We are wrapping up our week of tech camp, where my co-teacher, Michele Eaton, and I have implemented blended learning with 23 fourth grade students. We structured part of our day using the station rotation model of blended learning (see my blog post on the models of blended learning for a full explanation). Our students completed online lessons followed by face-to-face group learning on the same topic.
It was interesting to see our students transition to independent online learning. Honestly, I was surprised at how quickly and easily they made the switch. It only took about two days of direct support before they were able to navigate through the online lessons on their own. Our students were on task, engaged, and persisting to complete their work. Of course, there were times when a few students needed technical help or redirection to focus on the course work, but as a whole, it was such a smooth transition!
Student Perceptions of Blended Learning
I asked students what they thought of our new learning model. Most students responded that they liked working online because they could use their Chromebooks. Here are a few highlights that had me cheering.
This kiddo is an English language learner. I was so impressed with his growth this week. He seemed to really take in the instruction and apply it to his projects. He stated that he liked that he could take his Chromebook home and continue to work on the online content because sometimes it takes a little longer for him to complete his work. When I asked him about understanding the content, he said that he liked that he could play videos and audio directions as many times as he needed.
Our friend here enjoyed practicing the skills we were learning about in small group on his Chromebook. He liked that there were games incorporated within the online learning modules.
She likes that she can learn on her own first and then practice the same skill with the teacher in a new way.
Benefits of Online and Face-to-Face Connection
A critical aspect of blended learning is having a strong connection between online and face-to-face learning. My co-teacher and I were very intentional about creating online content that provided us with actionable data to use in our face-to-face instruction. We could easily tell which students needed more practice and how to best support their learning during our face-to-face time.
At the same time, our face-to-face learning could piggyback off of what students just learned online, allowing our time spent together to be extremely productive. When basic content is covered independently online, the teacher is better able to support students in applying and transferring their new knowledge to more challenging tasks.
In all, I noticed that our students made significant progress in the skills of making inferences and theme. I feel that we made more progress in this week than we would have if had we taught using a traditional classroom model. Using blended learning to teach these skills was incredibly beneficial for our class!