Definition of a Blended Classroom
What is a Blended Classroom and how does it look and operate different from a regular classroom? Blended Classrooms are those that utilize online content and tools as integral aspects of instruction. Key benefits include:Differentiated InstructionMaximize engagement by addressing the needs of every student Data-driven DecisionsIncrease fidelity & responsiveness with frequent, well-informed instructional decisions Accelerated LearningImprove both the amount & impact of effective instructional time Sustainable ProgramsMake sound instructional processes easy to manage through effective use of technology
The online, individualized content station provides adaptive and engaging content with embedded assessments and feedback which meet Bloom’s foundational levels of Understanding and Remembering (ie. basic skills). The teacher guided instructional stations provide students with differentiated mini-lessons addressing higher order thinking skills. This station provides students with the opportunity to meet Bloom’s levels of Analyzing and Applying information. Lastly, the collaborative, peer group stations provide students with projects that promote critical thinking while evaluating concepts. These projects tap into Bloom’s highest levels of learning, Creating and Evaluating.
Technology is fully utilized in Blended Classrooms by students as essential tools for learning and by teachers as essential tools for classroom and data management. These technologies provide access and insight into teaching and learning not previously possible.
Students receive instruction that is tailored to their needs, allowing advanced learners to move forward as they achieve mastery and providing necessary scaffolding and support to struggling learners, to allow them to gain confidence and mastery of skills. Teachers are more efficient in Blended Classrooms and are able to focus on the learning needs of each student and provide more effective teaching and student learning.
The digital content not only has the benefit of giving students lessons at their level but also gives us data about how students are performing on a more regular basis. Teachers can stop being a bottleneck to information and have a transparent system in which both student and teacher is aware of where the student is struggling. When the students are aware of areas they have not mastered, we can more easily instill growth mindsets and open the door to further learning.
There is no single instructional model that will work for every school, but there are a few foundational models that are good starting points for most.
The lab rotation framework involves modifying the schedule so that students spend a portion of each day in a lab environment with online content and another period each day with the teacher.
The classroom rotation framework puts the learning lab described in the lab rotation model in the classroom. This framework keeps all students in their own classrooms, under the direction of the teacher who knows them and has insight into what students are learning online so that there is often a more cognizant integration of online and offline material.
The flex framework places all students in one large room, each with their own computer and generally an array of smaller rooms on the periphery. Students work independently in online coursework and teachers dynamically identify and pull small groups into breakout rooms to intervene or advance specific topics.
Approach to Design & Development
A holistic approach to developing school-wide implementations is critical in creating classroom environments that successfully combine innovative instructional techniques with powerful technologies. Our process does just that:
It is important to assess each school’s unique needs and rethink all aspects of instruction to identify the blended learning model that fits best. Once a model is selected, it is imperative to navigate the fragmented marketplace to select the best content and tools for their needs. With content in place, the next step is to weave the instructional and technology elements into a unified solution and prepare the teachers and infrastructure for the first day of a new school. Lastly, it is crucial to support teachers and administrators with tools, techniques and training to effectively manage Blended Classrooms.