Schoology Meets the Station Rotation Model

Pairing the station rotation model with Schoology has a profound impact on teaching and learning and benefits students in the following ways: streamlined access to differentiated learning materials, collaboration, descriptive feedback from an authentic audience, reflection, and small group interaction with peers and the teacher. In order for the station rotation model to be successful, students and teachers need a consistent digital workflow to share resources.

The station rotation model is a flexible instructional model that addresses the unique needs of students and is used regularly in the classroom. Students are placed in groups which are flexible and students can be regrouped by topic or unit of study based on data from a pre-test. Students rotate through three or four stations in the instructional block. One of these stations is teacher led where teachers work with students at their level of development and personalize the material to meet the needs of all learners. Technology affords teachers new opportunities to significantly impact learning by using real-time data to impact the learning experience in the moment. Digital tools make it easy for teachers to monitor learning as it is happening and adjust accordingly. Schoology ensures seamless delivery of content and allows teachers to design online instruction that provides students autonomy, choice, creation, and control of the pacing.

Let’s look at an example of how Schoology can be leveraged in a four group station rotation model. It is important to note that one station must be the teacher station.

  1. Teacher Station: Teachers provide small group instruction. Teachers can leverage apps such as Socrative, Classkick, or Nearpod where both the teacher and student are provided instant feedback and the teacher can monitor and adjust the lesson as needed. The codes to the activities are posted in Schoology and available for students to access anywhere/anytime to review the lesson.
  2. Creation Station: Students become the teacher and create an artifact to demonstrate mastery of a concept or learning objective. Students can use an app such as Clips, Notability, Explain Everything, Pic Collage, Chatterpix, Keynote or the screen recording feature in iOS 11 to make their learning visible. Students upload the project to Schoology resources and share it as a Schoology discussion board post. All students can see one another’s projects on the Schoology discussion board. Students can use the like feature to indicate which projects helped them review the concept the best.
  3. Teacher Created Video Station: Teachers create a video lecture using Explain Everything or an app of their choice. Teachers upload the video to Schoology where students access the video lesson. Students access the video from Schoology and control the pacing of the lesson using the pause, rewind, play again cycle as they learn. The video is available on demand in Schoology for students to access for re-teaching any time. A short Schoology assessment can be used for a check for understanding and help students gauge if they need to listen to the video again.
  4. Collaborative Activity: Teachers provide each groups differentiated collaborative activities via the grading group feature in Schoology. Once groups are set up, teachers assign groups different activities with just a click. This private differentiation Schoology provides gives teachers a way to challenge students at their level. These collaborative activities can be remediation, extension activities, or learning games. The directions for the activity are provided in Schoology and all the hands on materials are located at the station. This station requires collaboration, thus talking, so it is a good idea to put this station across the room from the teacher station so as not to distract from the direct instruction.

In the station rotation model, students are active nearly every minute of the instructional block, have a level of control and independence in the learning experience, use data to guide their learning, collaborate, and engage in reflective practice. Pairing Schoology with the Station Rotation Model of blended learning is an integral component to crafting a personalized learning environment which leads to student agency and increased engagement in the classroom.

BPS BlendED Teacher Spotlight

Spotlight (1)

Our Bellevue Public Schools #ipadacademy teachers are a talented and innovative group of educators. We are grateful for their time, enthusiasm, and positivity as they transform their classrooms with blended learning strategies and personalize learning for their students. This series is a way to celebrate them and share their wisdom on blended learning. The resources, advice, and passion from these educators is something we need to capture and share. These trailblazers are helping to lead the way in creating a change in teaching and learning. This blog series will give you a chance to meet and learn from these inspirational educators!

Angie EllisAngie Ellis, 2nd Grade Teacher-Belleaire Elementary

Before I had technology I ….. and now as a 1:1 blended classroom I …….

”Before I had technology, I taught in front of the classroom to the whole group at one time. I would casually walk around as student’s began working on their assignment to see if they were grasping the concept I was teaching. Now as a blended classroom, I  have transformed my teaching with more engaging lessons. One subject that stands out the most is Math. I am able to introduce my lesson by creating a Nearpod presentation for the class to follow along with as I teach the new concept for the day. The students are able to work out a problem and submit it to me where I can see each student’s work all at one. I can share their work for the rest of the students to see on their iPads. They love the quiz questions that I create at the end of the presentation to check for understanding. Once we are done with the introduction of the lesson for that day, student’s come and get their math paper to listen to me teach the lesson via Schoology. They can work at their own pace. I can pull small groups back to my table to give guided practice. The students who finish early are then able to use Seesaw to reflect on their learning for that day. When finished with their Seesaw reflection video they can practice their math facts in Front Row.”

