Blended Saved Me
How new is “blended learning?” We hear it touted as a new and innovative way to instruct our students, but is it really that new?
When I was first introduced to the term ‘blended learning’ it occurred to me that this is something that those of us who are elementary and early childhood teachers have been doing for years. Elementary school teachers differentiate instruction through the use of what we call ‘centers.’ In the world of “blended learning,” it’s called a rotational model where students rotate between targeted learning activities based on their needs.
“Blended learning” takes the model a step further by utilizing technology to allow for more engaging and rigorous content at each ‘center,’ so students learn at a more individualized pace. This is precisely what I have been doing in my classroom.
When I taught a 3rd through 5th grade combined grade special education class, I would not have made it through the day without my form of a “blended learning” model (at the time I didn’t know this is what it was called). My students would not have shown the significant academic outcomes that they did.
Allowing students to learn at their own pace and on their own level is made easier and more effective with a blended model in the classroom. Many teachers have been doing a variation of this for year(s), however, now as “blended learning” expands, the online connect and digital learning available to teachers like me is only getting better.
Even though I was using this model, I was not sharing it. It is time that teachers come out from behind their closed doors and share the innovations they have been implementing for years and integrate the new and improved technology resources into their instruction. It’s time for Centers 2.0. Elementary school teachers need to use technology in their classrooms to meet their students’ needs and amp up the rigor in their instructional practice. Elementary school teachers also need to work with high school teachers to show them the significant benefits from a new classroom and instructional model. It is time we all start to share the work we have been quietly doing to enhance our student outcomes and to help others adopt a blended learning model.