Even if you don’t identify as a blended learning teacher, you probably already practice some form of blended learning in your classroom: switching from large group to small group exercises, using a combination of printed and digital resources, or using assessments as a way to inform future instruction. No matter where you are in your blended learning journey, there are a few key rules to keep in mind as you guide your students to academic success.
DO take it slow.
For some teachers, blended learning may be a significant leap from their traditional teaching methods. That’s why it’s critical to ease yourself and your students into new habits. One way to do this is to start with incorporating blended learning into only one or two days per week. Then, add more days until the entire week consists of blended teaching and learning. You can also introduce one blended learning activity that’s easy to incorporate during the school day, like getting students into a routine of checking email daily.
DO check in with colleagues.
Teachers learn from other teachers just as much as students learn from their classmates, which is why it’s useful to do routine check-ins with your colleagues about how blended learning is working in your classroom or how your colleagues implement their own blended strategies. Once your students acclimate to blended learning, ask a colleague to observe your class for feedback on how to improve your instruction.
DO get feedback from students.
While more extroverted students will let you know exactly what they think of a particular lesson, some introverts may not be so forward about their experiences. To get a full picture of how students are experiencing blended learning, you can create a class-wide, anonymous survey with SurveyMonkey to see how students perceive the blend of digital and printable resources, and the combinations of independent work and small group activities. To get more insights, you can include open-ended questions to let students elaborate on their own experiences.
DO model computer skills.
Digital skills are a key component of blended learning, but not all of your students have had prior exposure to typing, using a mouse, or opening a computer file. Learning A-Z’s specially designed blended learning product, Raz-Plus, supports all students, regardless of technology experience. With projectable and interactive texts, Raz-Plus allows you to show students how to use a range of digital materials.
DON’T forget the value of experiential learning.
Blended learning does not have to be confined to the walls of the classroom or at-home practice. Some of the most memorable learning experiences happen during field trips to the local museum, forest preserve, or theater festival. You can complement these learning excursions with online assignments like a response journal entry, an informational essay, or a brief quiz to assess what concepts students learned during their experience outside the classroom.
DON’T expect all students to reach goals at the same time.
One of the most valuable aspects of blended learning is its ability to reach all students; however, not all students will progress at the same pace. Moving forward with blended learning in your classroom may require some patience until all students get accustomed to the variety of materials and access points. When you stick with blended learning approaches, your students will have more opportunities to design large-group, small-group and independent activities that help them learn at their appropriate level.
DON’T forget to connect with parents and guardians.
Even if you’ve just started a blended learning curriculum and are excited about how students will engage with new teaching strategies, remember to connect with parents as you normally would and explain to them what strategies you use and why. Regular check-ins with parents are made easier through digital or mobile messaging apps, where parents and guardians can see their child’s progress. Parents and guardians can become your best allies in blended learning when you keep them updated about your strategies and goals.
DON’T underestimate the power of peer learning.
Blended learning is more than just sitting students in front of computers and leaving them to their own devices: it’s about combining various formats and opportunities to learn, and peer learning is very much a part of that. Students can be great teachers to other students, and their teaching abilities increase when they can practice skills at their own pace while interacting with peers at different learning levels.
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