This model came very naturally to our school. I don’t think we ever called it blended learning in its formative years; that’s just the way it was. Fifteen years ago the workshop model was really big, and as time passed we discovered that technology could enhance this model. Teachers play a driving role in the way we use technology at Hampden Meadows. They talk to one another and find ways to share their work using technology. I have found that many teachers create Google Slides with their lessons laid out on them—essential question, objectives, mini lesson, practice, etc. During their weekly planning time, teachers will share these with one another. It’s the sharing and the common planning time that allows our teachers to grow in their implementation of blended learning. The same goes for our Makerspace and our work around design thinking. Teachers teach one another about work completed in the Makerspace, or students teach teachers. We call this Lunch & Learn, where a group of students eats lunch in the Makerspace and participates in a discussion surrounding a new concept. Then those students return to their classes and teach their teachers and classmates about the concept. It is this culture of collaboration and community learning that powers our blended program.
Our biggest challenge in implementing blended learning has been equity. I wanted to make sure that everyone was using the Chromebooks, and not just as an old-fashioned typewriter. How could we use them so that all students would grow and increase their achievement? Some of our teachers are twenty-one or twenty-two years old, and some of our teachers are sixty-one or sixty-two years old. It is about the respectful exchange of knowledge. Some teachers are sharing classroom management practices, while others are sharing their knowledge of how to mobilize technology in the classroom. Administrators try to use and model digital integration as much as we can in professional development meetings—using Kahoot! or putting all of the information on Google Slides so staff do not need to take notes. We did some silly things with memes, and teachers said that they could use that. We’re finding that everyone is increasingly enjoying technology integration.
Emerging programs have to take the first step toward blended learning, and then take it slow and plan. It is about experimentation. Perhaps ask multiple staff members to try out a method over the course of a week. At the end of the week, staff members should have time conference on what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to be changed. It is important to provide teachers with the time to talk practice through with each other. There has to be a norm that teachers are going to put aside competition and learn from each other’s successes. High quality communication and collaboration are essential for piloting a blended program.
Hampden Meadows Elementary School serves the fourth and fifth grade students of Barrington, RI. At Hampden Meadows, students join a warm, caring school community to engage in personalized, twenty first century learning experiences. Hampden Meadows recently added a Makerspace, where students use design thinking to create, collaborate, problem solve, and engage in real-world learning. Additionally, students enjoy a 1:1 Chromebook initiative, where they participate in Station Rotation and Individual Rotation manifestations of blended learning throughout the learning day.
Hampden Meadows Elementary School
Barrington, Rhode Island
2806 United States
In 2014-2015 Rhode Island used the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) to test students in grades 4, 8 and 11 in science. The NECAP is a standards-based test, which means it measures specific skills defined for each grade by the state of Rhode Island. The goal is for all students to score at or above the proficient level.
The 2015 results of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments provide a first look at whether students are meeting the expectations of the new learning standards in literacy and mathematics. These standards are designed to prepare students for success in their next grade level, in postsecondary learning, and in career opportunities.