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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Seeking Blended Learning Advice for a Newbie

Seeking Blended Learning Advice for a Newbie

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Good Morning. I am a high school science teacher in Colorado.  My district is in the process of trying to implement blending learning. I am currently involved in an introduction to blended learning class. As part of the we are investigating the different blended and trying to determine which model would be most appropriate and effective in my current situation.

After learning about the various models I am torn between a classroom rotation model and a flipped classroom model. I hoping some of you out there would be willing to share your experience and insight into the initial implementation process. First let me share some information about our district. My school has about 1400 students 9-12. We have a very diverse student population. We have significant population of low income (65% free and reduced), at risk students, and English language learnings.

My hope is that blended learning could help raise achievement by offering students more access to learning materials and providing more opportunities for individual help, differentiated instruction, and enrichment activities. However, I also have some concerns; first we have limited access to computers and infrastructure at school. Many of the models I looked at had one on one student computers at school or well-equipped learning labs. Second, I'm not sure what level of computer access is available to my students at home.

Like I said, I am brand new to this I would love some insight from some of you out there that have been though the initial implementation process already. How successful was it, what problems did you have to overcome and how did you deal with some of the issues I have described. Thanks in advance for your response.

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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ShawnCRubin's picture
Director of Blended Learning

Marty, I hope all is well. Dan Callahan directed me to your question and I think that it's a a good one that a lot of teachers across the country are currently wrestling with. I have two pieces of advice. The first is to tinker and the second is to collaborate.

By tinker I mean that the only way to figure out what BL model works best for you and your classroom is to try some for yourself. Choose a science concept, create a pre-assessment in Socrative https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZyG4e4DJls, create a screencast video using Jing.com, and then host that video on EdModo or BlendSpace for your students to access. It doesn't matter if you have your students watch the video from home or from a small group center in your classroom (try them both). After they watch the video ask them what they thought. Probe them for ideas on how what you're doing could be improved then continue to tweak and iterate on your process.

There is no way to know what is going to work in your Blended Learning classroom without trying things and learning from your mistakes. It's a part of the process, but it also works a lot better when you collaborate with a small team or online friends for ideas and support. Join Twitter and follow folks like @Mr_Driscoll or @buddyxo. Read their blogs. Ask them questions. Check out BlendMyLearning.com and watch the videos. Find stuff that resonates, talk about it and test it with some colleagues in your building.

Blended Learning is not about picking a model and it's not about having 1:1 or the best software. Blended Learning is about pushing what you currently do in the classroom by making it more personalized for your students in whatever ways you can. Whether it's allowing individual students to go deeper around topics of interest or increasing the amount of skill differentiation you offer, Blended Learning allows you as the teacher the ability to push your classroom and your curriculum in places your students want and need to go.

Once you get on Twitter look me up @ShawnCRubin and I'll connect you to some good folks for you to follow. Read, watch and test...then repeat and you'll be just fine.

Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT's picture
Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT
Middle school English/Digital Media teacher

Wow - tinker and collaborate. Genius, Shawn! You've managed to distill in two words what we all should be doing. Powerful strategies, simple to remember.

Jennifer Gonzalez's picture
Jennifer Gonzalez
Blogger at Cult of Pedagogy

Hi Marty -- Shawn's response is just about perfect. What I can add is that you might want to take a look at the "In-Class Flip" video I posted here several months ago (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/flipped-classroom-in-class-version-jennifer...). It's basically a blended learning model that does not require devices for every student.

I shared this model as a way to get your feet wet with flipped learning, and based on the comments that followed the article, many others have done the same thing with great success. What I like about it is that students are still completely under your supervision, so they (and you) can practice the skills needed for that kind of independent learning without the distractions of home. It would make a great tool for the "tinker and collaborate" approach.

Come back and share your experiences with us so others can also benefit from them!


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