It is hard to believe that Ohio, Texas, California, Indiana and so many other States have closed school for the remainder of the school year. Wow, this is seems impossible. However, with the use of online resources, educators are still able to deliver content to the students.
"The Covid19 pandemic has permanentally changed the way will education will be delivered forever." - Forbes
For the last thirteen years, I have traveled around the country, teaching educators how to deploy blended learning into the classroom through the Three Phases of Blended Learning. My workshops typically start with the "Why" of Blended Learning. Now, my presentations will begin with the "Why" and how we must move to some form of Blended Learning to make sure that all students are safe, healthy, and the ability to continue to learn regardless of the phyiscal location.
Why Blended Learning?
Mini-Lessons are an essential part of any Blended Learning plan. A mini-lesson is a small group instruction time where the teacher can break down the fundamental concepts of the lesson, reteach the ideas, and differentiate the concepts based on the level of the student. The mini-lesson also provides time for the teacher to get to know the students and to build an academic relationship. Relationship-building has been proven to help students work on their own while the teacher is working with another mini-lesson. In the new blending learning environment, it is essential to build those academic relationships with students so that the students stay motivated to complete the work, and the teacher has a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of every student in the classroom.
Think of digital content as the second teacher in the classroom. While the teacher is providing small group instruction, the digital content is reteaching, providing adaptive practice, or teaching the SAME concepts to the students. The students can move through the digital content at their own pace, which allows them to slow down, take notes, and understand the concepts more clearly. Examples of digital can include the following resources.
Teacher generated videos
Actively Learn (if teaching videos are added to the articles)
Blended Learning provides student ownership of learning. When the teacher offers a checklist of learning items to complete and mirrors the expectations on a Learning Management System, then the students can work through the content at his own pace, place, and path. Pace means the students can work as fast or slow as needed to master the concepts. Place provides the opportunity of learning to happen online, offline, or in small groups. The path allows the students to pick which learning task to complete first, second, third, and so on until all of the learning studios are complete.
Blended Learning allows for small group instruction through the mini-lesson. The mini-lessons start to become differentiated with the use of data collected by formative assessments and from the digital content. With the data, the teacher can assign learning studios, projects, and independent practice based on the skill level of the individual students.
Why Blended Learning? Student Engagement. Throughout all of the blended learning environments, students have higher levels of engagement because they can work at their own pace, place, and path, which means that the students don't have to wait for everyone to turn to page 45 to begin learning about a concept. With the inclusion of hands-on learning activities, the students can demonstrate their understanding of a skill by creating, collaborating, communicating, and using critical thinking skills.
In a blended learning environment, the students have a choice in the different activities either through choice boards, random choice wheels or by process of elimination. Blended Learning checklist can offer the students the ability to pick how they would like to showcase their understanding of a skill or what activity to complete that best fits their learning style.
Why Blended Learning?
Blended Learning is not going to replace the teacher. Blended learning allows the teacher to meet with small groups of students to reteach or teach a concept. Students that are not working with the teacher can learn at their own pace, place, and path. Blended Learning allows for learning to continue even if a students is not in the same physical location as the teacher. And most important, blended learning can help to keep everyone safe and healthy during any pandemic.
Learn More About Blended Learning
Before Ohio shut down the schools on March 16th, I was able to spend quality time with my two adorable twin nieces, Maysen and Alexis Jahnke. Maysen and Alexis are Freshman at Chardon High School, and like many students, they love everything about school. They were on the flag team, debate team, track, lacrosse, and much more. School is not only a place to learn but also a place to socialize, interact, and be around people their age.
When they found out that school was going to be closed, they went through a rollercoaster of emotions. At first, Maysen and Alexis were excited and treated the first week off of school like one big giant snow day. Late-night FaceTime with friends, TicTok video creations, some homework, but mostly enjoying sleeping in. The second week came around, and they were seriously missing all of their friends, teachers, sports, and a routine. Week three is coming to an end, and the girls are now adjusting to the new normal of completing schoolwork at home, dealing with their brother, Thomas, all day, and their mom and dad requesting quiet hours so they can conduct work Zoom meetings.
The New Normal
The new normal and staying connected with students is extremely important. Humans are social beings. We live in communities, gather together, share common passions, and thrive in learning from each other. As educators, we need to make sure that we are still connecting in some way with our students. I have generated a list of five ways to connect with students during the time of quarantine. I challenge you to try one this week to see if you can connect with your students or staff members.
Five Ways To Connect With Students
Zoom.us is a fantastic tool to conduct virtual social gathers while being in quarantine. Zoom is a free online program and is easy to use with student, parents, and family members. Watch the quick video on how to get started with Zoom.
Set up a FREE Flipgrid.com account and send out simple but fun prompts to the students via Google Classroom or email. The students will love making the videos as well as seeing their classmates videos. Creating and sharing videos is an asynchronous event so the students can complete and watch when their schedule allows.
3. Google Slides
Think about using Google Slides as a show and tell activity. Use the Google Slide template or make your own template. Share out the link to the students. Make sure the setting are set up so that way everyone can edit. Note: you may want to set up the slides with numbers and ask the students to use their school magic number for their slides. Watch the video below as well as click on they image to get your free copy of the Google Get To Know Me from Quarantine.
Create a private classroom backchannel for the student to talk, share, post, and comment to each other with www.yoteachapp.com. Watch the quick video on how to set up your backchannel as well as how to share out yoteachapp.com to the students.
5. Send a Post Card
For those students that might not have internet connection, think about sending a letter or a postcard to the students. Write a quick little message about how things are going with you at home with the kids, pets, and family. Then ask how they are doing and that you would love to hear back from them. If you would like, send a pre stamped envelope with your address along with your letter so that way the kids can write you back. Try it! See if you can get all of your students to respond to you through the US Mail.
Marcia Kish - Blended and Personalized Learning coach that designed the Three Phases of Blended Learning