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A La Carte, Enriched Virtual, and Flipped Classrooms

A La Carte, Enriched Virtual, and Flipped Classrooms

Jessica Hunsinger

Jessica Hunsinger

Product Manager, Kiddom

Former educator passionate about building human potential. Saving teachers time through interoperability is what currently drives me. 

In the final post of our 4-part blended learning series, we introduce three ways to offer entire units or courses online.

In the first post, view a blended learning infographic to find out which blended learning model is best for your classroom. In the second post, learn about station rotation and lab rotation. In the third post, discover the benefits of the individual rotation and flex models of blended learning.

 

The final three classroom models featured in our Blended Learning 102 guide allow students to easily access materials wherever and whenever they choose. By offering guidance, engagement, and instruction beyond the walls of a traditional classroom, students can find a fuller sense of autonomy and voice in their learning.

The common definition of the enriched virtual model is a course or subject in which students have required face-to-face learning sessions with a teacher and then are free to complete their remaining work remotely. Online learning is the backbone of student learning when the students are not in school. The same person generally serves as both the online and face-to-face teacher and students seldom meet face-to-face with their teachers every weekday. It differs from a fully online class because face-to-face learning sessions are more than optional office hours or social events; they are required.

The face-to-face sessions are often used to introduce the material and expectations or to complete more comprehensive assessments of learning. Often at the end of an enriched virtual model course, the students come together for a final session in which they present what they learned. This is how you might develop speaking and listening skills in a predominantly online learning environment.

An a la carte model, as the name implies, is a class that a student can choose to take entirely online to accompany other experiences they have at a traditional school or learning center. The teacher of record for the a la carte course is primarily an online teacher. Students may complete the learning activities either at school or at home. This differs from full-time online learning because it is not the only learning experience a student will have as the are still enrolled in traditional teacher-led classes as well. 

Both the a la carte and enriched virtual models are closer to online learning in the spectrum of blended learning and are more often used in higher grade levels. They are classified as blended learning because they still include limited face-to-face time with a teacher. An a la carte model often has mostly traditional face to face classes with an online course supplement whereas the enriched virtual model is mostly online with intermittent face-to-face interactions. 

Choosing an Enriched Virtual or A La Carte Model

Many of the reasons for choosing an enriched virtual model or an a la carte model are the same. Both models allow you to support student driven learning, develop self-management skills, and personalize learning through a wider range of course options. They can be used to accelerate credit accumulation, resolve scheduling constraints, or to support foundational learning skills. Often these models are used with “non-traditional” students. For example, over-age under-credited high school students that have had interrupted academic progress, may need courses that don’t fit into their traditional schedule. These models are also be helpful in rural areas, where some students have very long commutes to school.

Getting Started with an Enriched Virtual or A La Carte Model

To get started with the a la carte model or enriched model, you should identify the course needs at your school. Are there gaps in your course offerings? Have students become disengaged in the required courses? What are the interests? Do you have students who are far below grade level and need an additional course to meet their needs? You will also need to determine the teacher on record. Who will monitor student progress? Since the course itself is online, you will need to choose the software or online learning program you want to use. Kiddom supports these models by opening the channels of communication with students via Kiddom’s messaging tools on assignments. You could use Kiddom to schedule the face-to-face meetings and support students self-paced learning by simultaneously tracking their SEL competencies. As the teacher of record for an online course you can also provide actionable feedback in growth areas on specific skills and standards. 

Choosing a Flipped Classroom Model

One final blended learning model is the flipped classroom. In some ways, a flipped classroom is like a rotation model if you replace the “stations” with student homes, the library, or really, anywhere with an internet connection.

In place of traditional homework in which students are practicing what they learned in school, the homework is to prepare for projects, group work and discussions about what you learned at school. The delivery of content and instruction is all online, which differentiates a flipped classroom from students who are merely doing homework practice online after school.

A flipped classroom model is typically dependent on students having access to technology at home, which means it is not feasible for everyone. However, many schools have found ways to get around this barrier to a flipped classroom model with open computer lab hours after school and choosing resources that are viewable on a cell phone or tablet. Teachers who choose to implement a flipped classroom model often do so to free up more class time for in-depth projects and group work for the application of concepts learned. The amount of time needed for projects often deters traditional teachers from assigning them because of the limitations of the school day.

The advantages of students accessing learning materials (usually videos) at home are the ability to pause, rewind, and rewatch material in the privacy of your own home. Initially students may not be adept at self-assessing their understanding and knowing when to review the materials. With the follow up in class, teachers can use the time to help students explore their own self awareness and alternative learning strategies.

Making sure students have done their homework is an age old battle that teachers continue to fight, even with new technology. Many teachers have expressed concerns about how to hold students accountable for completing digital work at home, which is an understandable fear. One strategy for holding students accountable is making space for them to watch the video or screencast in class when it is evident that they did not do it at home. For example, when a student asks a question on something that was explicitly covered in the instructional video, you may say something like, “Did you ask your digital teacher?” prompting them to find the answer in the instructional video in that moment.

By not answering questions that you already answered in the video, students will begin to understand that the time in class is reserved for taking learning to the next level. The result is more students accessing the lessons in advance so they do not have to be redirected in class.

A teacher’s role in a flipped classroom is less about direct instruction and more about facilitating student opportunities to demonstrate their learnings. Some teachers implementing flipped classrooms choose to record their own lessons to share with students. This may seem like a large time commitment, but if you consider the traditional middle or high school model where you teach the same lesson multiple times throughout the day, you are actually saving yourself time by only having to ‘deliver’ the lesson once. You may also choose to explore the plethora of existing lessons from open educational resources like the ones found in the Kiddom Library. Taking the time to find a reliable content provider can eliminate your need to record lessons yourself.

Getting Started with a Flipped Classroom Model

If you are interested in trying out a flipped model, the first step is to determine what and how students will access the learning materials. This clip from the video Blended Learning: Making it Work in Your Classroom shows how one teacher decided to record podcasts of her lessons for students to access at home. There are many options for recording lessons including;

  • Screencast-o-matic, which allows you to record your voice and what is showing on your screen
  • PowToon, a tool for creating animated videos
  • the voice narration options with Powerpoint.

You do not have to reinvent the wheel, though, so your first step may be finding the right lessons from the plethora of online resources already available.

Kiddom can support a flipped classroom model as a platform to share the self-recorded lessons with students or the tool to find great instructional videos. Students could access each night’s lessons on their Kiddom timeline. They also have the option to reach out to the teacher with any questions they may have prior to class. This would help guide teacher’s follow up in class the next day. Students are also able to access feedback from home and can view how they did on the in-class assignments and their overall progress.

Blended Learning with Kiddom

Kiddom’s free collaborative learning platform is ideal to introduce a blended learning model in your classroom. For teachers looking to enhance instruction by integrating digital content, Kiddom’s flexible tools adapt well for educators that utilize technology in a variety of different ways. And in true blended learning fashion, the Kiddom platform empowers students to take ownership of their education, build on 21st century skills, and engage in assignments tailored by their teachers to meet individual needs.

