Friday, September 1, 2017

Reflections on Blended Learning

I've been asked to reflect on what blended learning means to me, using the items in this photo. 

Reflect on Blended Learning using the following items as a lens: an envelope, a pencil, Duplo blocks, a Hot Wheels car, and three crayons

Truth: Uncomfortableness

I'll be honest. This reflection has been more difficult for me to write than I would like to admit. I can go on all day about what blended learning is, how to implement it in a classroom, and come up with ideas to help teachers implement blended learning in my role as a Technology Integration Coach. As anyone that knows me would tell you, I love the word persevere, and I seek challenges. So, I present to you my blended learning mystery basket recipe for success!

Recipe for Success

Blended learning allows me and other teachers like me to reach learners at all levels and abilities, represented by the red, yellow, and green crayons in the picture above. It allows me to give students a choice in their learning that is appropriate for their learning levels and allows them to develop their unique voice.

The pencil reminds me that technology is just a tool in blended learning. When we blend our learning environment, we combine traditional learning methods and tools with modern tools and methods. Pencils are still necessary in today's classroom and work in balance with the time that my students spend on their iPads.

The Duplo Blocks make me think of how I started in blended learning. In the photo above, there is a stack of blocks. When creating a blended learning environment, it's important to choose one part of your environment or lesson to blend and build on it as your comfort level (and your students' comfort levels) increase. Small steps that can be built upon are important to a sustainable blended learning environment.

As I reflect on blended learning, I see the Hot Wheels car and I think about how integrating technology and blending my classroom environment has excited my students and engaged them in learning. Providing them with choice in tools to demonstrate their learning excited them as much as it would if I were to have provided them all with a toy car to play with. Learning through exploration, and demonstrating your learning through a tool that excites you, makes learning more exciting and engaging for students and teachers! Students end up becoming leaders and teachers can facilitate learning instead of being "knowledge-holders."

Finally, the envelope represents how blended learning is a complete package for giving students choice, voice, and freedom to lead their learning through the tools that work for each individual. It gives students the ability to work at their levels, to work collaboratively, and to feel empowered within the classroom. It knocks down walls and connects classrooms across buildings and around the world. It envelops our learning world more and more each day. It wraps it up for all of our students and teachers. It's an important practice in my classroom, and it should be an important practice in yours, too!

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