Jan 5, 2017
At SPARK, we see blended learning and the use of technology as a tool to leverage, not as an ultimate outcome. As such, we measure the effectiveness of our blended learning model by taking a look at student achievement results and satisfaction/engagement surveys from parents, staff, and students. We aren't willing to subject some students to blended learning and leave others aside, so I doubt we will ever be able to make meaningful comparisons between achievement with and without technology. However, that's all well and good, because blended learning is a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Our models are not just about technology implementation, but also include culture-setting, behaviour management, social-emotional development, peer and teacher relationship-building and so much other soft "glue" that makes the whole model effective.Read more...
For me, it starts with selecting the right data points. For example, if your blended program is designed to improve students' reading skills, perhaps you would use iReady, SRI, or NWEA Maps. You would do a diagnostic, then run your blended program, and then run the assessment again, perhaps a month later to see if the data has improved. The tricky part is selecting the right data points, because you need to be able to efficiently collect the data and have it reported in a usable form.Read more...
Identify the key factors in implementing the program with fidelity and the specific skills/standards the program is marketing itself to support students in. Hold staff accountable in implementing programs with fidelity. This includes administration master scheduling to allow appropriate blocks of content time.
Then, align an external pre, mid and post assessment measurements to monitor progress. This will help to determine if the skills being worked on in a program are being generalized and mastered outside of the program.
If progress is not being made, then adjusting time or a program change is necessary in personalizing the learning pathway for each child. This can happen using an MTSS structure that looks at a variety of measurements, which includes, formative, benchmark and summative assessments. Of these assessments, it can be technology or non-technology based.
I have never been shy to ask program vendors and strategists how they can help us to determine if progress is being made by using our own external data measurements to determine the effectiveness of a program. When we have not seen effectiveness based on external measurements, we have discontinued the program.Read more...
Jan 5, 2017
Our district (Putnam County
As I work with teachers and staff from around the country, we begin by focusing on the core beliefs the group has about student learning how we take those beliefs and meet them through blended learning and personalized learning.Read more...
One of the most effective (including cost-effective) ways to on-board new staff, is to provide opportunities for teachers to visit the classrooms of other teachers who have started to transition to blended learning. Through classroom visits, teachers can learn from what other teachers are doing, and the visits can also increase collaboration and dialogue within the school around blended learning.Read more...
Jan 5, 2017
Sam J. Brooks
At SPARK Schools, we made the deliberate choice not to implement a 1:1 in either our foundation phase (K-3) or intermediate phase (4-7) blended learning models. In the lower grades, we use a lab rotation model and generally keep technology out of the classroom, up to and including smart boards. Our students spend the majority of their time in relationship with their peers and teachers via guided work and collaborative work in the classroom and use Chromebooks in our Learning Lab for about an hour a day. In our intermediate phase, we employ a flex/individual rotation and find that a 1:1 is a poor choice for both capacity utilization of assets, because there are huge swaths of time when students are working together or with a teacher and do not need a device, and that it limits their social-emotional development with peers and with teachers.Read more...
While 1:1 initiatives provide the necessary tools to personalize the learning environment, computers are still just a tool. We decided to provide computers as needed for students to check them out and we also encourage students bring their own computers (if they have them).Read more...
Jan 9, 2017
Jan 10, 2017
School transformation must be undertaken with great passion in what we all believe about student learning. Transformation, not change, allows the beliefs about student learning to be followed by shifts in instructional practices, adjustments in school structures, and the inclusion of the tools to support the shift.Read more...
One practice that has proven successful not just in schools but across industries when seeking to transform yourself is to start somewhere where the risk is low and the current alternative is "nothing". For example, perhaps there are students in your school who have to go without an elective because it's not offered. Start offering that online, and figure out what works best for scheduling, outcomes, monitoring growth, etc. Then take lessons from that pilot and see if you can start to incorporate them into your core courses. This discovery-driven planning process will be critical to figure out what is and isn't working as quickly as possible.Read more...
Want more? Our comprehensive collection of resources can help you build a blended learning program from the ground up.Resources