Get Your Classroom Ready for Blended Learning

The following is an excerpt from our new white paper, “Eight Steps to Successfully Implement Blended Learning in Your Classroom.” Download it today!

Do you ever find yourself leaving school at the end of the day thinking you could have taught your lesson just a little bit better? It is very natural as a teacher to take stock of your day and think about adjustments you can make for tomorrow. What if you could use tools like games to make a large scale change to your classroom that would lead to much higher levels of engagement and achievement? You can, and blended learning is the 21st century key to this kind of change.

Getting Your Classroom Ready For Blended Learning

You might be wondering how can you transform your classroom with a blended learning model? After all, the possibilities with tech based learning — middle school science games (hint, hint) — can be truly infinite given the right strategies.

Time To Rearrange The Desks

Girl playing an online educational game on her ipadWhether you have a cart of iPads or a room full of Chromebooks, integrating technology into your classroom is a great way to engage students in learning. One facet, the classroom setup, is often overlooked. It might seem that just putting technology on the desk in place of a textbook will improve a student’s experience and engagement, but research has found otherwise.

Says Ramona Persaud, Edutopia contributor, “From the front door and school grounds to the classroom, the aesthetics of learning spaces impact brain function and influence how students feel when they’re in school—as well as how they feel about their school.”

You likely understand Persaud’s point intuitively. Students perform better when they feel comfortable, safe, and feel as though they belong. You might even have anecdotal evidence demonstrating the impact of something as simple as a desk arrangement. If classroom setup is instrumental in determining the success of your blended learning model, try something a little out of the box next year. Get a bunch of chairs and a couch and have your students use them during blended learning time. No room in the budget for furniture? No problem! Let students sit on the floor. Students simply do not have to be sitting at a desk in order to be engaged in learning.

Seven Ways To Set Up Your Class For Success

Little girl using a phone in a blended learning classroom

Check out this great list of recommendations from Blended Learning Universe on how to arrange your classroom for Blended Learning.

  • Station Rotation – moves students from station to station on a fixed schedule, with at least one (if not all) of the stations featuring digital learning activities such as games, puzzles, or videos. The rotation can free up teaching time, allowing you to work one-on-one with students needing extra attention.
  • Lab Rotation – looks similar to Station Rotation except that students go to a dedicated computer lab rather than an in-classroom station. Many teachers enjoy the flexibility of using an outside lab in terms of both scheduling and classroom layouts.
  • Individual Rotation – provides students with personalized schedules and assignments. The students may or may not visit every work station in a single day, instead focusing their attention on completing assigned activities.
  • Flipped Classroom – changes the classroom dynamic. Students learn at home via a digital curriculum and online lectures. They then complete teacher-guided projects and other activities in the classroom.
  • Flex – gives the most control to students. It allows them to move through classroom curriculum and activities — both digital and traditional — on a fluid schedule. Teachers, in turn, offer support and instruction as needed. This model tends to use online learning to a greater degree than the previous four.
  • A La Carte – allows schools to offer electives they can’t provide due to a lack of on-site resources. The model often supplements high school classes.
  • Enriched Virtual – requires students to learn at home via online instructional materials and meet with a teacher face-to-face two to three times a week. This model tends to be less common than the other six.

No matter which approach you choose, remember that bringing blended learning into the classroom is a chance to approach student learning in a new way. Do something new this year with your class and get excited for a transformational 2017-2018 school year!!!

Try Our Games With Your Blended Learning Model

One of the best ways to get your classroom ready with a blended learning model is by using our online educational games here at Legends of Learning. For more information, give us a call at 888.585.1317 or contact us online today.

Don’t forget to download the new white paper, “Eight Steps to Successfully Implement Blended Learning in Your Classroom.”

27 Tips To Set Up A Blended Learning Classroom

Blended learning offers amazing benefits to the classroom, with ISTE reporting it meets many of the organization’s Standards for Students and Teachers and leads to a “more rigorous, challenging, engaging, and thought-provoking classroom.” While true, blending learning has to be implemented correctly to provide engagement and teach classroom lessons.