What are you proud of in your blended learning classroom?

“I am most proud of the way my blended classroom flows. At the beginning of the year, I take the time to each the most important apps that we use in our everyday learning, such as Schoology, Notability, Seesaw, Nearpod, and Classkick. As we move through the year, I teach them what I call “show me what you know” apps such as Book Creator, Explain Everything, Keynote, and others.  Once they have a good grasp of how to use these apps, it allows them to have a choice to pick which app to “show me what you know”. I love to see how engaged they are when creating projects and how proud they are of their work.”

Learning workflows and favorite apps for your blended classroom

Currently, I use Schoology to deliver Daily Spiral Review in Math as well as Reader’s Writer’s Notebook in Reading where student’s can then upload to Notability.  My student’s can also access the Math videos the I have pre-recorded for each Math topic to use for self paced learning. This year, I cuse pre-made Words Their Way Stick Around Puzzles, found in the Blended Learning Schoology Group, and load them into my course.

Some of my favorite apps are Nearpod, to create presentations to introduce a topic or review for a test. Kahoot! is another great app for reviewing a concept. Book Creator is perfect for students to show their creativity by making a book about a certain topic. Seesaw is great for any subject to give a reflection or to show how to work out a math problem. Parents love hearing their child talk about what they’re learning in school.  As a parent of a third grader, I love being able to see and hear what my son is doing in class everyday.

1:1 iPad Classroom/ Blended Learning Advice

“My advice to a teacher who is just getting started with 1:1 iPads in their classroom, would be to start slow. Pick one subject and think how you could use the apps mentioned above to create more student engagement.”

Connect with Angie: Twitter @angie_ellis

Robin Kratina Social Studies Teacher-Bellevue West High School


Before I had technology I ….. and now as a 1:1 blended classroom I …….

“Before I had technology, I was using a lot of paper!  I was building classes every year, and had filing cabinets full of folders and lots of paper!  When you have multiple preps and every prep is a different content that’s a lot of master copies!  

With Schoology it is all in one place, build a class that maybe you don’t get assigned for a few semesters and it is o.k. because you have your class built.  Also I chased after absent kiddos, now I have a place to send them. I also sent time competing for time in computer labs.”

What are you proud of in your blended learning classroom?

“Students who take responsibility for their own learning.  My students are smarter than me, they teach me all kinds of new tech stuff every day.”

Learning workflows and favorite apps for your blended classroom

The simplest thing we do, and they one they have the most fun with is making paper slides. Very simple, but their creativity goes crazy! Another thing they like is making mind maps, I have been playing with SimpleMind+Intuitive Mind and a couple of others with the AP classes looking for ways to have them synthesize the content from a Unit as a closure activity

1:1 iPad Classroom/ Blended Learning Advice

“Sometimes when we are facing change it feels like the message is that we’ve been doing it wrong,  I read that in an article, and realized I felt a little like this.

I felt like I didn’t know what was wrong with what I had been doing, but it must be wrong, and suddenly there was this pressure to get on board.  What I came to understand is, we can take our time, and do what we do at our own pace. What we’ve been doing is right for each of us, and what we will do will be right for us and our students too.”

Connect with Robin: Twitter @RKratina

The Amazing Race

IMG_0751Differentiation and Schoology and Gamification…OH MY!!! You have probably heard almost all of these words, but when you put them all together, you have some very powerful tools in your hands! You may ask yourself, “Why gamification?” My response is, “Why not?” Don’t get me wrong; there were definitely feelings of wanting to quit and visions of throwing my computer across the room while creating my very first classroom game. I had been using Schoology for a little over 2 years and I could see what I had done the previous semester just staring at me, screaming, “Just use me!” Despite the temptation to simply reuse, I persevered and created my game.

After using numerous apps on the iPads, I was trying to decide what I should do next.

One of our District Instructional Technology Specialists, Phillip Loomis (@teachloomis), was coming in to talk to me about lesson plans to wrap up the semester. When he arrived, I talked about how I wanted to do something with “completion rules” on Schoology. As we talked more I started thinking that the concept of “The Amazing Race” would work well. We talked about creating different routes for students around the building and asking them to accomplish different tasks involving balancing equations. I decided I would  have them come back to my room about half way through the race and ask them to create a video before they went back out to do more tasks. I planned for the race to take two class periods.

