Reflection by Christine Zisa
As educators we know assessments help us gain an understanding of where students are in their learning paths. Both formative (progress oriented, check in, low stakes) and summative (evaluative, higher stakes) assessments are important to understanding what (and how) students are learning. This chapter discusses how assessment can drive student learning and how we can incorporate this in a blended learning environment.
The key components of this chapter include:
-Student motivation and learning
-Different forms and strategies for using assessment data
-Learning Management System assessment resources
-Higher order thinking and creative learning in a blended environment
-Different forms of formative assessment
-Strategies for planning
-Challenges and how we can overcome these
Teachers are busy! How can blended learning environment assessments help?
- Help relieve the daunting task of administering frequent formative assessments
-Collect data in a manageable way
-Determine best starting points for student learning
-Create multidimensional lenses to see evidence of learning
-Provide ongoing, immediate feedback
Prior to administering assessments, it is imperative that school leaders and teachers determine what motivates (and demotivates) students to learn in their school. What is working to engage? To inspire? What is in the way? These school-wide discussions then become a platform for how best to create goals for motivating learners. As schools design their visions, there are a variety of digital platforms that offer tools (some align with incentive and reward programs, some creativity, some communication driven). Other thoughts to keep in mind is the use of extrinsic or intrinsic motivators. Research suggests that extrinsic motivators work best for simple tasks which can be accomplished quickly without much creative thought, and the opposite is true for complex tasks or those requiring creativity.
We know that motivated students are key to a successful learning environment. Our job is to help motivate them. We can do this in a variety of ways. We can do this by relevant and purposeful learning. By doing this, students will be more motivated to engage in higher order thinking. Another motivator is presenting real world problems that students can relate to and are passionate about. This will help produce intrinsic motivation. We also want our students involved. Students that are engaged, are agents of their own learning, are able to help to set own goals, and have choice learning experiences with their teacher are able to achieve an age appropriate level of autonomy. Another key motivator is social motivation and authentic audience. Another important motivator is teacher/student relationship. Students are more motivated when they feel their teacher validates them as learners, connects and believes in them. These relationships, and knowledge of our students as learners can help us align motivating experiences in a blended learning environment.
Be aware! We may understand how each student learns best, know how to motivate them and have determined a variety of digital practices for them to access, but high student engagement does not necessarily indicate student learning. We need to make sure we are aligning learner outcomes, instruction and using digital tools that enable students to move at their own pace while encouraging them to challenge themselves. Adaptive learning platforms help guide this. These platforms are becoming more popular because it provides a data narrative for students. This helps guide instruction and define learning. It increases motivation because students see progress and instant feedback. Research shows a link between performance gain from immediate feedback as compared to delayed.
Taking these aforementioned components, we can further maximize our chosen LMS by using it as an assessment hub. The following are features of an LMS that empower assessment and provide feedback:
Individual and Small group assignment (and mastery of)
Another dimension of assessments are project and discovery learning. These allow students to collaborate, work at their own pace (given a timeframe), and explore in multidimensional areas. The Pedagogy Wheel developed by Allan Carrington provides several digital tools teachers can use to increase their project based creative learning. This was organized using Bloom’s Taxonomy and SAMR (Substitute, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition). Rubrics are essential tools for students in a project-based environment. Students need to understand what is being measured, how and what the intended expectations are.
To best lead a class of learners, it is essential to know and understand them. By using frequent lower stake assessments, you are able to gauge a variety of indicators (including interest, interest, grit, preference, disposition). This helps educators plan and guide learners on a more defined path. Doing this can create challenges. If teachers are working towards student personalized goals, they may find that they are met with many differences, and that can be overwhelming. To help alleviate, teachers can use formative assessment templates. These templates help anchor and unify class expectations while keeping personal learning styles/goals in mind. Choice boards, good form, and a rotation station are some examples of how teachers can implement. By providing a rubric (with these templates), students are able to have choices, but there is evidence of learning and teacher expectations are clearly stated. By placing student ownership on formative assessments, you are empowering and engaging your students learning.
