Blended Learning with Littles

A blended learning environment is one in which technology and “offline” teaching are seamlessly intertwined throughout the day. Blended learning environments allow for student agency, passions, and mastery to grow.

21st Century Learning

In the 21st Century Framework, students use digital tools, collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking (The 4 Cs), and other career readiness skills to curriculum standards. In the 21st Century Framework, teachers design lessons, and experiences that pull in multiple skills listed above. Teachers must model risk-taking and perseverance. Teachers must also look for ways to include a global perspective in their curriculum. A blended learning environment provides teachers with tools to use to teach the skills and perspectives outlined by the 21st Century Framework. In a blended learning environment, students can use devices to share their learning with the world through Twitter, Instagram, a Seesaw blog, or other tools. Students can complete work in a way that makes sense to them. They can use a digital tool like Seesaw, Flipgrid, or Google Classroom to collaborate and communicate with one another. They can use their creativity to respond to assignments or teacher prompts using tools like pic collage, Seesaw, Chatterpix, and more. Students can apply critical thinking by considering their digital footprint prior to sharing with the world, solving problems with a team, or deciding which digital tool works best for them when given a choice.img_0862default

The 4Cs

Blending technology into your lessons allows for opportunities for students to experience the 4Cs. Blended learning can consist of student choices in response to learning. Students need to think Critically (1) about the task at hand and the best way to Communicate (2) their learning with others. I have given students choices for Letterland phonics sorts to use either Seesaw or paper and pencil. My kindergarteners figured out which way worked best for them and stuck with that method. In my kindergarten and first grade classrooms, we use #BookSnaps to reflect on text reading. Students have a choice in how they respond to that text and are very Creative (3) in their text annotating using labels, drawing, and emojis to annotate the text. I encourage students to Collaborate (4) and work together on one device. You know the saying 2 heads are better than one. Well, it still holds true when kids are creating content using technology. They aren’t only sharing their learning but they are learning ways to work on a team. Because a blended learning environment encourages collaboration, we don’t need to be 1:1 with students to devices in order to have a blended environment. There are times in my classroom where we use 1:1 and times where only 4 devices get used and the kids work together.

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Access to multiple types of devices grows flexibility

I’ve heard people say they don’t like technology in the classroom because technology changes frequently and just when you get used to something there is something new out there. I love that technology changes all the time. It forces us to be flexible, a super important executive functioning skill. In my classroom (not by choice) I have 2 desktop computers, one laptop, 5 iPad 2s, 1 newer iPad, my teacher laptop, my old iPhone 6, and 2 of my personal devices I let kids use occasionally (a chromebook and an iPhone 8 plus), and because of BYOD we have various models of iPads and iPand minis. Soon, we are getting new chromebooks from the district. The variety of devices that my students have access too requires them to transfer skills to different types of operating systems and to problem solve when something doesn’t work. I have kids who prefer the desktop computers for one task, an iPad for another, and my old phone for another. We have that flexibility for them to find what works best for them.

Learning first Technology Second

It is important to remember that the learning always needs to come first. Technology should support the learning. It never comes first in my planning process. I start by looking at my standards and unpacking what that means for students. My next step is to decide how we will approach the standard and how it should break down for student learning. Sometimes technology fits in and amplifies the learning, other times it doesn’t. Sometimes my devices sit without being touched all day and sometimes we use them in every block. Sometimes I don’t plan for technology but my students find a way to amplify their own learning and voices during a lesson or learning experience using technology and clearly I have to allow it! Like I said at the top, a blended learning environment includes both technology AND “offline” learning. It is important to know your standards, know your kids, and plan appropriately.

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Hook, Line, and Sinker

It’s Tuesday before I track back in. My teacher work days start on Thursday and I’m getting myself in the mindset to begin fresh in my classroom in 2017.

When I began this blog a month ago my plan was to review the NC teacher evaluation standards to try to better understand how I’m evaluated as an educator. Some of my posts have gone on small tangents but I think that’s ok because telling my stories shows how I meet each standard. After this, I’ll be telling more stories


(because stories are what’s important) about my classroom and reflecting on some professional books I’m reading. Today I’m exploring:

Standard 5: Teachers Reflect on their Practice – Teachers analyze student learning, Teachers link professional growth to professional goals, Teachers function effectively in a complex, dynamic environment.

The whole purpose of this blog for me is to reflect on my practice.

I’m sure I don’t need to say it out loud because every teacher does this but for the record – I look at what my students already know and analyze it to figure out what I need to teach them. I do this through formative assessments, observation, and conversations with my students.

I’m going to tell you a secret: at some point in the last 2 years I lost some of my passion and my “why” of teaching. Seriously! I lost it. I couldn’t find it anywhere… I tried looking. I’ll admit to you why – I didn’t have professional goals.  This year I got myself back into my professional learning and trying new things and even reading (professional and personal reading). Guess what… my passion is back! My “why” came back! I’m more amped and ready to get to school this year! My goal this year is to make learning more playful for my students. I started this year reading Purposeful Play by Kristine Mraz, Alison Porcelli, and Cheryl Tyler. I’ll admit, I’m a slow reader so I only just finished it last week. But it’s a great book and I highly recommend it (even for upper grades teachers)! All kids like to play. This book isn’t just about choice time and centers. It’s about making all learning all day more playful. I’ll post about this book after I finish the NC teacher standards. The other thing that changed for me is Twitter (give me a follow if you don’t already)! Once I joined twitter and began hanging out there and connecting with educators from all over and hearing their excitement, my “why” came back to me. I’m a teacher for my students. They’re obviously my why and always have been. But this year, I’m into them more. I want to build relationships and get to know their interests more. I’ve enjoyed twitter chats. I’m still slow at it and not consistently participating in any. I’m looking to grow my PLN so please comment some people I should follow, hashtags to check, and your favorite twitter chat (with the day and time)!

Our world is complex and dynamic and therefore our classrooms must be as well. It is our task as teachers to help prepare students for the fast paced world they will be entering. As teachers we need to embrace the complex and dynamic world and make our classrooms that way but first we need to be able to function in it. I’m flexible and I embrace change. It might take me a while to embrace it because I like to understand it but once I do, LOOK OUT! I’m a jump in the deep end kind of person! I will take new initiatives hook, line, and sinker (when I’m ready)! I’ve heard of teacher blogs. I’ve read a few but not consistently. I wanted to start one but never did until last month because I didn’t think mine would be any good and I wouldn’t have any readers. But I’ve grown. My blog is not for you #sorrynotsorry it’s for me. My next goal for blogging is to become an avid reader of other’s blogs. Right now I follow Kim Collins, Bill Ferriter, and George Couros. So, if your reading this… give me some ideas of who else to read and follow them.