Another title for today’s blog post could be “Blending Learning Effectively.” I have been deeply interested in blended learning for the past two years and I must say that I have come a long way in my understanding of how to craft engaging lessons that will help my students think deeply and learn successfully.
At first, I was reactive in my efforts to flip lessons. I had a student that was going to be absent for a significant amount of time due to a major surgery. My principal suggested flipping lessons to help her keep up with the work of her peers. The only thing I could think of was to tape the lessons that I was teaching the rest of the class and later post them on my classroom website. It quickly became apparent to me that I was missing something because as I reviewed my videos, I could see that my lessons tended to “wander.” Could I, let along a student, sum up the learning target in 1 or 2 sentences afterwards?
I began to experiment with different platforms to deliver content. I learned that opportunities to interact to the lesson and draw upon prior knowledge resulted in increased student success. I learned that students performed better when they had the chance to work in cooperative learning groups. I used to think that the sky was the limit in my potential to provide individualized instruction for my students with the use of technology. Perhaps one of the biggest “aha” moments was when I read in John Hattie’s “Visible Learning” book for the first time that individualized instruction has a low effect size (translation-didn’t give much bang for its buck).
I have included some resources here today that I will be sharing with my colleagues that are interested in learning more about blended learning. One of the most powerful and influential books that I have been reading this year is “Visible Learning for Teachers Maximizing Impact on Learning.” If you are familiar with Hattie’s work, you will recognize some of the suggested instructional elements in both the SlideShare and the notes to accompany the presentation.
Click on the following link to access notes that support learning activities that go along with this session: Blended learning notes
Click here to access examples of K-12 flipped lessons to evaluate.
You’re almost done! I first delivered this presentation at the 2014 MN TIES Educational Technology Conference with my co-presenter, Mike Henderson. Click here to access our resources page. You will find a brochure to accompany the presentation in addition to examples of student lessons. (Note: the Layar science and social studies activities are time sensitive and are no longer “active.” If interested in experiencing the lesson through the eyes of a student, just email be at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you current campaigns.)
Enjoy and, as always, if there are any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me or comment below.
Good writers purposefully and carefully select words. They are much like artists as they use language to paint pictures in the minds of their readers. As teachers, we strive to equip our students to use rich and interesting language both in speaking and in writing. Larger vocabularies means more success in reading and a richer life in general.
I have quickly learned that the playing field is not level and I need to strategically teach vocabulary if my students are to be successful. I teach lessons on word choice and encourage children to lay to rest overused words. (You know the ones…little, big, nice…). I have a math vocab wall that I consistently add to. I have a word collector that I use to record new and interesting words that my students and I find together as we read. And now, I have learned another way from “The Word Lady.”
When my class was learning about size words, Miss Jill used storytelling to engage my class. It was unforgettable. She told the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and she weaved different words for big throughout the story. It was a natural, authentic way to drive the concept home. What first grader doesn’t enjoy a great story?
Afterwards, my students and I used the free app, “Pic Collage” to create the following poster to cement their learning.
Since then, I used the story “Thumbelina” to teach different words for small. I had a blast using the iPad app “Puppet Pals” to bring the story to life.
Thank you Miss Jill for another great lesson!
One of the building goals in my school is for teachers to integrate comprehension strategies into our mathematics instruction to help students truly understand the concepts we are trying to teach on a deeper level. We already have a strong foundation of how the strategies apply to reading and now we are striving to make the connection in math as well. As I began to learn more about the topic, I got really excited as I taught math in my own classroom. I am not only convinced that they help students understand math better, but I believe it has helped me be more succinct as well. Math just makes more “sense” to me now! I will be sharing the following presentation with my colleagues next Tuesday. The strategies I am focusing on initially are making connections, visualizing, predicting, and inferring. The works of Laney Sammons, author of “Guided Math: A Framework for Mathematics Instruction” and Arthur Hyde, author of “Comprehending Math: Adapting Reading Strategies to Teach Mathematics, K-6” are the foundation for this presentation.
comprehending math (A helpful brochure to accompany the presentation.)
Today I had a revelation! (I find myself saying that a lot this year…). As I am helping prepare my students for the end of the year assessments that my school district administers to ensure that all students meet minimum requirements in math, I had a conversation with my first graders about what they thought it would take for them to get a proficient score (a 3) with basic facts. Of course, going in to the conversation, I already knew. What I wanted, at this critical point in the year, was for students to take ownership in their role in the learning process. After reading “Guided Math” by Laney Sammons, I realized that involving students in self-assessment is essential. Students need to hear both what they are doing right as well as what they need to improve upon. I have been mulling this over in my head for quite sometime now. Students need to know the grading criteria, but what exactly would that look like for elementary students? I started the conversation off by asking students what a 3 (confident score) might look like. I modeled adding using my fingers without counting on and right away hands shot up. They knew that wouldn’t be a 3! We ended up concluding that students would need to solve facts quickly and accurately by using strategies and that a 1 would be working slowly, making many mistakes and using no strategies at all. This all makes sense, right? As a teacher, I know the grading criteria but is it necessary to lay it all out for students? Ask me in person and a resounding “Yes!” would spring forth from my lips. Here’s a case in point…The student that doesn’t attempt parts of a multi-step number story now sees that doing so would warrant a 1. Nobody really wants to get a 1 and this student is no different. He now attempts each portion and tries his best. (True story from my classroom…). Another student who writes down 8+3=5 and later explains that he wrote 5 because that was the first number that he thought of, now must reflect on his thought process and acknowledge what he has earned and is inspired to be more metacognitive. My students aren’t the only ones self-reflecting. All our talk this year about goal setting has forced me to be reflective myself. I have spent a lot of time trying to think of how I can connect all of our learning, make it as coherent as possible, and communicate the purpose of each skill we are learning. (Sometimes the purpose wasn’t even readily recognizable to me and so I knew I had to examine the activity more closely so that I could better articulate the objectives before I started teaching the lesson.). If you are anything like me, this all might be a bit new to you. I invite you to at least give it a try. If you’ve ever caught yourself saying “I don’t know what they were thinking today! They just don’t get it!”. Try involving your students in the process more. Start small. Pick one skill and go from there. I sure am glad I did!
Have you ever felt frustrated teaching math? In all honesty, sometimes teaching first graders how to fluently add or subtract, count money, or identify rules and apply them to numbers given in a “function machine” left me feeling tired and even a little bit cranky at the end of math. I wanted to meet the needs of all the learners in my class but didn’t always know how to organize my math time to make this possible. The book “Guided Math” by Laney Sammons has caused me to think about math in a whole new way (and I have to say that the “light bulb” has been going on in my head as a result). Drawing an analogy between guided reading (which I already know and am very familiar with) and math, Sammons has practical ideas to teach students to comprehend and effectively communicate mathematical strategies. Knowing that students can often learn a skill in math without fully understanding the process behind it, I’m now taking care to think aloud often, create anchor charts that cement student learning, and teach students to make connections between new learning and previous learning. (Boy was I surprised when I learned that students can make math-to-math and math-to-self connections!) I must say that I’ve spent more time planning and individualizing my lessons than ever, but the end result is a sense of fulfillment. I am energized when I hear students explain a complex mathematical concept to a peer and when they truly demonstrate that they understand something. The best part is seeing all of the students in my class work independently at meaningful activities, which in turn enables me to conference individually with students or meet with small groups of learners.