students in the feedback process.

    Modeling the value of feedback: We highlight the importance of creating a classroom culture where feedback is highly valued and recognized as a tool for growth. This requires teachers actively seek feedback from students, modeling the process of giving and receiving feedback, and demonstrating how feedback contributes to personal and academic improvement.

    Utilizing blended learning models to give real-time feedback: We demonstrate how teachers can use blended learning models, specifically the station rotation and playlist models, to create the time and space needed to provide focused, process-based feedback in the classroom. By incorporating technology and targeted learning activities, teachers can provide timely feedback as students engage in their learning tasks. This approach ensures that feedback is delivered in a timely manner, allowing for immediate reflection and adjustment.

    Engaging students in peer feedback: We explore strategies for involving students in the feedback process with peer feedback. This includes using feedback choice boards or rubrics to guide students in providing constructive and kind feedback to their peers. Additionally, we emphasize the importance of scaffolding and providing support to help students develop the skills and confidence needed to provide effective feedback.

    In our book, The Shift to Student-led, Dr. Katie Novak and I demonstrate how teachers can use Universal Design and blended learning to create the time and space to pull feedback into the classroom so teachers are not taking that student work home to give feedback on their evenings and weekends. We provide a collection of strategies and resources teachers can use to reimagine their approach to feedback and include students in the process.

    By implementing these strategies, teachers can foster a feedback-rich environment that empowers students as active agents of their own learning. Students are not only recipients of feedback but also contributors, creating a collaborative and growth-oriented learning community.

    To learn more about this shift, check out our new book, The Shift to Student-led. If you are interested in a discounted bulk order of 10 or more books, complete this form.

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    Beyond Homework: The Evolution of the Flipped Classroom

    Por Catlin Tucker — 18 de Junho de 2023, 17:51

    As the landscape of education continues to evolve in response to global disruptions and digital advancements, blended learning models have surged in popularity. Among these is the flipped classroom model, a strategy that leverages video instruction to mitigate potential obstacles that make it challenging for students to access information presented live. However, I often hear the question, “Can I use the flipped classroom if I don’t assign homework?”

    Challenges with Traditional Live Instruction

    Traditionally, educators disseminate information in real-time, relying on lectures or mini-lessons. This method, however, may inadvertently create myriad barriers for students with hearing impairments, memory challenges, attention deficit disorders, insufficient background knowledge, or who lack familiarity with subject-specific or academic vocabulary. Moreover, the pacing of these live presentations is unlikely to accommodate all students’ learning needs.

    To overcome these limitations, teachers can identify the instruction that they would present the same way for all students and create video instruction. When information is transferred using video instead of live instruction, students gain control over their learning experience. They have the luxury of pausing, rewinding, or rewatching videos to ensure they fully comprehend the material. Students can further personalize their experience by enabling closed captions or adjusting the video speed.

    Using Instructional Videos in the Classroom

    While teachers initially assigned video lessons as homework in the Flipped Classroom model to shift control over the time, place, and pace of learning to students in their home environments, this is not the only way to use this model. Some teachers do not assign homework. Others worry that students may not have access to technology beyond the classroom or those who do have access may not watch instructional videos outside of class.

    Despite these potential pitfalls, flipped instruction retains its value even when videos are not assigned for homework. Teachers can integrate video instruction into class using playlists, choice boards, or as an online station in a station rotation lesson. This strategy, which I refer to as the “in-class flip” allows students to control the pace of their learning and refer back to the video any time they need to revisit that instruction.

    Adopting an in-class flip format allows teachers to step away from the front of the room, giving students the reins to their learning journey. Instead of spending valuable class time on lecturing, teachers can focus on providing targeted feedback, conducting informative polls, leading small group instruction, scaffolding learning, and tailoring learning opportunities to individual student needs.

    Using Flipped Instruction in a Whole Group Rotation

    A great way to incorporate video instruction into the classroom is by building it into a whole group rotation lesson. This model rotates the entire class through a series of online and offline learning experiences. By using flipped instruction in a whole group rotation, teachers can create time to work with small groups of learners who would benefit from more differentiated or scaffolded explanations while the rest of the class can self-pace through the video content.

    Simply showing an instructional video is not enough. Teachers must strive to make the experience engaging and interactive. One way to achieve this is by rotating students from a pre-video activity into the video lesson and ending with a post-video activity.

    Pre-video Activity

    Teachers can use the pre-video activity to pique student interest, tap into their prior knowledge, or encourage them to brainstorm or make predictions. This creates context for the video they are about to watch, making it more relevant and meaningful.

    • KWL Charts: Students create a chart divided into three columns: What they already “Know,” What they “Want” to know, and after watching the video, what they “Learned.” This activity taps into students’ prior knowledge and generates curiosity about what they will learn.
    • Quick Writes: Teachers can present a prompt or question related to the video topic and ask students to spend a few minutes writing their thoughts. This encourages brainstorming and prediction.
    • Mind Maps: Students can draw mind maps on the video’s topic, which encourages brainstorming, taps into prior knowledge, and prepares them to connect new information to existing knowledge structures.
    • Anticipation Guides: These are short lists of statements related to the video topic that students respond to before watching the video. This strategy encourages students to predict what they will learn.
    • Word Splash: Teachers present several words or phrases related to the video topic on the board, and students predict how these might relate to the video.
    • See, Think, Wonder: Teachers can present students with some form of visual media (e.g., graph, picture) related to the video and ask students to move through the see, think, wonder thinking routine.

    Pair The Video with an Engagement Strategy

    While students are watching the video, teachers should pair the video with an engagement strategy to encourage students to think critically about the video content and engage with it in a dynamic way, increasing the likelihood that they will understand and retain the information.

