The idea of work stations is something that I'm very familiar with, since this is the learning model we used when all three of my kids attended a cooperative nursery school. It allowed for student choice, one-on-one attention when needed, time to explore and to go at their own pace and engage with the learning at their own level. I see, now how that model can be adapted for high school and that really excites me.
In this video case study found on teachingchannel.org, the teacher worked on creating five different work stations for providing an environment that allowed for personalized learning. Before breaking into groups to work at a station, a mini-lesson was taught from the front of the room about how to engage and interpret informational text.
What I saw happening was a lot of independent learning. Students were able to access expectations for each station through assignment sheets, examples of final product provided through written and video product. There was also an overall expectation of trust that students would work while the teacher was working with others.
The students were able to meet one-on-one with the teacher to get their answered while others were using the assignment sheets to make sure their learning was directed and focused. I also LOVED the logs they were expected to keep at each station that required that they talk about what they did that day and, more importantly, how it went. The teacher could then go back and read those notes to see how things were progressing with each student.
We do a lot of independent work on projects and I often feel out of touch with certain quieter students. If they had a way to write out how they are doing, it would help me identify who needs extra help and who does not. In many ways, this log echoes what we do in our stand-up meetings every day where students report what they have done and what they plan on doing that day, as well as any impediments they might experience in getting closer to their goals. However, I do not attend every group's stand-up or Scrum meeting and so am no privy to what is discussed in each group meeting. The logs make the learning visible to both the students and the teacher.
The other piece that hit home for me was how the students interviewed experts out in the field at the beginning of the project, when they had the most questions. I really keyed into the idea that students need time to prepare ahead of time with their questions and that working in smaller groups gives the interview a more genuine and intimate feeling. Students in a smaller group are then required to participate and may feel less intimidated to ask a question than if they are interviewing someone with the whole class.
We do a lot of video conferencing with adult experts but it's generally with the whole class, and although many students are engaged and excited about these sessions, I know I'm still missing those quieter students who tend to stay under the radar. I also think that in smaller groups, the students can really OWN the conversation and would take a more active role in asking questions and giving answers.
Overall, this case study gets a 5 out of 5 because it really speaks to how I already teach in my classroom, but helps me see how some structured strategies would supercharge our learning environment and help those students who need more help in directing their own learning. I can also tap into things I know so well from my preschool parenting days and bring those concepts into the classroom to foster more personalized learning.
Lisa Gottfried is a CTE teacher with 20 years experience as CEO of her own Video and Motion Graphics Production house. She currently teaches Intro to Digital Media, Video Production and Game/3D Design. She loves her job and her students!