When assessing in a blending learning environment, make sure you are selecting specific tools that will provide the majority of the data, don’t get caught up in trying to “use it all”. If you need to track turned in work, keep it simple, and use one drop box to hand in assignments. Communication with parents and other teachers is essential. All stakeholders need to understand expectations and how they are to obtain access to these tools. It is also important to be sure that parents understand how to use and support their child with any/all digital tools you are using in the classroom.
By providing a blended learning environment, where students feel empowered and motivated, you are able to more easily reach a student’s potential. Assessing in a blended environment that students understand their expectations, see results and can track their progress invite learners to feel comfortable, challenge themselves and reach their potential.
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... Summary by Shannon Norris
"As you embark on this blended learning journey, think strategically about the tools you and your students needs, how to measure your progress, and ow 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 Tools, things to remember:
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
1-Do you and other teachers in your school have experience using Google Classroom for Education or Office 365? IF so what have you seen as the pros and cons ?
2- Do you use or plan to use a LMS? If so what factors are most important for you. What would be most important for your school and can a school ensure that all stakeholders get involved in selection/ use?
3- How can a school or district deal with giving stakeholders the freedom of choice in the selection of digital tools yet provide a consistent digital environment for students or PD for educators?
4- What is your favorite tool(s) in your digital toolbox and why?
Summary & Reflection by Steve O'Shaughnessy
Chapter 4 focuses on preparing teachers for blended learning. The chapter opens with data and quotes from Stanford University’s Dr. Arnetta Ball and the model for generative change highlighting the idea that teachers are not objects of change but instead need to act as the agent of change. A study by Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is referenced, highlighting the fact that most teachers do not believe professional development is effective or meaningful. The chapter then goes on to focus on suggested best practices, guiding principles and framework for planning, providing recommendations for differentiated and personalized professional development. It suggests to the reader we rethink professional development, examining duration and distribution, coaching and collaboration, simulation of practice (modeling), and the technology we expect our teachers to use. CHOMP is introduced the valuable criteria for effective professional development:
Collaborate- Coach and create meaningful communication
Hands On- Gamer and Tinkering methods
On-going- Must have structure and environment fostering continued learning
Mindset- Why not the what?
Personalize- Differentiated plans acknowledging the individual learning needs of teachers
The chapter closes referencing a book by Malcom Gladwell called Tipping Point. Which focuses on the ideas, products, concepts, and technology going mainstream and capturing the minds and hearts of society. The author further suggests that to achieve full buy in for blended learning and technology by teachers that a tipping point needs to be achieved within our schools and the way to do this is to differentiate for the needs of the teachers.
The vision in my school is of data driven, project based learning, students should be leading lessons and working in stations the diversify learning. Teachers are devoted to the faith and exude gospel values, are continuous learners, fostering mercy and humility and kindness, who hold students to high expectations while conveying a sense of caring and understanding. Does my vision sound similar to yours?
The skills required for this vision include piety, empathy, compassion, a love for learning, teaching, and students, growth mindset, grit, strong classroom management skills, fearless experimentation, an understanding of project based learning, technology, data driven learning, and differentiated instruction. What other skills would you include?
Professional development as highlighted in this chapter is essential but is not a one off deal. It is a marathon not a sprint. Some skills I mentioned can certainly be improved or achieved through effective professional develop plans (ie. Data Analysis, Responsive Classroom, Differentiated Instruction, Data Driven Planning and Teaching, Project Based Learning, even Spiritual Development to focus on our vocation) My greatest struggle has been imparting empathy to staff. How do you teach kindness and understanding in your schools?