    • Guided Notes: These are handouts that outline or map the video content but leave blank spaces for key concepts, facts, or relationships. Students fill these in as they watch the video.
    • Interactive Videos: Some platforms allow teachers to add questions, prompts, or additional information directly into the video. Students can interact with these as they watch.
    • Pause and Reflect: Teachers can design intentional pause points in the video where students stop and reflect on what they’ve learned, make predictions, or connect new information to what they already know.
    • Graphic Organizers: Students can use tools like Venn diagrams, flowcharts, or cause-and-effect charts to organize and represent information from the video.
    • Sketchnoting/Doodling: As students watch the video, they draw or sketch their understanding of the content. This not only helps with information retention but also encourages creativity and deeper thinking.
    • Video Analysis Worksheets: These are worksheets with open-ended questions that encourage students to think more deeply about the video content.
    • Think-Pair-Share: During a pause in the video, the teacher asks a thought-provoking question. Students think about the answer individually, discuss it with a partner, and then share their responses with the class.
    • Active Note-Taking: Instead of passively taking notes, students can be encouraged to write questions, make connections to other content, and note any confusing points for later discussion.

    Post-video Activity

    After watching the video, students should engage in an activity that requires them to communicate and collaborate with their peers, clarify any areas of confusion, reinforce their learning, and apply what they gained from the video.

    • Reciprocal Teaching: Students are divided into groups and take turns teaching each other the concepts they’ve learned from the video.
    • Mind Mapping: Students can create a mind map to represent the connections between the new concepts learned from the video and their existing knowledge.
    • Learning Stations: Teachers can set up stations with different activities for students to apply what they’ve learned from the video.
    • Exit Tickets: Students write a quick response to a prompt related to the video on a piece of paper (the “ticket”) and give it to the teacher before they leave the class.
    • Discussion Circles: Students sit in a circle and discuss their reactions to, reflections on, and questions about the video.
    • Role Play: Students can re-enact or dramatize concepts from the video to gain a deeper understanding.
    • Journal Reflection: Students can write a reflection on what they’ve learned, how it connects to other things they know, and any questions they still have.
    • Gallery Walk: Student groups can create a poster or visual representation of a concept from the video and then present it to the class during a gallery walk.
    • Speed Dating: Students rotate and quickly share one thing they learned from the video with each of their classmates.
    • Self-Assessment: Students can use a rubric to evaluate their understanding of the concepts learned from the video.

    By using this three-part approach to flipped instruction in a whole group rotation, teachers can maximize the effectiveness of the model and free themselves to work with individual or small groups of learners who need more support. This is especially important for students with special needs or whose native or primary language is not English, as they may require different instruction than their peers.

    Flipped instruction does not need to be relegated to homework to be a powerful strategy. When used in the classroom, flipped instruction removes common learning barriers and shifts students into the driver’s seat. Video instruction allows students to learn at their own pace and revisit the material whenever they need to. Meanwhile, teachers can escape the pressure they feel to be at the front of the room transferring information. Instead, they can focus their time and energy on guiding students and addressing individual learning needs. Adding interactive activities before, during, and after the video makes learning even more engaging and effective. When combined, these strategies lead to deeper understanding, increased student involvement, and a more supportive learning environment for everyone.

    ✨Curious about the flipped classroom? Want support creating your instructional videos? Check out my online mini-course on the flipped classroom model!

    The post Beyond Homework: The Evolution of the Flipped Classroom appeared first on Dr. Catlin Tucker.


    Trust, Technology, and Transformation: Embracing the Student-Centered Classroom

    Por Catlin Tucker — 13 de Junho de 2023, 15:27

    As a speaker, trainer, and coach, I have had the privilege of working with thousands of teachers. There is a recurring issue that needs to be addressed–the reluctance to relinquish control to students. In my experience leading the shift to blended learning, the only way to truly engage students in learning is to allow them to actively lead the process, make decisions, and pursue learning through a lens of interest. However, many teachers hesitate to release control because they fear students won’t make wise choices or do the work.

    This creates tension when I guide educators in exploring alternative instructional models that use technology strategically. These technology-enhanced instructional models require more from students in terms of self-regulation and self-directed learning. They also necessitate that teachers trust their students. Unfortunately, a lack of trust often leads teachers to retain control over the curriculum, pacing, and class management. This, in turn, creates a learning environment where students are stuck in the role of passive observers and consumers rather than active participants driving their learning.

    I encourage teachers to shift their thinking and empower their students with the skills necessary to make smart choices, manage their behavior, and take control of their learning. By doing so, teachers can free up precious class time to work directly with individual and small groups of learners rather than standing at the front of the room transferring information or orchestrating parts of the lesson.

    To achieve this shift in thinking, we need to start with trust. Teachers need to trust that their students can be partners in the learning process and cultivate the skills required to drive their learning. This means that teachers must let go of control and allow students to take ownership of their learning.

    Technology is a powerful tool in supporting student-centered learning and helping students develop the skills necessary for self-regulation, self-directed learning, and collaboration. By leveraging technology, teachers can create opportunities for students to explore their interests, work at their own pace, and take control of their learning.

    It is time to embrace a new paradigm of teaching and learning. We need to shift from a model of teacher-centered instruction to one that is student-centered, empowering students to take control of their learning and freeing teachers to embrace their roles as facilitators. This shift requires trust, a willingness to let go of control, and a commitment to leveraging blended learning models to support student-centered learning. By doing so, we can create an engaging, meaningful, and empowering learning environment for all learners.

