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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 the third 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 the accompanying 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.

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.”

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.

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.”  

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.

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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.

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 resources page. Read the 2nd blog on Station Rotation and Lab Rotation Models here. 
 
3 Ways We Personalized Support for Classrooms and Schools

3 Ways We Personalized Support for Classrooms and Schools

Building relationships with administrators and teachers demands thoughtful inquiry, care, and reflection

Education is awash with efforts to personalize learning. But what does it mean for a company to personalize its support for the teachers who use its product? School leader, Jordan Silvestri and Kiddom representative, Melissa Giroux, describe what it takes for an edtech company to deliver the kind of personalized experience to its customers that teachers give to their students.

 

Jordan Silvestri: Our school focuses on preparing our students during their final years of academic involvement to gain and hone the skills that they will need to be successful after they graduate. We started Torah Academy in September 2016 with a strong vision for how and what we want our students to learn. Every class, student interaction, social setting and community learning experience is another opportunity to help our students see their potential and grow.

After our first year of running the school, we realized that one of our major challenges involved how we were tracking students’ progress. We needed a student-centered program that would be easy to function for the teachers and bring all of our work into one place.

 

Melissa Giroux: Our initial planning session with Torah Academy was extremely energizing. We were excited to meet a school leader who had great clarity around his team’s strengths and goals: Jordan wanted his team to become more accustomed to using data to drive daily instruction and he wanted technology to support consistent routines so his students could become independent learners. His concrete goals made us confident we could support his staff’s day-to-day work from afar.

Working together over the course of the year, we — at Torah Academy and Kiddom — together learned three powerful lessons about how to deliver personalized support to educators:

 

1. Lead with Inquiry

When teachers in professional development workshops push back on learning a new tech tool or question if a new platform might mean more work instead of less, it would be easy for a principal to double down on mandates and take a hardline stance.

Empathetic leaders respond with questions: “Can you tell me a little bit more about that?” or “Can you walk me through the steps you currently take?” and most importantly, “How can I help?”

When teachers hear their administration pause to learn a little bit more about them, learning becomes collaborative. Rather than fighting, they work as a team to figure out if the platform can adapt to meet the needs of a range of educators.

Companies, too, need to build that kind of inquiry into every step of their work with educators.

Educators at Torah Academy teach courses that cover everything from Common Core mathematics to Judaic studies, as well as provide services including speech therapy and vocational training. A one-size-fits-all tutorial about edtech product features wasn’t going to cut it with such diverse staff goals.

The first session between teachers and Kiddom invited the educators to express their concerns so that together we could customize the platform to their teaching styles and goals. Teachers learned how to move their existing curriculum from Google Drive into collaborative Kiddom classes. Other workshops, using the Question Formulation Technique, helped teachers frame collective inquiry goals for professional learning communities.

The Right Question Institute frames this process well: “The skill of question asking is far too rarely deliberately taught in school.” We believe that same kind of questioning skill should characterize how teachers interact with edtech companies.

 

2. Walk the Talk

There’s nothing worse than a classroom full of students staring at you as error messages prevent you from moving on with a lesson. As an administrator, I (Jordan) was worried that some of my teachers might have technical difficulties with onboarding to new technology. The “competency test” for real customer service is simply this: Will it deliver when you need it?

One teacher, in particular, had reported that as she was working to set up her class over the weekend, she hit a snag. She struggled to figure out what was going on. Finally, she contacted Kiddom through the app and had a live troubleshooting conversation on a Sunday afternoon. I was floored by both the teacher’s proactive approach — and the fact that the company walked the talk, big time!

Just as important as responding quickly is speaking the language of the people you serve. The company’s support team has grown from a collection of part-time interns into a team of former educators — people who natively speak “teacher talk” — and avoid the kind of tech jargon that can confuse just about anyone.

No school is the same. Investing the time to send a company’s support team to visit schools and observe users in the field means that teacher advocates learn how to ask questions to troubleshoot and to gain context. They are not merely following tech support flow charts and giving standard responses; they’re relying on their knowledge of pedagogy and the challenging realities of everyday teaching to frame their responses.

 

3. Stop and Reflect

School-based staff don’t always have time to step outside of their day-to-day responsibilities and reflect on successes and challenges. But particularly when you start a relationship with a company, educators must ask their partners: How are you measuring success?

As a school for students with special needs, Torah Academy does not use letter or number grades to assess student progress. Teachers focus on helping students master the skills they will need to be productive members of their community. This approach to assessment — with the ultimate goal of having students apply their goals to new environments and interactions — has been core to our program.

