November 27, 2017
Blended learning is more than just a buzzword at ESU 10 these days. In addition to participation in Year 2 of the state-wide pilot, ESU 10 launched the Blended Learning Project (BLP) in the Spring of 2017 and has been on-site at several schools to provide blended learning training. As such, our training and support for blended learning is as unique and personalized as blended learning itself!
In 2016-2017, the ESU 10 took part in the Nebraska BlendED Pilot program. Four schools from ESU 10: Litchfield, Broken Bow, Wood River, and Elm Creek jumped on board along with 3 of co-pilot schools: Cozad, Gibbon, and Gothenburg. Broken Bow and Litchfield are back for Year 2 of the state-wide pilot with additional support from the BLP. ESUCC member, Beth Kabes, has been traveling across the state collecting data on the pilot. ESU 10 coordinators use this opportunity to accompany Beth and observe blended classrooms to see best practices in action. Overall, student engagement has been greatly impacted by blended instructional models, and pilot schools believe that blended learning practices have had a positive impact on student learning.
The reaction to the blended learning pilot was so strong that the blended learning team of Peg Coover, Jason Everett, and Crystal Hurt, wanted to provide additional support to schools outside of the pilot. Although the BLP did not receive Innovation Grant funds as we were hoping, we were able to go through with our plan thanks to the support of ESU 10 leaders. Thus, the Blended Learning Project (BLP) was created. The BLP now supports 63 teachers, technology integration specialists, and administrators from Amherst, Broken Bow, Central Valley, Centura, Cozad, Elm Creek, Gibbon, Grand Island Northwest, Gothenburg, Kearney, Litchfield, Ravenna and Shelton. The BLP is designed around three learning tracks: administrators, coaches, and teachers. The goal is to build capacity at all levels to provide a sustainable system for change and scaling. The Highlander Institute, a leader in blended and personalized learning, provided a day of training for ESU 10 staff, administrators, and coaches in May, followed by a two-day teacher boot camp in June. Participants will be back at ESU 10 this October and February for additional training and networking opportunities to share successes and challenges of classroom implementation.
Outside of blended learning projects, ESU 10 has been on-site providing blended learning training. These school-wide in-services provide an excellent avenue for schools to learn new instructional models as well as generate ideas towards a vision and mission of what education should look like today. Blended learning, with its focus on pedagogy and technology, provides an excellent framework for strategically using technology to enhance learning and differentiate based on student needs. The Blended Learning Team is excited to be part of this change and looks forward to continuing support and training in whatever blended and personalized fashion our stakeholders need!
-by Crystal Hurt, Teaching and Learning Coordinator