mccoyderek

Prepping our Middle Schoolers for a Blended Experience

Several weeks ago, we began some strategic planning to address a large class-number problem we knew we would be having in our upcoming second semester. The short description of our solution is that we would create a blended learning experience, using local resources, for these students. The beauty of our solution is that we would not have to acquire any new resources, we could use existing resources in our school. The focus of our work would be in training staff members and students in the format, design and tools we would need to have a successful experience.

Training SLMS Students on GoogledDrive5

We have designed an online mini-course for our health classes. We had our Health/PE teachers collaborate with  our instructional coaches to develop quality online curriculum for this blended learning experience. Curriculum design is a passion of mine so this is right up my alley! It was exciting to see this develop during our progress monitoring checks. After we decided on the content, choosing our delivery tool was next. We are fortunate in that Cumberland County Schools, #Broadfinalist, is a Google district and one of the top 10 largest school districts on Edmodo. With a combination of the two we feel we had great resources we need to make this successful.

The most important component is getting our learners ready for this endeavor. We outlined all the operational knowledge we know our learners need and came up with a pretty concise but critical list. Our students have been on Edmodo for years so we felt comfortable with that knowledge base. We designed a training protocol for our students on Google. @CumberlandCoSch enabled Google accounts for all 6-12 students earlier this year. Our training was a walk through on the various Google tools they would need to complete assignments and navigate coursework. The pictures here are of our training day with kids. They came with a lot of prior knowledge and of course some had more experience than others but by the end of the session, all students were where we needed them. In the pictures, you will see our Innovation Coach leading a talk with a group [I even took over session when she was called to the office].

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This will be a great experience for teachers and learners, for our school as a whole. I plan on showcasing our plus/deltas and progress with our staff as a whole to show where we can go and move as a school. I’m proud of this experience we are creating and building in house. I’m excited about this because its another chance to share a real-life working example of students centered learning experiences that our learners need and that our school can provide.

Earlier this week, I found this article on the different types of blended learning models out there. A real value of this article is the summary of the benefits of blended learning. Our original plan was sparked by necessity, pure and simple. But while we’re here and have engaged in some great curriculum design and planned for great learning experiences for our learners, we are going protect this as endeavor and promote it benefits. Hopefully, we’ll see this expand and grow.

I need to give thanks to a lot of people for this:

  • SLMS Instructional Team for dreaming and pushing forward and our Health/PE teachers for curriculum design
  • Innovation Coach – Ms Crumpler, you rock!
  • 6th grade Broncos – Kids Rock!
  • NCVPS – Bryan Setser and Don Lourcey for first exposing me to blended learning
  • Donna Peters and Dave Cassady
  • Cumberland County Schools for having the foundation in place and willingness to be flexible
  • And of course my PLN!

Edmodo for our Faculty Meeting

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This week a last minute inspiration led to a unique learning and sharing opportunity.

One of the topics I was finalizing for our Tuesday meeting was our discussion on Edmodo. Our district is an Edmodo district, we utilize it completely, from teacher-student instructional purposes, to communication efforts to curriculum planning and development.  My plan was to go over a couple of points:

  • making sure we are connected to Edmodo;
  • utilizing digital instrucitonal and curriculum benefits;
  • and connecting to our district and school curriculum departments efforts.

While planning this, I made had an inspiration/realization, ‘Why don’t I conduct the faculty meeting on Edmodo?’ What better way to let our teachers have digital learning experience and utilize the tool we need to get better at using.

I have only been using Edmodo for 3 months mainly to join groups and communities and post articles. In order to lead a discussion, I would have to utilize a lot features. My Math Coach gave me a crash course in some features. In a more perfect world, I would have thought of this and planned it out earlier. But given everything, I think we had a rich, innovative experience. For interactivity, I asked teachers to respond to posts and created pop quizzes and polls. At the end, I thanked my teachers for their participation and their understanding and patience with my experiment. They are a great group – with their participation I think we had a good learning experience.

 I didn’t realize how much fun this was going to be. I definitely plan on hosting another faculty meeting on Edmodo. Taking time to plan out the agenda for an online forum, tailored to Edmodo’s features is a learning experience everyone benefits from. This has also given me some urgency to follow through with utilizing a couple of other platforms, including flipping a meeting or two. This is a great way to break the monotony of the face-to-face and let teachers experience firsthand the importance of digitizing our efforts in reaching this digital generation.