Blended Learning: Harnessing the power of technology

21st-Century Challenges and Opportunities

The 21st Century has brought with it a host of online and computer-based learning opportunities, and through blended learning, teachers can harness the power of technology to speed up student growth.

One of the biggest challenges in the international classroom is meeting students where they are at. In our previous article, we discussed differentiation in the classroom. Today, let’s look into ways that teachers at TAIS use technology to help students progress more quickly as they study the American curriculum.

Information is abundant in the 21st Century. Students can find answers to questions in a matter of seconds using their smartphones or laptops. Finding information isn’t the same as learning, and teachers and TAIS combine traditional instruction with the latest online tools, artificial intelligence and learning algorithms to assess where students are at and help them progress.

The biggest change at TAIS for the 2019/20 school year is the use of Edmentum Exact Path. We’ve been doing Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing for a number of years and now we load that data into Exact Path. The computer generates a learning continuum and places students on it. Students then have the opportunity to progress as quickly as they are able. The lessons are broken down into an interactive multimedia lessons, practice, and then a mastery quiz. If the student scores 8/10 or higher, they have mastered the topic and can move forward. If they score lower, they go back and study more and take it again.

How is this tool used?

TAIS teachers use Exact Path in a variety of ways. Homeroom teachers give out incentives for students who spend time practicing and progressing on their own. Teachers assign it as homework. The content teachers in the areas of Math, Language Arts, and Reading assign specific lessons that dovetail with the content being studied in class. Students are given support in their classes in this area. 

Blended Learning in Practice

What does blended mean? Blended learning refers to teachers using online tools in conjunction with classroom instruction. A typical class includes instruction from the teacher on a concept, such as a grammar or math concept. After that, students practice the concept in small groups or pairs. Once the teachers feels they can do it in pairs, they do individual practice, and finally they complete an assessment quiz to make sure they mastered the concept. 

Online tools can be implemented at any place in this process. Quill has an interactive tool for presenting a grammar lesson with teacher modeling, paired practice, and independent practice all together. Afterwards, the students practice the concept with immediate feedback on performance. They cannot move to the next question without successfully completing the one they are on.

Peardeck and Nearpod are presentation tools that connect with PPT or Google slides and allow students to be engaged and answer questions at any point in the presentation.

 

 

IXL(Math) and No Red Ink(English grammar) uses machine learning to help students to master concepts. If they show mastery of a concept, they may only get a few practice questions, but if the answer are incorrect, they continue to get more practice and lessons on the topic until it is mastered.

With traditional teaching methods, students complete a worksheet or problem list in class. It is a fixed number of questions and the teacher does not know whether the students have mastered the concept until he or she grades it. Then the teacher must go back and reteach the concepts students are struggling with. This process is slow and not immediately adaptable to student needs. With the latest in online educational tools, teachers have the opportunity to give immediate feedback and adjust practice and lessons on the fly to student needs.