Kiddom’s platform is adaptable for teachers incorporating blended learning models for all learners, especially as teachers and students can engage in learning from anywhere with Kiddom’s mobile apps for iOS and Android.

This blog post is based on our Blended Learning 102 Guide. For more information, we encourage you to download it here.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

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4 Myths about Digital Curriculum, Busted

In a summer webinar, we discussed the merits of a truly digital curriculum. Below, we unpack some misconceptions about going digital in preparation for the webinar, which occurred on July 28, 2020. View the highlights of our discussion here.    In the world of...

How to calibrate curriculum while ensuring teachers have flexibility

How to calibrate curriculum while ensuring teachers have flexibility

Jessica Hunsinger

Jessica Hunsinger

Product Manager, Kiddom

Former educator passionate about building human potential. Saving teachers time through interoperability is what currently drives me. 

We chatted with Jessica Hunsinger, Product Manager at Kiddom, to learn about the “Curriculum” element of a groundbreaking new feature, responsive curriculum management. Jessica brings a unique perspective, as a former teacher who has been involved with Kiddom from the building of our free product for teachers, Kiddom Classroom, to Kiddom Academy, our paid product for administrators.  

You can view the other stages in this series as posted here:

  • Curriculum (Stage 1 & 2): curriculum developers & teachers
  • Instruction (Stage 3 & 4): teachers & students
  • Assessment (Stage 5 & 6): administrators & teachers

Teachers are not robots — the beauty of what a teacher does is in how they put their own passion and personality into bringing these lessons to life.

 

 

Why Would Curriculum Developers Want to Share Curriculum With Their Teachers?

This was one of the first questions we asked in our research to build Academy, and of course there are many reasons. The end goal for all schools is the students — learning and achievement. But why would they want teachers to work on the same thing?

 

Student equity is the goal post.

It’s always about making sure every student in your school receives an excellent education.

And yet there is also this understanding that teachers are not robots — that the beauty of what a teacher does is in how they put their own passion and personality into bringing these lessons to life.

Yet in order to promote student equity and give every student a quality education, school leaders need to make meaning of their data.

Sometimes they try having these normed benchmark assessments a few times a year. But the problem is, those aren’t teacher created. So they don’t come often enough to respond quickly, and since the teachers didn’t create it, there isn’t always alignment to the testing.

So the goal is, at the bare minimum, to say, “by this date, we would like you to cover this.”  We knew that administrators wanted to sort of set expectations — we later defined that as calibrating expectations — across classrooms and in talking with a variety of people involved with curriculum, we made some discoveries.

 

Curriculum Developers

Teachers

Administrators

Who’s in Charge of Curriculum? The Many Faces of the “Curriculum” Role

Some of the roles we talked to in our research process so far:

 

  • Director of Curriculum and Instruction
  • Teacher Leader tasked with helping their district build curriculum
  • Principal doing project-based enabling teachers to define loose curriculum projects
  • Kiddom user who was already using Kiddom’s Planner tool
…but the person responsible for building curriculum varies at every school, including:

 

  • Director of Curriculum Instruction
  • Instructional Coach
  • Team Lead of X Department (Science, etc.)
  • Assistant Principal — who happens to also be responsible for instruction
  • District-wide instructional support

The Collaborative Curriculum Building Solution

As you can see, every school has a different system. But at the end of the day, we see teachers submitting plans to administrators or school leaders are often collaborating back and forth.

So with our instructional days and skills attached to the unit within the app, we’re helping them say “within this time frame you can cover this skill in anyway you want.” That way, everyone wins. Teachers are teaching what they want; and the curriculum role is able to look at apples to apples comparisons about their curriculum.

What Academy’s Classroom Insights Aren’t Made for: 

The point is not to see how far one classroom has gotten versus another. While you administrators do have the visibility to drill down and see that discrepancy — we see this more as a way for school leaders to make sense of the day-to day instructional data, as opposed to benchmark assessment data.
It’s also not made to spy on teachers. Rather, it’s made so teachers won’t have to waste time explaining classroom insights. Admins can see in realtime what is happening in the classroom. So they can plan to do observations on a meaningful day, or see that a certain student didn’t attend the day that x skill was taught.

Which steps take place in the Curriculum stage?

Step 1: Plan, Design, & Align

In this stage, a school leader would plan out courses. Here, a curriculum role can build the scope and sequence, align each unit to standards, and design the content, if he or she wishes.

 

This can be shared with teachers who can then collaborate, with the curriculum director or with each other, to design content.
 

Here administrators can add units, standards, and other details, then click into any teacher’s curriculum to view what resources teachers have added into their Planner.

Step 2: Share & Fine Tune

In this stage, the curriculum is shared with teachers where they can then build it out in Planner. This is where Academy is unique, in that it bridges a gap from the curriculum management tool to the Classroom.

Here teachers can build out their student Timeline by choosing content for the Units that have appeared in their Planner — whether they wish to add their own custom content by attaching a file or integrating with Google Drive, or choosing one of the 70,000+ resources available within Kiddom’s content library. The curriculum director and teacher both have the visibility to see the plan and share resources freely.

 

 

Teachers can access and use the curriculum designed in Academy, simply dragging resources from Planner and dropping them into a a student’s Timeline.

The Greatest Benefits of Responsive Curriculum Management for Curriculum Developers

For one, curriculum developers using responsive curriculum management serve to gain a deeper understanding from the rich measurement of multiple layers of teaching and learning, which allows their curriculum to be analyzed and improved upon swiftly — an added bonus here is the ability to measure personalization efforts. Both of these points roll up into the greater goal shared be most learning communities: every child can receive a quality education.

Another crucial benefit is the ability to collaborate with transparency. As teachers and curriculum developers collaborate to build a shared framework, they’re able to discover and reuse their “greatest hits” curriculum. This can be carried on to new semesters, or across multiple classes in a subject. In effect, the most successful content or teaching styles will surface to shape that curriculum into something far greater through collaboration.

 

You can view the other stages in this series as posted here:

  • Curriculum (Stage 1 & 2): curriculum developers & teachers
  • Instruction (Stage 3 & 4): teachers & students
  • Assessment (Stage 5 & 6): administrators & teachers

What is Responsive Curriculum Management?

Responsive Curriculum Management (RCM) is a feature that calibrates curriculum across school systems so that learning trends can be discovered and acted upon in a timely manner.

By including all stakeholders in a child's education, RCM effectively bridges the gap between curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Kiddom Academy picks up where the LMS leaves off, offering an operating system for K-12 schools and districts to measure and act on classroom intelligence. We define a K-12 operating system as a set of interconnected tools to enable schools to operate more productively, increase student outcomes, and improve upon their respective instructional models.