Teachers engage actively in their own professional development when given the opportunity to choose how and when to engage in PD. The ADW does a great job acknowledging this offer book studies, classes, and courses at different times, intervals, sessions, both online and in person on a number of topics and issues beneficial to educators. Survey teachers to determine the needs of the staff as well as what PD topics the teachers want to engage is essential to providing them PD opportunity. I believe demonstrating humility and taking the same classes and actively engaging in teacher professional development also adds meaning to the course and leads by example. Have you ever had an administrator not participate in PD with you?
I will measure the success of my initiatives by analyzing effectiveness feedback from all stakeholders (students, parents, teachers.) Observations, evaluations, and walkthroughs should also be clear indicators if each classroom is living up to the vision of the school. What do you believe is the best way to measure the success of professional development?
Summary by Steve O'Shaughnessy
Chapter 3 focuses on the success or failure of the blended initiative, elements of usefulness for instruction leaderships, elements of effectiveness in blended learning. The author highlights five elements necessary for effective blended learning.
Just like my students, there is a wide range of ability and readiness related to blended learning readiness. There are certainly champions who will emerge but I feel as if communal “buy-in” trumps everything. It doesn’t matter how great the leaders are without buy in you will only achieve partial success. Which do you feel is more important total buy in or champion teachers?
There are several structures of support building classroom capacity and building classroom capacity for blended learning. Responsive classroom training is certainly an asset in establishing humility and trust. Professional development on blended learning, project based learning, classroom management, and diverse use of technology are all beneficial to encouraging capacity. Mentoring and teacher peer mentoring and modeling are also practices given to increase capacity. Are there other practices within your building that increases capacity?
My school has smart boards, smart tvs, ipads, microsoft surface pros, a computer lab, document cameras, IXL, Accelerated Reader and Google suites. Effectiveness of how this tech is used can be communicated or observed through surveys, walk throughs, observations, slack direct communication, and professional development. Does having more or less tech limit a classroom’s ability to embrace blended learning?
This year I have scheduled more time to spend analyzing data acknowledging its importance. Some teachers at my school analyze scantron or standardized data and acknowledge semester learning goals. Some teachers use individual student learning objectives, IXL math reports, and Accelerated Reader literacy level scores. It is certainly something that needs to be stressed in all schools. How do you stress data analysis in your schools?
There are differing degrees of student ownership of learning in my building from classroom to classroom. Some teachers naturally foster it, others very hard at fostering it with varying degrees of success and in some classroom’s unfortunately there has been a culture of where students seem to shrug accountability all together. Student ownership is most visible I believe while doing walkthroughs and observations and physically seeing student leadership in the classroom and playing an active role in their learning? How do you see student ownership in your schools?
Summary (with my personal thoughts interspersed):
This chapter outlines the three phases of a blended learning transformation. If you are like me, that chart was just too small! A link to an enlarged Blended Learning Roadmap by Redbird Advanced Learning: https://yhoo.it/30kVD67 I recommend printing it out and keeping it with the book. The chart is a very helpful roadmap and I will use it with the various stakeholders including helping a few micro-managing priests understand the pathway towards personalization in the school. While the roadmap charts out the three phases of transitioning to personalization, this chapter is mostly about Phase 1.
Phase 1: Building the Foundation – The authors recommend allowing six months to one year for this phase.
Stage 1: Engagement and Vision—Cohesion of Vision and Pedagogy: A clear and cohesive vision and purpose are foundational to any new project. The authors express the importance of bringing key people into the process early and often. The roadmap can help them see the pathway of the expressed vision! It shows the reasoning for the student owned pedagogy of a 21st Century Classroom. For a system-wide transformation, do NOT mix developing the shared broad vision with a preliminary plan—this will allow for a small committee to build a preliminary plan thereby taking greater ownership as it is collectively developed. This is great advice for a diocesan leader and building leader as the work is then delegated once the vision is shared and established within the school community. Table 2.1 should be used by leaders and teachers as a reflection tool to lead the visioning process forward.