After the initial idea, I started brainstorming tasks to complete and formulating clues that would take my students around the building. When students got to a location, they would have to take a picture of everyone in their group, also known as a “groupie.” Every student was equipped with their iPads and they all had to complete the race, eliminating the possibility of one person doing all the work.  When you use completion rules in Schoology, you can set it up so that students must complete items in a specific order and items won’t unlock until they have met the requirement that you have set for each specific task. This was very beneficial as it didn’t allow students to create their own path during the game.

Another feature of Schoology that made this game possible was grading groups. You can set as many grading groups as you would like and this feature can also help you differentiate in your classroom. After creating the grading groups of the preselected teams, I was able to assign the grading groups to each of their route’s assignments and then students would only be able to see the route that they were assigned to. Since I was using “completion rules”, this would show one folder as a “Must Complete” folder to every student and that would tell them what team they were on.

Once all of the routes, tasks, grading groups and info cards were made, it was time to see this game in action. I was pretty nervous about creating my first game like this, but amazingly it turned out great and I think that it was something that the majority of my students will remember doing in my class for quite a while. The apps that were used to create and play this game were Schoology, Explain Everything, Pic Collage, Classkick, and Notability.

Phillip had mentioned early on that he thought I would like doing gamification lessons. I was hesitant at first, but eventually I came around and I am so glad I did!  All I can think of now is how am I going to do my next game!  In fact, my students are currently playing Survivor during our speed and acceleration unit.  If this is something that you are thinking about doing in your classrooms, don’t get discouraged, it will all come together.  There are high rewards for both you and your students and it is something that your students will remember for a long time.  Not only has gamification helped my students with balancing equations, it has also taught them how to collaborate with each other and use teamwork to accomplish goals.

Written by Nicole Burns | @janssenburns

Digitized VS Blended

“My teacher hands us a worksheet, opens up her computer and sits there. We use the online book and fill out the worksheet. It’s so boring.”

Stories like these make me cringe. So often students experience a digitized assignment rather than a blended learning experience while they are at school. What is the difference between digitized and blended? Let’s look at an example.

Digitzed or blended_

Simply taking the physical world and making it available in the digital world is not best practice and is not a blended learning experience. In a blended learning environment, there is a clear path for students to access materials and collaborate in an online space. This blended learning workflow enables students to have choice in the pace, path, place, and time of the learning since the materials are available online, anytime. Blended learning occurs when teachers implement blended classroom models, such as a station rotation model, and design the learning environment that engages students in online and face to face learning activities that are directly tied to the curriculum.

A four station rotation can look like this:


When we start our classroom coaching in our iPad Academy, we begin with developing a blended learning workflow. Once students and teachers know how to push and pull content to the iPad, we introduce the in-class flip.  The in-class flip duplicates the teacher and allows them to strategically repurpose class time. Teachers create short video lessons (less than ten minutes in length), share them in Schoology, and teach students the expectations of how to view and learn from a video lesson. The goal of the repurposed class time is to create conditions for every student to learn.

Pairing the in-class flip with the blended learning station rotation model affords the teacher the ability to work with small groups of students every day as they rotate through the stations. The station rotation workflow enables the teacher to personalize the stations and provide opportunities for student creation and choice in how they want to demonstrate mastery of a concept.  When students have choice over how they can work with the material and learn the concepts, they begin to look at their own formative data, set their own learning goals, and work with the content in a variety of ways that help them learn best and gain deeper meaning of the concepts.

When students learn in a blended learning classroom, engagement increases because students have more control over the time, pace, place and path of their learning. Blended learning models break the old cycles of sit and get, lecture based instruction and transform it to an engaging student focused environment.

To see the blended learning station rotation model in action, take a minute to listen to our iPad Academy high school social studies teacher, Sara Fjell, talk about what learning looks like in her 1:1 blended classroom.

Video of Mrs. Fjell

Written by Ann Feldmann

BPS BlendED Teacher Spotlight

Spotlight (1)

Our Bellevue Public Schools #ipadacademy teachers are a talented and innovative group of educators. We are grateful for their time, enthusiasm, and positivity as they transform their classrooms with blended learning strategies and personalize learning for their students. This series is a way to celebrate them and share their wisdom on blended learning. The resources, advice, and passion from these educators is something we need to capture and share. These trailblazers are helping to lead the way in creating a change in teaching and learning. This blog series will give you a chance to meet and learn from these inspirational educators! 