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it’s very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

You might also be interested in these articles:

Individual Rotation and Flex: Blended Learning Models

Individual Rotation and Flex: Blended Learning Models

Jessica Hunsinger

Jessica Hunsinger

Product Manager, Kiddom

Former educator passionate about building human potential. Saving teachers time through interoperability is what currently drives me. 

In this third post of our blended learning series, we cover two models that are the best fit for classrooms with central learning labs.

In the first post, view a blended learning infographic to find out which blended learning model is best for your classroom. In the second post, learn about station rotation and lab rotation.

 

Let’s Start with the Basics.

The individual rotation model, included under the rotation model umbrella, has students rotating between different stations and learning opportunities, but is different from other rotation models in that students don’t necessarily rotate to every station. Each student has an individualized playlist of activities and only rotates to the stations or modalities identified on their personalized schedule, determined by the teacher or, in some cases, an algorithm.

In the flex model, online instruction is the primary mode of accessing content and materials, with additional support from a teacher face-to-face. Teachers share learning activities with students who access them at their own pace, and then teachers use data to intervene in real-time. This model is dependent on self-directed learning and allows for a fluid schedule that is more flexible than other models as online learning makes up the bulk of a student’s direct instruction.  

We grouped these two models together because they require the same technology access and they look very similar in classroom practice. In both of these models, the learning space is designed to have a central learning lab or collaborative space.

As explained in “A Deeper Look At the Flex Model” by Blended Learning Universe, these models “benefit from a larger, open learning space instead of traditional classroom walls. The value of an oversized classroom space is that it allows for students to flow among multiple formats and for teachers to roam more easily among the students.” The main difference is who is in control of the student flow. In the flex model, the student has far more autonomy, whereas the individual rotation is personalized but dictated by a teacher or a data system.

 

Choosing the Individual Rotation Model

The individual rotation model is a good choice when you have enough devices for every student to use and you want to use those devices to plan personalized lessons for each student. Data is the main driver of student schedules and materials in this model. With the right tools, individual teachers can manage these decisions, but many schools use a data manager to help dictate the student’s schedule or the stations they rotate to throughout the day.

Individual and flex models are the most common model in world languages (BLU Directory)

Students checking out their individual rotation schedule for the day in a Teach to One classroom

One example of an individual rotation model is demonstrated through Teach To One, an offshoot of the School of One model that many schools have adopted. It is a personalized math program that uses the individual rotation model to tailor learning experiences to learning styles and rates of progress. The program includes nine different learning modalities that support a variety of learners. The video demonstrates how having students identify their learning styles helps students take ownership of their learning and advocate for themselves.

If your goal for exploring a blended learning model is to increase student ownership of their learning, you can also create stations based on learning modalities.  At the individual level this may seem daunting, but teachers can use a individual rotation model that does not require a different schedule each day.

At the default station, students always have work to complete online at their own pace. When teachers use the data from the self-paced curriculum they can intervene as misconceptions arise or mini-lessons are needed. You may use a messaging system or classroom display that informs students that they should rotate to offline stations: “You are scheduled for a small group discussion today” or “Rotate to group work station at 11.”

Illustration of the Individual Rotation Model with a Central learning Lab at the center

One way that teachers or schools do this is by using playlists. A playlist is a group of related learning activities. With a playlist, students are given a clear sense of the path they are going to take but it is also easy to work student choice in along the way. Heather Starks, a blended learning teacher explains how she uses playlists in her blog piece “Why I am Loving Instead of Hating the Beginning of this School Year”.

By using playlists, you can schedule different checkpoints for students. When students need more frequent check-ins, you can easily differentiate their playlists by including more face-to-face teacher time. Kiddom supports the creation of playlists in the Planner feature, which allows you to create a “Teacher Check-In” assignment, like the one in the image below, that will prompt students to see their teacher.

student dashboard showing what a Teacher Check-In” assignment looks like to a students

Getting Started with the Individual Rotation Model

Just like with the other rotation models, you can experiment with individual rotation in your class by choosing a day of the week to introduce the concept to students and practice it to work out the kinks. It would be helpful to decide how you want students to rotate in advance.

Will you use a playlist model which tells students to “rotate” when they get to a certain point in the curriculum or when misconceptions arise? Or will you establish learning modality stations and have students rotate based on their learning preferences? Either way, you can use Kiddom to support this practice.

An important thing to consider when adopting the individual rotation model is how to incorporate social emotional development. Critics of this model argue that it works best for self-motivated individuals. However, putting in the effort to help students develop that type of intrinsic motivation can be a great impetus for future success.

If you are interested in trying the individual rotation model, be sure to learn from the efforts of early adopters and pay special attention to organizing opportunities for social interaction and development.

Choosing the Flex Model

One of the biggest advantages of a flex model is that it lets students, not teachers, dictate when they rotate. They rotate between various stations when they need them and they are not constrained by time limits. If you’re hoping to increase student motivation and autonomy, this may be the model you choose. This form of blended learning is most often implemented at a whole-school level but can be accomplished at the class level with careful planning. 

The organization Blended Learning Universe explains how this impacts teachers: “Because of the heavy emphasis on student autonomy, the role of a teacher changes in a Flex model. Instead of delivering instruction to whole groups, teachers spend most of their time providing face-to-face tutoring, guidance, and enrichment to supplement online lessons.”  

Diagram of the Blended Learning Universe and the roll that teachers play in Flex

The amount of advanced curriculum planning that goes into developing, curating, and creating the online course materials that allow for students to independently progress through the material may be a shift for most teachers. Rather than planning throughout the year, with a Flex model you will plan and prepare most of your materials in advance.

Another example of this new teacher and student dynamic is illustrated by the case study of  Summit Schools, produced by Khan Academy. At Summit Schools, students sign up for assessments with the teacher when they feel like they are ready to demonstrate mastery. This shift in responsibility also helps to support many social emotional learning skills. Most implementations of a flex model also incorporate some form of weekly check-in between students and teachers that allows teachers to guide students to develop goal setting skills.  

Getting Started with the Flex Model

To get started with a Flex Model, you will first need to choose or create a self-paced online curriculum. There are a growing number of available online curricula but many teachers prefer to organize the online materials to match their style or even to develop their own digital lessons and activities.

Kiddom’s Planner is one way to organize and store your curriculum for a self-paced flex model course. In Planner, you can easily organize all of the curricular materials in units and playlists (groups of related assignments).

When you assign a playlist to students, they can work through the learning activities independently and check in with you when they have completed the tasks. Students can also communicate with teachers by commenting on the assignment and open the dialogue when a teacher is working with other students.

Finally, as mentioned above, the flex model shifts many responsibilities to the students which is a great way to teach social emotional learning competencies.  These competencies can easily be tracked using the 5 CASEL standards available on the Kiddom platform.