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    Architect Dynamic Blended Learning Lessons with Your Adopted Curriculum

    Por Catlin Tucker — 5 de Junho de 2023, 19:38

    Consider the last time you used a recipe to bake something, for example, a chocolate cake. Maybe it was a special occasion like a birthday, and you wanted to surprise someone with a homemade chocolate cake. The recipe details the ingredients you need, the sequence you should mix them in, and the exact temperature and duration required to bake your cake to perfection! The recipe is your trusted guide in the early stages of creating this sweet masterpiece. It’s clear, easy to understand, comes with step-by-step instructions and even pictures, all designed to build your confidence as you bake.

    Despite the recipe’s utility in these early stages of cake-baking, it’s unlikely you’d want to rely on a recipe for every cake you bake in the future. At a certain point, the recipe can start to feel restrictive, dampening your creative flair as a baker. Over time, you might wish to experiment, perhaps replacing the white sugar with brown for a deeper flavor, substituting almond flour for a friend who cannot eat gluten, or opting for a cream cheese frosting instead of the traditional buttercream for a friend who prefers it. This flexibility and freedom to tweak the recipe keep? baking enjoyable.

    A similar truth applies to the adopted curriculum many teachers use. While initially, it’s beneficial to have a clear roadmap to follow when implementing a new curriculum; as teachers gain confidence using it, they will desire to exercise their creativity to tailor the learning experience to the unique needs of their students.

    From Teacher-led to Student-centered with Blended Learning

    As a blended learning coach and professional learning facilitator, I assist teachers in transitioning from traditional, teacher-led instruction to more student-centric approaches using blended learning models. Blended learning merges active, engaged learning online with active, engaged learning offline, giving students more control over the when, where, and how of their learning journey. There are various models within blended learning, including station rotation, whole group rotation, flipped classroom, and playlist models, each providing varying levels of autonomy for students.

    The goal of blended learning is to place students at the core of the learning experience. Yet, an adopted curriculum can often be a major obstacle to achieving this goal. It’s often structured for teacher-led, whole-group instruction but not restricted to this application. Teachers, as the architects of learning experiences, should have the liberty and autonomy to mold the curriculum to fit their students’ needs through various technology-enhanced instructional models.

    From Linear to Circular Lessons with the Station Rotation Model

    In training or coaching sessions, I work with teachers to reimagine their curriculum using a specific blended learning model to ensure they meet all learners’ needs. Teachers are often intrigued by the station rotation model specifically.

    The station rotation model comprises a series of stations or learning experiences students rotate through, including a teacher-led, online, and offline station. The teacher-led station frees the teacher to work with small groups differentiating instruction, modeling strategies and skills, guiding discussion, and providing feedback on work in progress. Those benefits are attractive, but teachers often struggle to conceptualize the linear lesson plan in a more circular rotation where groups of students start in each station. I encourage teachers to reflect on specific questions when reviewing a lesson plan.

    • Which portion of the lesson is most difficult for students and requires substantial teacher support?
    • Which learning activities would benefit from variable time on task?
    • Which learning activities can be enhanced through peer interaction and support?

    The response to the first question will help determine which activity requires the teacher’s guidance and should be pulled into the teacher-led station. The second response will indicate which learning activities can be assigned as individual, self-paced tasks. The third will highlight the learning activities that benefit from collaborative small group or partner tasks.

    Let’s explore two secondary examples–ELA and Math–and see how a linear whole-group lesson can be reimagined as a station rotation or a modified rotation to provide a more equitable experience and better meet the diverse needs of students.

    StudySync: ELA Curriculum

    StudySync is an English language arts curriculum encompassing a broad library of digital texts coupled with audio tracks for improved accessibility, video models of various skills, a peer feedback tool, and automated scaffolds for students at different language proficiency levels.

    Let’s take a linear, whole-group First Read lesson from StudySync and design a station rotation. For this example, we’ll use the First Read lesson for “A Celebration of Grandfathers,” by Rudolfo Anaya in Grade 8, from the StudySync program.

    The StudySync lesson includes the following elements:

    • Introduction
      • Watch and discuss the video preview
      • Build background activity
    • Read
      • Make vocabulary predictions
      • Model reading comprehension strategy
      • Read and annotate the text
      • Discuss the text
      • Grammar practice
    • Think
      • Answer Think Questions

    If we reimagine this as a station rotation, it might look like the rotation pictured below in Figure 1.

    Figure 1: Modified StudySync Lesson

    Transforming a StudySync lesson into a station rotation model frees the teacher from standing at the front of the room, allowing them to customize instructions and scaffolds for small groups while modeling the reading comprehension strategy. Students gain more control over their pace at the online and offline stations as they work through the learning tasks.

    The station rotation model also enhances accessibility, inclusivity, and equity within the lesson. Students can read and annotate online with an audio track or offline independently or with a partner. They can choose whether to practice grammar alone or with a peer. These meaningful choices become feasible when teachers transition from a rigid whole-group learning experience, breaking down barriers to ensure all students advance toward solid, standards-aligned goals.

    Swun Math

    Math tends to be more complex to organize through a traditional rotation model due to its linear nature, as concepts and processes are built sequentially. However, the wide range of math skills and capabilities within a class can render whole-group instruction frustratingly ineffective. Some students quickly grasp the content, while others require more elaboration, models, and guided practice. If we aim for equity in learning, ensuring all students receive the necessary input to achieve a specific output, we must infuse creativity into our lesson plans.

    During a recent blended learning training, a teacher was overwhelmed. She was aware that the lesson described in the curriculum wasn’t benefiting most students but was at a loss about how to implement blended learning with the Swun Math curriculum. Challenge accepted!

