Getting Started with Blended Learning
The key to incorporating blended learning into your programs is starting small
Previously, we discussed some tips to help you begin infusing technology into your classroom. Once you become comfortable using technology, many teachers will want to try their hands at implementing blended learning. Blended learning is a great way to incorporate 21st Century skills into your classroom and engage students in a meaningful manner. Blended learning might seem like a big undertaking, but it doesn’t need to be. The key is using the technology available to you, and starting small. You’ll find it is much more manageable and less intimidating.
As your summer begins to wind down, consider the following tips to help you incorporate blended learning into your classroom.
Use existing resources
There are many existing resources to help you create engaging blended learning programs. My current favorite is Breakout Edu which allows you to create immersive learning games for all ages and content areas. Use the teacher made games available or create your own. This immersive learning is a great addition to your competency-based education (CBE) program and are great authentic assessments, too.
Have students create video projects instead of written reports or allow them to film a public speaking video presentation. This twist on traditional face-to-face and/or pencil and paper assignments is an easy way to get students moving with blended learning. Completed video projects can be uploaded to a learning management system (LMS) for sharing and feedback or presented in small groups for peer feedback to encourage collaboration.
Science classrooms benefit anytime that students can do hands-on experiments and activities. Today, many lab experiments (even animal dissection!) can be accessed online. One such example from We Are Teachers is 10 Interactive Science Simulations. This is filled with ready-to-go lesson plans and simulation activities. An added benefit to the online simulations is students can practice repeatedly with no time limitations or peer pressure giving them better opportunities for success. Simulations like this are great homework assignments or practice assessments to support your face-to-face instruction.
Use data and classroom observations, create different online activities or utilize ready-made digital resources to differentiate instruction. Students who did not perform well on an assignment can complete remedial activities while those who excelled may engage in more complex enrichment. Since students will not know what each person is working on, the stigma sometimes associated with ‘remediation’ is removed as is peer pressure. Bonus: this approach allows teachers to work one-on-one with students while each student is engaged independently.
Flip the classroom
Flipping your classroom doesn’t have to be a full-time instructional tool. Choose lessons that you feel the lecture portion could be done from home. Create a video or narrate a PowerPoint for student viewing. When students come back to class, use the time that would have been spent on the lecture to do hands on activities to enhance the information they learned at home.
Blended learning is a great way to incorporate technology in a meaningful way. Getting started might seem daunting at first, but once you take the leap, you (and your students) will be glad you did. Pick one thing, add more when you are ready, but above all, get started!