IMG_4969Brittany Braasch 3rd Grade Teacher-Bellevue Elementary

Before I had technology I ….. and now as a 1:1 blended classroom I …….
“Before I had technology I was more of a “traditional” teacher–my classroom was set up in rows or groups, and everyone was facing the front of the classroom. Now as a 1:1 blended classroom, I have flexible seating and there is no “front” of the classroom. The kids are working everywhere in the room and making so much growth!”

What are you proud of in your blended learning classroom?
“The students–they are so proud of themselves and really take ownership for the things they create.”

Learning workflows and favorite apps for your blended classroom
Schoology workflow, favorite apps–Stick Around, MobyMax, Keynote, Popplet

1:1 iPad Classroom/ Blended Learning Advice
“Take it slow! Don’t try to do everything at once–start with one thing at a time and let the kids become comfortable with that one skill before moving on to the next.”

Connect with Brittany: Twitter: @BrittanyBraasch

Gina Stukenholtz, Math and History Teacher-Lewis and Clark Middle SchoolScreen Shot 2017-12-04 at 10.43.30 AM

Before I had technology I ….. and now as a 1:1 blended classroom I …….
Before I had technology I….
–spent too much time carrying around papers.
–took too long giving feedback- it might be a few days after kids turned in work.
–Did not use formative assessments and feedback to change my instruction instantly.  It was more like playing catch up after we had moved on.
–I was not as connected to other educators, and missed out on golden opportunities to steal great ideas from great educators.
–I, unintentionally, had a fixed mindset, technology has pushed me full-force into a growth mindset.
–I embrace failure and a can-do attitude in front of kids.  We try things, change things, fix things, and are a LOT MORE flexible with learning and growth.
–We all accept feedback more openly. We learn to embrace the power of sharing and learning from each other. We help each other BE BETTER TOGETHER.

What are you proud of in your blended learning classroom?
“I am proud of the constant growth and change in my classroom. We rarely do things the same year after year. The level of engagement with the curriculum has skyrocketed.”

Learning workflows and favorite apps for your blended classroom
Classkick, videos created in Explain Everything and uploaded to YouTube, and shared in Schoology, Nearpod, SeeSaw, Kahoot, Notability. Those are my go-to’s!

1:1 iPad Classroom/ Blended Learning Advice
“Embrace the challenge! It is not easy, nor will it go perfectly the first time through. Work through the issues, stay connected with people who have trod the path before you. Be OK with not being the expert anymore–allow kids to show you that they know more than you–it is a humbling, awesome experience. Use technology to teach kids skill they will need for a lifetime-being able to share knowledge, giving and accepting constructive feedback to one another, help each other BE BETTER. The world needs more of this.”

Connect with Gina: Twitter: @ginastuk

BPS BlendED Teacher Spotlight

Spotlight (1)

Our Bellevue Public Schools #ipadacademy teachers are a talented and innovative group of educators. We are grateful for their time, enthusiasm, and positivity as they transform their classrooms with blended learning strategies and personalize learning for their students. This series is a way to celebrate them and share their wisdom on blended learning. The resources, advice, and passion from these educators is something we need to capture and share. These trailblazers are helping to lead the way in creating a change in teaching and learning. This blog series will give you a chance to meet and learn from these inspirational educators! 


Angelica Musil, Spanish-Bellevue East High School

Before I had technology I ….. and now as a 1:1 blended classroom I …….
”Before I had technology most of my instruction was teacher led. Now the learning is more student led and students can work on several of the activities at their own pace.”

What are you proud of in your blended learning classroom?
“The amount of technology I am implementing and how much I have grown as an educator.”

Learning workflows and favorite apps for your blended classroom
Schoology, Notability, GarageBand, Super Slide videos, online assessments

1:1 iPad Classroom/ Blended Learning Advice
“Just dive in. You don’t have to know everything to get started. Don’t be shy about contacting your tech trainer. They are great and are always willing to help.”

Connect with Angelica: Twitter: @artamusil

Sharae Geldes, 4th Grade Teacher-Two Springs Elementary
Before I had technology I ….. and now as a 1:1 blended classroom I …….
“Before I had technology I was teaching the same lesson to all of my students with occasional differentiation and now as a 1:1 blended classroom I’m able to differentiate my lessons easily and give my students learning that fits their needs immediately.”

What are you proud of in your blended learning classroom?
“I love that my students are able to interact with their learning by creating, explaining and sharing what they’ve learned. My students don’t have a lot of “down time” because there is always something new for them to learn or create.”

