- Public schools in Washington, DC, are four years into a largely grant-funded blended learning initiative that has changed the way teachers teach and how they even think about organizing their classrooms to best serve students.
- According to eSchool News, teachers have benefitted from targeted training to develop blended learning lessons that rotate students through stations at computers, freeing up teachers to carve out more time for project-based learning, Socratic discussions and higher-order thinking skills.
- The blended learning initiative has allowed a level of personalized learning so, while students are at computers, they are getting content that is at their level and pace, surely a contributing factor to improved math and reading proficiency rates in participating schools.
When people think about blended learning, it is easy to go straight to the idea of a flipped classroom, where students are asked to watch or read basic information that might previously have been discussed in a lecture as homework. Then class time is freed up for the projects and practice work that solidify the discussed skills students otherwise might have been expected to struggle through on their own as homework. But in schools where students don’t have the technology tools to complete the online portion of blended assignments at home, teachers can still bring blended learning to their classrooms.
The DC schools’ approach is a perfect example of this – blended learning offers a motivation to break students into groups that rotate through stations, keeping them engaged in one assignment after another, while allowing them to work through specific content they need to learn individually on classroom computers. Teacher training is key to this pedagogical shift, however. Teachers need support to develop station ideas, curate online content and manage classrooms in a blended environment.