While at the iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium, I had the opportunity to hear from, literally, a bajillion people currently doing, dabbling and perfecting blended and personalized learning. A few weeks later, as I sift through the many ideas that were shared at this conference, I have two major takeaways:
1. I don't have to put everything in the blender at one time
This past summer as I was planning to embark on a blended learning journey, I had brilliant ideas about how I was going to blend every content area (self-contained teacher). And, let me tell you, in this summer dream, it was going to be amazing. Then, the realities of time constraints hit hard and fast. Now, nearly half a school year into the process, I heard a few magic and inspiring words from a district that had implemented blended learning three years ago and was offering advice to year 1 and 2 blended learning teachers: "You don't have to blend everything at one time." *wait a minute* WHAT?! Stop. WHAT?! Yes. In year 1, blend what you can, when you can. #blendhardblendfastblendWELL
While I can't take credit for this hashtag, it has been great in helping me readjust my thinking about some of the challenges implementing a new learning model has brought this past year. Most recently, after nearly two semesters in a blended learning environment, I asked my third graders the seemingly simple question, "Why do we do Blended Learning?" *cricket cricket cricket cricket cricket...more crickets* No response. No hands raised. Many averted eyes. "Wait...," I thought to myself. "My kids don't know why we're doing this?!" I've been to trainings, conferences and engaged in many discussions encouraging others to push their students towards blended and personalized learning but I had never, ever, thought to have this conversation with my own students. Oh Em Gee. So, we got busy trying to answer this question. We watched videos. We talked. We wrote. We read. We created our blended learning model. Together. Check us out!
Next Stop: Student Goal-Setting/Tracking!