This blog post is based on our Blended Learning 102 Guide. For more information, we encourage you to download it here.

 

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

You Might Also Like…

4 Myths about Digital Curriculum, Busted

In a summer webinar, we discussed the merits of a truly digital curriculum. Below, we unpack some misconceptions about going digital in preparation for the webinar, which occurred on July 28, 2020. View the highlights of our discussion here.    In the world of...

Station Rotation & Lab Rotation: Blended Learning Models

Station Rotation & Lab Rotation: Blended Learning Models

In the second of our 4-part blended learning blog series, we cover two models that are the best fit for a classroom with limited technology access.

This is the second post of our 4-part blog series on Blended Learning Models. View the first post and accompanying infographic to find out which blended learning model is best for your classroom.

Many people think you need to have a 1:1 laptop ratio to do blended learning, but with the station rotation and lab rotation models, teachers are able to maximize a classroom with limited technology.

In this post, which comes from our Blended Learning 102 guide, we’ll give you an overview of the similarities and differences between two of the most common blended learning models: station rotation and lab rotation. We’ll also share some tips to set up each model, and include a few ways Kiddom helps with implementation along the way.

 

Rotation Models: The Basics

Station and lab rotation are two blended learning models which belong under the larger umbrella of “Rotation Models”. A rotation model is when students move between learning stations, either 1. on a fixed schedule, or 2. at the teacher’s discretion, where at least one station incorporates online learning.

Fun facts: Station rotation and lab rotation models

While one group of students is engaged in independent online learning, the teacher facilitates activities for another group; activities such as small-group instruction, group projects, individual tutoring, or independent practice.

 

Choosing the Station Rotation Model

In a station rotation model, the teacher organizes students into groups within the classroom, where at least one station is a computer-based learning experience. These groups can be fixed (remain the same each day; grouped by learning styles) or dynamic (change depending on student skills/needs).

This model allows you to differentiate your teacher-led instruction by creating small-groups in class and personalized learning experiences on the computers. As mentioned, station rotation is a great option when you have limited classroom technology or limited access to a school laptop cart. It addresses many issues caused by large class sizes and can be used in classrooms of all ages, even kindergarten. You can also introduce students to the 21st century technology skills they need in small chunks of time. The possibilities are endless, which can be a bit overwhelming, so let’s get specific.

The station rotation model changes the role of a teacher by allowing for greater flexibility through small group instruction. This impacts how you plan your instruction for each day, although, it doesn’t mean you plan completely different lessons for each group.

Your lesson plan format may change to include the student groups and how you plan to address their unique needs with varied question types or examples. The beauty of grouping is that the groups can be dynamic, as student achievement levels or needs change. This will inspire more daily data-driven planning as well, rather than waiting until the end of the term to look at student data. Using a platform like Kiddom makes it easy to track student performance in real time and make decisions about student groupings or send individual assignments based on mastery levels.

 
Mastery Groups Kiddom UI

How you plan to differentiate is also flexible. You can hear a teacher’s’ first-hand explanation of these changes by accessing the Khan Academy Case Study of Kipp Los Angeles School. In this case study, you can hear how using stations allows the teacher to support her english language learner students by giving them more opportunities to speak in a small group.

 

Activities to Maximize the Potential of Each Station

Computer Station

  • Individualized assignments (i.e. remediation or extension)
  • Adaptable software
  • Research
  • Digital presentations
  • Interactive activities (i.e. discussion boards)
  • Simulations
 

Collaborative Learning

  • Group work with roles
  • Hands-on activities
  • Makerspace station
  • Projects
  • Games

Teacher Station

  • Direct instruction
  • Facilitate discussion
  • Oral assessment

 

The computer station can be used for many learning goals. Some teachers or schools sign up for an adaptive learning platform, but paying for that type of resource isn’t necessary — you can get creative with your stations by accessing free content.

 

One option would be to use Kiddom to send personalized assignments to individual or groups of students. On Kiddom, students can access those assignments, check their scores, ask questions or make comments, and monitor their own progress towards mastery.

Helpful Kiddom features for station and lab rotation

 

Getting Started with the Station Rotation Model

An easy way to explore how a station rotation model might impact your class would be to establish a “stations” day once a week. Depending on how many devices and students you have, you can start with 2–3 small(er) groups.

One small group could work independently or in pairs on activities appropriate for their current achievement level, such as practice from the previous days lessons, independent reading, journaling, etc. Another group could be working with the teacher on either a mini-lesson or a teacher-facilitated group discussion. In a third group, students use a computer to develop their social emotional skill of self-management by doing a progress check and setting a goal for the week. Using the computer station to allow students to check their progress is a way to ease into the benefits of this blended learning model. It wouldn’t require much additional software and can help you establish and refine the classroom routines needed to make transitions from station to station.

Working in stations one day a week would allow you to experiment with the classroom management supports you’ll need for your classroom to help things run smoothly. For example, you’ll learn how long it takes your students to transition from one station to the next and you can adjust accordingly. Anyone trying out stations knows that routines are very important and it’s okay not to get it right the first time.

A visual schedule like this one can help students know where they should be at the appropriate time and help them take ownership of their schedule.

Station Rotation or Lab Rotation Chart

 

 

Choosing a Lab Rotation Model

The lab rotation model is another option that works when you don’t have a full set of computers in your classroom. In this model, students rotate to a separate computer lab for the online-learning station. Many schools that use lab rotation have a co-teaching staffing model or have paraprofessionals in the classroom to facilitate transitions, but that is not a requirement. Students can either rotate to the lab as part of a class or as an online learning class of its own. This model can be used for all grade levels.

One common way the lab rotation model is used:

  1. Teacher delivers a mini lesson and does a formal check for understanding.
  2. Students who demonstrate proficiency are ready to rotate to the computer lab to complete independent practice or personalized practice.
  3. Students who need additional assistance get to work with the teacher in a small group in the moment.

This blended learning model allows you to intervene right away when students need additional support. The teacher’s role in a lab rotation model can be very similar to a traditional teaching model, in that you may still deliver whole class instruction.

The main difference is that you can intervene with a small group without having to manage the entire class of students at the same time. If you do not have a co-teacher or paraprofessional, you would rotate with your entire class to the lab and sit with the small group in the lab.

 

Getting Started with the Lab Rotation Model

Kiddom can help maintain consistency of expectations while in the lab. Establishing a routine and leadership roles for students when they rotate to the lab can alleviate classroom management concerns. Using Kiddom in the lab will enhance the lab rotation model by allowing you to direct student learning in advance, so you can focus on teaching instead of giving instructions.

It also opens the line of communication. While you may be working with the small group of students, students can comment/respond to comments on assignments. You can support student interests and learning needs by sharing personalized assessments. Finally, just like in the station rotation model, students can access their progress reports on Kiddom and know how they are performing at a skill based level.

