Station Rotations

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(Excited that Jess Gilcreast is a co-blog post writer for this post)

Station Rotations: A way to move from teacher lead learning to student lead learning. Our high school has 77 minute blocks. Students don’t want to listen to teachers talk the entire time and teachers don’t necessarily want to deliver content to students for the entire time either. 

Jess Gilcreast, high school librarian, and I have been working with humanities teachers to re-think how to deliver introduction content for a particular unit. Below you will find resources and activities that were completed in a sophomore humanities course. We are both very proud of what was accomplished.

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Jamboard is for Brainstorming

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In previous blog posts, I have shared different ways students have used Jamboard in their classes (blog post). One area we had yet to focus on is with staff actually using Jamboard. More specifically, using it to help brainstorm ideas for planning out curriculum. For the past two weeks, different staff members took it upon themselves to try out Jamboard for the first time. I would like to talk about one group in particular.

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Flipgrid: Collaboration Between Two Schools

For about 6 or 7 years now, high school students have collaborated with one of the elementary schools in town, Peter Woodbury Elementary School. In particular, Mr. Pepper’s World Religions class has worked with students from kindergarten to second grade. Both classes have actually had the opportunity to visit each other’s schools to complete the collaboration project. Every year, the project has consisted of using technology by creating digital stories from high school skits, relating to a particular theme.

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Breaking Out with Co-Worker Collaboration: #BreakoutEDU

(I am embarrassed to say that this blog post was supposed to have been posted 2 months ago. Time just got away from me but still wanted to share and reflect on a great activity.)

In the spring of 2016, I attended a conference at Medfield Public School District where I experience Breakout EDU for the first time. After a short 45 minutes, I was HOOKED as I had a blast participating and could not wait to help bring it to BHS. If you have never participate in a breakout before or you want to learn more about the concept, watch this short video from the company itself.

In talking about what team bonding experience teachers should partake in this year on the first workshop day of the school year, it was determined that we should give #BreakoutEDU a try. So in a collaborative team effort, Zanna Blaney, Dean of Students, Jessica Gilcreast, librarian, Bill Hagen, Principal, and I, as well as other Bulldog team leaders (known as the Decade Dogs), we were able to pull off seven simultaneous Breakouts for the whole professional staff to participate in.


Three of us met over the summer to determine what task we wanted the staff to participate in. We decided to use one that was already made, even though we thought it might be fun to incorporate our high school’s history into the activity since we were going to celebrate our school being open for 10 years. The game that we used was called Time Warp. We did this for a couple of reasons…it was geared for adults, the theme was generic enough that all parties would be able to participate in the breakout, and the size of the group was large enough (we needed to split up around 120 people into 7 groups).


Jess Gilcreast had to determine what items needed to be purchased in order to run 7 different breakouts at once. Jess quickly discovered that the items were easy to find in Amazon due to many other people thinking the same thing…just buy it on Amazon. Jess had purchased two breakout boxes at the end of last school year and we were able to coordinate with another school in the district to borrow some of their supplies from their breakout boxes. We were also fortunate enough that our principal had some left over wood at his house and was willing to create 5 additional boxes for us.

Once all of the supplies arrived and the necessary papers were printed, we then put the boxes together. Must say, this took a bit of time, especially since it was our very first time doing this. We also double checked things worked since there were going to be seven different groups running at the same time. What is extremely helpful though is that for every game, there are written instructions as well as a video that help walk you through how the game is run, with the combinations to the locks. Very helpful!

Breakout Day

On the day of the breakout, we set up the seven rooms that were being used for the games and explained how the game was going to run to our other team leaders. A demonstration of where the clues were and why they worked/were connected with each other was explained.

Then the entire professional staff met in the theater. Since they had no clue what they were doing (or even knew what was up our sleeves), we showed the following video. We wanted to make it fun.

We then followed up with some more directions and broke staff up into the seven groups (thanks Zanna). The groups went to their designated spots and the game started. Once the staff broke into their box, they found some celebratory items to wear (celebrating the school turning 10). We all then meet back in the theater to talk about the activity as a whole group.

