Education must move with the times. What can be done to reach a technology-savvy generation that relies on media every free second of their time? In order to prepare students for the world we must embrace mobile learning. This will be a major benefit to education by reducing the brick and mortar borders of the schoolhouse and opening opportunities for personalized learning and worldwide connections. Research shows that “Station rotations keep students moving, keep them engaged, and give them more than one way to practice what they know (Creative Educator, n.d.)”. My original plan is to implement blended learning on my campus where students work in several different activities or centers, which includes whole group instruction, small group instruction, peer-to-peer activities, pencil & paper activities, and individual work on a computer or tablet.
Implementing the station rotation model has worked for the most part in the 5th grade class. The teacher loves being able to work with small groups and provide real-time feedback, answer questions, lend support, and direct the students to an online resource. The students in the class like the freedom they have as learners in this model. They also like the fact that they the teacher is not hovering over them or controlling the pace of their learning.
What could have been done better?
Of course, there are a lot of kinks that need to be worked out. There should be now surprise to know that the technology doesn’t work all the time. Another thing that can be done better is teacher support. Because some teachers are not “techy” they shy away from blended learning.
How to Apply Lessons Learned?
My main goal was to implement an innovation plan that would incorporate blended learning into the classroom. Here are some of the changes I have made with my plan.
Starting at Ground Zero (The Task Force)
I must have a solid foundation. I have to make sure when trying to implement my plan I have key people on my support team: administration, teachers, students, parents, and community. Its not going to just take the support from the teachers and admin as I stated in my earlier plan, but all hands are going to need to be on deck as a support for this plan to be successful. This task force will:
- Hold focus group meetings distribute surveys, and be mentors for those classes to ease the launch of this program.
- Provide technical support to all participants.
- Develop a clear vision for our innovation plan.
Clear Vision and Increased Collaboration
Originally, I was going to gear my blended learning initiative to one grade level. I think this plan can be implemented in grades K-5 one classroom at a time. In order for this to be successful we have to increase collaboration among the teachers. “Successful collaborations happen when teachers work together to share the workload instead of doubling their efforts. From the delegation of tasks, teachers are also able to learn more from each other as they come back together to review and assemble their separate assignments into a cohesive lesson plan. (Jones, 18)”. Increased collaboration is essential as we learn from each other and move theory into practice while also sharing successful innovations from one class to another.
“At its core, professional learning is the key component to improving educator practice and providing new perspectives on an ever-changing profession (Marcinek, 2015)”. The problem is that most teachers have not had adequate training to prepare them to use technology effectively in teaching. The lack of professional development focused around technology is a serious barrier affecting the fully implemented classroom with technology. Therefore, professional development for teachers becomes the key issue in using technology to improve the quality of learning in the classroom.
In my influencer strategy I stated that grade levels will meet before or after school on a weekly basis to develop ideas, answer questions, voice concerns, and see student progress but that must change. Here is how I would change professional learning.
Start by assessing the basic technology and technology integration skills of the entire teaching staff. Give teachers a self-assessment of what they know about technology, what they want to know, and how comfortable they are with technology at a whole.
Provide once a month training to fill in gaps and give teachers what they want. I feel to have several workshops available that would gear towards the needs of the teachers according to the survey. This will allow teachers to choose to attend workshops only in the areas where they need extra learning.
During the training there will be time allotted for teachers to use the technology. They will create real lessons and activities to use with their students. Doing this will help them see how technology will enhance their classroom.
These training sessions throughout the year will help teachers practice information without overwhelming them. The task force will provide follow-up materials, such as online tutorials, help sheets or short videos so teachers can review the training on their own if they do forget how to do something.
Monitoring and Evaluation
- There will be continuous monitoring and evaluation of the project by the task force. This is necessary so if there are any concerns are improvements it will be identified.
- Feedback from participating classes will be discussed at focus group meetings. Task group members can also voice their opinions about the plan which will produce collaboration.
Creative Educator. (n.d.). Blended Learning with Station Rotations. Retrieved from http://creativeeducator.tech4learning.com/2016/articles/blended-learning-with-station-rotations
Jones, L. (18, July 2014). The Power of Teacher Collaboration. Retrieved from Teaching Channel: https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2014/07/18/power-of-teacher-collaboration-nea/
Marcinek, A. (2015, June 14). Professional Learning Opportunities and the Teachers They Create. Retrieved from Edutopia: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/professional-learning-opportunities-teachers-create-andrew-marcinek