One of the biggest considerations for implementing a lab rotation model is scheduling. Whether you are piloting the model yourself, or your entire school is transitioning to a lab rotation model, you will need to be on the same page with your colleagues about how and when the lab can be used by your class. Just like in station rotation, it may be easiest to start with a lab rotation day. In this case, you can reserve the lab for your class on a given day and experiment with rotation options on that given day.

This blog post is based on our Blended Learning 102 Guide. For more information, we encourage you to download it here.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

Which Blended Learning Model is Right for Your Classroom? Infographic

Which Blended Learning Model is Right for Your Classroom? Infographic

In the first of our 4-part blended learning blog series, use this infographic to determine the right model for you and get a brief overview of each model.

 

In today’s schools, blended learning is becoming increasingly utilized due to improvements in technology and growing access to online learning materials. According to the Christensen Institute’s Blended Learning Universe, there are seven generally accepted blended learning models — so you might be wondering, which one is best for my class?

In this four-part blog series we will provide you with the right resources to answer that question and then explore each style in depth. For part one, we’ve created this infographic based on our Blended Learning 101 and 102 guides. You can use the infographic to determine the right model for your class, get a brief overview of each model, and learn some fun facts and helpful Kiddom features along the way.

In the following posts, we’ll cover the models in more depth, including how to get started, how our free product for teachers helps with implementation, and further resources if you wish to go deeper.

Recap: What is Blended Learning, again?

Blended learning, commonly understood as combining traditional instruction with computer-based learning experiences, can address many common pedagogical challenges. A widely accepted definition from Horn and Staker includes the following components of true blended learning components:

1. It involves teaching and learning within a formal education program

2. Students learn at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction

3. Students have some level of control over time, place, path, and/or pace

4. Part or all of instruction is delivered away from home in a supervised, brick-and-mortar location

 

At Kiddom, we believe a successful blended learning program is the intentional integration of educational technology within the classroom to enhance the learning process. Students engage with content via multiple modalities and gain some control over their learning pace. Effective blended learning models have curricula designed for integration, student buy-in, and access to appropriate technology and resources.

 

Why Choose Blended Learning?

To ensure that you are planning intentionally, first you must determine whyyou want to try blended learning or, more specifically, which instructional issue you hope to solve.

Are you constantly torn between the range of needs of your students and want a more efficient way to differentiate instruction? Are you hoping to revive student motivation by increasing student choice? Do you feel passionate about embedding tech skills into your assignments to prepare students for college and careers? Maybe you have heard buzz about the benefits of asynchronous learning, small group instruction, and paperless classrooms, and want to pilot something new. 

 

 

In Blended Learning 101 we discuss four reasons to consider changing your instruction style:

1. Improved Communication

2. More Personalized Instruction

3. Student-Driven Learning

4. Improved Self-Management Skills

In the same guide, we seek to provide educators with a better understanding of how to implement blended learning programs, particularly in schools using standards-based or competency-based grading.

In Blended Learning 102, which our infographic is largely based upon, we have broken the models up into three main categories depending on the availability of internet enabled devices, in class or at home, needed to implement each model. Along the way, we also explore how Kiddom’s collaborative learning platform can be used to expertly implement a blended learning model in your classroom.

So without further ado, we invite you to check out our blended learning infographic to get the basics on which blended learning style is best for you.

 

Click the arrow above to download!

 

Over the next few weeks, we’ll post a series of articles to cover these models in more depth. In the meanwhile, we encourage you to check out our Blended Learning 101 and 102 guides, which you can access at our blended learning resources page.

Read the 2nd blog on Station Rotation and Lab Rotation Models here. 

 

 

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

For Educational Technology, Interoperability Must Be the Future

For Educational Technology, Interoperability Must Be the Future

I teach a variety of courses at a high school for overage, under-credited students in New York City. I’ve used online resources to support instruction for years, but I needed a more creative solution for students with real barriers to attendance and at risk of aging out of high school. To more appropriately meet their needs, I designed and piloted a self-paced learning program offering thirteen different courses, all supported by some form of online content.

This cohort of students earned over 100 credits* over the course of the school year, proving the efficacy of my program. As a result, my school decided to allow me to continue experimenting with the program and build it out further. I was excited to continue, but the work was exhausting.

 

The 21st century educator’s juggle (mandated systems not pictured). Yikes!

 

My students were exploring content provided by Khan Academy, IXL, Duolingo, Everfi, Empower3000, Quill, A.D.A.M, and more. These providers each have their own database and the student achievement data doesn’t necessarily flow from one to other. So I spent an unsustainable amount of time transferring data from each of these content providers into my gradebook to have one place that could show me a holistic picture of where my students were academically. 21st century learners are used to obtaining feedback in real-time but unfortunately, I could never keep up with their pace and so they often asked, “why haven’t you updated my grade, yet?”

This “interoperability” problem is what inspired me to take on the Curriculum Specialist role at KiddomAs a teacher, I saw first-hand that connecting great content directly to a teacher’s workflow was something they valued. Building and consolidating the “teacher toolbelt” is integral to their mission. I still teach part-time, and while the availability of impactful teaching resources has increased, the problem of juggling data from each resource continues to persist (and irritate).

Working at Kiddom, I realized and was surprised by how difficult it was to connect with education technology companies that want to invest the time to work together and solve interoperability. We want the same thing (to support teachers and learners), so I optimistically believe this is a possibility.

Working together effectively means we’ll all win, especially students.

If you’re a K-12 content provider and you’re reading this, please consider it an open invitation to reach out and connect with me at Kiddom. I’ve probably used your materials and I want to share them with more educators. While sharing your platform directly with teachers might be beneficial, I can’t help but think about how I might be perpetuating the demands on teachers’ time caused by the need to manually transfer data.

Interoperability is my passion. Let’s work together to help teachers use their limited resources in the most efficient way possible to positively impact students.

Looking forward to it,
– Jessica the Kiddom team

*New York high school students are expected to earn 11 credits each year but our group of at-risk students were averaging 4 per year.

Guest Post by:  Jessica H.

Finally, Curriculum Development for Self-Paced Instruction

Finally, Curriculum Development for Self-Paced Instruction

A Planner for Self-Paced Learning

I teach at a non-traditional high school for non-traditional students in New York City. Many of my students struggle with poor attendance due to insecure housing situations. To better support my students, I decided to change the structure of my class by providing flexible due dates and access to learning materials outside of school. I made these changes knowing the tools I was using at the time wouldn’t support self-paced learning, but I assumed I’d be able to adopt new platforms to assist with the transition. Finding technology that supported asynchronous learning however, proved harder than I expected. I explored a plethora of education technology tools, but found much of the same rigidity; either I had to send assignments to the entire class or I had to choose a specific due date. I also needed to use separate tools for sending, receiving, and grading the assignments.

Kiddom’s Planner on the other hand, allows me to meet the unique needs of my students in one collaborative learning platform. As a teacher, I’ve fallen in love with it.

