|Elena Sanina, Freddy Esparza, Mark Montero|
What is key? Teacher appetite and readiness to rethink what is possible.
Over the last four years, Aspire Public Schools has rolled out blended learning classrooms in 23 of its 38 schools in California and Tennessee. Along the way, we've learned some hard lessons about converting whole schools to station rotation blended learning models in short periods of time.
Not all teachers are ready to launch blended learning in their classrooms. That doesn’t mean they won’t be; it just means that schools have to individualize the approach to integrating technology. If you believe in differentiated instruction for students, you should also assume that as professionals, teachers deserve the space and flexibility to rollout out new initiatives at their own pace.
Certainly, the choice of devices and their deployment should be thoughtfully vetted; but technology and personalized learning models need to support great teaching, not undermine it. So we’ve adopted an approach that allows teachers to develop strong class culture and tight management prior to adding technology.
Always “launch” WITHOUT technology It's important to front load procedures, expectations, and mindsets before bringing in the tech; this will lay the groundwork for student success when blended rotations start. Every teacher will have a different pace for building relationships, developing culture, and managing the classroom; that’s perfectly fine–the process should not be rushed!
In K - 5 schools, Aspire uses 21 lessons to help set up these procedures and expectations. These lessons aren’t a science and not all lessons are relevant to all classrooms, but they offer a general framework for launching a successful K - 5 station rotation model. Launching technology practices with great attention to detail levels the playing field for students that may not use technology at home.
The lessons are:
As students use computers to work through challenging lessons, their experiences help them develop grit, optimism, and perseverance. Understanding these concepts helps them go through a series of questions that encourage personal reflection such as, “How am I doing on my blended learning programs? Why? What am I doing well? What can I do to improve?” This Blended Learning Peer Data Reflection goes hand in hand with developing a growth mindset.