Learning workflows and favorite apps for your blended classroom
I enjoy creating math lessons using Explain Everything or Nearpod. The students like showing evidence of their learning using PicCollage or Clips and sharing their work on SeeSaw.

1:1 iPad Classroom/ Blended Learning Advice
“Be flexible. Know that there will be days things won’t work the way you had planned but be willing to try again. Twitter is your friend!  There are so many ideas being shared on Twitter….use them!!  With that being said, tweet! This is something I struggle with because I’m usually so engaged with my students during a lesson and when it’s over, the first thought that comes to mind is dang! I didn’t get any pictures…that would have been a good thing to put on Twitter.  I’m still trying to be better at this!”

Connect with Sharae: Twitter: @SGeldes

Opening Game for the BPS BlendED Professional Learning Season

We officially kicked off our BPS BlendED Professional Learning Season with our two day refresher training for 20 teachers! This marks the beginning of our journey to a 1:1 over the next four years.  I felt like a little girl the night before Christmas. All night long I kept waking up with a jolt of excitement. Is it time? Is it time? Is this really happening?

As soon as we said “Welcome to iPad Academy” the twenty teachers burst into applause. This was the highly anticipated time when they became a 1:1 iPad classroom. Armed with a classroom set of iPads, our newest iPad Academy members were ready to investigate the driving question, “What is blended learning?”.  Our team of five iPad coaches each took a group into the field to find the answers in our very own BPS classrooms. Teachers used the Camera and Notes apps to capture evidence of blended learning. In the evening, they used the Clips app to reflect on their field experience and share their creations in a discussion board in Schoology.

As I watched our teachers passionately sharing with their fellow teachers how they use iPads and blended learning strategies to transform their classroom, tears welled in my eyes and a shiver ran through me. Our teachers rocked it!  What a gift for our teachers to learn from one another! Teachers had a rare opportunity to observe, question, and experience a blended learning culture from our own professionals in our own district. Our new iPad Academy teachers were amazed to see and feel the blended learning culture as they moved from elementary to middle school, to high school classrooms.

Screen Shot 2017-09-04 at 5.17.33 PM

Returning to the training room, we took them for a deeper dive into blended learning over the next two days where they learned the secret sauce to transforming their classrooms.
Tomorrow, 450 iPads will be in 450 students’ hands in these 20 new classrooms. Teaching and learning as they have know it will be forever changed as blended learning strategies are implemented right away. Along with the iPads, they will also have one of the five of us as their iPad coach for nine weeks. I am beyond thrilled for every single one of them. Our district is doing it right. Our teachers and students are empowered with the right equipment, training, and coaching support to race down the field. On the way to a touchdown, there are a lots of plays and many first downs. Each day they are all moving the ball down the field and the touchdown will happen for each of them in their own time.

I am grateful for the right people in the right place at the right time to make this happen. It is a result of a relentless desire to transform teaching and learning and the leadership and support of an incredible staff, administrative team, school board, and community. 

Written by Ann Feldmann


Ready or Not, Here We Go!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Chinese Proverb

As students are returning to school, I have seen a number of tweets and blog posts asking the burning question, “I have iPads, how do I get started?”

That is exactly what we have been doing these last two weeks! Our teachers started back to school on last Monday and our students started last Thursday. Needless to say, we have been very busy helping everyone start the year. Let’s take a peek at our first steps in our iPad Academy up and running.

First, we started with our teacher leaders. We have one iPad Academy teacher in each building who is paid extra duty pay to be the building contact for blended learning with the iPads. We are lucky to spend a full day with them before school starts so they can support teachers in their buildings and provide pre-school inservice to staff. We had a packed day including time to learn about the following:

  • Clips App
  • Apple Classroom App
  • Apple TV configuration
  • Schoology
  • Shared Model
  • App Management
  • Change Management

You may be wondering what is the shared model?

The shared model allows students to log in and out of the iPad and only see their content, similar to logging in and out of a computer. Each student logs in by touching their course, their name, and entering a 4 digit code. Now, personal information such as photos and documents is private for each student. Our secondary teachers are overjoyed to have the shared model in place to streamline student workflow and solve the issue of students accidentally deleting a project that didn’t belong to them. We will be using the shared model until we are completely 1:1 in four years. All you need to run the shared model is a new iPad that is 32 gig or larger and JAMF.

Additionally, we have been traveling around the district visiting all 21 buildings giving our 60 iPad Academy teachers a hand with anything and everything iPad from signing in to Apple TVs, using the classroom app, and setting up iPad charging stations. At the same time, we delivered a green screen and 5 mesh shelves to every media center to be used for teacher check out for creation stations in their classrooms.