Building a Strong Base

Planner allows teachers to “get ahead” by organizing learning activities for students within units. This could be ideal for blended learning or flipped classrooms, but it’s perfect for my self-paced class. I developed my classes with a foundation of lessons based on curriculum I taught year over year. The lessons and assignments that worked well are the backbone of the class and are the ones I make available for students to access today. I created these learning activities in Planner first, since I know I can use them over and over again. The icing on the cake is the ability to drag-and-drop assignments over to individual students’ timelines (timeline is where where they access assignments).

Now I can easily send a student the next assignment after they demonstrate mastery. They no longer have to wait for their peers to move on, and that’s wonderful.

Playlists to Personalize Pacing

An added benefit to using Planner is that I can also personalize the number of assignments I share with a student at any given time.

 

 

Some students (like adults) thrive on knowing what’s coming and what assignments or tasks they must complete. Others may feel overwhelmed when they have too many things to do and don’t know where to start. With Planner, I have the option to store groups of related assignments in a playlist. With playlists, I can quickly assign a complete set of assignments and resources or share individual assignments from the playlists, depending on how much I know that student can take on.

In a self-paced class, having a tool that allows you to match the pace of every student’s workflow is revolutionary.

Ready for Remediation

Sometimes, you don’t have time to reinvent the wheel. With Planner, I can also access Kiddom’s Library of resources, including quizzes, lessons, videos, and more from Khan AcademyCK-12, ClassHook, and Newsela.

As I mentioned previously, my curriculum is designed over years of testing and adjusting, so I know which assignments work to support learning for most students. However, as teachers we know all students are unique and some may need less or additional support. Recently, I’ve been supplementing each unit in my Planner with differentiated and remediated playlists. I take advantage of the relevant content available in Library so I don’t have to make an entire new lesson myself. Sometimes students benefit from hearing the same idea via a different means of communication or from repetition. I keep these additional learning materials available to intervene as soon as students demonstrate a misconception.

 

Create remediation assignments in advance as a playlist, then assign based on student need.

 

What’s Next

Possibly the best thing about Planner is that curriculum development won’t have to start from scratch next year. The curriculum I designed is accessible in every class I make in Kiddom. So next year, I already have all of my lessons and learning activities in one place for the next cohort of learners. I’m looking forward to using this strong foundation to find even more ways to meet student needs and develop projects that allow them to explore their interests.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

Mix Things Up: 3 Student-Centered Approaches that Balance “I Do, You Do, We Do.”

Mix Things Up: 3 Student-Centered Approaches that Balance “I Do, You Do, We Do.”

When I started teaching, I relied heavily on the “I do, we do, you do” or gradual release of responsibility (GRR) method of delivering instruction. This method can be useful when students are introduced to new content with no prior knowledge. However, I noticed my students became increasingly dependent on me to give them the information they needed. I was using “I do, we do, you do” almost everyday, which I later realized doesn’t prepare students to be lifelong learners in the world beyond school. As teachers, we do not expect to be with our students forever and therefore, our pedagogy shouldn’t train students to be dependent on us to learn.

One of the greatest struggles I faced when using the GRR method was with student motivation. I worked incredibly hard to convince students they needed to learn the information by adding “hooks” with real-life applications to the “I do” portion of the lesson. Unfortunately, this didn’t make the desired impact: my students still didn’t display characteristics of curiosity. From my observations, persuading a student that they may need information later in life was not motivating enough.

The lack of motivation and waning curiosity my students exhibited coupled with a quote I read prompted me to explore other teaching strategies. The quote said, “it is our responsibility to make it their responsibility.” This encouraged me to think about ways in which I could relinquish my “power” in the class as the sole expert and allow students to become the experts. Some of my best moments in the classroom occurred when I experimented with student-centered approaches to learning and acted as a facilitator of the process, rather than director. This was not an easy switch for myself or for students who have had years of schooling in which they are not offered choice. But it was worth it.

So without further ado, here are three student-centered approaches I employed that produced fantastic results: inquiry based learning using the question formulation technique (QFT), Socratic seminars, and interest-based projects.

The Question Formulation Technique

The Question Formulation Technique is a protocol for students to develop and refine their questioning ability. The QFT structure allows teachers to take a step back and give students the responsibility of determining what they are going to learn. By producing, refining, and prioritizing their own questions, students identify topics they want to explore. This method supports independent thinking by emphasizing three different thinking abilities: divergent, convergent, and metacognition. The teacher is responsible for selecting the topic or focus that fits within the scope and sequence of the class and guiding students through the steps, but the thinking and learning comes from the students themselves.

 

 

In one of my classes, we started with the question focus, “Hip Hop started in the South Bronx to give a voice to the voiceless,” which was connected to our theme for the unit: Social Change and Revolution. Students came up with questions I never would have dreamed of and they were more engaged in the research projects that followed because they chose to pursue a question that truly interested them. As a class, we learned skills from the common core learning standards but students applied it to something they wanted to know.

Socratic Seminars

 

Socratic seminars let teachers facilitate independent thinking, discussion, and critical reasoning. When I first implemented these, there was quite a bit of direct instruction required to prepare students to lead the discussions themselves. There are many practical skills embedded in a Socratic seminar, such as how to articulate when you are building on or refuting others ideas, which need to be modeled. But after participating in a few seminars with the same structure, the students were able to use the skills we developed to push each other’s thinking and revise their own thinking on a variety of topics. I was overjoyed the first time I heard a typically shy student refer to evidence in a text using a probing question in response to a statement made by a peer. The class led the discussion themselves and then assessed their reasoning skills using evidence from the discussion.

 

Interest-Based Projects

Interest-Based Projects are created by the teacher to provide a structure for the skills they want to teach or assess while letting students follow their interests. I designed my health curriculum so that foundational knowledge was taught using a blended learning form of direct instruction, but the other half of the course consisted of projects in which students could choose which health topic they wanted to focus on. For example, I included a unit on substance abuse which covered many of the topics traditionally covered in health classes. I also included an interest-based Public Service Announcement Project, in which students choose a relevant health need they care about and develop a public service announcement for that topic. One student chose to create a warning about the risks of using lean, a slang term for a concoction which includes a prescription-strength cough syrup used in a manner inconsistent with its labeling, thus making it a recreational drug. This is not a topic covered in most health textbooks, but it was a real health risk that many of his peers were abusing. By providing the structure of the projects but allowing the students to choose what they focused on, my students were not only more engaged, they were invested.

 

Lessons Learned

“I do, we do, you do” has it’s place in the classroom, but it should not be the only method we rely on. If all our students are to be lifelong, self-directed learners, solely relying on a teacher-led model only makes things harder for us. A true mix of teacher-centered and student-centered models such as the QFT, Socratic seminars, and interest-based projects can lead to greater success and independent thinking inside and outside of school. These alternatives also provide opportunities for different types of learners to shine in the classroom. I will close with questions for you, the reader. Feel free to respond as a comment! Have you tried student-centered approaches in your classroom? What are some student-centered approaches you’ve used? With what success? What are some ways you’ve gotten students to better adapt to these approaches?

