Blended learning or blended instruction is a mix, or blend, of technology and traditional classroom instructional methods. Typically, the technology component of blended learning will be at least in part student-driven or student-directed. This approach to teaching and learning affords teachers and students alike the opportunity to approach instruction in multi-faceted ways. Students receive the benefits of direct instruction and teacher guidance, while they are also given the opportunity to acquire knowledge and demonstrate their understanding in different ways. The idea of integrating digital content into the instructional framework also presents an opportunity for differentiated instruction. Differentiated instruction within a classroom setting allows for teachers to adapt instruction and assessment to the needs and interests of individual students or groups of students, which helps to ensure that all students are receiving the best possible education.
Here at Annunciation, teachers work to integrate technology into their daily instructional time. Our early childhood students have the opportunity to use iPads with the support of the teacher. Each prekindergarten and kindergarten class has several iPads in their classroom for use throughout the day in centers or small groups. All the iPads can also be gathered together for whole classroom use. Students in the primary and middle school grades are afforded the opportunity to work with MacBook computers which are stored on carts in various wings of the building. Because the MacBooks are stored in carts, and not housed in one central computer lab, there is more opportunity for multiple classes to access computers at the same time, or for a teacher to bring in a set of four of five computers into the classroom for small group work.
Blended learning enhances the educational experience for our students. We are currently implementing various programs that incorporate technology to improve student understanding of concepts across the content areas. Students in grades K-8 participate in Mathletics, a rigorous mathematics program that is tailored to meet the needs of individual students. Students in grades 7 and 8 are also actively using Discovery Education TechBooks in science and social studies class. These digital textbooks offer a student driven approach to learning and provide students with interactive activities to enhance understanding. The techbooks also never have the downside of becoming obsolete or out of date since the content is updated on a weekly basis. Not only do these digital platforms promote academic success for our students, they also provide many avenues for teachers to gain insight into areas of student strength and weakness, as well as give productive feedback to each student. All this while also making learning fun!
Through weekly technology classes, students acquire a variety of technological skills and become comfortable with various applications such as Word, PowerPoint, iMovie, Garage Band, and Scratch. Students can then use these skills to help demonstrate the knowledge and understanding in their core academic subjects, such as using digital storytelling to showcase their knowledge of World War II. This affords students an alternative, creative way to express their understanding rather than the traditional essay format.
As education evolves over time, Annunciation is eager to provide students with a dynamic educational experience. Blended learning is one of the many programs we have with the goal of maximizing the educational experience for each individual learner within our community.