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When is Work, Not Work?

When I first started thinking about running a blended learning classroom last year, I envisioned three stations running efficiently and effectively, while at the same time bringing in the 4C's (collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking) daily. For the most part, I finally feel like I am seeing what I envisioned a year ago. But I am also seeing things now that I never envisioned, and I don't think they would have been possible without me trying something new.

Probably the best thing that has come from running a blended learning classroom, that I did not envision, has been the relationships I have been able to build with my students. With having stations, and one being direct instruction, I have been able to meet with no more than nine students at a time. This small group setting allows us to cover the lesson effectively but also more informally, which allows for a more relaxed and social atmosphere. In this small, relaxed, and social atmosphere I have heard more, "Hey, this math is easy. I can do this," then I ever had before.

Another positive that has come from the blended learning classroom has been the significant reduction of classroom disruptions. And it is really no wonder. Students are up moving around after 25 minutes, they are not sitting in the same seat for 70 minutes listening to me, they are building positive relationships with their peers in their collaborative work station, building stronger relationships with me in the direct instruction station, and learning at their own pace in the independent learning station.

The last thing that I have noticed going better than I anticipated, and it was my most worrisome part of the whole venture, has been how well the students have been working together. For many teachers, myself included, noise in the classroom can feel uncomfortable. But when the noise is students discussing ways to solve problems, positively correcting each other's mistakes, and working together, that is a noise that feels anything but uncomfortable. It makes me feel proud of my students seeing them work together to problem solve. If we want students to become "productive members of society," then we have to put them in situations where they can positively interact with others.  

So many great things have happened in my classroom from trying something new. The results are not always what were expected, and that is part of the fun along the way. And work isn't work, if you're having fun.

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