We are living in exceptional times with exponential changes in technology. No longer do you have to experience long lectures while depending on teachers to receive information. There was a time in education when resources were less accessible and students were dependent on teacher’s information to learn new concepts. Fast forward to current day and we are inundated with information. We have access to education in places that never seemed possible, we can grab a cup of coffee while reading a blog from someone across the globe. These are exciting times, so why aren’t we making education exciting? Why do the classroom environments’ still look so much the same? We should be able to progress from using direct teaching as the most prevalent model at our school, and provide our students with choices to learn.
At Allen ISD, we are fortunate to be part of a district that has embraced these technological advances. Most students have access to laptops, IPads, smart phones, or Chromebooks. In technology classes each student is provided their own desktop computer to work. However, when you walk into a technology classroom, you will notice very little has changed in the last twenty years. Given access to such an incredible array of options, I truly believe that we are not taking advantage of these technology opportunities, and this is a disservice to our students. I believe that we are using technology first, and educational strategies second, we can give our students better learning opportunities.
In order to impact these students in a more powerful way, we need to change our approach. I would like to implement a blended learning model, with station rotations. This gives students a tremendous opportunity to take ownership of their learning. Students would be able to choose how they would like to learn new concepts. I would like to pilot this model, so students would have the option to learn through online videos, peer collaboration or teacher facilitation.
This model would benefit students in several ways. First it would allow for differentiation and students to learn at their own pace. This model would allow students that understand specific concepts to accelerate their learning and progress through projects at a much deeper level. Students that are struggling with concepts would be able to slow down their learning and work at the pace that they feel comfortable in pursuing. These choices provide students with not only confidence, but would increase their engagement.
The access of the computer lab will make for an easy transition. There will not need to be any additional technology or resources to put these changes into motion. The videos will easily be uploaded into a Learning Management System for students to have access to view 24 hours a day. These videos will be created or selected and tailored for a specific lesson and purpose. The other important factor is the school culture. The implementation of this model is crucial in providing students success, and I believe FMS has the perfect school culture to allow for a smooth transition to blended learning.
After I have piloted this approach, my next goal would be to extend this blended learning model beyond my classroom. I would like to not only impact my students, but assist other teachers at Ford Middle School. My long term goal would be to impact students and train teachers throughout the whole district on blending learning in technology classrooms.
I have included a comprehensive literature review, including many valuable references showing the benefits to students using blended learning. I have developed a comprehensive plan on steps to implement this model, and an instructional video explaining benefits. Allen ISD has been known for being innovative and always striving for students to be successful from kindergarten, beyond high school. I believe these changes would be another step in providing these successes. I will be continuing to work on my implementation plan, but would like to transition to a blended classroom during the school year of 2017-2018. I appreciate your time and consideration, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.