Stage 2: Assess—What is the Starting Point?—Where is the school, the individual classrooms on the Blended Learning Roadmap? Knowing the starting point is important so the school knows how to best move forward. I also believe the school needs to understand what it means to be and knows how to be “data informed” in regards to student learning. (I think this is covered in the next chapter.) The table that begins on page 17 is full of reflection questions to be answered in each of the four key assessment factors. A school benefits when an honest reflection with accurate data and findings are determined to lay the foundation. A leader must be sure to show compassion in this stage to honor those currently doing the work and to honor the existing strengths in place that will lead change and innovation forward. This is where the discussions on mindset begin—recognizing a shift (perhaps a radical shift) in both the teachers’ role as educator and the students’ role as learners. It is important for various stakeholder groups to discuss and voice concerns as it allows individuals to acknowledge where they are at as they begin the journey. I believe it is important to understand implementation as a journey where there may be setbacks that will allow for the ongoing learning within the blended learning environment; just as the world continues to shift, the blended learning components will have a need to shift as the educator continues to improve their blended learning facilitator craft.
Stage 3: Planning and Design--The data gathered from Stage 2 informs the blended learning plan and design. I recommend using SMART goals or, as the authors outline, goals that outline the timeframe, the resources and people to be employed, and the activities. Elements that should be included in the plan are listed in Table 2.2 (page 21) within this chapter but each will be explored in greater detail later in the book.
Stage 4: Pre-Pilot--Final stage of phase 1—A designed opportunity to fail small and fast, adapt quickly, and learn from mistakes - so it is referred to as a pre-pilot. Implement blended learning in a portion of classrooms or subjects to test for challenges and limitations. The hope is bugs can be worked out prior to piloting. Table 2.3 (page 21) compares the characteristics of the pre-pilot versus a pilot. I was intrigued with the idea of the Rio Lab Class but noticed they no longer post Tweets to the Twitter account referenced in the book—I haven’t explored their other school associated Twitter accounts, yet. The information on identifying and enlisting pre-pilot teachers (page 22) is very useful.
Other Thoughts – In Summary:
I have started following the authors on Twitter as well as Redbird Advanced Learning. If you are not on Twitter to learn more as an educator I highly recommend it! You can start by following these three accounts as well as Kitty and Mary!
I plan to work, during the visioning phase, with building principals initially and then the identified teachers that will pre-pilot and learn to facilitate the blended learning initiative. I also plan to work with the school education advisory committees to inform them of our initiative at the locations where the school has chosen to pre-pilot. I will continue to work with key stakeholders at the piloting school as the school principal requests—together with the principal, we will lay out the plan for leading the visioning portion forward. Typically, the cultures of our schools are such that individuals understand education to be the same as the methodology in which they (educators and parents) were taught. There will need to be a shift of mindsets (in many individuals)! No doubt! The current instructional model is predominately teacher-led instruction driven by textbook content (written standards/learner outcomes are in place in every school but the textbook is still the main tool used to teach to the standards). Most all of the schools I work with have effective technology hardware (1:1) in place that will assist in starting this journey.
This chapter really has given me the framework to lead a blended learning initiative forward as a diocesan leader. This is specific information I can use and share! I am really excited about the idea of pre-piloting in several schools--it makes a lot of sense as it allows for the risk taking element that is often feared by educators (although not as much by early adopters), and it is done on a smaller scale. Some of my fears of leading this innovation are already dissipating!
