Last week the Elementary Tech Integration team surveyed the staff regarding various examples of Blended Learning. In seven different scenarios, teachers were depicted using different types of technology in different ways. The survey was a simple Yes- this is an example of Blended Learning, or No- it is not. While we were glad to see about half of the staff had a solid understanding and correctly categorized the scenarios, that left approximately 60 of our teachers puzzled- a number we would like to improve.
The following afternoon at an all staff technology training, we reviewed the different case studies, provided the answers the staff had chosen- and then showed the “correct answer”, including a brief explanation for why. There were some murmurs among teachers and clarifying questions about why an answer was/was not Blended Learning. Lingering questions even continued the next day. What we tried to convey, was that the case studies needed to be read in black and white. The person answering the question could not insinuate or infer more than what was in words for the particular scenario. Sure, by implementing best practices, a teacher would follow up and adjust his/her teaching based on the results from a formative assessment/response tool. However, if the the example did not state this, one could not assume this was the case. This helped resolve some confusion, while some teachers held firm in their belief, or disbelief, with the answers we provided. Regardless, teachers left this portion of the professional development afternoon thinking at a deeper level about the meaning of Blended Learning and their use of technology to support student learning experiences. Feel like testing your knowledge? Click through the slides below, questions begin on slide 7.
The second section of the meeting included a modified version of Family Feud- in order to review ASFM’s six strands of Blended Learning. Two teaching teams were called to the front of the room to have a face-to-face challenge of identifying the strand of blended learning, based on a technology tool being used in yet another case study. Theme music, clapping, and cheering endured as the energy in the room increased and teachers became anxious to participate. The six strands were uncovered correctly and much quicker than anticipated (just one mistake was made)! However, due to the excitement and noise, not all of the questions could be heard by the audience, and in addition, some eager participants were aware of the answer prior to the question being read in its entirety. Teachers chimed in, answered the question, and we moved on. Upon reflection, we could have asked participants to wait for the question to be read before chiming in, or stated the question fully after the answer had been given. We wanted to be sure teachers were clear on the tools and their correlating strands. However during the excitement of the moment, the opportunity for adjustments was overlooked- and therefore, below I am including the six different questions and answers.
Below you can view the Google Slide presentation we used to accompany the Family Feud game. The slide is interactive/animated based on where you click- so it may seem a bit clunky for viewing purposes. If you’d like to have a copy of our template, click here to personalize your own game show.
To culminate the afternoon, we asked teacher teams to reflect on their progress with Blended Learning by creating three different memes- representing a struggle, success, and next step. The idea stemmed from a session from the Live Curious, Go Beyond conference (2017), where I learned about the “Not So Standardized Assessment” with Mary Wever and Candace Marcotte. Using a unique (and fun) way to reflect on Blended Learning, teachers were also exposed to a type of assessment they may find valuable within their context. While we had varying levels of interpretation and comfort using a technology tool like this, there was 100% participation. You can review a selection of the memes in the slides below.
Overall, the afternoon provided some time for teacher learning, exploring, creating, sharing, and reflecting- something so beneficial but often difficult to manage given the busy lives of teachers! Regardless, it is important to carve out and dedicate time to digging deeper and reflecting on our practices as educators.