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Rebekah Kim, Expert Advisor, Mar 13, 2017
We use the blended learning block to personalize learning pathways for students by planning instructional groups based on students' strengths and areas of need. The rotations involve teacher-led core instruction, adaptive technology programs, small group instruction led by our ELL bilingual tutors and instructional classroom assistants. This allows core instruction, intervention and enrichment to take place. The data collected from these varying practices is used when looking at student growth and areas of need as we analyze standards-based assessment both formative and summative. Read more...

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Thomas Arnett, Mar 10, 2017
This may seem count-intuitive, but I think the best place to start is by focusing on the student and teacher experiences, rather than the technology. Start by thinking about what you want students to learn and the types of experiences that will best promote that learning. Think about the challenges in the current learning environment you want to overcome. Think about the challenges teachers face. Then start to think about how technology could help with those challenges.This website has some great resources and guidelines for getting started. Read more...
Mackey Pendergrast, Expert Advisor, Mar 14, 2017
It starts with the basics. We always tell people to think about the "plumbing" before the "poetry". In other words, if your wifi infrastructure -- access points, servers, devices, etc.--. isn't up to the task then you better take care of that first or students and teachers will become demoralized quickly in the classroom. As far as the "poetry" goes, another top, fundamental priority is that your curriculum should be well-researched, clear and coherent....and all stakeholders should understand it. In short, if your curriculum or its implementation is poor then forget the laptops and take care of that as well. I know these items seems a little obvious but they are common mistakes. Exceptional technology will not fix a poor curriculum....ever. Once these fundamental components are ready it is very important that all central office and building administrators agree on the goals of technology implementation as well as the tangential pieces such as using a common vocabulary. Since the curriculum goals are clear, then most discussions about how technology can assist in achieving those goals will be much more seamless and organic. We are very explicit and intentional that we don't want to use technology to merely do "cool stuff" but we want to use it, foremost, to improve student learning and if it doesn't do that then we are wasting a lot of money. So, to this end, we always set measurable goals and we have to build capacity at the point of delivery--teachers and classrooms -- to reach those goals. Therefore, you cannot build a technology driven culture unless your professional development plan is aligned between your curriculum and the technology tools that you choose. Finally, I also would advise bringing in your early adopters....early... and have them experiment and build enthusiasm amongst the staff through in-house PD sharing, reporting out at faculty meetings, or peer coaching. Read more...

Mar 6, 2017

Amy Ahearn

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Clifford Maxwell, Mar 7, 2017
The reason that the model decision comes after physical design is because the model should be built to support your instructional choices (which includes classroom design)—not the other way around. What this does is ensure that you adhere to students and teachers first and foremost, instead of adhering to what a model may or may not require at the outset. The design steps are intentionally ordered such that choosing the model is the last thing you do. After considering student needs, teacher needs, space constraints and desires, technology needs, etc, there will hopefully be an instructional model or combination of models that align best to all of your design considerations. Of course during the Refine and Iterate phase, the design of the classroom should be tested and improved to better serve your students, so as in all things innovation nothing should be set in stone! Read more...

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ryan piper, Mar 6, 2017
Teachers do not necessarily need a new set of skills to be successful in blended learning, but they will need a new mindset on what their role in the classroom is. I find myself spending way less time in front of the class, and way more time working with individual or small groups of students. The blended approach gives the students an opportunity to learn from other sources besides me: videos, interactive lessons, other students, etc. It gives a tremendous opportunity to those students who need additional teacher support. One that was not available with traditional teaching as the teacher would either drag students who were not ready along, or make students who have already mastered the standard repeat it a second day. Read more...

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Thomas Arnett, Mar 10, 2017
Michele, do you want to know about what could go wrong in the design and roll out of a blended learning program, or what could go wrong while teaching a blended learning class session? Read more...

Feb 13, 2017

Anonymous

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Thomas Arnett, Mar 10, 2017
To help provide context, can you share a link to where you've seen references to a "whole school experience"? Read more...