Day 1 and 2 with the Students

We begin integrating curriculum by starting with just one subject (elementary) or one class (secondary) and one app. We focus on digital workflow, so students can learn how to access curriculum materials and share work with their teachers, classmates, and parents.

Here are four of our core apps we use for workflow and how our teachers are using them in the first two days of school:

  1. Seesaw is a powerful app for sharing student work, creating reflection videos, and sharing student work with parents. Monica Evon (@mrsevon1), 4th grade teacher and Bellevue Elementary, started the year off with students creating short reflection videos and sharing them in Seesaw.
  2.  Classkick is an app that allows teachers to provide slides to students which can includes links. In addition, as students write, teachers can watch in real-time, jump to students slides, and provide them written or audio feedback as they work. Kelly Benne (@mrsbenne), 2nd grade teacher at Fairview, had her second graders using Classkick for a math lesson which included a teacher created video. She used her teacher iPad for instruction and giving real time feedback to students as they worked on their math lesson.

  3. Nearpod is a great app to use at the beginning of the year because it has free icebreakers you can download and use. These are fun, interactive, and the head fake is that they learn how to use Nearpod too! That could be fun for the first day with the iPads. Carrie Buresh (@CarrieBuresh), 3rd grade teacher, created a Nearpod lesson for the first reading unit which included introducing new vocabulary. Students drew their vocabulary words and submitted them in Nearpod. Next, Buresh shared out several examples to every student using the screen share feature in Nearpod.
  4. Many students also signed in to Schoology, our learning management system. Students access their course materials in Schoology from K-12.

Classroom Management with the Apple TV and Apple Classroom AppBuresh air played the Too Noisy app on her TV so students could see a visual of the noise level in their classroom. The Apple TVs are a fabulous addition to our Apple ecosystem. Teachers can also easily AirPlay student iPads with the Apple Classroom App too.

I’m so proud of how our teachers are leveraging the iPad to be more efficient and effective in the classroom. Check back next week and see what’s happening in #ipadacademy.

Ann Feldmann | @annfeldmann1

Melding Face to Face Instruction with Online Learning

Learning that combines face to face and online learning is a theory called blended learning. Blended learning is defined by the Clayton Christensen Institute as, a formal education program in which a student learns:

  1. at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace;
  2. at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home;
  3. and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.”

The first step in creating the blended learning environment is to have a digital workflow. Schoology is the learning management system we use in Bellevue Public Schools which provides a consistent digital workflow for educators, students, and parents. In providing a digital workflow, teachers have the tools to design instruction that is efficient, differentiated, and private.


After being in many classrooms over the years, I know the currency of the classroom is time. Teachers are masters of time management. However, even the time efficient classrooms lose time on managing the paperwork. Handing out papers 21st century style can be done with a click of a button. To turn in assignments, students simply click submit and the work is curated and waiting for teachers to grade. Leveraging Schoology for online grading reduces the assessment feedback cycle. Students love the speedy feedback and teachers enjoy an efficient workflow with more time to invest in planning and delivering instruction.


In any given classroom, there are no two people who learn the same way at the same pace.  When courses are designed to give students control of the path and pace of their learning, differentiation occurs organically.  When students have the flexibility to interact with the material that best meets their individual learning needs, differentiation occurs and leads students to success.

One efficient blended learning strategy is called the in class flip where teachers create a short video lecture. When students access the teacher created videos, the traditional classroom workflow changes. These teacher created videos allow students the freedom to listen to a lecture at his/her own pace. This sounds like a simple concept, but this is a game changer for students. For the first time students now have the power to rewind, pause, and play their teacher delivering the content as many times as individually needed. Even better, students can control the pacing of a lecture by either decreasing or increasing the rate of speech. Many students find controlling the pacing increases their comprehension of the material and allows them to work independently at their own pace.

Another way Schoology allows teachers to differentiate is the ability to create and distribute multiple assessments so students can have the exam that meets their needs. Teachers can also allow multiple attempts on formative assessments giving students private, immediate feedback on their responses. With assessment data in hand, students can go back to course materials and continue to study and learn exactly what they need.


Do you remember the days in the classroom where you may have had a burning question, but were paralyzed to ask because you didn’t want to embarrass yourself? Or did you wish you could try a quiz again, but didn’t want anyone else to know? How about when papers were handed out and everyone could see your paper bleeding red as it was handed back to you?