Summary & Reflection by Karla Cross
Blog Post – Part I – Intro and Chapter 1
Part 1: INTRODUCTION
Summary: Introduces the question of “How do we create quality education at scale that works for every
student and honors their individuality as learners?” With the advances of technology and the learning
resources it provides, there is a feasible, scalable path forward. “When well implemented, blended
learning environments create the possibility for every student to experience precisely the learning he or
she needs.” BUT, intangibles such as school culture, mindset, and true preparedness of teachers and
school leaders are also of great importance. Part 1 of the book is about cultivating these critical
intangibles to set the stage of the meaningful integration of technology. It is foundational to the
My Opening Thoughts:
The question referenced from the introduction speaks to me as a diocesan leader working in a very rural
setting. My leadership dilemma is: How does my diocese continue to provide a quality Catholic
education to as many of the youth of the diocese as possible? I believe we can only do this in our
situations if it is of quality, it is true to the faith, it is at scale, and it honors each student’s learning. We
have closed too many Catholic schools because we have not yet answered this very question. Our
schools are all parish schools and our demographics are such that we have a Prek-6 school of 23
students and numerous K-6 schools with less than 100 students. The harsh reality is the rural parishes
cannot feasibly sustain educating using traditional models even though many of the classrooms are
already combined with two grade-levels. It was great to read in the introductions why many of you are
excited to learn more about implementing a sustainable change utilizing blended learning. I believe
blended learning to be a wonderful tool to personalize learning for every student.
Chapter 1: Summary
I have been reading a lot lately about disruptive innovation. This chapter speaks to leading change,
disrupting the status quo! It informs us that to be successful it “demands proactive planning, design, and
implementation that is systemic in nature.” To move from the “status quo” all stakeholders must be
engaged and involved in the process. Together we can create cultures of professionalism and
innovation. The chapter clarifies some common terminology regarding “going blended.” I appreciated
the comment the authors made in reference to learning blended learning models shared in the book as
starting points, “Ideally, schools become true learning communities capable of adapting approaches and
models to meet their unique needs.” No one specific model or approach as defined in the book is
necessarily the exact right approach for a teacher or a class!
The school community culture must be aligned to support desired change for it to be successful. Shared
values, created and perpetuated by people will define the behaviors and conditions to support the
desired change. The chapter identifies the stakeholders involved in the process and their roles in
building a cohesive vision. This can be referenced on page 9. In concluding, the authors state, “By
nurturing a positive blended learning culture and engaging stakeholders in actualizing the shared vision,
leaders can more confidently take the first steps in their blended learning journeys.”
My Opening Thoughts:
For me, the “Personalized Learning” journey has begun! I have a funder that wants to help with this
“disruptive innovation” by piloting some projects in a couple of schools. I have been learning everything
I can the past two months. I have quickly seen how teachers are effectively integrating technology but it
is not at the level of personalized learning but in the format of using technology resources as a tool to
teach in the traditional methods. To move the learning to scale it will be important to move to a
personalized learning approach. Where are you on the journey? Have you done some blended learning
or mostly technology integration? Is this a classroom change or a school-level change for you?
Leading change is difficult from the diocesan level and there is always the fear of not succeeding;
however, I really believe in this innovation for the future of offering Catholic school education choice in
the diocese so I am determined to learn all that I can to see it to a successful beginning. I know it can’t
be a directive from above, so I will be working to find willing collaborators. I have connected with an
initial principal that is excited to be a part of this journey and I will be looking for two additional
principals over the next two months. (Note: I work with 16 principals, 8 of which are part-time in the
classroom, too.) Do you have any reservations about going forward with blended learning? Do you
already use Technology to allow students to “create?” As a teacher, does your school leadership
understand blended learning and the efforts you are undertaking to personalize learning?
I have lead introductory discussions at principal meetings previously regarding blended learning but
none of the schools have taken the initiative to lead the innovation forward on their own. In June, I
wrote a formal proposal to lead a personalized learning initiative forward and I will be inviting principals
that are interested in collaborating to lead the initiative forward. I hope we can train three teacher
facilitators (one in each of the deaneries) as we begin the process. Each school has such a different
culture that I am hopeful I can find those that are open to piloting a change. What principal or teacher
concerns should I be aware of in leading this innovation? Do you work in an organization that is open
to using technology and blended learning?
I am excited to share this journey of learning with each of you!
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. The more active you are on the blog the more you will get out of this experience. We encourage you to comment on the blogs posted by your peers., ask questions and explore. 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