Once a week, I lead a round-up on my blog called DigiLit Sunday. Late in the week, I tweet out a topic to a list of teacher-bloggers. Last week, we discussed blended learning. Blended learning includes an integration of online and face-to-face learning. A key element is that students are given control over the time and place of their learning.
Kidblog is a prime environment for blended learning, where students become more responsible for their own learning. When students learn that Kidblog has many different features, they are motivated to branch out on their own to become experts. In turn, they are able to teach their peers to use features as they are needed.
When we implement blended learning in our classrooms, we need to be aware of falling into the trap of doing the same old thing with new technology. Innovative teaching is a proactive approach to integrating new teaching strategies and methods into a classroom.
Using technology just to say you incorporate blended learning doesn’t make sense. It must be used as an improved way of learning. Think about your own growth with technology. Do you use social media? Do you read blogs? Why? How is your learning improved because of this technology? How is the use of technology with your students going to help them meet their academic and personal goals?
I have a rotation of gifted students coming and going at different times during the day. Kidblog is the “Facebook” of our class. It is on these blogs that students are able to connect with each other by posting and commenting. Otherwise, they might never connect since they aren’t in my room together. As their teacher, I moderate this interaction and use it as a teaching point. I discuss with my students how to be digital citizens and how to use our words to treat others in the way they want to be treated.
In a blended classroom, we can all be learners together. On Kidblog, my students share their learning experiences. For example, I recently bought a picture book about fractals, a mathematical phenomenon found in nature. Students can read the book, but they can also go online to discover more. They may not be able to discuss the learning face to face, but they can share their learning through a blog post. The interest spreads like a fractal from student to student without much interaction with me at all.
On her DigiLit Sunday blog post about blended learning, Catherine Flynn, a literacy specialist at a K-8 school in Northwestern CT, said, “My experiences with blended learning have been essential to my growth as an educator. They have also been critical in helping teachers plan similar opportunities for their students. Opportunities that will nourish their curiosity and imagination, and give them the skills to prepare for a future we can hardly imagine.”