Blending First Grade Math: The Station Rotation Model

One of my first conversations with Cassie Raymond (@casa_ray) as we began our journey to integrate iPads into her first grade classroom centered around her math stations. It was one month into the school year and her students were well-trained in the four stations she had them going to daily during their math block. As a result, the focus of our conversation shifted to how can we take the math framework that we were going to implement and merge it with the stations that have been working so well for Raymond, her co-teacher Kayla Kill (@kaylakill123), and her students.

Image from Reading Horizons (2)

A great blended learning strategy for this situation was the Station Rotation model. According to the Clayton Christensen Institute, “The Station Rotation model differs from the Individual Rotation model because students rotate through all of the stations, not only those on their custom schedules.”1 Since Raymond and her students were already using stations we were well on our way. To transform this math instruction into a blended learning environment we needed to create a digital workflow, integrate online learning into the stations, and transfer ownership to the student.

Below is a before and after look at the math stations during the process of integrating the iPads and implementing our blended learning math framework for a 1:1 classroom.

Stations Before the iPads

Raymond’s students began their math block with their Daily Spiral Review and an introduction to the lesson before breaking off into groups to complete the four stations.

Station 1: Guided Instruction and Independent Practice with Mrs. Raymond

Station 2: Math Facts Practice (done individually or in partners)

Station 3: Math Activity/Worksheet with the Co-Teacher

Station 4: Hands-on Math (done individually or in partners)

These stations were a great combination of small group instruction with teachers, independent work for students, and collaborative work in which students were working together practicing their math.

Stations with the iPads

As iPads were integrated into Raymond’s classroom the goal was to keep the stations in place. Over the next couple of weeks the stations changed and evolved as we began taking advantage of the power of the iPads.

Students still begin their math instruction with their Daily Spiral Review, however, the introductifile_005on of the lesson is now done using Nearpod. Nearpod is a tool that allows Raymond the ability to introduce the topic through a teacher guided presentation and get real-time data on her students understanding of new concepts. She can then use this information to pull students during station work. Once Raymond is finished introducing the topic students go right into their three stations that are each approximately twenty minutes long.

Station 1: Students View Teacher Created In-Class Flip Video & Complete Seesaw Reflection (Replaces Guided Instruction & Independent Practice) – The apps used for the in-class flip include Schoology (digital workflow) and Explain Everything (to create instructional videos).file_002

Station 2: Front Row Ed App (Replaces Math Facts Practice) – Front Row allows students to do self-paced math lessons at their own individual level.

Station 3: Math Activity/Worksheet/Teacher Choice Activity with the co-teacher


One of the changes that was made over time was to cut down the stations from four rotations to three rotations allowing students more time in each station. One factor was the in-class flip. The in-class flip transfers ownership of the math instruction to the students as they are now in control of the speed of instruction by having the ability to pause, stop, and rewind their teacher as needed. Also, increasing the time of the stations allowed students to spend more time on Front Row, which is a great opportunity for them to practice math skills and concepts at their own level and pace.

The besfile_001t part of creating the blended learning environment with the iPads is that it has freed up Raymond to work and support students individually or in small groups. Kids that need more help are able to work directly with Raymond or Kill. According to Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker in their book, Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, “When students receive one-on-one help from a tutor instead of mass group instruction, the results are generally far superior.”3 By implementing the Station Rotation model, Raymond and Kill are free to mentor, support, and guide students individually when needed.  

Strengths of Using the Station Rotation Model 

  1. Provides flexibility for both teachers and students.
  2. Allows teachers the opportunity to work with individual and small groups of students.
  3. Stations can be changed depending on needs, apps, and other variables.
  4. Allows students to become more independent and take control of their learning through the in-class flip and the use of the Front Row app.
  5. It is a natural fit for teachers who are in a co-teaching environment.

Written by Jeffrey Bernadt (@jeffreybernadt) and Cassie Raymond (@casa_ray)


  1. Clayton Christensen Institutue. “Blended Learning Definitions.” (accesed October 25, 2016).
  2. Reading Horizons. “The Rotation Model.”           
  3. Horn, B. Michael, Heather Staker, and Clayton M. Christensen. Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. San Francisco: Wiley, 2014.

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