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What is Blended Learning?
Masks, hand sanitizer, and blended learning – three new components of a successful school day in Mapleton. Although probably not as visible as the hand sanitizer dispenser on the wall or the social distancing stickers on the floor, blended learning is perhaps one of the most important things happening in Mapleton’s classrooms every school day.
Blended learning is the meaningful integration of in-person and digital learning experiences. At its core, blended learning allows teachers to extend their reach in meeting the various and varied learning needs of their students. This approach supports teachers in using technology to offer students flexible, engaging activities in a classroom or in a home-learning setting.
In Mapleton, the purpose of blended learning is to:
Enable teachers to collaboratively design responsive learning paths and engage students in higher-level thinking to meet the needs of all learners, and
Empower students to personalize their learning through choice of pace, place, path, and time.
Last spring, Mapleton pushed to become a one-to-one district, with all students (K-12) receiving either an iPad or a Chromebook to allow for seamless transitions between in-person and remote learning. The integration of technology is now making it possible for teachers to introduce three models of blended learning into their classrooms.
The Flipped Classroom Model allows students to participate in online learning as a way to learn and explore new content, then engage in face-to-face, teacher-guided practice and projects. This method allows students to watch the main content at their own pace, rewinding and stopping as necessary to take notes.
The Rotation Model allows students to rotate between different stations, one being online learning. Other stations include small-group or full-class instruction, group projects, individual tutoring, or pencil-and-paper assignments.
The A La Carte Model allows students to take a course entirely online. This is different from full-time online learning because it is not a whole-class or school experience. Students in Mapleton will use the A La Carte Model to receive a credit or complete coursework needed to graduate. Mapleton is partnering with Colorado Digital Learning Solutions to bring specialized courses to students.
Mapleton truly believes students are unique in how they learn and retain information. Supplementing classroom teaching with a blended learning approach allows students to learn at their own pace. Students have the tools and resources to review difficult concepts or areas that they are still working to master outside of the classroom.
Through blended learning, students are also able to get individualized support from virtual teacher support. Students can do quizzes and tests online and get immediate feedback through auto mark features available on online platforms. Additionally, blended learning platforms provide students with a variety of educational tools such as pictures, videos, podcasts and games that appeal to all types of learners.
Blended learning also provides opportunities for student collaboration and parent engagement. Students are able to work in virtual groups, engage in discussions, and provide and receive feedback to each other. Dynamic online discussions and peer feedback can significantly improve learners’ knowledge and skills. Parents also have an opportunity to participate in the learning process by offering guidance and support at home. Parents are able to communicate with teachers in real time, get immediate answers to questions about progress and learning.
Mapleton is using Canvas, an online learning management system, to house major content and coursework. Canvas helps organize instruction by making lesson plans, content and assignments available in one online location, from anywhere with an internet connection. Canvas also allows for daily live daily lessons, attendance and grading expectations for credit. All Mapleton students and parents are provided a Canvas account.