Making Blended Learning Work in Your Classroom
With the importance of technological literacy rising in colleges and workplaces, it’s about time primary and secondary educators took notice. To prepare students for life after high school, we need to start teaching them in a more futuristic fashion. Incorporating technology along with traditional face-to-face interaction is a practice known as blended learning.
There are multiple benefits to adopting this relatively new technique. Firstly, the inclusion of various learning models can help students retain information better. As a result, there have been marked improvements in the test scores of students using blended models. You can also experience easier progress tracking, remediation, and student communication.
The question is, how can you make this new approach work for your classroom?
Consider the Resources Available
The first step to incorporating blended learning in your classroom is to consider your available resources. If you’re working within a district where all the students have laptops, then you have a broad range of choices available to you. Additionally, if your district or school is considering including blended learning in a range of courses, they may be able to invest in a program which can be used schoolwide to facilitate blended learning.
If your school can fund the transition to blended learning, consider options like Study Island, Lumos Learning, and USATestprep. These all-in-one systems follow your state standards and allow you to run your classroom in a more diverse way. There are options like electronic assignments and tests which give you immediate feedback and help guide remediation with students. The built in course materials can significantly improve the efficacy of your new program. Additionally, it can reduce the effort needed to find appropriate learning materials for each course.
Any integrated platform will require an investment and hardware for each class. That doesn’t mean you can’t give your students the benefit of blended learning, without the financial burden.
You can use online resources in class to diversify your lessons with videos and games. You can also go with a low-budget option and create a blog or website for your classroom. An excellent way to incorporate blended learning is to post online content for review and assign items to be printed or emailed in daily. You can quickly update the curriculum daily and track student progress and participation with your same grade book.
Designing Your Curriculum
Regardless of which approach is ideal for your classroom, you will need to develop the new curriculum. You will want to consider which elements can be best-learned face-to-face and what can be done with at-home online study. There are also possibilities for group electronic or projector games, videos, and interactive learning modules to incorporate into lessons. To get the most from your new curriculum, you will want to vary your approach evenly in each lesson.
The next important step is setting goals and tracking progress. You will want to plan your course syllabus and make goals for student participation and performance. You will also want to decide how you will record and use this new data. Tracking student progress and remediation will allow you to determine which tactics are working in your classroom. You may decide to add new sections to your current grade book or use an online tool to help judge the efficacy of your program.
You will also want to communicate with students and parents about the new curriculum and expectations. A class website or even an online web chat may help get everyone on the same page. Participation from all your students is paramount to success in your blended classroom.
Adapt With Time
As you implement your blended learning plan, you will be tracking student progress and hopefully meet your goals. If you don’t see improvement in subject comprehension and participation, you will want to adjust your approach.
The best thing about blended classrooms is the possibility for change. You can explore different models and continue with what shows results. There are six standard models you can include or exclude as you see fit; flex, rotation, online-only, face-to-face driver, online-driver, and self-blend.
Even if every classroom in your school adopts a blended model, they won’t all be the same. However, the inclusion of technology and diverse learning standards will help students succeed across the board. Test scores and studies have shown that blended learning works. It’s just a matter of making the idea work for you.
What ways are you adding blended learning into your classroom? What programs or apps have you found helpful? We would love to hear your thoughts on technology in the classroom.