November 25, 2018
It’s safe to say that we are beyond the “buzz” regarding blended learning. In fact, several ESU 10 teachers who implement blended learning practices couldn’t imagine going to back to the traditional lecture, take notes, assess style of teaching with which so many of us are accustomed. Instead in blended classrooms, teachers use a variety of instructional models including direct instruction, small group rotations, flipped videos, and flexible learning playlists to meet the diverse needs of students. Central to these instructional strategies is the focus on incorporating student identity, voice, and choice. Sometimes students get choice in how they receive information. In other instances, students choose how to demonstrate their knowledge. Such choice leads to more intrinsic motivation and student ownership of their learning. Blended learning strategies also support skills that are essential for post-secondary success like resilience, a willingness to learn, communication, teamwork, and self management. To continue sharing these effective instructional strategies, the Blended Learning Team (BLT) of Peg Coover, Jason Everett and Crystal Hurt trained an additional 45 teachers in a two-day Blended Learning Bootcamp this summer and has plans underway for ongoing support.
After recognizing the challenges of finding time for continued support of professional development opportunities like blended learning, this year the Teaching & Learning Department set a goal to provide innovative avenues of professional development. To help meet this goal, the Blended Learning Team is leveraging several tools, both digital and face to face, to provide continuous, on-demand support for our blended learning teachers. An ESU 10 Blended Learning group in Schoology, which is up to 127 members, provides an avenue for teachers to share resources, pose questions to the network, and receive updates and pertinent resources from the Blended Learning Team.
In addition, the EdTech Team began a weekly video series, EdTech Tips & Tools, that features a different EdTech or blended learning topic each week. Thus far, topics have included SMART Starts, Twitter and #nebedchat, Google Keep, Online Spaces, and finding Creative Commons images. To see the full collection of videos and resources visit bit.ly/ESU10EdTechTips. This series is marketed on Facebook, Twitter, Schoology, and via a newly created Digital Learning Listserv.
Fall and spring support days are also planned to bring blended educators together to share ideas, ask questions and carve out a time for continued development of blended practices and networking. The BLT looks forward to hosting the K-6 Blended Support Day on October 11, and the 7-12 Blended Support Day on October 16. Two additional support days will take place in February.
ESU 10 has also been actively incorporating blended strategies such as station rotations and flexible learning time into workshops at the ESU 10 and on-site at various districts. This modeling of blended strategies by the Teaching and Learning Coordinators provides an excellent avenue for schools to experience blended learning. With the focus on pedagogy and technology, blended learning strategies provide an excellent framework for strategically using technology to enhance learning and differentiate instruction.
-by Crystal Hurt, T & L Coordinator