Blended Learning is Not Enough
I am coming to the end of a fabulous experience as an Education Innovation Fellow, and it is through this fellowship that I began my journey of discovery of blended and personalized learning. As with any profession, education is replete with vocabulary that has different meanings to different groups of educators, innovators, and the public. Blended learning, which is a combination of online and teacher-led learning, is one such term. But what I find so exciting about blended learning is that it is a powerful tool that can allow educators not only to blend, but also to personalize learning.
Personalized learning is the way for educators to facilitate student success with the Common Core State Standards. Student mastery of these standards should indicate that students are college- and career-ready. The stakes are high: We can no longer just deliver instruction to our students; rather, we need to provide our students with the tools that will enable them to drive their learning and their future.
I teach at an inner-city public school that is making gains in student achievement but still has a long way to go. The school leadership is supportive of leveraging time and talent in non-traditional ways, and in order to better serve our students, we extended our school day this year. But the most exciting part of this for me is I will have the opportunity to work with 6th and 7th graders who are reading significantly below grade level in a pilot program that, for my school and district, is innovative. The pilot will utilize several web-based reading remediation programs that students will access according to their needs, and the data-rich environment will allow me to pull students and provide targeted intervention either one-on-one or in small. It is not a pure personalized learning program, as the students will not have full responsibility of designing their learning paths, but it is a start.
CityBridge’s Education Innovation Fellowship has provided me with one of the strongest professional development experiences in my more than twenty years in education. It is because of the Education Innovation Fellowship that I realized that I could leverage technology in order to provide my students with a learning experience that is directly related to their own strengths and weaknesses. The Education Innovation Fellowship also gave me the courage to believe in myself as an educator, the ability to grow as an educator, and the capacity and willingness to take risks.