I’m really excited to share a little bit about blended learning in the elementary school classroom. My name is Jesi Luxon, and I have a passion for empowering young learners in the classroom. If you take one thing from this post please know that blended learning is a process. It takes time for students and teachers to adjust to 1:1 devices in the classroom. I’d love to be a part of your blended learning journey. This year I’ll be creating Youtube videos all about empowering students with blended learning. I’d love for you to be a part of it with me.
For now, let’s dive into some basics of blended learning.
What is Blended Learning?
I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the condition in which they learn.-Albert EInstein
This is blended learning.
In a blended learning classroom technology is providing your students with the condition to learn independently from the teacher. In a blended learning classroom technology is used to empower learning and gives students opportunities for more flexibility and choice within the classroom.
Blended learning provides students with:
Blended Learning is:
- Thought out
- Enabling differentiated learning to happen in a more powerful way
Blended Learning is not:
- Having students go on a computer program for 20 minutes a day
- Having students watch any educational video
- Students looking at a screen all day
- Having all your students get on their devices at a specific time each day
If you’re doing or have done any of these things don’t worry. So have I. 🙂
Transitioning From 2 devices to 20.
Let’s take it back a few years when you only had 2 computers in your classroom. One of which was your teacher computer that you gave up calling your “own” because you were required to have your students complete a certain number of minutes on a computer program each week. And you cry in frustration because you have another “expectation” for your class that seems impossible with the lack of resources you’re given. SUPER FUN…
But now, you’re told EVERY student will have their own device. You go from 2 computers to 20 devices overnight. You think “this is amazing!”.
Now let’s go through the stages of integrating blended learning: extreme excitement, subtle confusion, and burnout.
Stage 1: Extreme excitement!
You’re in the meeting where you’re told each student will be getting their own device. This is the moment you’ve waited for.
- No more clip charts to keep track of who has, and who hasn’t, been on the computer that day.
- No more students taking turns finishing up an online assessment.
- Now you could have all of your students doing research at the same time!
Stage 2: Subtle confusion
A few days later the devices are delivered to your classroom. At this point you’re phyched! But then you’re sitting in your room with 20-30 devices and you realize that you have no idea how to do this.
- Where will the laptops be throughout the day?
- Will each student have their own laptop or will they use any laptop available?
- What if the laptops aren’t working one day?
- Will students wear headphones? Where will the headphones go throughout the day?
- How long will it take to get these set up and put away each day?
Stage 3: Burnout
Now you’ve been using the laptops for a couple weeks with your students. You see a lot of benefits but there are so many systems to put into place and things to learn. This is on top of everything else you’re trying to keep up with.
So what do you do?
You have your students use the laptops to watch any educational videos and complete whatever computer program is mandated by the county…
But don’t worry. There’s hope. Blended learning has two friends that help make it easier.
Blended Learning has Friends: Flexible Seating and Digital Choice Boards/Playlists
I believe that blended learning goes hand-in-hand with flexible seating and digital choice boards/playlists. Let’s take a look at how these friends help our blended learning classroom.
Friend #1 Flexible Seating
Flexible seating allows students to decide where they sit throughout the day as they complete different learning tasks. This means learners don’t have a specific “seat”. They are learning how to reflect about where they learn best.
Why is this important in a blended learning classroom?
When each student has their own device they can work at their own pace to complete differentiated tasks. They don’t need to “rotate” through centers.
This leads me to digital choice boards or digital playlists.
Friend #2 Digital Choice Boards/Playlists
When I first started integrating blended learning in my classroom I went to observe a third grade class using a playlist to complete reading centers. It was amazing watching the student driven differentiation and independence playlists provided.
But, for me I needed a way for learners to have picture cues for each task and I wanted learners to have the opportunity to choose which order they completed their tasks.
So, instead of a playlist I created choice boards instead. Grab a free template here.
But, I didn’t just want my learners to complete tasks. I also wanted them to have videos they could watch for help. That’s when I started to create short videos that could be embedded in the choice board.
At that point my students were being empowered in blended learning.
Imagine being in the second month of school and watching your class being completely independent in their learning.
They are making decisions about:
- how much time they need to spend on each activity
- where to sit
- who to sit next to or making sure they are sitting by themselves to focus
- finding answers to their questions with embedded videos
- letting you complete small group reading centers without interruptions
This is the power of using digital choice boards and flexible seating in a blended learning classroom.
I love having time to think, process, and reflect. Especially with other teacher friends. My happy place consists of being outside with a journal and a hot cup of coffee or tea.
Teaching seems to “require” us to be constantly rushing from one thing to another.
But, if we want to implement new things in our classrooms we need time to reflect.
So grab a cup of coffee, tea, soda or anything that brings you joy and think about these questions.
Reflection questions for your class:
- How will students know which laptop is theirs? Will they be numbered? How can you make it easy for them to know which laptop is theirs?
- What will be the procedures for getting laptops out each day?
- What will be the procedures for putting laptops away?
- What will be the procedures if there is a technical issue during the day?
- What class jobs/roles can you assign to make devices maintenance easier (plugging all laptops in at the end of the day)
- Where will laptops be stored throughout the day
- What will your procedures for headphones be?
As I stated in the beginning, blended learning is a process. There’s a lot to learn. You’re not going to feel confident with blended learning in a week, month, or even year of teaching with this model. Blended learning for teachers and students takes time. I’d love to be a part of your blended learning journey. This year I’ll be posting videos on YouTube all about empowering students with blended learning. I’d love for you to be a part of it with me.
Still have questions about implementing blended learning in the classroom? Feel free to contact me at [email protected] or subscribe to my Youtube Channel Here where I’ll be talking all about blended learning over the next year. Want digital choice boards already made? You can visit my store at EmpowerYoungLearners for NO PREP blended learning resources.