    We brainstormed a method that respected the fundamental approach of Swun Math but incorporated stations to afford her more flexibility. The goal was to assist those students who needed it while encouraging advanced students to work at a pace that kept them interested and engaged. Too often, students ready for more rigor are limited by whole-group, teacher-led, teacher-paced lessons.

    Like most adopted curricula, there is more in a Swun math lesson than a teacher could cover in a class period. A lesson includes the following elements:

    • The Problem of the Day
    • Vocabulary 
    • Input Model
    • Structured Guided Practice
    • Final Check for Understanding
    • Student Practice
    • Challenge Problems
    • Extension Activity 

    Figure 2 below illustrates how a teacher could creatively adapt the curriculum to allow for differentiation and a higher degree of student control over the pace and, for more advanced students, their learning path.

    Figure 2. A Modified Swun Math Lesson Using a Small Group Structure

    In this revamped lesson, the teacher starts with the whole group, using the Problem of the Day and Vocabulary Building as warm-up activities. Then, using the Swun curriculum’s Input Model, the teacher introduces the day’s topic. Rather than progressing through the rest of the lesson elements in lockstep—which doesn’t work well since students need variable time on each task—the teacher transitions students into skill-level groups. This allows the teacher to offer more time and support to the students in the lower-level group as they work on the Final Check and move on to Practice Problems.

    The graphic above represents the sequence and quantity of work each group completes, akin to a mini-playlist of learning activities for each skill level. The students in the mid-level group can watch the video of the input model available online for additional instruction. At the same time, the teacher works with the lower-level group, then they move on to the final check and practice problems. The teacher transitions from the lower- to mid-level group to review their work and provide support.

    The high-level group will need substantially less teacher time and support and will complete more lesson elements. Once they finish the Challenge Problems, they can decide how to use their remaining time. They can opt to a) move on to the next video lesson to preview the content for the next class, b) complete the extension activity, or c) take a “student tutor” lanyard and help students in the lower-level and mid-level groups who need peer support. Not only do the students in the high-level group get to move at a pace that suits them, but they can choose to serve as valuable resources in the classroom, assisting their peers.

    The goal of an adopted curriculum is to provide a high-quality, standards-aligned learning experience for all students, but a one-size-fits-all approach seldom meets everyone’s needs. Just as a traditional chocolate cake won’t work for every birthday party, a teacher-led whole-group lesson won’t meet the wide spectrum of needs, learning preferences, skills and abilities, language proficiencies, and interests in a classroom. Teachers must leverage their creativity and understanding of their specific student population to design and facilitate equitable learning experiences. Blended learning offers various instructional models that teachers can use to adjust their curriculum to ensure learning is tailored to meet the needs of all students.

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    Ensuring Equity for English Learners (ELs)

    Por Catlin Tucker — 30 de Maio de 2023, 13:50

    Identifying the Needs of English Learners

    English learners (ELs) have unique needs requiring targeted instructional approaches to support their language acquisition and academic success.

    1. ELs need instruction tailored to their language proficiency level. Because ELs come from diverse linguistic backgrounds, their English language skills may vary widely. Therefore, it is essential to assess their language abilities and design instruction that meets their needs.
    2. ELs deserve access to the same content and curriculum as their peers. This ensures they are exposed to grade-level academic content while developing their English language skills. Teachers can incorporate instructional strategies that scaffold content, such as visuals, graphic organizers, and word banks, to facilitate comprehension and engagement.
    3. ELs need ample opportunities to practice speaking, listening, reading, and writing in English. Creating a language-rich environment that encourages meaningful interactions among peers and with the teacher is crucial. Teachers can incorporate collaborative activities, discussions, and cooperative learning strategies, like reciprocal teaching, that promote speaking and listening skills. Additionally, providing reading materials at different levels and genres with resources like Newsela and CommonLit, and assigning writing tasks that focus on language development, can strengthen their reading and writing skills.
    4. Culturally responsive teaching is also vital for supporting ELs. Recognizing and valuing their diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences fosters a sense of belonging and enhances engagement in the classroom. Teachers can incorporate culturally relevant materials, celebrate multicultural events, and encourage students to share their cultural perspectives and knowledge. This approach helps create an inclusive and supportive learning environment that respects and appreciates the diversity within the ELL population.

    Equality vs. Equity: Are We Meeting ELs’ Needs?

    First, we must be clear about the difference between equality and equity. Equality is when everyone gets the same experience and resources.

    Equity recognizes that individual students need different inputs to reach a particular output. So, some students will need more of our time and energy resources or more support and scaffolding to reach a specific learning goal.

    Equity recognizes that ELs require additional assistance and accommodations to overcome language barriers and thrive in the classroom. Instruction tailored to their language proficiency level acknowledges their diverse language backgrounds and varying levels of English proficiency. By differentiating instruction to meet individual needs, teachers can provide targeted support, scaffold learning, and gradually increase linguistic demands to facilitate their language acquisition journey. This approach recognizes that ELs may require extra time, support, and specialized instructional strategies to attain the same academic standards as their English-speaking peers.

    Leveraging Blended Learning Models to Ensure Equity

    The teacher-led whole-group lesson design makes it challenging to ensure ELs get an equitable experience since it limits how much time teachers can spend supporting individual students. Often lectures or mini-lessons are provided to the whole group, presenting significant barriers for ELs who may not have the language skills or prior knowledge to access the information. They may also struggle with the pace at which the information is presented since native English speakers may talk fast.

    Participating in a whole group, teacher-led discussions can also be intimidating for ELs. Language barriers may make ELs uncomfortable expressing their ideas in English in front of the entire group. This can hinder their engagement and participation in classroom activities, preventing them from fully benefiting from the learning experience.