In its simplest definition, blended learning integrates digital content, like Legends of Learning educational games (edgames), with face-to-face learning. The more technical definition says blended learning integrates digital content with traditional teaching methods; typically requires the physical presence of the teacher and students in a classroom; and gives the student some control over their time, space, and learning path and pace.

27 Blended Learning Tips When Setting Up Your Classroom

teacher with student in a blended learning classroomTo create a blended learning classroom, use some or all of the following 27 tips. The tips can be categorized into three areas: planning, implementation, and improvement. As such, you should find a relevant suggestion for wherever you are in the blended learning journey.

1. Redefine Your Role In The Classroom

You, the teacher, perform a critical part in encouraging deeper learning. However, the role is evolving, particularly in blended learning environments. TNTP, a nonprofit organization dedicated to positive change in public schools, says teachers who employ blended learning should learn to see themselves as people with three distinct responsibilities. These include research and development, integration, and guidance. The three responsibilities may be owned by an individual teacher or shared amongst a team.

2. Start With A Description Of The Curriculum

Writing down what the next two weeks or semester will cover often identifies learning goals, objectives, and outcomes. The description also ensures your familiarity with the curriculum content and helps pinpoint potential digital resources, such as edgames, online quizzes, and videos.

3. Outline Your Goals

Goals strip a curriculum description of the fluff, leaving you with a clear focus and targets to hit.

4. Determine Learning Objectives

Learning objectives quantify goals. Set these so that you can measure classroom and student performance in real time and at the end of a learning block.

5. Define Learning Outcomes

Outcomes define how students will achieve objectives and demonstrate competency in the subject matter. Specific outcomes could include classroom participation, online assignments, oral presentations, et cetera.

6. Choose A Blended Learning Model

Once you have a clear picture of what you want to teach and desire students to achieve, you can choose a blended learning model. The common models number six: face-to-face driver, rotation, flex, online-only, self-blend, and online-driver. Most of the models contain nuances. For example, the rotation model spans rotation stations, lab rotations, and individual rotations. Another common model includes the flipped classroom, in which online content and instruction is delivered online and at home. Students then come to a brick-and-mortar school for in-classroom projects and practice. Some teachers use one or more models to make their classroom content more engaging and rigorous.

7. Explore Different Teaching Methods To Complement The Model

Kids around tablet playing online educational gamesDifferent models and teaching roles sometimes mean changing up your teaching methods. Some blended learning classrooms, for instance, use team teaching.

8. Use The Right Technology Tools

Software changes often, so it’s important to set down the fixed matters first. Goals, learning objectives and outcomes, blended learning models, and instructional methods should dictate the technology choice, not the other way around. In addition, remember that you may need more than one tool. Students learn differently and have unique needs. It’s unlikely that one edgame or digital resource will work well for all.

9. Aim For Relevance & Fun, Not One Or The Other

This tip relates to technology in that the tool should be relevant AND fun. That is, the digital content should complement learning objectives and achieve outcomes. If it doesn’t, the tool is irrelevant and ineffectual. The tool, though, also needs to be fun. Students won’t use a tool they don’t like.

10. Design The Classroom As A Blended Learning Environment

Layout and aesthetics affect student morale and the ability to learn. Plus, if you use a specific learning model, you may need to move desks and chairs around. You don’t necessarily have to do the work on your own; Mark Philips, a teacher and educational journalist, notes in an Edutopia article that student involvement in classroom design and layout can “empower them, develop community, and increase motivation.”

11. Know The Traditional & Online Content

To build trust with students, you need to know the content inside and out. This means revisiting the curriculum content, as well as testing digital content and edgames. You want tools that cement knowledge, lead to application and critical thinking, and motivate learning, not ones that sabotage your efforts or frustrate students.

12. Create Individual & Collective Learning Goals

You established overarching learning goals earlier. Now, combine them with individual learning goals. Students work at different paces and may be on another learning path than another student. Learn to incorporate that information into your blended learning planning to see success with students and the classroom as a whole.