During one of our first joint meetings, the company introduced its mastery grading feature to Torah Academy teachers as if it were a new concept. Hardly the case! In response, teachers showed the Kiddom team how that construct fit right in with the school’s methodology, so that teachers could correlate lessons to goals and assess student progress in one fell swoop.

Throughout the year of working together, our joint team relied on routine check-ins to collect feedback, plan targeted professional development and to provide administrators with a sounding board for worries or celebrations.

But by mid-year, it became clear that educators were adopting the platform in very different ways and at different speeds. We consequently scheduled a mid-year professional development day. The Kiddom team spent the day working with individual teachers during their prep periods, to better differentiate and leverage relationships. Each conversation was private, which allowed for candid feedback and questions and supported individual needs. Some teachers desperately wanted more support in analyzing reports; others were still working on building classroom routines using the platform.

Building relationships between teachers and students takes thoughtful inquiry, care and reflection — and the relationship between an edtech company and the teachers who use its products demands the same. When both groups invest the time, authentic learning happens.


Jordan Silvestri, School Leader
Melissa Giroux, School Success Lead

More information about Kiddom Academy for schools and districts:


Originally posted on EdSurge

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.

QFT

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.

Blended (Social & Emotional) Learning

Blended (Social & Emotional) Learning

As of 2010, approximately 4 million students were impacted by online learning components embedded into their daily curriculum, cementing blended learning principles in schools across the world — and that number is growing. Exponentially.

 

 

It is no secret that technology in the classroom has the ability to engage students like no other learning tool. Technology has become so ingrained in our society’s culture that students gravitate to the educational programs that have resulted from this growing accessibility to technology in schools.

But when you begin to place a stronger emphasis on social and emotional skills in your curriculum, a new question comes into play: how can emotional exploration and expression specifically function without a human being present to guide participants through challenges, ideas or stressful moments?

The fact is, emotional exploration and expression along with other components of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) require participants to reflect and build trust with one another. From students to school leaders, this can be extremely difficult work, but when done effectively and expeditiously can lead to significant improvements in academic achievement and school climate.

So in rephrasing the question, is it possible to implement SEL in the classroom through blended learning techniques?

The answer is yes: through bite-sized integration of emotional identification, expression, and management into our classrooms, virtually facilitated and practiced daily.

Not only do children seem more willing to open up and connect to a video where the facilitator is not physically present, but the educators themselves are also benefitting from the fact that they do not need any special background in mental health.

Even better: teachers prefer it too. Ease of implementation is key; the relief of the pressure to lead and the ability to participate along with the students are a few other major factors in why we are seeing more and more teachers incorporating Blended Learning into their curriculum.

 

 

At Move This World (MTW), we equip educators and students with the tools to address their social and emotional wellbeing in order to create a healthy school climate where effective teaching and learning can occur. In addition to training and consultation, these tools provide a grade-specific virtual experience and make Social and Emotional Learning in every classroom as easy as pressing “play.”

Thankfully, we have had the pleasure of seeing the effects first-hand. A few weeks ago in Baltimore, one of our trainers conducted a site visit and was immediately ambushed by smiling faces once they took notice of her Move This World T-shirt. Not only were they ready to show off their 10 Emogers, one of MTW’s emotional management strategies as part of our ritualized practice of SEL, but they were also curious as to where the “real” star was — Elliott, the lead in our virtual tool videos.

Elliott has become somewhat of a celebrity among our nationwide partner schools, allowing us to truly comprehend the strength of the program and the lasting effect daily practice truly has. And of course, it’s always fun to see the faces of hundreds of screaming kids when Elliott stops by for a surprise visit.

See Elliott in action in our virtual tool “I Can Breathe” and be sure to follow us on social media for emotional & stress management tips for the classroom.

Guest Post By: Move This World

Move This World connects human beings to their emotions through movement. It is through movement that we enhance and inspire social, emotional and civic skills. In providing education and company leaders the tools to teach these skills, Move This World creates healthier environments around the world. These tools have helped address the social and emotional wellbeing of 150,000 people, including students in over 300 schools, to date. Its technology-enabled platform provides 24/7 access to easy-to-use instructional videos along with trained coaches for support from anywhere, classroom visuals, data analytics, a resource library and much more. For more information, visit: https://www.movethisworld.org.

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Original publish date: 2/25/16 on character.org