    These are just a few of the challenges that the whole group dynamic presents when attempting to provide ELs with an equitable learning experience.

    Leveraging Blended Learning Models to Ensure Equity

    Unlike the whole-group, teacher-led approach to lesson design, blended learning models create time and space for teachers to work with small groups or individual learners to provide the specific inputs they need to reach a particular learning objective or output.

    For example, in a station rotation lesson, teachers can group students strategically and provide differentiated instruction, support, and modeling at the teacher-led station. They can also use this teacher-led small group time to provide focused feedback as students work on writing or engage a small group in a discussion to practice their speaking and listening skills. During these small group interactions, the teacher collects valuable formative assessment data they can use to continually improve their ELs’ learning experience.

    Teachers using blended learning models, like the station rotation model, can create an equitable learning environment where ELs receive the attention and support they need for their individual language development. The flexibility of these models allows teachers to customize instruction, adapt to students’ individual needs, and maximize learning outcomes. Through targeted small-group or individual instruction and the strategic use of technology, teachers can ensure that ELs have equitable access to tailored language support.

    Blended learning can help educators meet the unique needs of English language learners, ensuring they receive equitable opportunities to succeed academically and linguistically while embracing their diverse identities and experiences.

    Teachers interested in learning more about how they can prioritize small group instruction with the station rotation model can check out my mini-course!

    The post Ensuring Equity for English Learners (ELs) appeared first on Dr. Catlin Tucker.


    Shift to Leveraging Formative Assessment for Metacognition

    Por Catlin Tucker — 20 de Maio de 2023, 16:05

    How can formative assessment data help students to develop their metacognitive skills?

    Formative assessments are ongoing assessments embedded throughout the learning process. These informal assessments provide information to the teacher about students’ understanding of the material being covered and the skills being introduced. This data allows the teacher to identify where students are struggling, where they are excelling, and where they need additional support.

    Traditionally, formative assessment has been used as a teacher tool. Teachers collect informal data that helps them design effective lessons and differentiate to meet students’ specific needs. However, formative assessment data can be useful for teachers and students.

    • It provides immediate and ongoing feedback to both the teacher and the student.
    • It helps to identify a student’s strengths and limitations.
    • It can be used to promote self-reflection and self-assessment.
    • It allows for timely intervention when students are struggling.
    • It provides evidence of progress over time, which can be motivating for students and informative for teachers and parents.

    In this workflow shift, Dr. Novak and I want teachers to make formative assessment data available to learners so it helps them to develop a deeper understanding of themselves as learners. Metacognitive skill building is a critical component of cultivating the profile of an expert learner.

    Making formative assessment data accessible to students is essential to foster a learning environment that prioritizes autonomy, self-regulation, and reflection. When students can view and interpret their formative assessment data, they can engage in metacognitive processes, such as planning and goal setting, tracking and monitoring their progress, and evaluating and reflecting on their learning.


    By understanding their formative assessment results, students can set informed, realistic learning goals for themselves. They can identify areas of strength to build upon and weaknesses that need more focus, allowing them to strategically plan their approach to learning.


    Access to ongoing formative assessment results allows students to continuously monitor their progress toward standards-aligned learning goals. This self-monitoring encourages students to stay engaged in their learning process, identify effective strategies they’ve used, and recognize when they might need to adjust their approach or need additional support.


    After completing tasks or assignments, students can use their formative assessment data to evaluate their learning. They can reflect on their progress, the effectiveness of their learning strategies, and their growth over time. This reflective process is key to promoting self-awareness and critical thinking.

    In our book, The Shift to Student-led, Dr. Katie Novak and I demonstrate how teachers can use Universal Design and blended learning to create the time and space needed to give students opportunities to work with their formative assessment data in class. We provide a collection of strategies and resources teachers can use to shift formative assessment data from a teacher tool to a metacognitive skill building tool for students.

    To learn more about this shift, check out our new book, The Shift to Student-led. If you are interested in a discounted bulk order of 10 or more books, complete this form.

    The post Shift to Leveraging Formative Assessment for Metacognition appeared first on Dr. Catlin Tucker.


    The Station Rotation Model Tip #3: Practice Rotating for Seamless Transitions

    Por Catlin Tucker — 7 de Maio de 2023, 16:38

    Don’t let transitions steal class time!

    Some classes understand the expectations of the station rotation model almost immediately. The teacher explains the model, the students understand the expectations, and the class moves into stations smoothly. Other classes need a little more practice before fully implementing the station rotation model. When introducing station rotation, I encourage teachers to embrace a couple of routines to make the experience run more smoothly.

    Practice Moving from Station to Station

    The first time I introduce station rotation, I take a few minutes to explain what station rotation is and the purpose behind it. Then, I have students practice moving from station to station.  

    I point to each station’s location and review the assigned seating chart. That way, students know what station to report to after each transition and where to sit during the independent and student-led collaborative stations. (Note: I don’t usually assign seats at the independent teacher-led station because that is where I will be.)  

    Review the Objective

    Then, I project the objective of our practice session and clearly review the expectations. 

    Once students understand the objective, they practice moving from station to station. Because students do not need to get out any materials when they transition, I set the transition timer to 20 seconds. Once everyone is seated in their new station, I refer to the assigned seating chart to ensure students sit in the correct seats at the student-led collaboration and independent stations.

    I usually have students practice moving through the entire station rotation two or three times, depending on the needs of the students in the class. You will see improvement between each practice round.

    After students have completed moving through the station rotation, I post these self-reflection questions for students to think about and discuss with a partner:

    • On a scale of 1-5 (five being the highest), how well do you think the class did when moving from station to station? Explain why you gave this score. 
    • On a scale of 1-5 (five being the highest), how well do you think you did when moving from station to station? Do you feel that you met the objectives? Provide evidence to support your score.

