I am so excited to see the blended learning happening in my classroom! I teach a 2nd/3rd grade combo class, which daily challenges me in how I will structure learning. When you are teaching a combo class, the traditional sage on the stage instructional delivery is the first practice to fly out the door! This is my third year teaching a combo class, and every year I learn new ways to meet the needs of the diverse group of learners.
This year I have an exceptionally large range in the academic abilities of my students. Using a blended learning environment has allowed me to continue challenging my highest learners, while freeing up more time to spend with some of my younger students. Every day my students are receiving instruction from a variety of sources. Sometimes they have peer chats, sometimes it is in small grade level groups. Sometimes they are learning from instructional videos I posted on my class website (flipped lessons), and sometimes they are learning from videos and assignments posted through Discovery Education. Every student logs in to check the weather each day for their graphs and weather report. I hear them dialoging about cloud types and temperature trends from the week, and learning from each other. Each morning they check their Edmodo account for writing assignments, class news, and notes from their pen pals in another state. They are researching and writing animal reports with a friend over 2,000 miles away. They are sharing information they have learned with each other – information they gathered from books, e-books, MyOn, videos, and Google. Every day they make a video podcast of what they have learned in Science, and we will combine them for an end of unit video showing their journey of learning. We meet face to face twice a day in small groups to learn a new skill, read, discuss, clarify, and question. They want everything to become something! “I learned about grizzly bears. Can I make a Sonic Pics about it?” “I wrote a play, can we act it out?” “I read a book, can I make a commercial?” “I wrote a book review, can I green-screen it?”
I have watched them really grow into their role as a learner this year. Today, a student brought her own tablet to school. After our small group instruction time on fractions, she went back to her seat and found a fraction app to download – because she felt like she didn’t quite understand the equivalent fractions we were working on, and she wanted more practice. This is what I have learned this year: Give them the tools, keep developing their skill set, open the doors of opportunities, and get out of their way. 🙂