Saturday, August 12, 2017

Elementary Blended Pre-Pilots: Planning for the First Weeks of School

For the 2017-2018 school year, we are implementing several elementary blended learning pre-pilots across our district. These pre-pilot groups span 3 grade levels across 5 schools. We also have several other classrooms that are in an exploration stage of blended learning. These classrooms are not quite ready to pilot but are committed to experimenting with various blended strategies, tools and process as well developing their understanding of blended models through professional learning.

Pre-pilot teachers have met up during the summer months to brainstorm and plan for their implementation. Central to our discussions has been the “Why” of this model and articulating goals that we want to measure. We have also discussed the physical classroom space, technology considerations, and the foundational skills we will need to develop for student success as independent learners. All of the pre-pilot teachers will be starting with the blended model only in math. There primary goal is to increase their ability to utilize small group instruction for greater differentiation.

Our meetings recently have focused on planning our first few weeks of school. Teachers were a bit anxious about how their planning would change for the implementation of a new model of instruction. Once I explained that their first weeks would look similar to previous years, their stress level visibly lowered! Below are our focus items for the beginning school:

  1. Build relationships and classroom culture
  2. Establish routines, procedures and expectations
  3. Start math unit 1 using  traditional model and strategies
  4. Introduce stations without technology- model, practice transitions and station expectations
  5. Introduce software (Dreambox, Prodigy) in a whole class or lab rotation. Teach specific elements of program, model, check understanding. Teach expectations for effort to reduce guess and clicking. For 1st graders especially, we will need to teach and practice specific hardware skills for iPads and Chrome Books.
  6. Establish systems of motivation, recognition and positive reinforcement
  7. Establish a communication system between home and school and build parental relationships.

During this time I will develop a system of support and ongoing professional learning for the year. This support system will include administrators, campus instructional coaches, digital learning coaches, IT, curriculum coordinators. This work will be monitored by both the Director of Digital Learning and the Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools. Additionally, I will be working to develop an assessment plan and feedback loop to measure our progress and communicate effectively over the course of our pre-pilots.

We are very fortunate to have an amazing group of teachers doing this work. This has been a very organic process with these particular teachers actually initiating and requesting help in learning this model of instruction. I’m very excited to be a part of this initiative and to work with a great group professionals!

Books guiding our work
Blended Learning in Action
Go Blended
Moonshots in Education