    Practice Reading or Watching Station Directions

    One of the challenges that teachers encounter when first implementing station rotation is that students don’t read the station directions at the independent and student-led collaborative stations. As a result, students can take a long time to get on task or bombard the teacher with questions, making it challenging for the teacher to facilitate their station.

    To help address this, I encourage teachers to have students practice the station rotation model again but add additional bullets to the objective, so that students know they are expected to read/listen to and follow the directions at each station. 

    When implementing this next practice round, I set out the written directions and any necessary materials needed for each station. Then I set the transition timer and instruct students to move to their first station. Once students are seated, I set the timer for 8-10 minutes. I meet with the teacher-led small group and verbally explain my instructions to the students there. I check for understanding. Then I walk around to ensure the students at the other stations are reading and following the station directions.

    Teachers working with younger students may want to use video directions instead of text-based directions. In that situation, it is still important to have students practice accessing the video directions, playing them, and practicing pausing or restarting the video. That way, even young learners can get the instructions they need.

    Onboard Students with SEL-focused Activities

    Because this is the first time students practice reading and following directions at the independent and student-led collaborative stations, the task of each station is SEL-focused, not content focused. For example, the kids at the student-led collaborative station tables draw cards and discuss questions. What is your favorite movie? If you could travel to any location, where would you go and why?

    Students at the independent station are directed to log into Google Classroom, put on headphones, and play a breathing exercise/meditation video. This breathing activity reinforces the norm that students will work quietly on their own at the independent station.

    Students at the teacher-led small group station log in to their computers and fill out a Google Form. It contains questions like, What do you want your teacher knows about your learning preferences? How do you think small group instruction can help you? 

    After students complete the full station rotation, I again provide reflection questions. This time I have them reflect individually on a Google Form.

    • How well did you follow directions during the independent station? Explain your answer.
    • How well did your team follow directions during the student-led collaborative station? Explain your answer.  
    • What station do you think you will like the most? Explain your answer.  
    • What advice do you have for me, the teacher, when we start to fully implement station rotation?  

    Having students reflect upon their station rotation practice is a great way to gauge how students feel about the model. Through student feedback, I have improved my stations to help meet individual needs. 

    Additional Helpful Tips

    • When implementing station rotation, teachers should not spend the first 10-15 minutes of class verbally reviewing directions. That is valuable learning time. Students tend to forget most of what their teachers say as soon as they move into stations. When students practice reading directions, it minimizes the “What are we supposed to be doing?” questions and helps students get on-task quickly.
    • Timers are an essential component of smooth transitions from station to station. When station rotation is fully implemented, it should take students about 60 seconds to transition. This should provide students enough time to pack up, move to another station, and get materials ready for the new station.  

    When you first implement the station rotation model, taking a little time to have students practice it makes a big difference the rest of the year.  

    Stay tuned for more simple but helpful tips about station rotation!  You can also check out this post on frequently asked questions about the station rotation model.

    R. Noelle Gutierrez has been working in public education for almost twenty years. She spent eleven years teaching English Language Arts and History at the middle school level. She then worked as an Instructional Coach for seven years, training and coaching secondary teachers in student engagement, standard-based strategies, curriculum development, and blended learning. During her time as an Instructional Coach, Noelle developed resources for Smarter Balanced. Noelle is currently working as a middle school Assistant Principal, where she continues to coach and train teachers.

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    FAQ: The Playlist Model

    Por Catlin Tucker — 28 de Abril de 2023, 18:51

    In my Art of Blended Learning Online Course this week, we continued our work on the playlist model. I began our synchronous session by addressing frequently asked questions about this model. In this post, I will share answers to some of those questions.

    Q1: How Long Should Students Work on a Playlist?

    The length of time required to complete a playlist can vary depending on the scope of the playlist. For example, a playlist that covers a single topic or concept may take a few days to complete, while a playlist that guides students through a unit, multi-step task, or inquiry may take a couple of weeks to finish. The number of learning activities and complexity of the playlist will also affect the time needed to complete it.

    Teachers can choose to have a playlist be the sole focus of their work in class for a period of time, or they may weave it into a series of station rotation lessons over time (e.g., the online station). If the playlist is the sole focus of the work in class, students may spend fewer days working on it compared to a playlist that students work on over time.

    Ultimately, the goal of creating a playlist is to provide students with a self-paced learning experience that allows them to work at their speed and ensures that they have the necessary time to complete each task without feeling rushed or overwhelmed. Therefore, teachers should consider the scope of the playlist and the classroom structure when planning the length of time required for students to complete their playlists.

    Q2: What Is The Best Format to Present a Playlist?

    I recommend that teachers use a digital document or slide deck. One of the key advantages of using a digital format is that it allows you to easily make copies of the playlist and design different versions to meet the needs of different groups of students or to adapt to different learning objectives.

    Digital documents and slide decks also offer a range of multimedia options that can enhance the learning experience for students. For example, you can insert images, graphics, links, and videos to provide additional context, explanations, or examples that can help students better understand the content covered in the playlist. Slide decks, in particular, offer a visually engaging way to present the content, making it more accessible and interesting for students.

    Additionally, using a digital format creates space for students to document their learning and for teachers to provide feedback. For instance, students can make notes or comments in the document or slide deck as they progress through the playlist, documenting their understanding, questions, or areas of confusion. Teachers can also use the document or slide deck to provide feedback by commenting directly on the document or recording audio notes with Mote and attaching them to the document or slide deck.