13. Develop A Classroom Culture That Embraces Blended Learning

Esther Wojcicki shares her process for creating a blended learning culture in the book “Moonshots in Education: Launching Blended Learning in the Classroom.” She uses the acronym “TRICK,” which stands for trust, respect, independence, collaboration, and kindness. With those values embedded in the classroom, students want to learn, grow, and help out their teacher and classmates.

14. Set Expectations

Students achieve when given goals, so set expectations. Let them know how to succeed in the classroom and at home, and they will.

15. Share An Overview Of Classroom Activities, Projects, Playlists & Outside Resources

Teacher using online educational games with her blended learning teaching modelWith overall expectations set, share daily and weekly assignments. The process might not look all that different from standard homework tasks except that they involve online content and opportunities for in-classroom game play. Sharing additional resources for study can be a good idea, too, especially if you claim a couple of high performers or students who need to skip around assignments to stay engaged with the classroom content.

16. Provide Clear Instructions & Routines For Game Play

Students need to know to log out of an application and turn off computers or tablets before moving to a different classroom activity. The specificity is important; students probably don’t have to log out at home, so they won’t think to do it in the classroom.

17. Give Students Control Over Time, Path, Place & Pace

It can be hard to relinquish control, but students excel when given the chance to direct their learning. They become more engaged with the content because they have a personal stake in their success.

18. Encourage Collaboration In The Classroom & Online

Collaboration gives students the chance to work through complex concepts and to help each other learn. It also offers opportunities for dialogue, which teaches students to position their points with facts and hard evidence. Collaboration should occur in the classroom and online; quieter students, for example, could become extremely vocal online. If you need more reasons to employ collaborative learning, the Global Development Research Center lists 44 of them.

19. Incite Curiosity, Imagination & Critical Thinking

Students start wondering and thinking when you ask, “What if?” You can raise that question through traditional teaching methods and online content. And, the more you ask open-ended and thought-provoking questions, the more students will seek out answers.

20. Challenge Students To Learn & Grow With Authentic, Relevant Tasks

Nothing’s worse than busy work, and even a fifth grader has an antenna finely attuned to it. Give students real, curriculum-based, challenging assignments, and they’ll complete and compete to finish them.

21. Review Classroom & Online Content Regularly

Online content supplements other teaching tools. As such, you should go over both pieces of content to ensure students’ basic comprehension and deeper understanding.

22. Measure Individual & Classroom Progress

Child playing an online educational game on tabletBlended learning leads to real impact when it’s measured. The work should be fairly easy to do since you already decided on goals, objectives, and outcomes. The Legends of Learning edgame platform simplifies the work further, providing real-time performance reports via an easy-to-use dashboard. Combine its information with your grade book to track and assess progress.

23. Analyze Classroom Impact To Balance Traditional Teaching Time & Student Game Play

Every classroom is different, so take some time to find the right balance of traditional teaching methods and digital media. Many Legends of Learning teachers start with a 50/50 blend and work from there.

24. Identify New Goals & Objectives And Repeat

Once you measure progress and impact, you may discover that learning goals need to change. That’s a good thing. Goals should change over time. However, that change means you’ll need to continually adjust teaching methods and digital content to see continued success with blended learning.

25. Communicate With Everyone

A blended learning classroom requires communication with everyone—students, professional peers, administrators, and parents. Blending learning works best when everybody shares a belief in the vision for it.

26. Remember The Parents

On a related note, not all of your parents will get technology or edgames. They may work multiple jobs to make ends meet, so they don’t have time to learn how the internet works. Help them out with an evening class or individual meetings. By interacting with them on a personal level, you’ll see interest, buy-in, and participation grow at home and in the classroom.

27. Be Patient

Finally, remember that it takes time to succeed with blended learning. Don’t give up if you don’t see the results you want within the next two weeks. Blended learning works if you’ll just be patient with it a little while longer.

Try Blended Learning With Our Online Educational Games!

Ready to start your heroic journey into blended learning? Try these 27 tips, then check out what you can do in the classroom with the Legends of Learning platform! Have any tips to add? Please add them in the comments section.

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