Blended Learning

Blended_Learning_(tweet)I believe and have seen in classrooms that that the more students are engaged and take an active part in their learning, the more likely they are to perform well academically, obtaining higher grades and earn higher scores on standardized tests. Think about that – it makes perfect sense – bottom line – the higher student participation and active learning the higher content retention.  With this idea –  teachers can shape curriculum and instruction to maximize engagement by increasing student participation.

Without question, one of the keys to academic achievement is active learning. According to research –  personalized, collaborative, and connected learning experiences enhance student engagement, which in turn drives student success. By integrating blended and digital learning into the classroom, educators can take learning experiences to the next level and improve student performance.

In its basic and simplest definition, blended learning is an instructional methodology. It is a teaching and learning approach that combines face-to-face classroom methods with digital created activities to deliver instruction. A classroom that nurtures creativity often results in students taking different approaches to interacting with the same curriculum. I have found in my 10 years as a building principal that there are students who are happy to express themselves verbally. There are others who prefer to write. There are students who don’t like to be in front of the camera, but they’re more than happy to explain their ideas verbally. Learning a variety of tools and apps, teachers can help everyone focus on their strengths

Each learner has a unique learning style & unique requirement.   There is a paradigm shift in learning. Trust me, I remember a time when my phone was attached to the wall. Or the remote was my arm, and passing notes looked like this. And this right here – was Google. Early adopters of this paradigm shift have experimented with various media formats & delivery options and realized that blended learning works best. The best mix depends on analysis of the learners’ requirements, their level of understanding, competencies at stake, the nature & location of the audience & resources available.  As I stated earlier, the focus of the classroom shifts from a presentational format to one of active learning.  As Daniel Pink stated, We need to prepare our kids for their futures not our past

Today I am going to discuss some blended learning tools that can increase engagement that educators can use for blended learning:

I want to start with a tool called EdPuzzle. EdPuzzle enables self-paced learning with interactive lessons, add your voice and questions along the video

Next I want talk about Poll Everywhere. This is a tool that is versatile, instant classroom response system using student Chromebooks. It is a clicker-free classroom polling tool to solicit student participation and gather data for discussions.

Popplet is a tool for the iPad and on the web to capture and organize ideas. And working with Middle and high school kids any help with organization of ideas is a good one.

Kahoot is an easy to use game based blended learning tool. It enables educators to assess learners in a visual bar graph meanwhile students take control of their own learning. This game-based platform is very entertaining that encourage creativity in the students. Kahoot is a great platform to make learning with fun.

Screencast-o-matic is a powerful screen recorder that allows users to capture anything happening on their screen, as well as voice and video from the webcam for up to 15 minutes in the free version. Regarding its pedagogical use, students can record their own videos describing how they solved a particular problem step-by-step. This could also be helpful delivering lessons, student projects, or really endless ides.

Podbean is a state-of-the-art Podcast Solution for Enterprise, Large Organizations, and Radio Stations and of course schools. Mr. McHale at Stacy uses Podbean to upload podcasts to Google Classroom for a few flipped classroom opportunities.

One key to improving student writing is to have students write more often and a tool called Write About can assist with blended writing lessons. I know paperwork is hard to manage, teachers can limited in how much feedback they can provide due to time, and students often have trouble thinking of ideas. Write About solves these problems, providing students with an online space to write on high-interest topics and get feedback from their peers. This can also be combined with our Google Apps for Education and use Google Docs so teachers can use the Write About prompts and use Google Docs to share content, give feedback, and have student writing evolve over time with real time feedback.
Periscope (PHOTO HERE) is live streaming tool to broadcast live online, in real time. Until recently, if a school or teacher wanted to live stream something, the process required expensive equipment or subscriptions. But now live streaming is available free to anyone with a smartphone.

Periscope has gotten a lot of attention this past year as more and more educators are using it. Periscope allows users to broadcast live from their smartphones or tablets, take written comments from viewers, and share broadcasts on Twitter.

PosterMyWall  is a fantastic tool for creating artistic, high-quality posters, collages, photo calendars and/or photo cards that can either be shared online or printed out and inexpensively shipped home. PosterMyWall for teaching purposes is to have students create posters as the culmination of a project to demonstrate what they have learned. Another interesting idea would be creating a poster as a means of introducing the students to a specific topic in an innovative way that stimulates discussion.

Student Voice is also critical in students owning their own learning and I want to share some options for digital learning by incorporating student voice into lessons and projects. Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design, screen casting, and interactive whiteboard tool that lets you annotate, animate, narrate, import, and export almost anything to and from almost anywhere. Create slides, draw in any color, add shapes, add text, and use a laser pointer.

Create slides, draw in any color, add shapes, add text, and use a laser pointer. Rotate, move, scale, copy, paste, clone, and lock any object added to the stage. I have seen kindergarten students all the way up to high school students use this tool.

Voice Thread  is a great tool for student voice. VoiceThread is an interactive collaboration and sharing tool that enables users to add images, documents, and videos, and to which other users can add voice, text, audio file, or video comments. You can post your VoiceThread on your website or save it to an MP3 or DVD. Voice Thread allows learners to speak and record what they have to say. For example, students can make math tutorials for one another explaining mathematical concepts and post them online. Or completing projects in foreign language for teachers to evaluate pronunciation. Or for early elementary students to explain their work. Voice thread is a fun and very user friendly way to incorporate student voice.

Today’s learners are experiential learners and digital natives who learn by discovery rather than being “told.” They like to interact with content to explore and draw their own conclusions. They also like playing different roles in their learning, either as a student, or even as instructor or facilitator or supporter of others, and switch between them. In Milford we are driven to create classrooms where students are defending and explaining their ideas as opposed to regurgitate facts.

I also know that computers don’t teach, Apps don’t teach, TEACHERS teach. Technology does not replace educators. Digital learning is an instructional strategy that enhancing and engages learners. It’s important to know what tools we have and what they’re capable of providing to enhance student learning. As I talked about at the start – the more active students are in their own learning the more they retain the content. I introduced you to a variety of tools today. I hope teachers look at the tools and then use ones that match and can enhance the learning.  It is like having a blended learning toolbox to use.

Blended learning has renovated the ways of teaching. I know for me – I am so exciting to see these blended lessons taught and content learned next year in Milford and proud to be a part in that.

I am going to end with a quote from Maya Angelou – she said “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

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