Blended Learning is the answer to so many common challenges and frustrations for teachers. Blended Learning will transform the way you teach, and the way your students learn. It will…
- Increase student engagement
- Help you differentiate like never before
- Give you more class time
- Allow ‘you’ to be with every student at one time – they can even take you home
And the best part? It is easy!
Can I start with a confession? I am not sure I have told anyone this before…but I feel I should be honest from the start here..
I love to lecture. I love to listen to lectures. Lecture is my favorite way of learning.
I remember when I was in high school, pulling out my nice, new three-ring binder at the start of the school year. I would take tons of notes as my teachers talked about Science, History, Math, and English.
Lecture was comforting because I always knew what to expect, and what was expected of me: listen, write, study, and be able to spit all those notes back out for the test.
Lecture was my jam.
During my first year teaching, I spent hours (so many hours) crafting my rockin’ GoogleSlide presentations. And I delivered them to my students with excitement and enthusiasm! I poured my heart out for 45 to 60 minutes at a time (I know I know – it was nuts).
Then I got discouraged, because when it came time for my students to apply all of the wisdom I had imparted – their minds were blank.
“You don’t understand? What do you mean? I just explained it so eloquently with the last 50 slides during my amazing lecture!”
Needless to say, it didn’t take long to realized that lecture was not a favorite among today’s youth! I really had to step out of my comfort zone and find other ways to reach my students – because lecture was not going to cut it!
I needed ways to make teaching more student-centered and less teacher-centered.
One of the guiding principles at my school is that ‘kids should learn the way they live’, meaning, using technology in a flexible, collaborative, and exploratory environment (Thank you Dr. Lisa Hervey!).
That is Blended Learning
Blended Learning is the integration of digital and online media, along with traditional face-to-face learning in the classroom. Here are the ways a Blended Learning classroom takes learning to the next level:
Student Engagement Increases
Students are more engaged when learning with digital content: They love technology! It’s how they live.
There are infinite possibilities for using technology in the classroom. So many fun apps and tools that bring learning to life though a digital device! As a teacher, the trick is to learn how to incorporate these resources.
The SAMR model is a great way for teachers to look at how they are using technology in the classroom. Check out Kathy Schrock’s “Guide to Everything” which explains what SAMR means, and how it can help you!
My blended learning classroom started with three tools: Thinglink, Padlet, and Sutori. These simple tools make content that students can interact with – just like they do on social media. They explore the resource, process the questions, search for the answers.
They become active learners rather than passive listeners.
You can learn how to use all three of these tools in fifteen minutes! Check out this article for details about how ThingLink, Padlet, and Sutori can be used in the classroom, and links for how to make them yourself!
Differentiate Like a Boss!
Technology makes it so easy to differentiate. Once you have created a digital resource, make several versions for different levels of learning. Simply give each student access to the particular version he or she needs.
Also, as students move through material at their own pace, they take all the time they need to understand a subject.
Related : Daily Differentiation – a method for finding out which students need more help, and how to help them
Saves Class Time!
Teens and tweens consume digital information every day – they are good at it! Look over their shoulder next time they are scrolling through social media. How many pictures and text messages are they flying through in just a few moments? And they remember it all!
By converting your content into digital form, you are taking advantage of this skill which they already have.
Here is a great example. This Thinglink has all the information I once taught in the form of a 30-minute lecture. Students explore the whole thing (and complete an accompanying guide sheet) in about ten minutes.
Not only does this save class time immediately, but you will find that your students actually remember and understand more of the content by learning this way. You will spend less time re-teaching!
Related: For more ways to leverage technology in the classroom: “Seven new ways to use Google Forms!’
Digital content is always available – even when you are not.
The truth is, every teacher wishes that somehow they could copy themselves and be in two places (25 places?) at one time. Every one of our students deserves our individual attention.
Well…in a Blended Learning classroom, you (part of you) can be with every student at the same time!
The digital content you create is individual to the student holding the laptop (or ipad, or iphone). As already mentioned, you can customize the online tools for every student in your room – just as if you were right there with them.
Even if you are not in in the room!
- Are you out sick for a day? Its okay! Your digital resources are still there! All the sub needs to do is to provide access to them.
- Is a student absent for a day? Its okay! Your digital resources are still there! They can complete them at home!
- Was a student not able to finish his classwork? Its okay! He can finish it for homework.
- Do your students need a study tool for an upcoming test? Its okay! They can go back and review all the digital content they used during the unit.
My favorite one (though not my students’ favorite) – is there ANOTHER snow day?? Its okay! All your students need is access to the internet and they can learn from home!
Many teachers find that Blended Learning is the best answer for helping students with poor and inconsistent attendance.
Plus, these digital resources you make today will still be there next year! You will not have to reinvent the lesson every time. Awesome!
A Blended Learning classroom does NOT mean that the tech replaces the teacher. Some people think the teacher is now unimportant or unnecessary.
Far from the case! In a Blended Learning classroom, you are a curator of knowledge! A guide! A facilitator! You will find that your students have more questions than before because they are more invested in their learning. They are thinking more! And that leads to more genuine learning.
And truly, Blended Learning did not mean I had to stop lecturing- just not nearly as much. Some students are like me – and lecture is their jam too! So now I get to do both.
After all, Blended Learning is just that – the union of technology and traditional teaching, a win-win for teachers and students!
I hope I have convinced you to give Blended Learning a try. But you may be thinking it sounds difficult, and you are not sure where to start.
Let me assure you. It is not difficult at all.
Are you interested in trying out Blended Learning, but you are not sure where to start?
Get your feet wet with these three amazing tech tools:
These were the first tools I began using. They are free, so easy to use, and they really connect with students. I explain here in detail how I use each one of these to make Blended Learning happen!
Related: Seven New Ways to use Google Forms in the Classroom! Includes Escape Rooms, Student Reflection, and Progress Monitoring.