Written by: Charity Dodd
Today’s global economy and the changing demands on the workforce require workers to be analytical, solve problems, creative and highly adaptable to change. Educators cannot prepare students effectively for their futures through the ‘traditional” teaching model. Schools and educators must change the way they instruct to prepare learners the changing landscape.
How can educators respond to the needs of learners to prepare them for their futures?
Blended learning strategies provides opportunities for educators to respond to the needs of our students and our society. For example, here are five reasons why we should implement blended learning in our schools.
1. It is the way our kids learn.
Kids are coding through minecraft, producing their own videos and interacting with others online. They are using #makerspaces to create and explore. When they want to learn how to do something, they go to YouTube to learn. Our kids are learning in ways that we couldn’t have imagined and blended learning allows teachers to meet them where they are.
2. Prepares learners for real life.
Technology is changing the way we work. Routine tasks are now digitized. Workers in today’s economy must be able to communicate properly through technology, work effectively in teams, create solutions to problems and think critically. Blended learning allows time for collaboration among learners, opportunities to connect globally to other classrooms.
3. Increases learner engagement.
When learners are interested in what they are learning, they stay engaged. According to a Center for Digital Education study, over 70 percent of teachers employing blended learning for their classes saw improved enagement. With the availability of digital tools, teachers can deliver instruction in different ways. Students learn through a variety of activities that meet their learning styles at their pace.
“The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you do with what you know.” - Tony Wagner
4. Improves efficiency, feedback.
Blended learning allows teachers to maximize the time they have with learners. Teachers have access to an abundance of resources. Teachers need to use these resources to analyze data on student learning. This process allows teachers to quickly assess student needs and to provide timely, effective feedback. Once this feedback occurs, students know exactly where they are in their learning.
With the implementation of digital content, teachers can assign adaptive technology assignments to learners to get immediate feedback while working closely with small groups or individual learners. While a small group of learners are practicing skills through digital content, another small group of learners are applying what they learn by creating a product to show what they know. In another part of the room, other learners are practicing skills independently while the teacher focuses on a small group to teach new content, re-teach content or provide feedback.
One teacher we work with was reluctant to try mini lessons with her high school Geometry class. After encouragement and utilizing strategies we shared with her, she tried it. After that class she said how much she loved meeting with each one of her 30 students because she’s never been able to do that through her traditional model of teaching.
5. Makes learning fun and promotes student ownership.
Interactive learning activities, interest-based projects and game-based learning makes learning fun for learners. Choosing where to learn, who to learn with, and how they learn gives learners ownership. Students can begin to track their own learning to be accountable for their own learning.
Continue to learn about Blended Learning through our other blog post.
Written by: Charity Dodd
One of the top concerns for teachers when implementing blended learning strategies is how to manage the students. It is a legitimate concern since students aren’t used to learning in a flexible environment. Students have to be trained to be independent and work in groups successfully. Teachers don’t have to throw out everything they know about classroom management.
There are still rules to follow. Develop the classroom management guidelines as a class so students will take ownership.
Example: Blended Learning Guidelines
Once your class has developed the guidelines, teach them what the guidelines mean. Make sure everyone agrees on what is meant by each guideline. What do they look and sound like?
1. Develop technology guidelines. Teachers should have guidelines for technology use. Have students help develop these guidelines. Guidelines might include:
2. Classroom setup. Arrange your classroom so that you can easily monitor student devices, especially when you are working in a mini lesson.
Below is an example of a first grade classroom setup from Fairbanks Elementary School in Milford, Ohio
3. Develop a routine for transitions and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
Let students know how much time they have at each station and allow them to be aware of remaining time so they can monitor themselves. Turn on and off lights when it is time to transition.
One method I’ve seen is a teacher uses a 1-2-3 method
4. Use everyday tools to support classroom management.
Incorporate push lights for students who have questions and who are not working with the teacher. This will eliminate interruptions and distractions. Once students have exhausted their resources for help and still need the teacher, they push the light to turn it on. The teacher is then aware that the student needs help. You can purchase these for $1.00/light at places like Dollar Tree. You can even write on them with dry erase markers!
5. Implement digital tools for classroom management.
7. Assign Roles to students in the classroom such as a Lab Manager who can help students with minor technology issues for example.
8. Plan B Option for those times when technology isn’t working.
9. Be flexible. If something isn’t working, change it up. Try something new or different. Ask the students what they think might work.
10. Student Contracts. Create contracts for students to take ownership of their behavior. For example, a contract can be created for flexible seating. If a student isn’t successful using flexible seating, the teacher and student can agree on next steps.
Practice classroom procedures in the blended learning classroom. Remember that a loud classroom doesn’t mean loss of control.
Checkout our other blog post on blended learning
Implementing iPads into the classroom setting
As an instructional coach, I get asked a lot about different types of technology that can be implemented into the classroom. One of the schools that I am currently working with, Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, asked me to put together a list of iPad applications and how to use them in the classroom. Of course, there is so much to share out with the teacher that I decided to put together a Six Part video series that will showcase...
Part 1: Implementing the iPad into the Blended Learning Classroom
Key Take Aways
Learn more about Blended Learning
Marcia Kish - Blended and Personalized Learning coach that designed the Three Phases of Blended Learning