Friday Feb 12, our school district, Rowan-Salisbury Schools @, held a half day of systemwide professional development on blended learning. Our district’s entire teaching staff met at South Rowan High @ to hear Alex Rodriguez’s presentation on blended learning. This was a great presentation on the history and future of learning and teaching, where we need to go and specifically the role blended learning can/will play in that transition.
Our district began the digital conversion two years ago. We have developed a strategic plan that focuses on the learning needs, environments and structures of our students and schools. A particularly well developed piece of this strategic support we have put in place to help teachers with this transition. [our district’s strategic plan including goals, vision and strategies are accessible here]
I was first introduced to blended learning almost nine years ago when I working closely with some mentors/friends from North Carolina Virtual Public School. Bryan Setser and Don Lourcey were two pioneers who truly changed my learning and growth trajectory – not just with helping me understand digital learning [which I thought I already had an idea of] and blended learning, they helped me become a connected educator. I credit four people with helping me in my evolution as a learner and leader and these two played a fundamental role. His presentation hit on some major points that I’ve been schooled on before about blended learning, particularly the goal of having students become more independent learners. So often, our talks on blended learning center on the tech instead of the desired outcome of making better learners of students. This gradual release model visual is a focus we should have for all classrooms wherein we shift focus/work from the teacher to the student. Blended learning provides a means and framework for that to happen.
Rodriguez’s presentation gave us a great jump point for future planning. Part of his wrap up was an intro to three questions that we carried into smaller group conversations. With Daniel Herring, assistant principal at Corriher-Lipe middle and connected educator, we co-lead a discussion with the district’s 6th grade math teachers on these follow up questions:
- What’s your next step in blended learning?
- What can blended learning look like? Upcoming lesson?
- How will your group stay connected after the workshop?
It was a pleasure to help lead this discussion. Our group was on fire with strategies, tools, shifting and staying connected. Even though we had a short session, we were able to cover some essential ground. We skimmed the surface of:
- looking at the role of the teacher during different aspects of the lesson/activity
- what do we want students to do and how do we want them to do
- the critical need for formative assessments in an evolving classroom
- how tools help us in our role as facilitators
I was inspired halfway through our discussion to host all the district 6th math teachers at our school next month to continue to conversation and begin drilling down further how to change our practices to take learning to deeper level. Whether you are a 1:1 like us or a school with some tech resources but looking for a way to change learning and teaching, a deeper dive into blended learning structures can help. I’ve decided to dust off some of my resources and reconnect with some PLN members to help me with my re-acclimation. Let’s connect up!
[AND if you are a 6th math teacher in driving distance of my school and want to join our talk, it will be the first week in March. Any and all are welcome!]