I am so amazed and energized by the group of teachers we have this year in our Blended Learning Teacher Cohort. This group is a part of a larger endeavor to create innovative learning environments in Hays CISD. Compared to last year’s pilot where we addressed a specific problem rather than focusing on teacher readiness, I am really seeing the benefit of working with expert teachers who have sought the opportunity to grow and improve their service to students. These teachers want to create differentiated learning environments that facilitate student agency by offering choice, developing independent learning skills and giving students control over the path and pace of their own learning. Utilizing a blended learning model is how they hope to achieve their goals. I continue to visit classrooms, meet with teachers and explore resources that will help us fine tune the model this year. This post is a summary of some of the amazing things I’ve seen and discussions I’ve had in the short 3 weeks since school has started.
Carpenter Hill Elementary, 3rd grade Math- This is a team of fantastic teachers. They know their content, have strong classroom management and although they are at different levels of technology proficiency, they are committed to their own learning to help their students reach their full potential in math. They have started out simply with 2 stations; an online station using Prodigy Math and offline activities with teacher, peers and manipulatives. Though we are not sure Prodigy will be our online tool for the year, it gives us a great place to start to establish routines, and procedures of a station rotation model. We will start adding additional stations and reviewing data from Prodigy to determine instructional needs in the next week.Click to view slideshow.
1st grade multi-campus team- This group consists of 5 teachers across 3 campuses; Elm Grove, Negley and Tobias Elementary Schools. These are all excellent teachers who exemplify a growth mindset and are “all in” when it comes developing an effective instructional model. Their primary goal- to provide targeted small group instruction to better differentiate student learning in math. They have just gotten started with a powerful online tool called Dreambox. Teachers introduced the program this week and received very positive feedback from the students. This program is adaptive and will adjust in real-time to each students instructional needs. When students are not working online, they will be working offline in stations that engage them with manipulatives and academic language. Additionally teachers will pull small groups of students to provide more personalized instruction. EGES students were introduced to Dreambox in the computer lab but will be primarily accessing this program in the classroom on ipads. Students will also be able to work in the program from home. Our goal is at least 3 times a week for a total of 1hour in the program. We will start looking at data from the program next week to discuss instructional implications.
4th/5th grade teachers- This group is a little more spread out with a total of 4 teachers on 3 campuses- Kyle, Tobias and Hemphill. Again these are all seasoned teachers who are seeking to improve their practice and leverage technology to meet the needs of all learners. This group is different in that 2 of the teachers are ELAR teachers. All teachers are delivering online content through Google classroom and various online tools such as Prodigy Math, NewsELA, RazKids, Google apps, Edpuzzle, BrainPop, and Quizzezz. This group has a more eclectic approach to content curation but are up for the challenge. They are all tech savvy teachers who seek out the tools they need to best meet the needs of their students. One of our first group discussions coming up will be how to review the data from various online resources to inform our small group instruction and offline stations. Again, primary goals are an increase in student agency and greater differentiation of instruction through small groups.
The next step is to establish support routines for these teachers. This will primarily involve the campus coaches and the digital learning team. We will continue classroom visits and co-teaching as well as weekly planning meetings, monthly PLCs and data digs, as well as ongoing training and instructional coaching to fine tune the model. Now that teachers have introduced primary digital tools, procedures, expectations and routines they will continue to reinforce those while pushing students to work and solve problems independently. We will add additional station resources and start digging into the data to determine individual needs of students.