I have had the last six weeks to recuperate from the “Covid-Inspired Remote Learning” experience. I bet many of you have too. And after resting my brain for a good month, I’ve come to some new epiphanies about what worked, what didn’t, and how we plan for the unknown. Here’s my first one …
BLENDED LEARNING/FLIPPED CLASSROOMS ARE THE FUTURE & even more important right now to me: Blended Learning best prepares us for the unknown this year. And it needs to happen. Right now. I think I already knew this. I’ve always loved edtech, and I’ve dabbled in some blended learning/flipped classroom lessons through the years, but I just didn’t have enough direct experience to see so shockingly how true it is.
Alas, after spending seven weeks teaching via remote learning, I have whole-heartedly decided more than ever that no matter what we teach, no matter the grade, we would ALL be better off if our classrooms were COMPLETELY flipped and the learning was blended. There has never been a better time to embrace change, fail forward and go all in with blended learning. It will be the best thing to come out of the Covid chaos in our classrooms.
What does blended learning/flipped classrooms mean exactly? Well, the learning becomes a mixture or blending of in-person and online. In a nutshell, the direct instruction is online (videos, etc.) and the hands-on learning, or teacher-supported learning, is happening in person.
I know that’s intimidating. And I know you hate making videos and you think you sound weird on videos, and you hate using the camera to make your videos, and I know! … Let’s not get you started on how much TIME it will take to make the videos!!! BUT — what about all the magic that will happen when your learners have watched your videos and then have you in person to guide them as they make, create, and SHOW their learning in engaging and authentic ways?
Added bonus: If we ever have to go to complete remote learning again, your class is ready to go. No more changing gears. It’s pretty seamless as you switch over. And right now, there has never been a greater time of uncertainty in education or how we should teach. And like I said earlier … Blended Learning best prepares us for the unknown.
PLUS! There is the equity bonus. How cool is it that your students and watch, rewatch, watch with their families — and really immerse themselves in what you’re teaching, and then they can spend in-person time working in teams, collaborating, creating, and you can walk around feeling like the queen of the world watching them, answering questions, cheering them on. We do this in a large capacity anyway. It’s often what we love most about teaching — the coaching and creating with our learners. This way of teaching also truly connects parents to the learning process. What a win! They can SEE what their children are learning and help reinforce this learning at home. They instantly become co-teachers with blended learning and flipped classrooms. And what about the personalized learning aspect — this way of teaching gives so much choice and autonomy to our learners and opens up gazillions of ways for them to show their learning authentically. And don’t get me started on all the ways that this turns into a self-paced learning environment where personalized learning is working at its best! (Check out this blog for more info on how to do that: https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/self-paced-learning/)
So…. (I hear you and your hesitancy) … What does this look like in alternative classrooms or various grade levels?
Glad you asked.
THE SAME! ……..or very similar, at least.
I have now taught every grade K-12 and I can see how this will work for each one. Even kinder! (Although I suspect they need a good three months to learn general classroom procedures, including how to login to a device and access the online learning piece. Actually, probably less than three months.)
It also works for specialists and electives teachers. For example, I teach Library and Makerspace (STEAM learning) and instead of spending time giving instructions over and over, instead of reading the same book that week multiple times (and having the tragedy of only getting to read ONE book to each grade level when there are 50 books I would love to read!) I can record myself (or find recordings) of ALL THOSE BOOKS, and THEY CHOOSE!
Of course, we can still gather in a circle when they come in, because blended learning does not give up the relational gold of teaching! And after we do a “temperature reading” to see how we are all doing and discuss the learning targets for the day — they can choose the one book they want to read by clicking the videos on their devices around the room, and then after that, they can get to work on the STEM-related project we have going with that book for that class period.
Or they can read it on their own before they come to Library. Either way, this gives more time for ENGAGEMENT and HANDS-ON LEARNING in the classroom. Two of my favorite pieces of the learning pie, next to the relational piece.
Of course, the biggest hurdle with BL (aside from the time that it takes to implement this undertaking) is: Technology access. I work at a school that is 1:1 so this is definitely more of a reality for us. But even as our schools lag behind in tech as a country, it’s coming. The tech is coming, and it’s exciting to think about this as more of a reality for all schools one day.
I’m super excited. Can you tell???
I know it’s going to take time to make all these videos, but once it’s done — the payoff will be huge. For me. For the kids. For their parents. For our school. I’ll start small. As we must. A few lessons at a time. I might still do some in person and some flipped, but my new goal whether it takes a year or two or three: A Flipped Classroom Experience. Blended Learning all the way.
Here are some awesome resources I’ve come across this summer and this year if you are moving this way too, or want to start wrapping your head around this idea some more:
- The Modern Classroom Project: https://modernclassrooms.org/ (You can also see examples of websites and learning management systems teachers have used at all grade levels to flip their classrooms … https://learn.modernclassrooms.org/courses/essentials)
- Blended Learning/Flipped Classroom Ideas from Cult of Pedagogy on Pinterest: (https://www.pinterest.com/cultofpedagogy/flipped-classroom-blended-learning/)
- Blended Learning Resources from Edutopia: https://www.edutopia.org/blended-learning-resources
- Researcher/Author Caitlin Tucker — https://catlintucker.com/ A great resource on the subject, as are her books. (https://www.amazon.com/Blended-Learning-Action-Practical-Sustainable/dp/1506341160)
- Cult of Pedagogy www.cultofpedagogy.com — one of my favorite education podcasts. I want to discuss her most recent post in my next blog. It’s a game changer for online learning.