Making Math Work: K-8 Blended Learning

Tom Vander Ark of Getting SmartEducators now have the power to boost student engagement and achievement with an exciting innovation: blended learning. While blended learning leverages technology, it’s not about technology per se—rather, it is a way to personalize learning for students, so teachers can give students what they need, when they need it, particularly in core subjects like math.

Why do we need to make this shift? The World Economic Forum ranks the U.S. an unacceptable 48th out of 133 developed and developing nations in math and science instruction. In an increasingly competitive world, our schools must move into high-performance mode, and leverage technology to advance education— just as we have used it to advance business. With lower device costs, increasing availability of Internet access, and engaging and sophisticated adaptive learning software systems and tools, it is easier than it has ever been to integrate blended learning into our schools. Teachers can become more productive and student accomplishment can be accelerated to more fully prepare our children for college, successful careers, and flourishing lives.

10 Drivers of Blended Learning


  • Meet Challenges
  • Personalize Learning
  • Strengthen Teaching


  1. Goals
  2. Elementary School Models
  3. Entry Point
  4. Content
  5. Access Devices
  6. Staffing
  7. Staff Development
  8. Building Support
  9. Timeline
  10. Funding


  1. Tips to Boost Affordability
  2. Stop buying print/go paperless; shift to online instructional materials
  3. Use as much open content as possible
  4. Shift to mostly online professional development
  5. Use Title 1 funds
  6. Maximize E-rate
  7. Leverage grant funding
  8. Charge user fee of at least $50
  9. Phase in over three years
  10. Consider leasing


  • Rocky Mount Preparatory School - Rocky Mount, North Carolina
  • Brick Avon Academy And Brick Peshine - Newark, New Jersey
  • W. H. Robinson - School Greenville, North Carolina
  • Christina School District - Delaware
  • Sultan Elementary - Sultan, Washington

About the author: Tom Vander Ark

Author & CEO, Getting Smart

Tom Vander Ark is the author of Getting Smart: How Digital Learning is Changing the World, and the founder of Getting Smart, an education advocacy firm. Tom advocates for innovations that customize and motivate learning and extend access. Tom is also a partner in Learn Capital, an education venture capital firm investing in edtech startups. Previously he served as President of the X PRIZE Foundation and was the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Tom served as a public school superintendent in Washington State and has extensive private sector experience. A prolific writer and speaker, Tom has published thousands of articles. He writes a daily EdWeek blog, Vander Ark on Innovation, and makes regular contributions to Tom is a director of the International Association for K–12 Online Learning (iNACOL) and several other nonprofits. Tom received the Distinguished Achievement Medal and graduated from the Colorado School of Mines. He received his M.B.A. in finance from the University of Denver.

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