Student-Centered & Blended Learning: The Evolution of a Model…and Teacher

Student-Centered & Blended Learning: The Evolution of a Model…and Teacher



When I originally took on the role as Blended Instruction Specialist with Matchbook Learning, I assumed all of my years as an effective teacher and technology coordinator would prepare me to build capacity with a group of educators hired to shape a brand-new district.  Laughable.

The reality was I came from traditional education. The whole system of teaching and learning that I had been accustomed to now was considered obsolete, the “old way.”

It had become my responsibility to figure out how to transition a diverse staff, as well as myself, to a radical paradigm shift.  The assumptions came swiftly.

I knew that the veteran teachers would likely need a great deal of support.  I mean, in a true SCL classroom, the teacher has, in a sense, relinquished her power.  Most vets, myself included, relish in giving an Oscar-worthy performance in front of a class.  Teachers are performers, after all.  SCL threatened that.  The teacher was now to be a facilitator of learning, with the students dictating the style in which they learned and the pace which they learned at.  Yikes.

My next assumption was that rookie teachers would adapt quickly.  They didn’t know any better; they didn’t have any bad habits. Easy.  Right?

L  O  L

I soon discovered that nothing is easy or for sure when challenging the status quo. I had to get a handle on the model and prepare the teachers and administrators to be agents of change. This was revolution. It was time to suit up and train for the battle ahead…

Written by Nichole Husa

Nichole Husa

Nichole Husa is a Blended Instruction Specialist with Matchbook Learning, a national non-profit partner provider specializing in school turnarounds.


  1. Hi Nicole,

    I am new to blended learning and had some questions:

    1) What is a good assessment test that kids can take for us to determine their comprehension level in order to help create personalized lesson plans? A lot of the tests seem very expensive. Are there any cheaper alternatives?

    2) How do you go about creating a personalized plan for a child? Is there software that can create this list from a content repository? Or is it simpler in that teachers can pick content for each child on a daily basis? If the former, how do you create a library of content given that there are so many sources of online content like Khan, BrainPop, etc?


  2. Great questions, Suman!

    1. Yes, many of the adaptive tests that schools use to determine levels for each content area can be expensive. If you do decide to invest, I highly recommend Performance Series from Global Scholar. It is user-friendly and creates reports that teachers can easily use to enhance learning in their classrooms. For comprehension assessment on the low-tech side, I would consider simply using Dibels. You can acquire the fluency and comprehension tests online, usually for free. The best part about Dibels is that is forces the teacher to sit one-on-one with each student for a few minutes. This is a rare thing, for most kids never get the opportunity to read to their teacher. You will discover many secrets about a child’s ability/inability to decode and comprehend using this strategy. It also builds positive relationships.

    2. This may take me longer to answer, so I will include my email address at the end if you have more questions. There are many platforms that can help with personalization, and I think it is worth the money to invest in one. Whether you use Compass Odyssey, Buzz, or some other LMS the content is usually assigned to students based on their ability levels. Some systems produce a “canned” learning plan, while others allow teachers the autonomy to create a playlist of activities for the children to complete. If you prefer a low-cost option, teachers could simply create a free website for their kids to use and pack it with ability level activities. For example, a teacher may have several ability levels in his class, so there would be an equal amount of modules on the website. Kids would login to their space and work through activities such as Khan, Brain Pop, YouTube videos, and interactive games. The important thing to remember in Blended Learning, is that teacher-led small groups are where the magic happens. Teachers pull strategic groups and conduct targeted instruction with them, while the other kids work through their learning paths on the websites.

    I hope this gives you some food for thought. Email me with any questions you may have:

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