When teachers leverage the assignment, assessment, and discussion features students are provided feedback privately. This happens when teachers develop their courses in Schoology and create assignments. Each assignment can be distributed to an individual, group, or the entire class. For example, one group of students may need one assignment, while another group, a different assignment. These are all pushed to students through Schoology and in such a way that Group A doesn’t know they have different materials than group B.

Another scenario that frequently occurs is the need for a student to have a test read aloud. Schoology makes this a simple workflow for both the teacher and student. For example, a teacher can make a recording of a test or quiz and record the audio in Schoology. The student accesses the audio file in Schoology which provides them the assistance they need to be successful.  

Crafting instruction that is efficient, differentiated, and private is one of the many reasons we love using Schoology as our learning management system to provide the first pillar of blended learning, a consistent digital workflow.  

Written by Ann Feldmann


Blended Learning Definitions. (n.d.). Retrieved July 30, 2017, from

The First Game: Design and Implementation

This is the third post in a collaborative blog series telling the story of three teachers, in three different classrooms using gamification to create a more meaningful and engaging learning environment. The first and second post laid the foundation as Santha Walters, Liz Lambert, and Phillip Loomis discussed their reasons for infusing gamification into their English classrooms and how they got started. Not an English teacher, no worries! These strategies can be used in any subject or grade level.

“But what does it look like inside the classroom?” – Another random quote from the majority of teachers who hear a great strategy but have no idea where to begin.

For many teachers the key to trying something new is to first see its success in another teacher’s classroom, and that is the purpose of this post. Santha, Liz, and Phillip are going to provide you with a vision of gamification by taking you inside their classrooms.


Santha Walters (@santhawalters) – 8th Grade English Teacher, Logan Fontenelle Middle School

I use a four house gamification system, therefore, each gamified class becomes an opportunity for a house to pull ahead on the leaderboard in our room. Fridays are our gamification day. On that day students enter the room, sit with their housemates, and prepare to face a non-grammar challenge. Non-Grammar challenges are my way ounnamedf spicing up the curriculum and providing an alternative motivation for students who don’t care about grades. Only students who have completed the work in the grammar game can compete in the non-grammar challenges, so it’s a good incentive for them to help out their house.  

For the non-grammar challenges, we have used variations of the Minute to Win It games. For example, we’ve stacked golf balls and we’ve kept balloons afloat in the air using just one hand. This is simply a three to five minute “brain break” and team building session.  

After the non-grammar challenge is complete, I will follow one of three lesson plans. At the beginning of a unit, I will pre-test the kids to see which concepts in the unit are tripping them up. This allows me to design grammar units for the class and only spend direct instruction time on what is absolutely needed. The pre-test for the students does NOT count as a grade. It counts as “house points.” The house with the most points at the end of the day on Friday gets special privileges the next week, so again, there is a big incentive to get the work done. This also encourages students to help each other (so that their house gets more points).  

The next Friday, we will pick up the lesson where we left off. We’ll start with a non-grammar challenge and then move to either flipped lessons or direct teaching of a grammar concept. Students can earn house points during the practice and review section. Instead of doing a worksheet, students participate in games over the concept. They work in Quizizz or Socrative to try to get the high score. I also count participation in the review games as part of their house points (participation). Usually, these points are doubled because the bulk of their review happens here.

With the second step, it’s important to note that it may take more than one Friday to accomplish all the “learning” they need in order to be prepared for the formative test at the end of the unit. That’s why I use these middle lessons like shampoo–rinse and repeat.  Sometimes with more difficult concepts, we have several lesson and practice sessions to prepare for the Boss Battle—which is always the last lesson we do before changing grammar units.

During the Boss Battle, students actually put their skills against mine. I publish a test with a randomized test bank of about thirty questions. Depending on the level of the student, I then assign them a 10 or 15 question test. Students are free to practice the test all week until Friday. On Friday, they come into class and we do a non-grammar challenge. Then, I allow them some review time with their team. Finally, we either divide into houses and see who can do the test the quickest with the most accuracy OR I take on the entire class and anyone to beat me, my score and my time, get house points for their house. This is usually a really big award like 200–500 points.  

Here’s where it gets a little dicey. That boss battle (that randomized test) becomes their formative grade. However, for my SPeD population, I allow them and any student who doesn’t like their boss battle score to redo the assignment for a better grade. SPeD students are also assigned a reduced number quiz so that the formative grade adequately reflects their ability.  

This is my longest blog post.  Maybe I should try an infographic instead?


