Tips of the Trade: Getting Started with Blended Learning
Okay, so you made the decision. Last school year, students didn’t seem as engaged as they could be. Differentiation and personalization was super time-consuming and difficult to manage. Data cycles and feedback took too long, and the data got stale. You did some research and thought to yourself, “this blended learning movement seems like it could be onto something. But…what is it exactly, and how can I get started?”
Many of our Blended Master Teachers here at BetterLesson experienced that same thought process. One thing was true for all of them; no one digital tool and no one model is going to work for every blended teacher. Developing your “toolbox” will allow you more flexibility as you experiment with what works best in your classroom. The process of trying and failing and trying again is part of the risk, and in turn part of the huge reward that these blended educators have experienced. Ultimately, it boils down to knowing your students and what works for them, even it takes a couple “loops” to figure it out!
Blended learning is strategically using in-person instruction and technologies to personalize learning for students. It does not replace effective teaching, it enhances the teacher’s ability to be in many places at once without actually having to be there, while still gaining important insights about student understanding. Our Master Teachers developed some points educators should consider as they take their first steps towards blending their classroom.
- How are you going to design your classroom? Thinking about how you want your blended classroom to look and feel is hugely important. Your design will form the foundation of your practice and directly affect student outcomes. Testing a design with a small chunk of your academic schedule, and seeing if it feels right for your students is a good first step! How will students move throughout the classroom? When will they be using technology? Where will they be using it? What procedures will you have in place? Are students going to be moving through content independently on their own? Will they work in collaborative groups?
- How are you going to manage your content? Part of the shift for educators and students alike is delivering and receiving content online. Choosing a learning management system and a content platform that fits your needs & the needs of your students is a big first step.
Ed-Tech Tool Suggestions: weebly.com (teacher-created website); Versal; Haiku; Gooru Learning; Khan Academy; nearpod; Remind; educanon.com. (For more ideas and inspiration, feel free to check out last week’s blog all about Master Teacher suggested tech tools)
- How are you going to capture real-time data? A benefit to all of these online programs is they give the teacher access to data on every student at their level immediately. They allow you to review and automatically create new groups/assignments based on students’ level of understanding.
Ed-Tech Tool Suggestions: Socrative; formative; Google forms; exitticket.org; Kahoot!
- How are you going to plan, both short term and long term, for your students? One of the many benefits of having students work in a blended environment, is that they don’t have to move onto the next lesson or skill if they are not ready to do so (until they master!). That idea seems like it would make planning very difficult. However, many ed-tech tools make planning the day to day assignments based on student needs a piece of cake!
Suggestions: commoncurriculum.com (teacher-facing); creating a Daily Agenda via Google Docs for Students with big learning goals (student-facing); having a student workspace like wikispaces (student-facing); brightloop (teacher and student-facing)
Please check out the Blended Master Teacher Project and the 100+ strategies that can help you get on and stay on the blended train! There are more to come soon!