We chose to use the Station Rotation model in our first year at Holy Angels School because it was the most realistic change we could ask the teachers to make. Station Rotation is familiar enough to teachers that they feel like they can handle the change even though blended learning introduces many new dynamics into their classrooms. In the future, we hope to transition to a more Individual Rotation- or Flex-esque model to more authentically personalize learning for each student.
One enormous challenge we encountered at the beginning was finding the right balance between instruction at each student's level and instruction at the student's grade level - if there even is such a thing. We initially tried to personalize instruction too much and realized that our students would be wildly unprepared for the next grade level. Throughout the year, we formed a new method to ensure that students would address their learning gaps without neglecting to master grade-level skills.
Blended-learning programs should always be created with very specific goals in mind that can guide the design of the program. If the teachers and leaders of the program can articulate why they want to implement the program and what they hope it will do, they will in turn create a program that accomplishes those goals without being distracted by new, flashy tools or strategies that distract from the program's purpose.
The teachers at Holy Angels boldly agreed to implement a blended-learning program this year without knowing much about blended learning at all. Over the summer, the implementation team from the Alliance for Catholic Eduation at the University of Notre Dame took the teachers from 0 to 60 in a matter of weeks. The key turning point for the staff was the week of professional development in July. During this week, teachers took the time to articulate the problems they identified in their school and how blended learning could contribute to solving (some of) them. For example, the teachers agreed that the students seemed disengaged with learning and failed to take responsibility for their assignments. Through extensive discussion, the teachers realized that they could implement a blended-learning program with goal-setting structures to ensure that students started to own their own learning and were more engaged with the whole process. In its first year, Holy Angels saw great gains in student learning and we can't wait to see what the next few years bring!
Holy Angels Catholic School is a Notre Dame ACE Academy located in the hear of inner-city Indianpolis, IN. For many years, Holy Angels has served a predominantly urban, African-American population. Holy Angels provides a challenging, faith-filled, educational experience that serves as the foundation for a life lived in service to Jesus, the Church and Community. The goals for all students are simple: College and Heaven.
Contact: Elizabeth Anthony
Contact Title: Blended Learning Project Coordinator
Holy Angels Catholic School
2822 Dr. M.L.K. Jr. St.