Aug 3 / Amanda Sant

Round Robin Teaching

If you have never tried round robin teaching, you’re missing out! Round robin teaching is one of the best ways to help keep children engaged, simplify teacher preparation, and plan for a large chunk of time. 

The structure is simple: divide the children into 4-5 small groups with a maximum of 5 children in each group. Set up the same number of stations around your classroom as you have groups (so for four groups, have four stations). Each station should be hosted by a teacher and feature a different learning activity. Have the students spend about 10-15 minutes at one station and then have them rotate to the next. 

Because children will only spend about fifteen minutes in each station, it is easy for them to stay engaged in the activity that they are learning. These stations are a great time to cement a single concept by repeating ideas in multiple activities or for introducing multiple new concepts. For example, you might consider having four stations that all focus on a new letter of the alphabet; one station could focus on practicing writing the letter, one could demonstrate the sound the letter makes, one could show words that use the letter, and one could be a take home project that encourages students to talk to their guardians about what they learned. 

The round robin system also lightens the load of teachers because each teacher is planning one simple activity that they then teach multiple times. Not only does this create less work for the teachers, but it also allows them to put more time into creating one quality activity instead of filling hours on end. 

Depending on the time you need to fill, the complexity of the activities, and the age of the children, you can alter the time structure to fit whatever your needs might be. Whether it's an hour or four, round robins work to allow you to fill that time with effective activities. 

Best Practices

Although this system may seem fool-proof, there are some other simple tips that can help you create an effective round robin: 
  • Put one teacher in charge of either coming up with or coordinating the activities so that each one is unique
  • Be sure to communicate with all the teachers about what materials will be used at each activity so there is enough for each station
  • Consider making one less group than you have teachers so that the extra teacher can be on standby to facilitate bathroom trips, help in the stations that need it, and keep the rotations on schedule
  • Plan an extra half an hour for rotating between the various stations; you might be surprised by how much time it takes to get everyone to a new seat 
  • Consider having teachers rotate instead of students
  • If you do a round robin multiple days in a row, consider shaking up the location to keep things fresh; take the students outside if you can 
  • If you focus on one principle in all of the stations, consider debriefing with the students as a large group to check for understanding and allow the students to solidify what they learned 

With these tips and our free “Round Robin Lesson Plan” download in hand, you will be able to create an effective and fun learning environment for your students!

Download the sample round robin lesson plan here for a great way to start practicing these skills with your students. And for even more on how to create variety and efficiency in your center or classroom, enroll in the “Approaches to Learning” course through Bertelsen Education!