Sunday, November 12, 2017

Reflections on Blended Learning: Practitioner Perspectives

This week’s blog post is reflective and, I hope, collaborative. I would like to get some feedback from the teachers to give some insight to how the blended approach is working for them and their students after nearly 3 months into the implementation.

Let me kick this off with my own reflection.

It'sHamburger Dayon May 28!I am in awe with the commitment and perseverance of the teachers in our blended learning cohort. They truly embody a growth mindset and are willing to try new things; even when it makes them uncomfortable. They never grumble about the extra work or the times I ask to meet with them. This group of teachers actively pursues new knowledge through reading, webinars, twitter, blogs and they share what they are doing with their peers. Since starting this year’s implementation, I have had at least 5 additional teachers and a couple of principals ask about blended and learn how they can try the model with their students. This is a direct result of the great work and sharing by our cohort teachers.

Every week I question my work. Am I giving teachers enough support or am I overwhelming them? Am I collecting enough data or am I even looking at the data I should be? Am I advising teachers correctly regarding their content delivery? I feel like teachers are looking to me as the expert but the truth is, I’m learning too. It’s one thing to read the books and the blogs and attend conferences but when the rubber meets the road, it doesn’t always look the way you pictured it in your head. What works with one group may be a struggle with another. I am so thankful for such a professional group of educators who have volunteered to go with me on this journey. I don’t know that we will find evidence via test scores to demonstrate success this first year of blending but I’m already seeing anecdotal evidence that students are developing independent learning skills, technology literacy skills and are receiving differentiated instruction to target their learning needs. It may take several years of work but I feel strongly that blended learning models will improve how we serve students.

I now ask for reflection from our blended learning cohort teachers.

What have been your challenges in implementing a blended learning model? What benefits are you seeing with students? What do you want to improve or implement in your model in the coming months? 

Post your reflection in the Reply box below!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

BLTs Continue To Up Their Game To Meet The Needs Of Students

Rolling stones gather no moss so the saying goes and the blended learning cohort teachers don’t stop trying new things. Here is an overview of some of the ways Hays BLTs are embracing professional learning and improving instruction for their students:

IMG_1592Carpenter Hill 3rd Grade- Since implementing their blended model, these 3rd grade teachers have committed to trying new things to increase differentiation for their students. Recently, teachers moved to a new adaptive math program and are able to assign students to curriculum aligned activities that will give them real-time data on student progress. They are able to respond to the data by pulling small groups to provide more targeted instruction. This week, teachers have added additional stations in the rotation to decrease the size of their small groups and provide students with relevant hands-on and collaborative learning interactions. The goal for the next several weeks is to use online learning data to identify opportunities to challenge students who have mastered concepts while at the same time identifying those who need more practice and direct instruction to demonstrate understanding.


4th grade- Michelle Zuniga at Kyle Elementary is testing out a new tool to create learning paths for students. Deck Toys allows her to build a visual, game-like dashboard which provides kids choices and independence in learning. As students travel through their learning path, Michelle can ask students to complete specific tasks they may need as well as opportunities that allow the students to choose. She says the students are loving it!

Emily Hawk has recently introduced Dreambox Math which was purchased by her campus. Although her students still love Prodigy, Dreambox is providing her students a learning path that automatically adapts to their learning needs while allowing her to assign specific content based on her scope and sequence. 4th grade math teachers met this week after school to learn more about how to view data in Dreambox to inform their instruction. We will continue to learn about effective use of online data with next week’s Dreambox data webinar. When I asked students which program they preferred there was a definite difference of opinion. Some prefer Dreambox and while others look forward to learning math in the Prodigy environment.