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Showing posts from September, 2015

The Dark Ages

The week started out smoothly with the blended classroom flowing quite nicely. Then unexpectedly, the network went down. No Internet. No independent learning station. No blended learning. No energy.
Fortunately, I was prepared to handle this (or at least I thought I was) with a whole group lesson, and that whole group lesson really opened my eyes to how engaging and student centered I had been running my classroom before the network went down. As I taught the whole group lesson, one that I had taught in previous years (with what I had thought had been effective), I looked around the room and saw the following: students with elbows on tables with hands holding up heads; students blankly staring back at me with glazed eyes; students staring out the window; and students doodling in their notebooks. Now while this was not every student, it was more than any teacher would like to see. But it was the first time I was seeing this in my class this year.
Could this be caused by the lesson? May…

It's All About The Learning

Chromebooks, tablets, smartphones, laptops, desktops. There is so much to choose from for a blended learning classroom. How does a teacher begin to figure out which one is best?
For starters, it definitely helps to have a knowledgeable and accessible director of technology. My director of technology, after listening to my blended learning ideas, decided that Chromebooks would probably be the best option for my sixth grade class. And after the first several weeks, I like the decision he made. The students, who are beginners with the Chromebooks, are starting to use them with ease now. The students are up and running in no time, and with no help from me. So, there is that "independence light" at the end of the tunnel that I was wondering if I would ever see after the second week. The students will get there, and probably much faster than one may think.
It is easy to become excited picking a device. It is easy to become wrapped up in the device that was chosen and read about all…

K.I.S.S.

Third week into the blended learning classroom and I felt pretty good with how things were going. Still a little messy. Still some bellyflops. But overall I was happy with the progression. Then, specials happened. This cut my class time down from 70 minutes to 50 minutes. Just when there was a flow starting to occur, I was forced to try to figure out the best approach to run the stations with a shortened class. I knew the day we would have specials would mean shortened class times. So it was not a surprise to me, but somehow that day just snuck up. What I discovered in trying to figure out the best approach for that day, turned out to be the best approach for every day. I ended up simplifying the stations and rotations, which made for a much more efficient class and positive comments from my students. I took that simplified approach into the rest of the week, and things really started to take off like I had been envisioning since last year. All I had to do was just keep things simple. D…

At The Edge of The Diving Board

Am I ready for this? Are my students ready for this? Is it too late to turn back? What will my students think if I turn back? Did I prepare them well enough? Should I spend more time going over the different stations? Will this work? All of these questions and so many more were flying around in my head as I looked out at my first period math class who were about to begin the blended learning station rotation model. Then I was able to take a breath which gave me a sense of calm. It was in that moment I saw the excitement in my students' faces. I saw their belief in me. I realized they were craving something new, something different, something meaningful, and something that they can take with them for years that will help them in THEIR future. So, I jumped off that "diving board" and into the blended learning model. I came up splashing and reaching for that edge of the pool, and as I made it over there I realized it was fun, exciting, engaging, and yes, messy, but also ver…

You Don't Know Unless You Try

The first week of the 2015-2016 school year is done, but I couldn't tell you where those days went. All I know is that Friday afternoon is here and my oldest daughter is getting ready to be flower girl tomorrow at my cousin's wedding. While the first week went by at a speed similar to the last week of summer vacation, there was so much additional time and energy put in to it by so many people. The reason, starting a blended classroom in my sixth grade math and science classes. This is something that has been in the works since the beginning of the fourth marking period of last year, and something that I have been, unknowingly, building up to since I was hired 14 years ago. So while blended learning will be occurring in my classroom, it is definitely not a me-only project. We all will celebrate the successes the blended learning classroom gives us throughout the year. What has been so fantastic about beginning a blended learning classroom has been all of the excitement and willin…