Program Description:

How one private school took the giant step of bringing blended learning to their traditional classrooms. During the session, the speakers will discuss why they chose to blend, the challenges and successes they have encountered, as well as practical advise on how anyone can begin to incorporate a successful Blended learning program into their own school.

  • Jewish day school in Brooklyn, K-12, about 2,000 students
  • became involved with flipped / blended a few years ago and got a grant to implement
  • focusing on the nitty gritty of implementing a blended approach
  • prepare to fail: year 1 will lead to lots of failure and big failures
  • fail forward
  • definition: a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace + at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home
  • types of blended learning
    • lab rotation
      • a regular face to face instructional time
      • students rotate to a lab location and learn online
      • example: Rocketship Education (what is this?)
    • flex model
      • majority of time students are on computers in a large space
      • with breakout sessions: teachers rotate and pull students out for help as necessary
      • Carpe Diem in AZ an example
    • station rotation
      • classroom divided into three stations: teacher-led instruction, online instruction, collaboratve activities and stations
      • KIPP Empower LA an example
  • what are the possible pedagogical outcomes?
    • not all outcomes might happen each year
    • data-driven instruction
    • differentiated instruction
    • individualized or personalized instruction
    • deeper learning (i.e. up Bloom)
    • creation of independent, self-directed learners
    • more engaging learning atmosphere
  • designing a program
  • what is the goal of the school?
  • blended learning is the tool rather than the end / goal
  • make sure that blended learning is aligned with school goal / vision
  • this school’s goal is to prepare students for college and work
  • which grade levels and subjects?
  • specific target areas / academic goals? students reading better? achieving better in math? etc.
  • getting people on board
  • who will lead the blended learning program?
  • the leadership area (admin & dhs) and teachers
  • in this school, admin was on board but dhs were never told that blended was happening and so there was some push back from them; they weren’t on board in the way they should be
  • teachers should be open-minded and innovative; ok to fail
  • PD should not be one and done
  • the week over the summer, consultant comes in, presents, etc. but then no follow up
  • ongoing support and training are necessary
  • without that ongoing support and training, teachers will revert to the old approach
  • have teachers visit schools that are farther along / doing this
  • identify teachers at other schools who overcame similar problems that your teachers are facing
  • PLNs
  • support teachers; without support, there is no motivation or incentive to continue; have administrators come in in a positive way to increase the feeling of support
  • peer to peer observations
  • in year 2, master teachers who did it the previous year can help the rookie / year 1 teachers
  • collaborative planning time
  • you must let your teachers vent
  • technology infrastructure
  • the right device: this school decided that they just needed a device that will go on the web so they went with ChromeBooks, and they are not 1:1, i.e. students do not bring them home but rather the school uses carts
  • IT Staff Support that focuses on the blended environment, i.e. triaging the blended classrooms first
  • finding the right content provider
  • you will fail, fail, fail while looking for digital content providers
  • most schools will overhaul dcp after year 1
  • ask around / research: what are other schools using?
  • to buy, to create, or to do both / mix? this school does both; they have a dcp but supplement that with teacher-created material
  • available dcps now number in the 100s
  • include teachers in any demos that dcps provide
  • things to consider with dcps / demos:
    • instruction vs. practice; instruction = content delivery while practice = drilling; Khan Academy has both, videos for instruction and coaching for practice; companies have different weightings in these two areas
    • grade levels: make sure that the dcp grade level is commensurate with yours, i.e. one 9th grade algebra course might be more advanced than what your students are doing in 9th grade algebra
    • content and curriculum alignment
    • user interface: fun, engaging, easy?
    • length of lesson: in a 90 minute block of station rotation, that’s about 25 / 30 mins of online instruction; the first dcp lessons were 50 mins, which meant that students had to do the rest at home, which made it a disaster
    • adaptive vs. set vs. playlist
      • adaptive: assessment adapts content to student’s skills based on formative assessment
      • set: module 1 must be completed before module 2 is completed
      • playlist: teacher chooses which modules and in which order students receive content
      • this school uses playlist
    • types of assessment
    • data availability: how easy is it to pull data
    • available professional development
  • dcps tend to still be focused on elementary content; high school content is more limited; their first dcp for hs was essentially an online textbook with assessments (rather than a more holistic, integrated approach to content, like the elementary programs have)
  • backlash: lots of it, from teachers, students, school
  • teacher
    • role change
    • used to a set way of teaching: sage on the stage
    • connecting the different stations
    • help teachers develop a system within which they create meaningful stations
    • data collection didn’t happen year 1; not the focus; focused instead on getting the program going
    • meeting curriculum standards and getting students ready for tests
    • this school had to suspend blended learning for a week to prep for Regents
  • student
    • student mindset: huge paradigm shift
      • students begging teachers to teach them directly; felt like they weren’t learning
      • a new system whereby they had to think on their own
      • they were doing well on assessments but still felt like they weren’t learning
    • time management
      • pacing themselves / managing their own work and time, especially if they didn’t get through what they needed to in class
      • teachers made a checklist of work for the week to help students manage time and work
  • school
    • teacher backlash
    • parent backlash (similar to students); made a mistake with both parents and students of not giving enough intro / lead in to the blended approach
    • internet issues
    • class schedule

They noticed that while grad rate was high, so too was college dropout rate because students were having difficulty managing time and accessing help ahead of time. [Would be interesting to look at this at WHS.]
Interesting. I like especially the idea of committing to failure and using that to improve and move forward. I like that the complaints / backlash didn’t lead to a scrapping of the approach.

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