Blended Learning Tips and Tricks

“Learning is always rebellion…Every bit of new truth discovered in revolutionary to what was believed before.” Margaret Lee Runbeck

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Last week I discussed picking the right model for your blended learning classroom so it is only natural that I now offer some tips and tricks for running a blended learning classroom. ūüôā

  • Focus on the lesson or content skill and let the technology be the tool or guide.
  • Start small and in one subject area.
  • Rearrange your classroom so that when you are working with your small group, ¬†the students screens are facing you. (You want to be looking at the back of the students heads) This way you can see if they are on task by looking at their screens.
  • Plan the layout and procedures of your blended learning classroom before you begin.
    • Put students in charge of putting them out and away, letting them take ownership will help them value the use of the devices as well.
    • When the devices are out and you need the student’s attention, say 45 and have the students put their screens to a 45 degree angle like the above picture (not closed so it will have to start over or lose what they have done) or flip it over for devices such as phones.
    • Know what learning management system (ex. Google Classroom, Edmodo etc) and other web tools you plan on using.
  • Be flexible and understand that students might need to be scaffold info this type of environment.

Misconceptions:

  • Blended Learning = 1:1 environment. Not true: a great blended learning model can use only 10-15 computers. (Ex. Station Rotation Model)
  • Blended Learning = No Teacher. Not true: It is critical for a teacher in any learning environment and blended learning allows teachers to have more one on one time with students to help them grow as learners.
  • Blended Learning ¬†= Babysitter. Not True: Students should never be just sitting at a screen but using higher order thinking skills or working with an adaptive learning program like Dreambox or Compass Learning.
  • Blended Learning = Everyday. Not True: You do not need to do blended learning every day, many happen to do it everyday because they like the time it gains them to be with small groups of students focusing on individual needs. I have seen lots of teachers only do a blended approach a few days of the week, while the other days they are doing more Project/Inquiry based learning.

I would love to learn more tips and tricks of a blended learning classroom. Please share in the comment section.

Choosing a Blended Learning Model

“Learning is more effective when it is active rather than passive process.” Euripides

According to Christensen Institute blended learning is 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. There are four different models: Rotation, Flex, A La Carte and Enrichment Virtual Model. There is a difference between blended learning and technology integration, learn more about that from my previous blog post.

 

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Truly understanding the difference within the blended learning models will help make choosing and implementing blended learning in your classroom easier.

Rotation: Students are rotating through stations with at least one station being online. (Most often used)

Flex: Students main way of learning is online. (taking multiple classes)

A La Carte: Some students (not a whole school) take a class that is entirely online but is done inside the school they attend.

Enriched Virtual Model: Students attend class and then do coursework online, on their own time.

In my experience, most teachers use one of the four sub-models based on the rotation model. Below I define the differences between the sub-models.

  • Station Rotation: (Most used and easiest to manage)
    • Takes place in one classroom
    • Usually three stations: 1. Teacher led 2. Online Instruction/Practice 3. Student collaboration
    • Students rotate on a fixed schedule to the different stations that is managed by the teacher (Ex 15 mins per station, the teacher rings a bell and the students move.)
    • Students rotate through all the stations but do different activities based on level
    • Each station is the same content area (ex. everyone is doing math)
    • Teacher led station can be instructions or conferencing
  • ¬†Lab Rotation:
    • Rotation happens through multiple lab/rooms within the school building
    • Students rotate among lab/rooms
    • Each lab/room is usually a different content area
    • One lab/room is online learning
  • ¬†Individual Rotation:
    • Students rotate on an individual schedule based on their pace and needs.
    • Students don’t have to rotate to all the different stations in the room. They go to stations based on their needs as a learner.
    • Typical stations that are set up are: Online area, small group/direct instruction area, group work area and individual work area.
  • ¬†Flipped Classroom:
    • Online delivery of instruction and content is done through video that the students watch at home. Best practice and research shows videos should be no more than 10 mins.
    • During class students are working on an active learning strategy such as injury or project based learning.
    • Sometimes flipped and another sub-model of rotation is used. (Ex: I used flipped and station rotation)
    • Misconception: Homework practice online is flipped learning. (Ex: students using adaptive learning software such as dreambox or a teacher assigning problems for students to do using a learning management system like Edmodo – These are NOT flipped classrooms)

Now that you understand the differences between the blended learning models, chose the one that best fits your classroom. Next week I will share some tips and tricks of managing a blended learning classroom.

