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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? Maybe. Could this be caused by the fact it was a Tuesday after a big Monday Night Football game? Maybe. Or could this be caused by the network being down, which took out the blended learning approach? Maybe. I am not suggesting that the majority of teachers are teaching the wrong way by not applying the blended learning approach, but I am suggesting that once the student-centered approach is gone, so are the students' attention and desire to learn.

Looking back at that day, I could have restructured the lesson differently, and I intend to restructure it differently should the network go down again. What I did not realize, what I could not see, was that I still could have run the blended learning classroom, but incorporated more of the collaborative learning station with direct instruction station. I got so focused on the network and technology, that I lost sight of what had become most important in my classroom, and that was I had made my classroom successful this year by making it student-centered and making it about the learning.

By taking out the student-centered approach, it really puts the students and teacher back in the dark ages. It wasn't not having the network up that caused it, it was my tunnel-vision that caused it.

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