When I think of blended learning, I think of a teacher that has successfully blended the ideas of online teaching with that of a face-to-face environment. I wouldn’t say I am quite there yet, but since beginning my Master’s journey, I have definitely taken a couple of leaps in the department of blended classrooms. As I learn more and more about the benefits of blended learning, as well as the idea of setting up students for success in the future, the more I want to create this type of learning environment. Many of my students go on to university, and will likely be faced with some sort of online class, where they will be responsible for their own learning. And, even if my students are not continuing their formal education, in this digital age, what person could not benefit from learning how to navigate the online world and learn on their own in their future?
Currently, like Amy, I rely on Google Classroom as a management tool to keep my classes organized and accountable. As I teach for English and Math courses, I have found tremendous benefits for both groups of students. In my ELA courses, I post links to videos we watch, and any notes or assignments are posted for them to access at any time. They have to options of handing any work online, and it has made editing much easier as I can open their assignments on Google Docs and edit away, even leaving comments if I need. It has also made my students more accountable. They know where the work is, they know where the guidelines are, and they can hand anything in at anytime!! No more “well, I wasn’t here” excuses! It’s also freed up my time in my classes, as students are not needing me to get them missing handouts. They have access and can print them at any time.
My math courses are equally accountable as I post their daily lessons and assignments online. Along with that, I post the answer keys. As homework does not count for anything in our school system, I have found giving students full answer keys has freed up my teaching time to go more in-depth with lessons or review what they really struggled with. It puts the learning in their hands, and they become more responsible for asking questions and clarifying misunderstandings. I have also linked my Google Classroom to Khan Academy for my AP Calculus students and it is amazing! For those of you who don’t know what it is, it is basically a website that has modules and online formatted courses for all math and science curriculum! I can assign problem sets, and videos through Google Classroom and it logs my students progress on Khan Academy so I can go back and see who completed what, as well as how they did on problem sets.
Although my use of technology is not what I would call full blended learning, it has enhanced my classroom. As Tony Bates said, “blended learning can mean minimal rethinking or redesign of classroom teaching, such as the use of classroom aids, or complete redesign as in flexibly designed courses, which aim to identify the unique pedagogical characteristics of face-to-face teaching, with online learning providing flexible access for the rest of the learning.” What Google Classroom has provided me, is simplicity, and aids for my classroom environment.
This is of course, not without its challenges. I really wish I could have parents access this information in its full format, instead of just by weekly emails. The problem is that I set all my daily lessons as “assignments” which then show up as “incomplete” even though students have done the work on paper. It can be frustrating for students as well, as they end up with notifications saying they are missing assignments they handed in, or completed simply as a class discussion. Any ideas Google Classroom pros??
I also tried to get my classes to complete class discussions via Flipgrid, and they hated it!
They felt vulnerable to their peers, which I do understand, and hated the interaction, and having to comment and like each other’s videos. I really like the platform, especially for an English classroom, but it is difficult to have students buy into it. I’m looking for suggestions for improvements on this!
Overall, I am working towards a more blended classroom environment and although I don’t think I am where I want to be, I am slowly progressing in the right direction where technology enhances my daily teaching and more importantly, my students’ learning.