Hello fellow EC&I 834ers! It’s been awhile! Time to shake off the cobwebs on the keyboards and get back into the blogging spirit! This week, Alec’s prompt stumped me at first: “Take this week to read about/explore an aspect of online/blended learning that you are interested in, and then blog about it. This might include your thoughts/reactions to a particularly interesting article that you find, your own exploration of a mode/format/strategy for online/blended learning that we haven’t touched on, or your further research into a course topic that interests you.” What do you mean I have to explore and think about something that I am interested in learning more about? What do you mean there is no direction to this week’s blog post? I had to stop and think. I had to spend some time exploring the world wide web. I had to figure out a direction and go with it!
Now, for those of you that have ever done the “team-building” personality test where your personality becomes a shape, I’m a square. I don’t do well when there is no direction. I like consistency, I like having a prompt, and I will complete the task, most likely in one shot because “chunking” and “working slowly on an assignment” has never been my cup of tea. I procrastinate, and then I panic, and then I produce something pretty great that would have been a lot less stressful if I had started ahead of time, but it had to be the perfect idea before I began. I digress.This personality of mine led to some colleagues of mine, namely Brad Raes and Logan Petlak, and we discussed some ideas for directions in this blog post. From there, I hit the internet and decided I should watch at least one TED Talk because they are my favourite things to learn from so I found this one! I liked it.
Monique Markoff discusses a lot about what we have already learned about blended learning and what it is versus what it is not. She discusses the success rates of online courses versus blended environment courses, and her conclusion is that students learn more in a face-to-face environment and the technology should be used as a tool to the ideas, not the solution. She also discusses some different versions of blended learning I had never heard of before, like the rotational model, and others I had, like the laboratory model, the open-classroom model, and the flipped classroom model. A couple of these ideas were pretty familiar, notably the laboratory and the flipped classroom models. What wasn’t familiar was the idea of a rotational model and all of a sudden, I had my idea for this week’s blog. As soon as Markoff described it as “stations” I was interested and thought, “This is something I could use in my classrooms!”
She asks four questions for those who are serious about beginning blended learning in their school:
- Are you flexible?
- Are you committed?
- What is your mindset and the mindset of your students?
- What is the role of the teacher?
I think these questions are an excellent starting point, because they make you think about what your purpose of using blended learning is and if you are truly looking to change your perspective and teaching theory in the classroom or just looking for a quick fix. Markoff goes into detail explaining what these questions entail, and how difficult, time-consuming, and complicated it really is to integrate these ideas into a classroom. It takes hard work, it takes trial and error and most of all, it takes time. She mentions that many classrooms and schools tend to fear this idea, and do not want to fail with a model and so when it needs adjustments, it is simply thrown out and the old model comes back in.
It made me think that this blended learning idea might be more complicated that I originally thought. It’s not something that is going to be perfect the first time around, and it is going to take a lot more research and development to work out just right.
After I finished the video, I continued with my question on what exactly the rotational model of blended learning is and was led to this article: Find The Model That Works For You: 12 Types Of Blended Learning. My first thought was TWELVE! THERE ARE TWELVE TYPES OF BLENDED LEARNING!!! There were types I heard of and types I hadn’t. To see the full capacity of each type, check out the article yourself, but for now these were the main types listed in the article:
- Station Rotation
- Lab Rotation
- Flipped Classroom
- Individual Rotation
Now what I noticed as I read the article is that overall, every type had the same thing in common. They are blended learning ideas and they involve technology as a way to support student learning. It seemed intimidating but was far from it as I continued.
The rotational models have my interest peaked mostly because I feel that this would be a fantastic goal for my AP Calculus students. I would love to do sections of direct instruction, sections of a flipped model, group work and individual assessments online. Students could work at their own pace, and work more on the concepts THEY struggle with because at that level, what my students need is practice and motivation. I believe this model would provide some of that! TeachThought defined “Station-Rotation blended learning is a: “…model (that) allows students to rotate through stations on a fixed schedule, where at least one of the stations is an online learning station.”” This is commonly used in elementary schools, but why couldn’t it be successful in a grade twelve classroom too! I already do certain aspects of it, and students learn more from experiencing the skills themselves than from me explaining a complex theorem to them directly. Once I read more about this idea, I knew it was familiar from the elementary idea of “stations” but this is more complex, using a variety of strategies and tools to teach concepts and ideas to students, on a fixed schedule, which I already have, but in their own way.
A second source from Reading Horizons defined the station rotation to be that “students move through modalities within a classroom.” The following is how Reading Horizons defined it:
“Students learn using software or other online-based coursework on classroom computers. Students can do a variety of activities, including but not limited to previewing, completing, or reviewing skill lessons, reading stories, or taking computer-administered assessments. Through these kinds of tech-based activities, students have opportunities to work independently and privately, free from concerns about how they will perform in front of their peers.
For the offline part of their learning, students receive direct instruction from a teacher, followed up by a variety of activities, which could include modeled and independent reading, workbook pages or other pencil-and-paper tasks, one-on-one tutoring, small-group work, projects, games, flash cards—the list of possibilities is nearly endless.”
I see endless possibilities, not only in my math courses but also my English courses for this type of learning. I never thought of using stations as a strategy in a high school classroom but I think it could work and very well! Does anyone else have any experiences using this type of strategy in their classrooms? Does it work with older students like it does with younger students? I am open to suggestions and will keep you updated on my progress with the implementation of my newfound blended learning technique!