Below are some pictures from a couple of groups while they were trying to breakout.


  • If classrooms do not have much on the walls to distract people, print additional things to help cause some confusion.
  • Make sure staff whose rooms that are being used are assigned to a completely different classroom so that it is not too easy for them to find clues.
  • Split up your teams and make sure they have cross-discipline representation. Make sure administration is also included in the activity.
  • Have fun.
  • Make sure all team leaders have each other’s cell phone number and group text each other. This way, if someone forgets something, they can quickly ask the other team leaders to make sure that the game is run correctly. This was also a great way to know what teams have solved what clues – great motivator.
  • Did I mention that you need to have fun?
In closing, it was well worth the money purchasing BreakoutEDU. As a team leader running one of the breakout games, it was really cool to see staff that I work with in a different light. True collaboration was happening in front of me.

Now, when staff want to use the game in their classes, they just let Jess know and she signs out the items to the teacher. It is also important to note that there is also a digital version of BreakoutEDU. It can be found here. Highly recommend all educators have an opportunity to participate in at least one Breakout. So, when are you going to collaborate with your staff or let your students breakout in class?

Gamifying Professional Development – #GoogleSheets

This past semester Jess Gilcreast, our librarian, and I worked together in creating ways our staff could earn professional development hours besides sitting in a formal training. Our goal was to help create flexibility and adhere to different learning styles. One such way that we accomplished this was through offering professional development training through Gamification, using Google Sheets.

The Inspiration
This inspiration came from Bob Petitto. Not only was I impressed with the work that he had published on his blog, but I was also inspired by his Chrome in 30 Day activity that he put together. I appreciated the fact that he provided a way for his staff to learn about the Chrome browser on their own time by completing 30 different tasks. His original blog post on his 30 day challenge can be found HERE.

I also was inspired by the work that our Freshmen humanities teachers put together, Heath Ahnert, Steph Burnham, Krystin Cooney, Jess Hatzidakis, Steward Pepper, and Meg Uliasz. Their ultimate goal was to help students truly understand the process of researching and citing acquired information for a research paper. Thus, they gamified the task. Based on student decision on which specific tasks they completed, different items would appear with their explorer. The more challenges the students completed, the more elaborate items would appear, truly creating a ‘game’ out of learning. Such an awesome way for staff to connect with students. These teachers did great work and they came back stating that the students loved the activity.

Gamifying Professional Development
So, with the two above incidences, Jess Gilcreast and I put together our own activity that related to tech training we wanted our staff to know. The link to our Gamification PD Google Sheet can be found HERE. Feel free to use, we just ask that you please give credit.

Instructions Tab:
Instructions for the user explaining how to use the sheet. A video is even included for the user to help them with navigating through the Google Sheet.

My Badges Tab:
As the user completes tasks a certain badge will show up on their ‘certificate’. If a user completes all four tasks, all of them show up on their certificate, one in each corner of the certificate.

These were the four badges that Gilcreast created for the certificate. All done by using Google Drawings.

PD Tabs:
We offered four different opportunities for the staff: Chrome Browser, Researching w/ Google, Chrome Extensions, and Google Updates. In order for a staff member to receive a badge, they had to complete all tasks under that topic. You will also notice that a reflection section was added at the bottom of each tab. We wanted to know what their biggest take away from the activity was as well as any questions they still had that we could help answer.

NOTE: Some things might be outdated at this time as this was something we put together for Spring semester of 2016.

Benefits to this Type of Learning?

  • Staff learn at their own pace
  • Staff learn when they want to learn (learning should happen beyond the walls of the school – we hear this all the time with student learning so why shouldn’t it apply to our staff as well)
  • Staff are competitive

This was the very first time that I had done anything in terms of Gamifying. Not only did I have fun deciding what to include, I also gained a great appreciation for what Google Sheets can do for you. I also enjoyed collaborating with my librarian. I know that I have already said this but thanks for the inspiration Bob Petitto and Freshmen Humanities team. My hope is that in the future more staff in our school will take advantage learning in this format.