Saturday, November 23, 2013

Blended Learning in Action

My students have been using the Chromebooks this week to engage in an on-line learning lessons/activities about Time. At this point during the unit the students are learning about telling time. They have already explored the passage of time and units of time. They have been introduced to analogue and digital clocks and how to identify minutes and hours. This is their first on-line learning activity for the blended learning we are doing in this Measurement unit.

The activity I am showcasing below shows students the corresponding digital time on an analogue clock for time to the hour, half-hour, and quarter-hour. Students had to match the digital times to their corresponding analogue clocks.

This first shot is of the first slide of the learning activity:

Here they are learning about telling time to the half-hour:

Telling time to the quarter-hour:

Here they get the chance to apply their knowledge/understanding and practice matching digital to analog times:

The students are responding well to the blended learning so far. They enjoy working on the Chromebooks and appreciate the opportunity to 1) learn using the online lessons and 2) practice what they are learning using the technology. The students are doing a great job in this blended learning cycle. I'm finding it a challenge to get around the room and talk to all the students while they are engaged in their practice activities. I want to make sure that I know how they are doing so I can speed things up, slow things down, and adjust for their needs. Their excitement and engagement is incredible and they can't seem to get enough of the tech integration and online learning activities. Nevertheless, I still provide them with other opportunities to show their learning such as using paper & pencil to write and draw, the use manipulatives, and by conferencing with me. It is important that I continue to provide them with what they need to be successful but I also believe in producing well-balanced students who can show their learning in a variety of ways if asked to do so. 

It is important that I continue to transform myself and my teaching so that I am reaching every student. The Chromebooks are tools, blended learning is another way to reach students. My experience has shown me that the use of technology is motivating and engaging and that students tend to be more invested in their learning and achieve greater academic success. I recently had a conversation with a close friend and mentor who expressed some concern about the use of technology in my classroom and how it might negatively impact my students next year when they don't have such technology to assist/support their learning. Concerns around writing, for example, were raised. How would students learn to write a friendly letter with a paper and pencil if they are not provided with that opportunity? How will students lean math concepts and solve problems if they are not introduced to manipulatives that can assist them? These are great questions and they are valid. 

My students use paper and pencils each day. They use manipulatives to learn and solve problems too! The technology and all the "goodies" that go with it are also used. I'd like to think that my students have a variety of options to learn, create, collaborate, problem solve, and communicate. Blended learning is happening in my classroom because I am fortunate enough to have the technology and support to offer it up to my students. It is NOT the only way, it is one piece of the teaching/learning puzzle in my classroom.

In language literacy my students are currently engaged in learning how to write friendly letters. I won't get into too much detail around what we are doing because I would like to dedicate a blog post to it later, but I can tell you that we are BLENDING our learning using paper and pencil as well as Google Drive (via the Chromebooks) to write and send friendly letters. The students are learning the basics of this type of writing and are improving their technological literacy at the same time.  

I would love to hear your thoughts about blended learning - please feel free to leave a comment below, reach me by email, twitter and/or connect with me on Google +.

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