    Overall, using a digital document or slide deck format for presenting a playlist provides a range of benefits that can enhance the learning experience for students and make it easier for teachers to monitor their progress and provide feedback.

    Q3: How Do I Track Student Progress?

    When it comes to tracking student progress, there are a few options to consider, including the use of a public or private tracking system.

    A public tracking system allows for easy student-to-student collaboration and can be especially helpful in instances where students need to find a partner to complete a task. This type of system can be set up on a physical bulletin board or whiteboard where students can post updates on their progress (e.g., move a magnet with their name to their current location on the playlist), or the teachers can update a digital version of each student’s progress.

    A private tracking system can be done digitally as an entrance or exit ticket that allows students to update their progress. That way, the teacher knows where they are in the playlist each day. This helps teachers to monitor individual student progress, as well as to identify students who may need more support, instruction, or feedback.

    Ultimately, the type of tracking system used will depend on the specific needs and preferences of the teacher and students. Whether using a public or private system, the key is to ensure that it is easily accessible and user-friendly, so students can update their progress and stay on track throughout the learning process.

    Q4: What Do I Do With Students Who Are Done Early?

    One of the biggest challenges for teachers is what to do with students who finish their playlists before the rest of the class is done. There are several strategies that can be used to keep these students engaged and challenged:

    One approach is to use the Modern Classroom Project’s must-do, may-do, and aspire-to-do. This allows students to work at their own pace and provides them with a range of activities to choose from. The “must-do” activities are critical to mastering grade-level content and skills. The “may-do” activities are useful for mastering grade-level content and skills but not essential. Finally, the “aspire-to-do” activities are designed to extend the learning and challenge students.

    Teachers can also include optional high-interest or creative “extension” activities that students can work on once they have finished their assigned work. These activities can be related to the content being covered in class or can be designed to develop a new skill or interest.

    Additionally, offering an optional “next level” product for students to complete can be a great way to challenge those who finish early. For example, students can turn a narrative into a digital story, take what they learned from a 5Es inquiry to create an infographic or design a performance task for their peers.

    Creating different versions of the playlist for students at different levels can also help to keep students engaged and challenged. This approach allows teachers to differentiate the learning tasks to ensure they are within each student’s zone of possibility.

    Overall, the key is to provide students with a range of activities that provide the appropriate support and academic rigor based on the student’s skills and abilities. By incorporating these strategies, teachers can help to keep all students engaged and motivated, regardless of how quickly they complete their work.

    🚀 Does your school have a team of teachers interested in blended learning? Are you looking to supercharge your approach to Universal Design for Learning (UDL) with a blend of online and offline learning?

    My Art of Blended Learning Synchronous Course will arm your teachers and instructional coaches with the skills and strategies needed to universally design blended learning to ensure teachers have time to work with small groups and individual learners to meet their specific needs. It’s time to shift students to the center of learning and make the leap from instructor at the front of the room to facilitator working alongside students to ensure learning is accessible, inclusive, and equitable.

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    Shifting from Teacher Generated Review to Student-Generated Review

    Por Catlin Tucker — 10 de Abril de 2023, 16:18

    Spend less time preparing for tests!

    Generating high-quality review materials and engaging review games takes time. It is also a cognitively challenging task since it requires thinking about the key concepts in a unit or learning cycle and producing a collection of questions to guide students in recalling information and developing a deeper understanding of the material. This is an unsustainable practice for teachers, especially if they must create review activities for multiple subjects or classes. This teacher-led workflow also robs students of the opportunity to drive their learning and engage in more meaningful review activities.

    Other Problems with Traditional Approaches to Review and Retrieval Practice

    1. Review and practice are often focused on preparing for an exam instead of being treated as an integral part of every class.
    2. Review and practice often encourage rote memorization instead of requiring that students develop adaptability and flexibility.
    3. The teacher does the lion’s share of the work by creating review questions and practice activities for retrieval practice.
    4. A single review game or study guide does not provide “spacing” or repeated exposure to vocabulary, concepts, or skills.
    5. The person generating a review game, practice problems, or study guide does the critical thinking.

    Shifting to a Student-led Approach to Creating Review

    When students are given a chance to create their review questions, games, or guides, they are more likely to internalize the material and think critically about it. This fosters a deeper understanding of the material and encourages students to take ownership of their learning. By taking a more student-centered approach to review, teachers can help students become more active participants in the learning process, leading to higher levels of engagement and improved academic outcomes.

    Instead of spending hours designing study guides or review activities and games, teachers should shift this cognitively challenging task to learners! Not only will this save teachers time, but it will engage students in the valuable process of looking through their notes and materials to identify important concepts, strategies, processes, and skills they believe they will need to know to perform successfully on an assessment.

    In The Shift to Student-led, Dr. Novak and I highlight how teachers who regularly engage students in making their own review materials and study guides can incorporate the powerful evidence-based learning strategies of retrieval practice, spacing, interleaving, and feedback-driven metacognition (Agarwal & Bain, 2019).

    Retrieval Practice

    Retrieval practice involves actively recalling information from memory. When students create their review questions and games, they practice retrieval since they are actively recalling information from memory. They can create review games using platforms like Quizizz and Kahoot! Not only do they need to retrieve information when they make a game for their peers, but they must also use this strategy when they play the review games that their peers have produced.


    Spacing refers to the practice of spreading out study sessions over time. Spacing can be easier to incorporate into a class if students can create their own study schedules and review materials. By doing so, they can spread their study sessions over time and avoid cramming. If students are helping to produce review materials, there will be more review games and activities to choose from, which means they can be a regular and reoccurring part of the class. This is much more effective than having a single Jeopardy review game before an exam.