Feb 7, 2017

Rebecca H.

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Luis Flores, Feb 17, 2017
I believe that explaining to parents how students will actually be using the technology (to engage with content, receive information in a manner that they can understand, demonstrate their knowledge, and receive feedback) and reassuring them that their student will not just sit mindlessly in-front of a screen, can be a strong argument for more screen time. It may also be helpful to mention all of the other activities that do not involve screen time and how the off-line learning can benefit from students engaging with technology. Read more...
Thomas Arnett, Mar 10, 2017
I would suggest starting the conversation with parents by talking about how you plan to improve the learning experience (e.g. addressing students' individual learning needs, helping students catch up when they are behind, letting students move ahead when they've mastered content, giving students more agency and accountability, providing more timely and helpful feedback, etc.) You could also discuss how not all learning experiences involve screen time and then talk about how screen time complements offline learning. Read more...
Stacy Kane, Expert Advisor, Mar 18, 2017
At Washington Leadership Academy, we've found that 9th grade parents are generally not concerned with screen time. By the time students reach college and career, they may spend most of the days behind a computer screen. High school is practice time. Also, parents are excited that their kids are becoming computer ninjas. We all know how much farther we would be in our own careers if we had more tech skills! Read more...

Feb 2, 2017

Deb Ramm

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Jennifer Wolfe, Feb 7, 2017
Deb, My short answer would be to start blended or personalized learning PLCs with different groups of teachers and then start with some of these meatier problems. I recommend you pose these challenges back to the teachers to wrestle with and to pick small steps that they can build upon as the PLC grows in maturity. Read more...
Juliana Finegan, Feb 15, 2017
You can also have teachers build personal PD playlists to fill individual needs and gaps. By having educators reflect on their individual areas of need, you can help them expand their practice, identify innovative strategies, and improve their approach on a personal basis. Here are some free resources you can explore to share with your educators and give them opportunities to go beyond their current models: TLA Practices - this site gives various practices educators can apply to their classroom. The search bar at the top is particularly helpful when building a playlist because they can search for topics like "student autonomy" and identify different strategies that have been used by the schools showcased. Relay GSE blended learning courses - these can be taken asynchronously or broken apart into sections to help teachers strengthen their skills in mindset, routines, culture, analyzing data, lesson planning, and even becoming a blended leader. Read more...
Juliana Finegan, Feb 15, 2017
For some reason the hyperlinks didn't go through so here they are again!Relay GSE courses:https://www.canvas.net/browse/relayTLA Practices sitehttp://practices.learningaccelerator.org Read more...

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Donna Henry, Feb 1, 2017
That's a really good question. In Lewisville ISD, we look at the following indicators: course completion, grade distribution, state assessment data, and enrollment demographics. Additionally, we look at parent and student survey data. We also conducted an interesting study this year where we compared a teacher's face-to-face classes and blended classes (see data indicators above). We found that the blended classes out-performed the traditional classes. Read more...
Julia Freeland Fisher, Feb 21, 2017
This is such an important question. We have a couple organizing frameworks to think about this - first, when you design a blended program what problem are you trying to solve? Some blended programs are first just trying to expand access... others are looking to target specific student populations to bolster test scores. Measuring a program against it's intended purpose is key - otherwise we may hold early implementation to too high a bar and kill innovation before it can take off. It's also worth noting that if you're using blended to personalize learning, some blended approaches may be working really well for some students and not for others. Traditionally if an intervention is only working for a subset of students we throw it out - but if you manage to measure blended learning results at the individual student level, you can start to offer a menu of experiences that fit different students' preferences and needs.Here's video where we talk through some of these distinctions:http://christenseninstitute.org/blog/unpacking-whether-blended-learning-works/ Read more...
Hannah Benoit, Feb 21, 2017
Thank you both for your thoughtful answers!

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