A Summer of Innovation: Part 2 (Orr Elementary)

A Summer of Innovation: Part 2 (Orr Elementary)

Benjamin Orr Elementary is a District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) in Southeast Washington, D.C. During the school year, CityBridge Education Innovation Fellows Diane Johnson and Kelley Jones teach mathematics, science, and special education. However, during the summer, these two Fellows are piloting a station rotation-based blended learning model. Since their summer pilot focuses on English Language Arts and mathematics, this dynamic duo is already collaborating with their English Language Arts counterpart—who is new to blended learning—to teach in an open space, comprehensive blended learning environment.

Last week, I visited Diane and Kelley and captured a brief view of their classroom pilot. Below, you’ll find the video and summary of their summer pilot experience.

Diane Johnson (@DJohnsonOrr) & Kelley Jones (@kelleyejones)
diane-johnson-web   kelley-jones-web

Pedagogically speaking, Diane and Kelley realize that “learning stations” have existed before the terms “blended” or “personalized learning” emerged. Nevertheless, they both recognize the benefit of leveraging educational technology in the classroom to maximize their students’ learning. In this video, you’ll see students completing their assignments at three different “stations,” while Diane and Kelley offer targeted instruction to a small group of students.

As you’ve noticed, one station uses an educational technology tool (like Edmodo), while the other two stations—one independent and one collaborative—use traditional paper-and-pencil methods (hence the term “blended learning”). At first, Diane and Kelley allowed students to choose which learning station—amongst four—they wanted to complete. However, after the first week, they’ve decided to pivot and add “a little more structure” to the design. They now post a “station rotation schedule” that consists of four 20-minute learning stations or “rounds.” Based on specific learning standards or goals, each student reports to an assigned station and works diligently to complete his or her task. Despite being a relatively new pivot, Diane and Kelley have already noticed significant improvements in student learning.

During my visit to their classroom, I noticed how well each student adjusted to this type of learning environment. They all moved around the classroom with purpose. At each learning station, students engaged with the materials and focused on completing their assignments within the allotted time. In addition, each student knew exactly what to do once Ms. Johnson rang her desktop bell: They all began to clean up and report to their next assigned station. As a former teacher, I’m impressed with how well these elementary students transition and work; it’s definitely a well-oiled machine. In fact, there’s not a single doubt in my mind that Orr Elementary School students will benefit from this dynamic duo for several years to come.

I can’t wait to hear more about their pilot experience and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Off for now…

Written by Angel Cintron

Angel Cintron

Angel L. Cintron Jr. is a former seventh grade Social Studies teacher and Education Innovation Fellow. Angel is currently a contributing blogger for CityBridge Foundation.

One comment

  1. Thomas Johanson

    It is very exciting to be living in the time when it is common to hear that many educators have come to believe that students should attain 100% mastery following their own pathways. Reading your insightful article encourages me to mention that as a public Montessori teacher I enjoyed individual pathway compentency designed multi-age classrooms. The concept of workstations in the Montessori room is really expressed in what might be called nano-workstations which students take individually or with a collaborative peer to their own workspace for completion. If the Montessori design were examined for its philosophy and structure I believe it would be the best framework for our move to the blended and flipped classroom. Thomas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *