Blended Learning in the Math Classroom
The concept of Blended Learning has been gaining traction in the education field over the past few years. It is defined as a formal education program in which a student learns, at least in part, through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control. Although it may be a big step for some teachers, underneath all of the hype is a strong concept that gives students some control over their learning environment and can promote student engagement. Remember, Blended Learning is not simply scanning a worksheet into a device or computer. It consists of content material relevant to students, where they can, in part, self-pace their learning. Technology is not replacing teachers or direct instruction—because both are still very valuable—instead, it is enhancing the education experience and turning at least some control over to the student.
Starting your Journey from the Beginning
When beginning the journey of incorporating Blended Learning into the classroom, understand that it is a marathon, not a sprint. A few key points to remember are:
- Find ways to make Blended Learning fit your teaching style … unless you want to completely overhaul your methodology. In which case, I say jump in with both feet and go for it!
- In the beginning, stay close to your digital tool comfort zone.
- Not all ideas will work the first time, but try it a few times before moving on to a new idea.
- Adopt the motto: start small … grow big!
- Most importantly, be persistent. If you hit a wall, crawl out through a window and start again!
What’s a Blended Learning Classroom Look Like?
The look of a Blended Learning math classroom can vary from teacher to teacher, and from school to school. Here are some examples of a Blended Learning classroom in action:
- Student Centers: Student centers (yes, even at the middle school level) can enhance differentiation through Blended Learning. At some centers, struggling students strengthen their content knowledge by working with a teacher or using an Internet site tailored to instructional videos. Other centers have students work individually on an interactive learning program, in small groups on enrichment projects, or receive peer tutoring.
- Flipping the classroom: This involves students watching a video of a teacher-instructed class and working on example problems as a homework assignment. Watching the video and completing the problems before attending class allows more class time to focus on practicing and enhancing knowledge of the skill. If a teacher is not comfortable using video, they can use a Smart Pen or a note-taking app such as ShowMe. These tools allow students to see what a teacher is writing during the verbal instruction without seeing an image of the teacher. This method can lead to more effective note-taking, it can increase the background on a content area before beginning a lesson the next day, and it can help with the remediation of a missing foundational skill.
Seek Continuous Improvement
Having a policy of open communication and providing education about the digital tools being used will assist in smoothing the transition as you transform your class into a Blended Learning environment. Helping parents understand Blended Learning should be a combined effort between school and home, and the knowledge that students are becoming more active in their learning process should help ease some fears. If you have students who do not have access to a computer or device at home and cannot go to the public library to use a computer, offer a way to support them at school. Options include access to devices or computers during homeroom or a working lunch period, or offer before-school or after-school hours for those students.
If you have been using Blended Learning in your classroom, take a step back and evaluate it. Consider what is working well and what needs revision, and share that knowledge with others. Collaboration and peer support will make teachers even more successful on their journeys.Want to learn more about building your Blended Learning roadmap and ensuring it stays on track? Check out the guidebook, From Goals to Gains: The Blended Learning Math Journey.