As I am preparing to co-moderator with the incredible, fabulous, and wonderfully top-knotted Christine Pinto on the #gafe4littles chat April 4 at 5pm PST, I asked myself what would be an appropriate yet inspiring chat topic. I thought of questions I am often asked about me classroom “Is all your kiddos do is play on devices all day, when do they read real books, are they going to read real books, what about math how will they learn the basic concepts?” This lead me to blended learning. Blended learning is an approach in education promoting the blend of technology and non-tech/ traditional classroom teaching. Check out this video for a brief overview of blended learning. https://vimeo.com/89546618
One thing I always make sure to emphasize in my classroom, is that technology is just a natural part of our classroom environment. Students are aware of what it means to be a digital citizen and how to keep themselves organized with progress charts in their journals. Students love the use of technology, but almost all of our reading is done in actual paper books, students practice penmanship and writing in journals and handwriting practice books, as well as learn phonics electronically and in small group activities.
In my classroom blended learning can be seen, most notably in my ELA block. I have decided to take part of my whole group instruction online for my students. If you walk into my classroom during our morning ELA block you will see some kiddos working on hyperdocs, students in a small group with me or a parent volunteer, reading at their level books around the room, or trying to find sight words hidden in a picture.
( All card pictures are property of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journey’s curriculum. I do not own the rights to these photos, this photo is to show an example of how I integrate my curriculum within a blended learning environment.)
Within the hyperdoc pictures have a short 30 sec - 1min video in which I explain what to do on each section.This allows students to go back over and listen to the instructions whenever they need to. I set up an environment where there are 3 Google Guides in my classroom each week, these are students that can help trouble shoot any problems that arrive. Students know to ask other students in the classroom for help before seeking my input. This goes with my blended learning model as Kinders are having to troubleshoot, problem solve, and collaborate to find a way to get their work done. The ownership, pride and just natural enthusiasm for these activities leak into all the other modes. Kinders learn to work through and communicate when they are stuck in math, or even reading a word.
I think the most important thing to remember when trying to incorporate blended learning into a classroom is to start small. Blend a lesson, unit, or something you are comfortable starting on or a lesson that can use a reboost. Then be prepared to FAIL especially with littles. I readjusted my hyperdocs 3 times before I landed on the format we have now. I took a lot of littles advice until we arrived at this final product. I will admit that initially I put in more time. I have been working with this method for about 2 months now and I can easily copy the basic format over and am able to complete this during my Sunday planning times for the week.
Remember, blended learning can open up so much time for activities. LOL, Step Brothers modified quote. In all seriousness, blended learning enables me to get testing done, and work one on one with my Kinders who are struggling with key concepts. Start small and try just blending a lesson for your kiddos or a themed study unit. You don’t have to go all tech actually that is important to note, blended learning is just that blending technology into the natural learning that takes place in your room. If you want more ideas, hints, tips, and tricks join the fabulous Christine Pinto and myself for a chat about blended learning at #gafe4littles April 4th 5pm PST.