At Western School of Science and Technology in Phoenix, Arizona, we have been 1:1 with Chromebooks since Day One! Our students use them in a variety of settings, ranging from a lab rotation model to small groups in their classroom and at home for credit recovery and enrichment.
With a wide variety of uses of tech, both on and off-campus, we use the versatility of GoGuardian to help us implement our blended learning model.
To start, let’s talk about what blended learning is! I’ve found that it’s one of those terms that lots of folks use, but oftentimes they’re not using an aligned definition.
WHAT IS BLENDED LEARNING?
The Learning Accelerator defines blended learning as:
Blended learning is the strategic integration of in-person learning with technology to enable real-time data use, personalized instruction, and mastery-based progression. It is a mechanism for giving educators, students, and parents the resources they need to deliver on the vision of a highly effective, engaging, and equitable educational experience for every child, every day.
Blended learning is not children on computers for hours. As I’ve said for years: Blended learning is not like cooking a rotisserie chicken. You’ll never “set it and forget it.”
Now, here are a few tips and tricks when implementing a blended learning environment. Whether you’re just getting started on blended learning work, or if you’ve been doing it for years, these tips should ground you in what matters: student success.
BLENDED LEARNING TIPS
Maintain clear, high expectations
When you have students write an essay on pen and paper, you give them clear directions (e.g., five paragraphs, cite your sources using MLA, etc.)
The same should be true when completing work on their devices. For instance, if students are using Newsela to read about current events at their current Lexile level, you should have crystal clear directions about the annotations they should add and the passing percentage for the quiz they complete.
You can use GoGuardian to maintain clear expectations by setting a Scene to open a Google Doc at the beginning of class with the day’s objectives and the agenda for the day.
You might also use GoGuardian’s chat functionality to send a message to students as they transition from one task to another. Something like, “It’s time to move to our exit slip. I should see every student moving to the Google Form to show what you’ve learned today! You’ve got this. :)”
A trend I’ve seen in many classroom observations is a lack of preparation around logistics when it comes to devices.
You wouldn’t start a drawing lesson in art class without sharpened pencils and access to paper. The same should be true when implementing a blended learning model.
For instance, at the school or classroom level, you should have a plan for:
A backup plan in case the internet goes down. As an elementary school tech teacher, I had a selection of fun tech books at the ready, like Ada Twist, Scientist!
Headphones & chargers! I had super-clear procedures for how we used chargers and headphones… down to how we treated the cord when we wrapped it up! :)
Use data to celebrate progress
With blended learning comes data…oodles of it! Sometimes it can feel overwhelming. Where do you even start with the data?
One area I focus on as an educator is using data to celebrate progress. For instance, you can compare the number of assignments completed month-over-month, or the amount of progress you’ve made toward an EdTech program’s recommended usage.
Within GoGuardian, I’ve celebrated the amount of time students spend on “on-task” programs using the Timeline feature, along with the number of tabs I have to close. Students (and humans in general) appreciate being recognized for making good choices and growing over time.
Keep it connected to your big goals
Finally, don’t use tech for the sake of tech. The programs you use regularly should be ones that directly help you achieve your instructional goals. For instance, a tech program you find online that looks “cute” or “fun” isn’t necessarily going to help your students grow academically. On the other hand, a program that has a proven track record to help solve an instructional problem… now that’s a program that can help you reach your big goals!
When I’m determining the merits of a program, I look for external, validated studies on the impact of the program. Bonus points if the studies are tied to my state’s assessment!
Do you have any blended learning tips or practices you live by? Please share them in the comments!