Playlists in Education

‚ÄúTo provide children with the different support they need, a school has to be able to draw on resources that lie beyond its walls.‚ÄĚ ¬†Charles Leadbeater

The term ‘playlists’ is becoming more and more popular in education because it is a way that teachers can personalize students learning based on standards and interest. But when most people think of ¬†playlists they think music but it is taking on a new meaning in education.

Playlists are tasks complied using multiple media resources such as urls, videos, articles, images, files, assessments etc. Often playlists are a unit or concept broken down into tasks for students to be able to learn at their own level, pace and time. Playlists are often used in a blended learning classroom when the teacher is facilitating a small group other students are working on their playlist that is individualized for them based on their needs.

Playlists is a very new concept and is also in beta mode in education. Educators and different web tool developers are still being ‘perfected’. ¬†Below are a list of FREE Playlists web tools that I have been testing out. I have not found a favorite yet but OpenEd and Sophia are at the top of my list.

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OpenEd: There are three reasons I really like OpenEd. One reason that makes OpenEd different from other playlists is that it works with many other learning management systems (LMS) such as LearnZillion, You Tube and IXL. You can also choose by Common Core Standards as well. Another reason is because you can create courses which is great for teachers in the older grades or as a PD tool. The third reason is because the company is very responsive to suggestions and has teachers, like me, as Ambassadors to continue to make their product the best. I ask questions and they have responded both via email and twitter (@OpenEDio) within 24 hrs. They do have an Android App and are working on an iPad App but this site works on all devices using any browser.¬†Adding your own resources is something that’s ‚Äúin the works.‚ÄĚ

Sophia.org: I have been using Sophia for years for the flipped classroom, recently I have started creating playlists. I like how user-friendly it is and they just added Common Core and NGSS-Aligned Content which has made a huge difference in using this web tool. I also like that Sophia provides Professional Development for teachers as well.

Other Playlists web tools:

Lesson Paths

Khan Academy

Activate Instruction

EDLE 

Blendspaces

Before playlists web tools were available I used¬†Google docs to create playlists. I used the feature ‘Table of Contents’ (under insert) and added the resources for the students. This is something you can still do, the down fall, it takes a lot more time then having resources already curated for you. ūüôā

If you use a playlists web tool in your classroom that you love, please share in the comments section so our blog readers can add it to the list.

Technology Integration and Blended Learning – There is a Difference

“We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lie sat the outer reaches of our abilities.” Josh Waitzkin

Todays blog post stems from a question I often get asked, “What is the difference between technology integration and blended learning?” They are similar concepts as both use technology as ¬†a tool for students to learn, a way to incorporate 21st century skills into lessons and often real world application.¬†Lets break the two concepts down to better understand how both are effective practices for the classroom but are different.

Technology integration is when teachers use technology in a lesson or has students create to show mastery of curriculum standards. An example to technology integration is having students create or show mastery on an App/web tool such as ShowMe or EduGlogster. A great way to integrate technology into a lesson is to use the Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge (TPACK method) There are different levels of technology integration for a teacher, using a SMAR model or technology integration matrix, helps teachers see where they are on the continuum.

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Blended learning combines face to face classroom learning with global online content, giving student more control over the time, place, path, pace of their learning. There are many different models of blended learning. You can learn more in-depth definitions of  these blended learning models at the Christensen Institute. The pedagogy of blended learning is that the teachers’ role is to facilitate student instruction and mastery of  their goals, which is a shift in the tradition model.

This video does an excellent job of explaining the difference between blended learning and technology integration.