Blending Learning to Enhance Learning
How and where we learn can directly influence our ability to think in divergent and convergent ways depending upon the task. We often are asked to think critically and creatively and do so under tremendous pressure. In recent years, many technology companies began to create spaces that inspire workers to disregard the box and to think without limits! This new way of realizing space not only led to many of the products used by millions each day, it created a revolution in how spaces can promote behaviors and collaborative brainstorming to evaluate simple tasks and ask learners to allow the space to connect with how their brain functions. Schools disproportionately have not taken on this trend in favor of traditional learning spaces and thus teachers are left to work in spaces that may speak convergent thinking, while teaching for divergent and expressive thought. As I began my journey to explore and reflect on Learning Spaces, I began to realize that where one spend time can directly influence how learning occurs and how that learning can sponsor new ideas. In this way, the Learning Space is a teacher because it impacts learners affective, cognitive, and social emotional well being. Spaces that provide choice and variety may led to learners who value and respect who and what they are learning. So in many ways, the learning space is the third teacher.
In our quest to making learning word parts exciting, two new tools were added to our toolkit this month. We began the month of February with PearDeck interactive slides and Takeways as a follow up to the word parts mini-lesson. We then moved on to Quizlet Live! which offers the best of group gaming with word parts learning to help study and prepare for the upcoming Quarter 3 quiz. With exciting team names like the "Unicorns" and "Eagles" students worked in teams to review their word parts and morphemes in a quest to be the "Top Team " each Mod. The best part of both these new tools is that students quiz grades have increased and they are excited about the new study format.
Link to EdTechTeam Doc
Pear Deck Takeways-
Exit ticket assessment with an interactive twist.
Quizlet Live! Learning made interactive
Multi-sensory Learning is not a new concept, but it has been reconcepualized with the inclusion of technology. An early milestone was the ability to add visual elements to a screen rather than just binary code which required visualization and scheme to organize and thrive. Learners such as myself who struggle with written text and writing all together rejoiced when the "icon" became more than a business industry tool. The ability to see before, during, and after changed how multi-sensory learning could be applied and even today education technology firms are discovering ways to support diverse learners in classrooms around the world.
Visual thinking and visual learning are not mutually exclusive and I tell my students that just because you can see something doesn't mean you are "seeing" the full set of ideas or purposes. In my classroom, collaboration is a natural process but reaching out to those who may not be near us is relativity new and has been a challenge. In addition, I have used Blended or Flipped Learning as a means to provide greater depth for students without the worry of time and learning styles. It has really allowed me to provide something for "everyone" and thus I began to focus on my most challenging group-students who are striving to become better readers but may not have the toolkit to succeed. Visual learning or visual learning tools have been a "lifesaver" for those students who could see what you are doing but were unable to "see beyond" what it all meant. Visual Learning has changed my own learning as I began to find complex topics and activities much easier to accomplish and my students or "fellow learners" also began to feel confident or downright "giddy"! My first full assignment that I collaborated on with another colleague proved to be the right assignment at the right time.
US History is a passion I pursue on my free time and I was able to work on a Visual Political Map from 1800-1840 for my striving readers that provided the "vision" of the Manifest Destiny with the simplicity of reading their favorite graphic novel. The ThingLink was a power tool that was "self-driven" and did not require me to hover but I can circulate and conference with students to tease out misunderstandings and work toward building a body of knowledge. I hope to complete an "Individualized Observation" using the new Swivl+ robot and student observation feedback App.
Blended Learning has changed the landscape of how I have learned to teach over the past 25 years. Initially, I began to experiment with Blended Learning as an adult educator due to the constraints of my students and their availability for lesson. I expanded this thinking to my middle school classroom as the conceptual framework of the courses I taught changed and my time became more limited. Flipped or Blended Learning allows students the opportunity for visual, auditory, and kinesthetic connection to content as it allows them to view video segments, become more metacognitive about the learning process, and to build upon their body of knowledge by creating content for themselves. Hence the integration of Youtube and the ability to create content for various audiences and for different purposes. Blended or flipped learning has really allowed me to reach beyond the 4 walls of my classroom and align my curriculum with other subject matter experts thus giving students various perspectives and styles of obtaining information. In that way, blended learning supports all levels of the cognitive process and will allow students to go beyond the curated content offered during the school day.
Recently, I developed the first in a series of lessons designed to support students as they begin working on their Maker Space projects in the Fiber Arts. In my previous post, I outlined the foundation of our Makers Space project and how and when students would present. In this series of lessons, we begin the process of working toward research questions that support students understanding of their project and how they can acquire resources and mentors to aide in their success.