Moving toward personalized learning. Reflection by Catherine Tobin
"Digital curriculum can be a simple entry point for modifying lesson delivery in a blended learning classroom as teachers can replace existing offline resources with adaptive, multimedia curriculum."
Four categories of digital curriculum:
We talked about tools in the previous chapter but digital curriculum is different because it provides the content for effective digital learning. Teachers have many options to consider in choosing a digital curriculum, not the least of which is cost. Many of the options out there are free or have a free version or trial. This is great for initial evaluation when trying to determine if the cost of the paid version is justifiable. The book suggests a process of a pre-pilot for teachers, then for students, then a pilot and finally, a post-pilot committee. This is a great idea if you are considering a whole school move to digital curricula. However, for most of us, we are looking to start small, in our own classrooms.
If we start with the understanding that we are trying to find new ways to engage our students and work toward the goal of redefining our classrooms, the search for the right digital curriculum should be a process of trial and error. Find a digital curriculum you think fits your needs, and give it a try. Get feedback from your students and be sure to assess to see if learning goals were achieved. Get the students involved in the process. Ultimately, we want to move to the student-driven learning model and getting there can be fun!
The 3 suggestions in the book for digital integration models are the whole-group, station-rotation and flipped classroom. Each has its upsides and downsides and much depends on the subject, grade level and space. The vignettes in this chapter offer a peek at how digital curriculum is being implemented in real classrooms. This has given me some ideas I want to take to other teachers in my school.
Question: Which subjects do you think are the best candidates for digital curriculum? Do you think there are subjects for which it would not work? Have you ever tried it? Would you like to?
Deciding What to Put in YOUR Toolbox and Then...
Reflection by Shannon Norris
“As you embark on this blended learning journey, think strategically about the tools you and your students need, how to measure your progress, and how best to support your students in their new learning environments.” ..“so the key is to have a growth mindset and a great team.”
Devices and Digital Tool, things to consider:
In a Catholic School environment, we know that introducing more technology can sometimes be hard for educators who don’t accept change easily. How can we get those non-“tech-savvy” educators to budge and get on-board when it comes to expanding their tech toolboxes? What can you do school-wide to make these adjustments/transitions seamless for both school leaders and educators?
Reflection by Garth Ellis
Chapter 5 is primarily about selecting the devices, digital tools, and a Learning Management System. Then how to promote technology fluency that serves as the foundation for implementation of the Blended Learning Model you envision for your school. These are the concrete decisions needed to be made in transitioning from the Planning and Design phase to the Implementation phase.
Essentially there are three elements to determine what Blended Learning will look like and how it can continue to evolve. All equally important in implementing a Blended Learning Model are the devices and learning system chosen, digital fluency and pedagogical awareness, the infrastructure to support it.
Different tools for a different generation:
This part stresses again how imperative it is for teachers to adapt in teaching our students skills needed to be successful in an increasing digital society. The idea of developing a technology toolbox is so important in order to be able to relate and connect with students. The concept of ‘meeting students where they are’ is not a new concept in education, and it still remains as relevant as ever.
Building blocks of a digital classroom:
I believe that the biggest challenge in technology integration is the perceived impact it has on the traditional classroom. As stated in the chapter, ‘the device is simply the vehicle we use to connect students to information and resources in order to cultivate specific skills.’ Unfortunately devices themselves are often seen as the technology integration and often feared that they will replace teaching.
In my situation, we have the classic cart before the horse scenario. We are fortunate to have the infrastructure in place to support large scale device usage. We are Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school, and it is widely utilized. We have Chromebooks and iPads for nearly all of our students. We have software programs such as i-Ready, Raz Kids, Envisions. We have all these tools and infrastructure in place and still there is resistance to change.
What can I do to make this transition for teachers? How can I help teacher get on-board?
Please take our 2 minutes to give us feedback on how things are going. SURVEY LINK
Bringing PD into the Shift Reflection - Alicia Brown
Professional Development must go beyond the traditional training if educators are going to implement the best practice and become agents of change in a blended learning environment. Professional Development should include collaboration and coaching from other professional peers, a commitment to continuous learning, a personalized learning plan, and hands-on learning experiences. In many way the new model for professional development allows the educators to see learning from a student’s perspective, which allows for a richer learning environment with the best practices.
In many ways, this Blended Learning professional development opportunity through ADW is an example of the type of professional development discussed in the chapter. The learning opportunity is spread over a span of weeks instead of days. There is collaboration among peers, and we have an opportunity to practice activities that can be used in the classroom.
