Who Moved the Front of the Room?

I walked into a 1:1 elementary iPad classroom and knew it had happened. There was a happy hum in the room, kids were working independently in soft spaces, and the vibe in the room was productive and calm. Where was the front of the room? Where was the teacher?  

What I am describing is a disruptive blended classroom as defined by Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker in the book Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. “There is a simple rule of thumb for spotting a disruptive model of blending learning: if students are learning in a blended setting, and you can’t figure out where the front of the classroom is then it’s probably a disruptive model (Horn, Staker (p.76).”    I have witnessed this shift happen several times as we have implemented 1:1 iPad classrooms in my district.     Teaching and learning looks very different from the traditional model we envision when we think of a classroom and school. Instead of finding a teacher delivering content in one unifying message from the front of the room, teachers are crafting a personalized learning environment grounded in pedagogy, choice, and creation which shifts the teacher from the front of the room to working alongside students and a shift from desks to soft spaces throughout the room.  

How does a shift like this happen?

Developing a blended learning culture within the classroom day is the key. Blended learning is defined as, “A formal education program in which a student learns: at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace; at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home; and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.”  As an iPad coach, I work in classrooms alongside students and teachers.  From Day 1, we begin to craft this blended environment.  

Here are a few steps to get started.

  1. Set up a blended classroom workflow using tools such as iTunes, Google Classroom or a learning management system such as Schoology or Canvas so students can have control over time, place, path, and/or pace. This is the place to design the content and deliver course materials.  Once this workflow is in place, it is easy for students to access and submit assignments anytime, anywhere.  Not only is this great workflow, but it also provides feedback and privately differentiates for every child seamlessly.
  2. Leverage the audio and video capabilities to provide students choice and independence in how they learn and how they demonstrate mastery of objectives.  Both teaching and learning is now multi-modal where students have more options for creation that includes audio and video.
  3. Create soft spaces in the classroom and give students the freedom of movement and collaboration so they can work individually and with one another naturally throughout the day.
  4. Let go and let them learn. As you shift to working alongside your students, take advantage of the time to conference individually and provide guidance to small groups.  
  5. Be patient with yourself and your students. It takes time and perseverance to craft this environment.

How are you creating a blended learning classroom for your students?

Leave us a comment below.

Written by Ann Feldmann (@annfeldmann1)

 

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