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…

Angel Cintron Jr., Contributing Blogger and 2014 Education Innovation Fellow
Angel cropped

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