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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Revisiting and Recalibrating Blended Learning

A few years ago, discouraged, I took more of a back seat with regard to tech integration. I was frustrated that tech integration efforts all around me were not keeping up with my vision. I wanted Minecraft, a 3D printer, one-to-one, varied platforms, tech equity, and more, and it just wasn't happening!

Now, it seems the world is catching up to those desires, and there's better tech access at my school and all around me. This is wonderful. Last night as the Governor of Massachusetts spoke to citizens, he emphasized the need for all agencies to be tech-savvy and up-to-date. Terrific! He also mentioned that he was increasing state aid to all students and school systems in the state. This too is wonderful. This funding as well as leadership support for greater tech integration will help us to better blend learning in ways that support students. Also as I recently did an intense review of the class curriculum program, I noticed the many updates that exist and ways that I could review and embed those updates to recalibrate and improve the classroom program.

Specifically, I'm delighted to be apart of the following initiatives, initiatives led by many educators and administrators in my midst.

Tech Equity
Fortunately most students in my school have good tech access at home. A few don't. Thanks to the efforts of many, we are in the process of providing students without a good tech device at home, that tech device. This will really help those students.

Online Subscriptions
The children now have access to a number of safe and wonderful online subscriptions that will help them to learn about what they are interested in. The job for me now is to organize that potential in a way that's easily accessible. So far, our team uses an online home study list and learning menu to guide students' online independent learning efforts. We will continue to look at ways that we can use these resources better as colleagues and with children to boost our blended, personalized learning/teaching efforts.

Rich Technology Use
I will continue to look for ways to use technology to deepen the teaching and learning. While, workbook-on-a-page tech can sometimes be helpful, it's not the only way or best way to use technology. The best ways involve helping students to work on their own and with others to problem solve, research, and create in meaningful ways. In this regard, I will continue to look for ways to embed and forward coding platforms such as SCRATCH and Code.org, 3D modeling with Minecraft, video/podcast sites such as WeVideo and Powtoon (recently added to Google apps), and global connection accessibility such as using Skype, Hangouts, and more to build greater global connection and collaboration. My talented colleagues have reached for greater tech integration by utilizing Google Classroom, The Global Read Aloud, Padlet, Kidblog, and more to enrich students' blended use of technology to personalize learning, learn with others near and far, and deepen and enrich understanding, questioning, creativity, communication, and collaboration.

One-to-One
Our students this year enjoy one-to-one tech access in the classroom which is tremendous. This has enriched our ability to differentiate, personalize, and serve all students well. I believe this will continue next year.

Learning Menus and Differentiated Learning Paths/Streams
The way we run our classrooms is much like a workshop. There are many choices and paths to follow dependent on what a student needs or is interested in. Continued efforts to enrich these paths will support better teaching too.

Outreach to the Learning/Teaching Team
We see the teaching/learning team as a team of family members, students, colleagues, administrators, and citizens. We reach in and reach out for support, information, and more. We communicate regularly, and the more we find out what the team thinks and needs, the better we'll be able to blend the learning for best effect, engagement, and empowerment.

This is a positive turn in the teaching road. One I look forward to traveling in the days ahead.