Saturday, March 11, 2017

Implementing Blended Learning

What Does Blended Learning Look Like?

There are four main models of blended learning. Many schools and teachers mix models together to fit the specific goals of their program and the learning needs of their students. All four of these models meet the three criteria of blended learning set by Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker in their book, Blended.
  • Online learning:  allows the student some control over the time, place, path, or pace of their learning.
  • Brick and mortar learning: students spend some amount of time in a traditional school setting.
  • Connected learning: online and brick and mortar learning are connected so that one supports the other.

I’ll give a quick overview of each model here, but if you are looking for a resource to go more in depth, check out Blended Learning Universe. You’ll find short videos depicting each model and its application in real schools and classrooms. The four models are:
  • Rotation
  • Flex
  • A La Carte
  • Enriched Virtual


Students rotate on some sort of schedule. There are four main types of rotations within this one model. This model allows teachers in a traditional setting to implement blended learning at the classroom level.
  • Station rotation- students rotate between a series of stations, one of which is online learning.
  • Lab rotation- this is very similar to station rotation, but rather than having students complete their online learning within the classroom, they rotate to a computer lab setting to free up space in the classroom.
  • Flipped- In a traditional classroom, teachers create and teach lessons in which they model content and guide students toward independence. Homework typically allows students to continue practicing these skills. In a flipped model, students do the learning part of the lesson online either at home or at school, then they practice and apply the skills they are learning with direct teacher support.
  • Individual rotation- This model allows for significant personalization of instruction for students. Student data can be used to group students based on need and then provide the type of instruction they will most benefit from. Individual rotation can be highly flexible when student data is used for specific standard or skill based teaching.


The flex model has students working on course material primarily online at school. Teachers are on sight and available to support student learning through small group projects, collaboration, and intervention. Students have a considerable amount of control over their learning in this model.

A La Carte

Students can take a few classes completely online while also attending a brick and mortar school. This setup would be very beneficial in providing advanced or specialty courses online if a school is unable to provide those classes on-site for their students.

Enriched Virtual

Students learning through an enriched virtual model do most of their learning online and off campus. Some face-to-face learning is required and can be individualized based on the student's progress in their online learning. Scheduling is individualized by course and student, so students may meet on campus only a few days a week for a set amount of time.

My Implementation Plan

I have a unique opportunity to try blended learning for the first time. I’m very fortunate to co-teach with my district’s director of virtual and blended learning. We will implement the station rotation model of blended learning during a week-long spring intersession for fourth graders at my school.  The theme of the week is Tech Camp. Students will use various technology tools to create different projects while practicing key reading skills. Our time will be divided between whole group activities and small group stations.

In order to meet the three criteria of blended learning, we want to be very intentional that the online learning will support the face-to-face learning. At one station, students will complete online learning modules covering our key reading strategies of the week.  Student performance on the various tasks within the learning modules will inform small group lessons with me, where I plan to reinforce, practice, and apply the same skills at a deeper level.

After Tech Camp, I plan to implement station rotation within my daily reading groups in much the same way. I love the idea of my students taking more ownership of their learning and controlling the pace of their learning in order to build competency and mastery of reading skills. I think using the online learning portion of our rotations to inform my face-to-face instruction will be really powerful!


  1. Thank you for this!! Succinct and to the point for teachers without a lot of time! I now have a frame of reference for the different blended learning styles. I'm excited to hear about how this works in intercession, and then within your groups. Once that is established, I'd love to explore how reading intervention teachers can work this into their groups as an additional, connected support for those students!!

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! I think blended learning would be a great approach for interventionists. I shared some ideas with Rachel and she has started using blended learning with one of her small groups to preteach whole group content. Then she follows up and provides further support during her reading group. She just started it last week. I'll absolutely share what I learn with you as I give it a try. I'd love to brainstorm with you about trying it with your groups!

    2. And let me know how I can help!