 

Guest Post by: Jessica H.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it's very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

Put Students in Charge: A Way to Make Social Emotional Instruction Truly Actionable

Put Students in Charge: A Way to Make Social Emotional Instruction Truly Actionable

Jessica Hunsinger

Jessica Hunsinger

Product Manager, Kiddom

Former educator passionate about building human potential. Saving teachers time through interoperability is what currently drives me. 

A Case for Social Emotional Development

After just a few years of teaching, I realized the skills woven into academic curriculum were not enough to ensure students would graduate prepared to be active citizens in society. Over time, my students’ social emotional development became as important to me as the academic skills designated by New York state. So when my administrators decided to add an advisory class to student schedules, I jumped on the chance to plan its curriculum.

Despite my best efforts to create meaningful social emotional learning experiences, the class was often treated by both staff and students as an aside, with the skills not transferring well to other classes or “real life.” I found a solution to this problem when I tried a new classroom model with self-paced blended learning instruction. A self-paced classroom is able to provide personalized instruction via blended learning, with the right balance of autonomy and support to develop both cognitive and non-cognitive skills. The students in my pilot program outperformed their peers on credit accumulation every trimester, but the real success came from the social emotional growth I was able to facilitate and observe.

What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL), as defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” This is comprised of five SEL competencies, all of which I was able to address in the self-paced academic setting. 

Self-Paced Instruction

Self-paced instruction is “any kind of instruction that proceeds based on learner response.” There are two models: outside of the school setting and within the school.

I used a self-paced classroom design as a pilot within the alternative high school where I taught to support a variety of struggling learners. We selected a target group of students and scheduled them for a three hour block of class. Within this block, we offered thirteen different blended learning classes.

The students chose which courses they wanted to work on for the trimester (based on graduation requirement needs) and they also got to decide how to structure their time during the block. Some students opted to spend all three hours on one class and then move on, whereas others would work on things from three or more different courses during the block. I became a true learning facilitator, supporting all subjects, but responsible for one. Content experts would push in on a staggered schedule to provide support and feedback to students.

The advantage of the self-paced, blended learning model in relation to SEL is that it allows for the integration of these skills as a part of the systems and structures of the academic class instead of as a separate initiative.

Competency 1: Self-Awareness 

Self-awareness is the ability to recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well grounded sense of confidence and optimism.

To succeed in a self-paced class, students must be aware of their strengths and limitations, because the responsibility of deciding how to learn is on them. As a means of helping students assess their personal preferences and abilities, I designed periodic student surveys to push students to reflect and develop self-awareness. They answered questions like:

  • If you want to memorize something, what do you do?
  • How would you rate your self-discipline?
  • What style of learning has work for you in the past?
  • What is something you are really good at?
  • How often do you need breaks?
  • Which seating would you prefer the most.
  • How many credits do you have? How many do you need?

Throughout the term, I provided follow-up surveys with similar questions to help them review and refine their assessment of themselves as students. This reflection and feedback helped students become more aware of their learning preferences and needs.

With some guidance, they were able to apply this understanding of themselves to maximize their academic efforts. For example, many students responded that when they want to memorize something they write it down or repeat it over and over but those same students didn’t always apply this when they were trying to study for a quiz. In these moments, we would discuss if that is actually how they learn best, if there were other strategies they should try, and why they weren’t using it in the moment to hone in on how they really learn.

Key take away: Let students express their self perceived strengths and weaknesses and support them in developing and refining their understanding of themselves. Any teacher can help build students’ self awareness by incorporating periodic student surveys, but if you really want to maximize this, having follow up conversations is a must. I could do this because of the blended learning component of this model, which afforded more time for one-to-one interactions.

Competency 2: Self-Management  

Self-management is the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.

When students entered my self-paced classroom, they set a goal for what they wanted to accomplish that period. As part of the routine, my students were expected to create a checklist of at least three things they planned to do during the block.

Because students were responsible for choosing what they were doing each day, this also provided the opportunity for students to use that time to complete job applications, update resumes, prep for SATs/ACTs, etc, providing them with the time and space to work towards professional and personal goals as well as academic.

Prior to checking out technology for the day, they’d show me their checklist as a way to inform me of their focus and for me to provide feedback on their goal setting skills. The feedback I gave students was geared towards making SMART goals, an objective I taught over and over again in advisory class, but without the context of an academic setting and opportunities to practice.

Instead of spending a few days on goal setting skills in an advisory class, we were able to practice setting SMART goals with daily practice and feedback on the specific need for growth. Students eventually needed less feedback from me as setting and working towards achieving personal and academic goals became part of their everyday routine.

Key takeaway: To develop self-management, students must practice managing themselves. Frequent practice with goal setting should be woven into every class, so students can improve self-management. You can achieve this in a self-paced classroom with a similar routine, but could also work it into any class by including goal setting practices with class projects. Taking the time to guide students through the goal setting process regularly in an academic class is a more effective way to develop competent goal setters and achievers.

 

Competency 3: Social Awareness 

Social awareness is the ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

I started every school year with an activity to establish group norms with student input. We would post these in the room and students would sign the chart paper as a social contract. I did a similar exercise in my self-paced class, but I found a way to take this practice to the next level: I established a routine of monthly class meetings to review our progress as a group.

We discussed academic successes and how well we were meeting the social expectations we had established as a class. I asked students to evaluate how well the class was doing and consider the impact they had on their peers, which they shared with the group. My students were then able to lead the conversation about strategies for improving the group dynamic and why they should, which felt like a huge success.

Key takeaways: Let students lead the discussion on how the class is performing. Being placed in the same room is not enough to make students socially conscious. Developing a safe place where students can openly share their needs from the group and to reflect on the consequences of their actions via ongoing meetings is essential to developing social awareness, but can be done in any academic class.

Competency 4: Relationship Skills

Relationship skills are the ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.

To promote healthy relationship skills, I heavily promoted peer mentoring and in class projects. Often, throughout the year, at least one student had already finished a course and could brief students on what to expect or offer strategies on how to learn the material.

This is different from peer mentoring in that it can happen in regular classroom settings because the “advanced” student is advanced because they have already done the work and not because they are naturally better at the subject.

Peer mentoring in this setting supported the mentoring students’ sense of self-efficacy, while providing a chance to practice communicating clearly and listening actively. Students who were being mentored were more likely to seek help from that peer again prior to asking for help from the teacher.

My favorite example of this was an ELL student supporting a peer taking Spanish class and that peer mentoring them in English and Global History. That peer advocated to expand the peer mentoring system to the rest of the school community because they felt the rewards of a healthy peer relationship.

