We had an old empty building in the district and had been dreaming for a couple years about how we could best utilize the space for students. We thought it would be amazing to try a whole new school design in which project-based learning was integrated into the core curriculum. Online learning for the core curriculum was a way to open up student time and teacher capacity for projects. The flexible, customized student learning plans allow a new level of personalization for students.
One challenge was that it was difficult for parents to visualize how this learning model would work. To help them understand this effort, we held a parent and community roundtable where they shared their ideas and questions.
Another big challenge has been the adjustment for students to this new model. In this learning environments, students now really need to be constantly engaged and consistently working hard.
As you start designing your program, invest a lot of time engaging with all of your stakeholders. We started with a plan, then talked to the school board. We wanted to be open and transparent right off the bat. We invited all interested to learn more. We held many parent meetings, and talked to all of the current middle school students.
Even more than strong communication, though, is that you have to being willing to take a lot of questions, and have thick skin against criticism along the way. Believe in the learning process and focus on designing what's best for the students.
Getting started with blended learning
Use of time and space in the classroom
The Churchill County Middle School Blended Learning Community organized as a school within a school. The BLC features a technology-based learning area, a project based area, a collaboration center, and small group instruction areas. Students are self-paced and supplement their learning with a variety of clubs, activities, and learning exploration opportunities.
Contact: Nate Waite
Churchill County Middle School Blended Learning Community
650 S. Maine St.