Although I love professional development, over the last few years, I decided to seek non-traditional means for developing professionally. I felt that my teaching methods were not meeting the needs of my 21st century student learners. In desperation, I started looking online and discovered Jennifer Gonzalez’s The Cult of Pedagogy and Edutopia. I also discovered the public library has Kanopy which includes professional development videos for educators. These resources have served as a springboard for me to grow. As I learn and grow, I am sharing with my colleagues and other educators so that we can shift how learning take place in the classroom.
The Differentiated Approach Chart on page 43 helped me to identify myself as a technology enthusiast. In November, I became a certified Microsoft Innovative Educator and am working on my Google certification. I like having an individualized learning plan for professional development, for it has made me a better educator and colleague. What I learn, I share. The exchange of ideas have taken me to new heights in the classroom because I am able to think about the best practices. I am even willing to take risks and fail forward by learning from what does not go well. The goal is not to be selfish with the knowledge but to be a generous and gracious sharer of the knowledge so that the world of education is change. The chart helped me to understand not only the chasm that exists in professional development, but also how to best serve my colleagues and other educators as we continue in education in the 21st century.
One of my greatest challenges is how to best implement blended learning in a classical Christian education setting. Classical education is built on the foundation of wisdom and virtue; Socratic discussions are essential. Blended learning is forcing me to redefine how I do classical education so that learning is rich, engaging, and life changing for our students.
How has this chapter sparked ideas that will enable you to create a range of professional development opportunities and paths to better differentiate and ultimately personalize professional development?
Reflection – Katie Sague
This chapter seeks to describe some of the critical pieces required to get an effective Blended Learning program up and successfully running. While using the “Elements of Effectiveness” tool, “the cycle progresses in the following order: 1. Visioning, 2. Capacity Building, 3. Technology Utilization, 4. Data Management, and 5. Student Ownership.”(p.25)
Of those five elements, the one that spoke to me most was the section about Capacity Building. This is the true people power section that speaks to building a culture where technology integration is seen as a model of continuous growth and improvement for everyone. It talks about both students and adults being in the learning boat together. Assumptions should not be made about anyone’s adaptability and the instructional team should be ready to both give and accept support as applicable. It also notes that “digital natives” also require skill building and training.
Just this year, a middle school teacher mentioned that she thought all of her students would be well familiar with google features. It opened the door to a great discussion about the extreme variety of backgrounds our students have with technology. It also led to a conversation similar to the mention of limited resources on p.29. There are options for just about everyone but careful planning needs to occur to make sure everyone is set up for success.
Book Study Question: What are the structures of support that are already in place for building capacity of teachers in your school?
At OLV we are continuously working to build a culture of positive growth and support with technology. As teachers gain new skills, they are encouraged to share both informally as need arises and more formally at faculty meetings when there are significant changes or platform issues to discuss. Questions are respectful and respected☺ We strive to be patient with one another and offer support as we all discover tips, tricks and competencies to share. Most importantly, we remember that we’re all in this together and the learning continues forever!
What structures are in place at your school or how can you help develop some?
After less than a week we are sensing that many in this group are eager to be risk takers, to experiment and to step out of their comfort zone. Welcome to the TECH SANDBOX. Post a digital tool question or make a suggestion. Thinking about trying a new tool ? Why not play and experiment with us before you use it with your teachers or students. (Posting here is not a requirement, it is an OPPORTUNITY)
Best Practices to Guide Our Journey to “There” Reflection by Tiphanie Edwards
“Begin with the end in mind”..such a dominant statement that touches all facets of our work in education from basic lesson planning to major shifts in curricular innovation...
But how do we begin with the end in mind when the “end” that is truly needed may look differently through the lens of each stakeholder? How do we get “there”? Chapter 2 outlines the process of setting the right direction with all of the key players and developing a shared vision for charting a new path (that will require authenticity and flexibility) through the phases of:
-Engaging and Visioning,
-Planning and Design,
Charting a new path or changing the “known” in order for transformation to occur definitely requires a roadmap; it is my belief that an inclusive visioning process is at the heart of this work. “Authentic participation” is the key to true stakeholder buy in. I’m sure that many of us have been in situations where our participation was requested, but may not have felt authentically wanted.
In my early days of school leadership training, I was taught that you get your “power” by giving it away to your constituents and the basis for that starts with inclusivity, collaboration and communication. A new project may be doomed from the start without stakeholder buy in. The text stresses the importance of understanding the small group cultures of each of your constituents as it will completely shape the focus and the process needed to move change forward.