Of course, not every student was eager to act as a peer mentor or mentee. This is why I made sure to include tasks that required students to interact with each other within the self-paced curricula. In the Financial Literacy class, they were expected to interview a peer about what they knew about credit cards. In health class, they created an anonymous 5–10 question survey about health issues they identified in the community and had to ask at least 10 peers to complete the survey.

These examples of how you can work relationship skills into a curriculum could be applied to any class model. However, unlike a traditional class where you might use “turn and talk” or purposely group students to perform a task, students in a self-paced setting had to learn how to politely interrupt another student, who was likely working on a completely different course, and explain to them what it is they were doing and why.

Key take aways: Opportunities to practice relationship skills such as communicating clearly, listening actively, and cooperating can be thoughtfully embedded in assignments. You can also foster students’ ability to seek and offer help when needed with the right peer mentoring dynamic.

Competency 5: Responsible Decision Making

Responsible Decision Making is the ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well being of self and others.

A common concern about blended learning is that students will access materials online inappropriate for school or that schools will be providing a tool for cyber bullying. Some schools combat this by blocking a whole host of sites that might be distracting or unsuitable for school. As a result, I was unable to access a site with excellent videos and graphics about the transmission and prevention of HIV for health class because the website url had the word “virus” in it! In reality, students, like everyone else, want to be successful. In my experience, the most frequently observed “inappropriate” use of technology was when students got distracted by music videos trying to pick something to listen to as they worked.

I convinced my administrators that blocking sites completely blocked access to great content. Off-task technology moments serve as a starting point for conversations about responsible decision making. The questions I posed most often were, “Is that going to help you succeed? And if so how?” Usually, this was enough to curtail the activity, but if it wasn’t I would follow up by asking, “Do you need a break?”

A break is a normal part of work-life, but rarely are students given the opportunity in schools to learn how to take a responsible break. A break is something most traditional class models cannot support because each day is a new thing to be taught, assessed, remediated, and extended.

In a self-paced classroom, students can make a “realistic evaluation” of the consequence of their choice to take a break, and with some teacher-facilitated reflection, decide if that choice will prevent them from reaching their goals for the day, week, or year.

An added bonus to this flexibility was that it supported student curiosity. I had a student whose “off-task” time was often spent exploring topics that interested him, but that did not fit into his coursework. I “caught” him watching a video about useless human body parts: exploring your interests is the type of behavior schools should encourage not discourage.

Key take away: Students can only learn to make responsible decisions if you let them make real decisions. By providing real choices for the students, you may revive their curiosity.

What’s the Next Step?

Providing students some level of autonomy is one way to bridge the gap between academic and social skill development. I found it easier to address the skills I had been trying for years to teach in advisory with my self-paced classroom model. Of course, there is always room for improvement and if I still taught, I would purposefully track my students’ SEL development as part of their overall class evaluation. While I had plenty of anecdotal evidence to support my claim that students made SEL progress, the students themselves should also be aware of their SEL development as they are of their academic grades. The two should not be separate.

If you are interested in learning about other ways to incorporate Social Emotional Learning in your classes and/or how to track student growth in both cognitive and non-cognitive areas simultaneously, check out SEL 101: a no-nonsense guide to incorporating SEL in the classroom. SEL 101 was co-authored by teachers and Kiddom, a learning platform supporting educators making this important change.

 

 

Resources:
https://edglossary.org/advisory/
https://www.casel.org/social-and-emotional-learning/
https://www.casel.org/social-and-emotional-learning/core-competencies/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-paced_instruction

 

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

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SBG: A Practice That Lends to Better Curriculum Design

SBG: A Practice That Lends to Better Curriculum Design

My standards-based grading (SBG) journey started as a solo adventure and has grown to a global mission. I started my teaching career nine years ago with class 709, as a 7th grade special education teacher at a public school in the South Bronx. I would venture to guess most public schools at the time were not using standards-based grading as the norm; my school did not break with tradition. Due in part to my teacher training, I implemented a system of tracking specific skills with a very low tech solution: a piece of chart paper and markers for color coding to create a bar graph of skills “mastered”. The benefits of this alternative approach to measuring learning were twofold.

First, students who were accustomed to failure could celebrate small wins when they grasped a particular concept, even if their overall grade was considered failing. Anyone who has taught students classified as having a “learning disability” can appreciate how important it is for them to know they can learn, even if it is just one or two of the multiple skills assessed on a quiz or test. Helping disenfranchised students believe in themselves made classroom management easier.

The other benefit to using a standards-based approach was that the standards served as my curriculum guide. I used the standards to backwards plan my units. My school did not provide me with a curriculum or an instructional coach, so it was invaluable to have a system in place for structuring assessments based on state standards.

After two years in a self-contained classroom, I was moved to a co-teaching class to “maximize my impact on students.” I was initially apprehensive about sharing my tracking system because I still considered myself a “new” teacher. However, I was confident the benefits I saw in my class could be replicated in a larger class setting. Fortunately my co-teacher was receptive to the idea and our collaboration over the next few years led to a stronger tracking system and grew to include class data celebrations. Having a thought partner interested in standards-based grading was refreshing. Instead of randomly spiraling previously taught content back into lessons, we used the skills-based data to determine what we needed to revisit or present in a different way. We consistently discussed the data because it meant something. We used it to group students for intervention and saw the impact immediately. Unfortunately, my other colleagues were not willing to adopt this new practice and mindset: my co-teacher and I remained the only class using standards-based measurements.

Later, I transitioned to a high school for over-age, under-credited students that proudly advertised outcomes-based grading (a form of SBG) to support their at-risk student population. The school was in its founding year and the entire staff was fired up about SBG. Joining a community of educators interested in designing curriculum around this practice appealed to me and within this context, I discovered even more advantages to the approach. There were bumps in the road as we brought different understandings of what constitutes “mastery” and how mastery translates into a “final” grade, but these conversations only strengthened my belief in this approach.

In this collaborative setting, I realized SBG creates flexibility in curriculum design. The final goal is clear, but how students access learning material and what they do to demonstrate learning can be personalized to student interests and learning styles. This became particularly useful when I volunteered to take on a recurring challenge at the school: low attendance. SBG coupled with elements of blended learning naturally lends itself to self-paced learning. For the first time in my teaching career, my students could advance on their own terms if they demonstrated mastery. This freed me up to find the time to provide practice opportunities and options for students that needed additional time and resources to master new content. Content personalization and pace: these are the true benefits of a classroom grounded in standards-based grading.

My experience implementing a standards-based curriculum within a variety of contexts informed my belief that SBG is a powerful tool for all educators. Currently, I’m fortunate enough to work for Kiddom, a free standards-aligned platform whose goal is to enable teachers and learners to unlock their full potential. Through this platform, I’m committed to supporting teachers around the globe as they navigate this new practice and discover the benefits of SBG for themselves.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in a centralized hub. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.

Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.