Thursday, April 26, 2012

Facilitating Learning in the Blended Classroom

Blended Classroom?

A learning environment that employs multiple tools to facilitate responsive, engaging learning.

What does it look like?

That depends on the learning focus, but here's one example.  Today students were working on creating short, math teaching videos. They were working in pairs utilizing computers, paper/pencil and math models.  Positioned in make-shift studios throughout the classroom, the outside lab and the unscheduled library, students worked together to craft scripts, draw the models, write equations and film via Quicktime screen recording or Photobooth video.

I moved from group to group to edit, solve problems, encourage and respond.

Students created film after film as they reached for an acceptable, accurate final copy.

How do you manage and facilitate this learning environment?

Typically I use what I call the "fortran" method--if, then, or else.

I start with a short story and the rationale for the learning topic.  I might add a short video or another high-interest activity to excite students about the topic.  Then I offer a menu of activities.  The menu items are listed in order including "must do's," check-in points, and choices.  This is an example of a blended learning workshop menu:

Making Math Movies Menu
See me with questions if you're stuck or don't understand.
1. Complete film template with partner online or off.
2. Film your teaching movie using Quicktime screen recording or Photobooth.
3. Upload to your Google docs and share with the teacher.
4. Sign up for a teacher edit.
5. While waiting for your edit, choose one of the following:
  • This week's That Quiz tests and/or MCAS prep tests.
  • Greg Tang, TutPup, Xtra Math.
  • Let me know if you have another choice.
The blended classroom is an active learning environment where students' independent, collaborative learning skills are utilized and strengthened. It's a great alternative to the "everyone sit and listen lessons of old."