The assessment phase will diagnose and inform; it will provide feedback. It will highlight the gap between what exists and what is desired. However, assessment must be a honest process that will help identify the starting point, articulate a path and inform pacing in order to lead to a continuous cycle of improvement.
The collective vision and data gleaned from the assessment process guide planning and design to move into the pre-pilot phase. The pre-pilot phase is a new concept for me, especially because it is described as a designed opportunity to fail small and fail fast, adapt quickly and learn from our mistakes. How great is it to be given the green light to renegotiate our thoughts around the beauty of positive failure in order to garner key learnings?
A Fork in the Road Reflection by Gerald Smith
At this very moment in time, education has approached a fork in the road, with a decision that for many is quite complex. As Jason Green puts it, “a decision must be made based on pure survival. Shall education evolve and become the next big thing like Netflix? Or, shall it become a distant memory of mediocrity like Blockbuster?”
In reading the intro and chapter 1 of Blended Learning in Action, the reader is hit face first with the notion that education requires some form of transformation. In short, the authors challenge all stakeholders to determine whether or not there is enough engagement from each of them to shift behaviors, practices, and most importantly the culture of an academic institution; in such a way that one can find an area of learning foster by various roles led by all participants in the academic field.
Simply put, chapter 1 forms the idea that stakeholders in education must understand the culture in which they educate. The world is rapidly changing and somehow the evolution that has occurred right before our eyes has left many, accept for the ultimate stakeholders: the students.
In what ways can we work to begin the framework necessary to advance our learning practices???
How can we embrace the culture of students and blend the classroom into something more innovative???
Where do you fall into the categories of stakeholders and in what ways are you prepared to begin the journey into putting Blended Learning Into Action????
Welcome to our online travel guide for a shared journey.
We are excited to be taking this professional journey with each of you because an adventure is more meaningful if the travelers come with a variety perspectives, experiences and passions.
Kitty: I came to technology with a background in deaf education. I remember in 1976 I was working with a 69 year old man who was institutionalized for his whole life. Social Services had just found out that he was profoundly deaf and most likely had been since birth. We found a way to use “modern” technology, a Polaroid camera, to breakthrough his language barrier. For the last 40 years I still feel the rush when I find just the right tool or strategy to break learning barriers or expose students to the joys learning. Transitioning in the early 80’s to a technology teacher and then a tech coach, my focus shifted from working solo in the computer lab to working with all stakeholders on creating engaging, technology enhanced, learning experiences. Over the years I met many teachers who, independently like Catlin Tucker, used their pedagogical understanding to explore the use of technology in their classrooms. This book encourages those who have started the tech adventure alone, those who are just trying to be brave enough to start and administrators who are trying create a culture ready to explore blended learning at their schools. When I read this book I had an AHA moment: the importance of providing professional develop that speaks to all stakeholders, brings them on the journey together and uses the blended learning model for delivery. I hope everyone finds their own AHA moments as we take this journey and learn from each other.
Mary: I came to the world of education with the perspective of an artist. After teaching art for 20 years, I studied Technology in Education at JHU because I was convinced that new digital tools were going to help EACH student reach his/her full potential inside and outside the classroom. I wanted to be a part of the revolution that was going to make education “student centered.” I believed, and still passionately hold true to the fact that all students are curious individuals who need to be given the right tools to explore, collaborate, engage and create in ways most meaningful to their personal journey. After many years of investigating technology integration in the classroom, I believe this book gives one of the clearest and well substantiated guides to teachers and administrators who are interested in moving their own schools and classrooms in the direction of providing students with deeper, more meaningful learning environments. It offers approachable suggestions that can lead to real change in the role of teacher, administrator and student; where the student will benefit the most. I look forward to learning from each of you as we take this journey together.
Blended Learning in Action embraces the differences of all stakeholders and acknowledges each role in creating sustainable change. You are a diverse group of leaders and teachers. Please take time to post a little information about yourself here so we can all get to know each other a little better. Remember you are an important stakeholder in the shift that we are making in education. Everyone has something to add to our journey. If you would like to share your email address or other contact information, this would be a good place to add it. Every week you will be commenting on the blogs posted by your peers. So let's start our journey together: click comment and share something about yourself on this blog post.
Welcome and thanks for joining us,
Kitty and Mary
Instructions & Tools