Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blended Learning--Re-Inventing the Traditional Classroom For ELLs and Others:)

Technology is slowly transforming the ways in which students learn and how teachers interact with them.  Though the whiteboard will still be in the classroom, it will take second place to the smart board, document camera, laptops, iPads, kindle fires, project-based learning, etc.  Students now come to school with far more experience in using technology than many of their teachers.  They are also quite skilled in using social media while many teachers are not.  So students enter their classrooms with 21st century knowledge, but use 20th century tools to learn.  There is a gap here which teachers are working hard to bridge.  Though there are opportunities for professional development in technology in many districts, many teachers tend to talk to colleagues who are quite comfortable with using the latest piece of technology available for ideas (I do this regularly).  After all, every school has a few teachers who seem to be tethered to the internet and all the wonders it holds so they should be the first contact when a teacher wants to try something different:)

So what are some changes that are coming your way? 

Imagine students putting their own math videos online for others to use?  How about the same math lesson being offered in different languages for newly arrived ELLs?  What about students studying top online lectures in content that the teacher will use in class as a basis for project-based learning activities?  Then there are the students who struggle.  With this approach, teachers would be able to spend time with students who still need additional support while the others go deeper into the topics with practical application to the real world.  When the weaker ones catch up with the other students, they would then join the various projects and approach them on an equal footing with the other students. 

How about adding educational games to class time?  ELLs are just like other kids.  They have preferred learning activities just as the mainstream kids do.  Bring in options for them to master academic content.  With the use of educational games either for the individual or for small groups, ELLs will not only become proficient at learning the content, but also grow in their English skills.  Another plus is that you may find some students who can develop their own educational games for others to use:)

BLENDED LEARNING  Here is another site you may wish to bookmark:)


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