Is blended learning right for your elementary school?
Blended learning is becoming increasingly popular in classrooms across the United States as school districts look for ways to make the best use of class time and strategically use technology to ensure the success of every student. In elementary schools, this combination of face-to-face and online learning is particularly appealing because it can easily be integrated into the rotation models that many teachers already use in their classroom – it’s just a matter of having hardware available in the classroom and adding a station that has students working with effective software that engages students in critical thinking and self-directed learning. Here are some benefits of blended learning.
- Personalization: One of the key reasons that elementary schools opt to use a blended model is because it allows for greater personalization in the classroom. Students are unique, and they appreciate and need some time allocated to their specific learning needs. Many learning outcomes require that students collaborate and engage with their peers. But students also need independent time to reflect, make sense of things, and work at their own pace. As Wiggins and McTighe write in Schooling by Design, “Understanding can only be attained by regular reflection, self-assessment, and self-adjustment in trying to apply prior learning to new situations and tasks, via activities and assessments that demand such reflection and transfer” (p. 114). Blended approaches help ensure no students feel left out, and teachers can feel confident that students are getting the personalized learning experiences they need.
- Flexibility: In elementary schools, classroom teachers work hard to establish routines and structures that ensure the classroom is conducive to learning. Within the classroom, a blended approach allows for more flexibility at times within those routines so students have some flexibility to explore and work independently while teachers facilitate learning. Blended learning can bring flexibility to the classroom by empowering teachers to choose an approach that best fits their students’ needs, whether it be face-to-face, rotation, flex, online lab, self-blend or online driver.
- Facilitation: Blended learning models can increase engagement for students, and solve many of the logistical problems that make it difficult for teachers to ensure the success of all students. If the software programs or apps are rigorous and aligned with critical learning outcomes, teachers can use data from the software to gain greater insights into student progress. Provided the software is also engaging for students, it can provide additional support for teachers who are trying to help their students become independent, self-directed thinkers.
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