Liz Lambert (@LambertClass) – 7th/8th Grade English & Math Teacher, Lewis & Clark Middle School

The way I “gamify” my English class is pretty simple. I didn’t design my own game, but instead chose to use one already made. I modeled my grammar instruction after the board game, Pandemic. If you aren’t familiar with this game, all players work togethunnamed-1er to either all win or all lose the game. The actual game board is a picture of the world with several major cities highlighted. Each player has a specific role on a research team. The goal of the game is to contain infectious diseases before an outbreak or an epidemic occurs.

So what does that look like in my class? Well, all of my students are put on “research teams.” They all have specific jobs within the group from being the team leader to being the materials collector. Each grammar unit is a major city in the world. Each team creates a flag and goes to each city (grammar unit) to contain the diseases (grammar activities). At the start of each unit, all students will take a pretest on that unit’s concepts. My district uses the LMS, Schoology, so all of my materials are loaded in my online Schoology course. If a student scores an A on the pre-test, they can immediately start on the activities tied to that unit. If a student scores less than an A, then the student will take notes on a video that contains instruction on the major concepts in the unit. I use the “flipped classroom” model with this, as it allows the students to learn at their own pace and allows me to interact with students on a more “mentor” level. When the student finishes their video notes, they have their notes signed by the team leader. Then, that student can start on the activities.

What’s the big deal about starting the activities right away? More time to collect points! Each activity that I offer students in a unit is worth a certain amount of points. The more involved an activity is, the more points it is worth! Each student works as an individual to earn as many points as they can each grammar day. These points will go to a team total. The winning team at the end of a unit will get a special prize from me (snack, special privilege, etc).

A lot of people have asked me if I make all of my grammar activities. Honestly, no! Below is a picture of what kinds of activities I offer in a unit.Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 8.59.51 AMYou will see that I do offer some traditional book pages and worksheet options, but I also offer some very creative options like creating a how-to video using a green screen or a super slide video that explains the differences in one sentence to another. It’s all about providing students with a way to marry content with creation. Choice is EVERYTHING. I also use a few other resources like No Red Ink, Kahoot, and Quizzizz. Kids love using online games/exercises, because most give them immediate feedback. Although it does take some time at the beginning of the unit to get all of my materials ready and posted, I am saving time in the end, because I have far less students needing to do retakes on tests. The initial work is absolutely worth the reward.


Phillip Loomis (@TeachLoomis) – 7th Grade English Teacher, Logan Fontenelle Middle School

Designing the first game, I used a tenet from the PBL playbook in which I gave students ‘Voice and Choice.’ This first game was housed within our LMS, Schoology. There were three different paths students could choose from to reach the end of the scenario; Riding the Rapids (web-based), Across the Desert (textbook), and Climbing the Mountain (online text).  Additionally, I added a ‘Break from the Trip’ in which students could wa8cffed134ca4f139629ae75f3f87ba25_400x400tch related Kahn Academy videos. As an added option, I had the old-standard worksheets which students could complete in lieu of one assignment within their chosen path. Overall, the work was basically the same regardless of which path students chose, accept the web-based NoRedInk ( that provided a diagnostic and leveled assignments for where the students were performing, thus providing an additional albeit manageable workload.

Throughout the design process, I carefully linked the state and district standards to the conditions to reach the end of the game. While there were different paths to get to the end of the game, the finish line was the same; a district common formative. The question then, was how to make the test part of the scenario. The answer was to tie it to classroom rewards. Student groups were formed based upon their chosen path where they played competitive group review games of Kahoot! and Quizizz to compete for numerous rewards; preferred seating, music during work-time, work with a friend, and yes, even a snack! These reviews provided an energy boost the day before the formative and regained student buy-in.

Reflecting on this unit, I realized the element of ‘play’ was missing from this ‘gamified’ unit. Additionally, while I believed students would use their imaginations to see themselves as an adventurer, there wasn’t enough within the game design for the majority of students to see themselves as such. Yes, this game flopped. Having tested the gamification waters and seeing the problems firsthand, I better understood that each of the mechanics mentioned in our earlier post was crucial. Now, after a few more games since this, I would never use (or design) a game like this again. However, the missing elements could be incorporated to make this a far more enjoyable learning experience. Maybe next year…

Want to hear about our games? Look for our June post in which we summarize the games we tried, the games we want to design, and the continued list of lessons we’re learning!

Written by Santha Walters, Liz Lambert, Phillip Loomis, & Jeffrey Bernadt