    Interleaving involves studying multiple topics in a randomized order. Interleaving is also more likely to occur when students are engaged in creating their review materials since they can choose to study multiple topics in a randomized order. The materials created by the class can also be mixed up to give students randomized review over time.

    Feedback-driven metacognition

    Feedback-driven metacognition involves reflecting on one’s learning progress and receiving feedback from others. Teachers can build feedback loops into the process of designing review materials. For example, as students learn how to generate review games, activities, and choice boards for each other, teachers can include a peer feedback process where students critique each other’s review activities, complimenting strong elements and offering suggestions for improvement. Then students can reflect on what they learned from the feedback and how they will incorporate it into future review activities.

    By involving students in creating their own review materials and study guides, teachers can facilitate these four powerful learning strategies and promote deeper understanding and long-term retention of the material. To learn more about this shift, check out our new book, The Shift to Student-ledComplete this form if you want a discounted bulk order of 10 or more books.

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    The Station Rotation Model Tip #2: Arrange Your Furniture to Maximize Focus and Engagement

    Por Catlin Tucker — 5 de Abril de 2023, 18:32

    As teachers, we know that the physical environment of a classroom can have a significant impact on how students engage with the material and each other. From the color of the walls to the lighting and temperature, every aspect of the room can contribute to a student’s ability to feel comfortable and stay focused. Have you considered how the furniture placement in your classroom can either reinforce or distract from the specific tasks we are asking students to do?

    Research has shown that the way furniture is arranged in a classroom can significantly impact student behavior and learning outcomes (Granito & Santana, 2016; Parks, Corno & Cozzone, 2017). By strategically positioning desks, chairs, and other pieces of furniture, we can create an environment that promotes collaboration, active engagement, and independent thinking. I know many teachers reading this don’t have flexible furniture. They may even have my least favorite furniture item: the single desks with the chairs attached. Education is one “make it work” moment after another. The formations I describe below can be created by arranging single desks, two-seater desks, and other furniture items together.

    When I coach teachers using the station rotation model that combines individual and collaborative learning activities both online and offline, we talk about how to arrange the furniture in the room to communicate the type of task students are doing. For example, we don’t want to create table groups where students are facing each other for an individual task that requires focus and concentration. When students are facing one another, the subtle message is that conversation and interactions are encouraged. This can result in students chatting and distracting each other when they should be engaged in a quiet individual task.

    U-Shaped Desks for Teacher-led Station

    When a teacher is leading small group instruction at their teacher-led station in a rotation it is helpful to have desks set up in a U-shape facing the whiteboard. Setting up the desks in a u-shape positions all students to face the teacher and makes it easier for the teacher to interact with each student individually. Teachers can easily move around the U-shape to provide targeted instruction and support as needed.

    The U-shape seating arrangement also provides easy visual access to the whiteboard or other teaching aids, which the teacher may be using during the differentiated small group lesson. The teacher can use the whiteboard to demonstrate concepts, model problem-solving techniques, or show visuals to support their instruction. Positioning all students facing the whiteboard ensures that everyone can see and follow along with the lesson.

    If teachers are using their small group time to facilitate discussions, the U-shape seating arrangement encourages student participation. The students can all see one another, creating a sense of community within the small group. This can help to build relationships among students and promote positive group dynamics.

    Rows for Independent Tasks

    While there is evidence to suggest that group seating arrangements can be beneficial for promoting collaboration and social skills, there are situations where sitting in rows or a straight line can be useful, particularly when students are working on individual tasks that do not require interaction or collaboration.

    Rows for Independent Work

    When students are working independently, they often need a quiet, distraction-free environment where they can focus on their own work. Sitting in rows can minimize distraction and allow students to concentrate on the learning activity without being tempted to socialize or interact with others.

    When students engage in an online task that is individual, teachers may want to consider positioning the desks facing away from their teacher-led station. That way, the students’ screens are visible to the teacher if they want to quickly scan the room to ensure students are on-task and working in the assigned online environment.

    Table Groups for Collaboration

    Sitting in a group with others fosters communication and collaboration around shared tasks. When students are seated in groups, they are able to easily share ideas with their peers. This can help to promote collaboration and encourage students to work together to achieve a common goal. By working together, students are able to pool their knowledge and resources, which can lead to deeper understanding and more effective problem-solving.

    In addition, group seating arrangements can help to build social skills and develop interpersonal relationships among students. When students work in groups, they are able to interact with one another on a regular basis, which can help to break down social barriers and create a sense of community within the classroom. This can lead to greater engagement and motivation, as students feel a sense of belonging and connection to their peers.

    Group seating can also encourage students to take on different roles within the group, such as facilitator, note-taker, or questioner. This can help to build important leadership and communication skills, as well as promote positive group dynamics.

    Arranging the Furniture in Your Classroom with Intention

    In the station rotation model, students are often required to work independently or in small groups, moving between various learning stations throughout the classroom. By arranging the furniture in a way that promotes focus and engagement, teachers can help students to stay on task and remain engaged in their learning, even when working independently.

    For example, if students are working at a computer station, arranging the desks in a way that minimizes distractions and provides a clear line of sight to the computer screen can help students to stay focused on their work. Similarly, arranging small group workstations in a way that fosters collaboration and communication can help to promote engagement and positive group dynamics.

    Arranging furniture to maximize focus and engagement creates a classroom environment that supports self-directed learning, fosters engagement and motivation, and promotes positive learning outcomes. By taking the time to consider the needs of their students and their learning objectives, teachers can create a classroom environment that is conducive to student success. And, if the prospect of moving furniture feels daunting, see if you can enlist your students to help!

    Want to learn more about the station rotation model? Check out my mini-course.

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