A Day in the Life… Blended Learning in Action
Blended learning utilizes your virtual learning environment to create a blend of traditional, in person teaching methods and online learning through videos, slide decks, and more. The idea behind blended learning is that teachers are able to utilize more of their face time with students to actually coach and question students in small groups and individually, rather than standing in front of the room and lecturing. Blended learning also allows you to differentiate the “lecture” portion of your content for groups and individuals.
I adopted a blended learning environment for four years in a 1:1 Chromebook environment utilizing Converge Learning Management System, as well as other #EdTech tools. Here’s a peek into a normal day in my 4th grade math and science world!
7:30 am – I roll in to school at 7:30, because there is no need to stand in line for the copier! All of our necessary materials are on Converge. I am able to go to a co-worker’s room and chat about the day ahead, instead of scrambling for materials!
8:05 am – The students arrive! They make their lunch choice, put away backpacks and grab their Chromebooks from the Chromebook cart. They’re all charged and ready to go because that is one of my weekly rotating jobs – Chromebook Coordinator. They make sure the cart is organized and that all devices are plugged in at the end of the day. Students complete their bell work on Converge – usually a discussion board around an open-ended math question.
8:15 am – My homeroom students go to the classroom next door for Language Arts, while Ms. Martin’s* students come to my room. They bring their Chromebooks, which travel with them throughout the day, a pencil, and their math notebook. Students complete a flashback of prior content utilizing a quiz on Converge and then we begin our Number Talk. This is decidedly the most low-tech part of our day. I introduce a problem that alludes to today’s learning, students complete it mentally, and then we share problem solving strategies aloud and on the board. This exploration serves as our mini lesson for today’s learning target. I don’t want to give too much away to the students because I want them to figure it out on their own!
8:30 am – Students move to their math workshop stations and begin reviewing today’s lesson materials. I utilize several different technology tools for this, depending on my needs for that day. I love the self-paced Nearpod lessons, which I have created from old slide decks, and I often utilize Notability and Screencastify to create my own instructional videos. I then embed these materials directly onto the course page in Converge so students have easy access. Having all of our materials directly on the course page makes it so much quicker for students, especially elementary school students, to navigate to specific items and gives us more time to learn. During our station time, I am able to work one on one and with small groups. I also often utilize the Converge PDF annotation in assignments during this time, so that I can virtually capture students’ handwritten math work to review later.
9:30 am – Time for our exit slip! This serves as a short, formative assessment of our day’s learning. I almost always use Converge quizzes for this, since I need them graded automatically and quickly in order to know who will need extra help during our afternoon intervention time.
9:40 am – Time to do that all again with my homeroom!
10:55 am – Lunch time, and my first bathroom break of the day, hooray!
11:15 am – Yes, lunch is only 20 minutes, the life of a teacher! Now it’s time for recess!
11:35 am – Time to come back in for Science with my homeroom! I love the Phet simulations on Nearpod for science! We often do the whole group Nearpod lessons for Science, since we don’t have as much time to do station teaching. I typically embed a Flipgrid topic into Converge as an exit slip so I can hear their scientific thought processes!
12:15 pm – Science with Ms. Martin’s homeroom! Since math intervention is coming up next, I usually check the students’ exit slip results from math while they record their Flipgrid videos. This way I can make a list of students to work with.
1:00 pm – Time for math intervention. Utilizing my data from the Converge quizzes, I choose two small groups of students who need extra help with the learning target. We split this time in half, with one group reviewing old lesson content for prerequisite skills in Converge, and the other group working directly with me; then we switch.
2:00 pm – Planning period, finally! Time for my second bathroom break of the day! Planning period is an elusive time, where minutes somehow pass at a rate 3x faster than usual. It’s a sad sort of magic. Because I was able to reset my course in Converge at the end of last year, most of my materials are always ready for me. That means I can use my planning period to find innovative new strategies, review student data, and if I’m really lucky, just chat with a co-worker and have a snack!
2:50 pm – The kids come roaring back in from their Specials and start packing up. Students place their Chromebooks in their designated spot in the cart, and then the Chromebook coordinator goes behind and checks to make sure they’re all plugged in and ready to go for tomorrow!
3:15 pm – I’m out of here!
Just kidding, y’all know better than that! Did I mention I’m the academic team coach?!
*Name has been changed for privacy