Monthly Archives: March 2014

Who’s Doing All Of The Work?

Since my post on teaching in the hybrid classroom a few days ago, I have had some amazing conversations with several educators who are either teaching a hybrid/blended course or have thoughts about doing so. This has given me even more inspiration to continue writing about what I’ve experienced teaching a class like this. Thanks for that. 

Whether you are teaching a face to face class or online, there is a preposterous amount of planning, prepping, thinking, and discovering that goes on BEFORE the students even come into the classroom. That’s an incredible amount of work, and most of that normally falls on us, the teachers. I can’t even begin to explain how many hours of YouTube searching I have put into looking for something that directly correlates to a vocabulary word that might be used in class for further understanding. My thought was that I wanted my students to make a connection, so it was my job to find the source and explain the connection. In my brain it made sense. I am the teacher; therefore, I should be finding the material. I never realized how wrong I could have been. 

Our district (#FraserSchools) has been looking at lesson design differently through a really cool company called Modern Teacher. This professional development has allowed me to look at my own lesson planning and asks me to find ways to ask the deeper questions and promote thinking. Looking at my own classroom, there were plenty of resources to assist with (my version of) planning  that I never thought to ask for help. The students. Isn’t it believed that the person who does all of the work does the most thinking and learning? I have been missing out on PLENTY of learning opportunities because I have always been the one who chose to find all of the learning material.

So here is what I am NOW doing:

I’m planning differently by creating more open-ended questions and requesting inquiry, so that students can teach their classmates and myself. Rather than sitting on the couch and finding several different sources that best exemplifies a vocabulary word (i’m just using that as an example), I send it out to the students. I ask THEM to scour the internet to find ways to explain a particular word or concept to the class. They then share them in a discussion board in the class. The results? THEY FIND BETTER SOURCES THAN I DO! Think about this win-win situation…THEY are learning, THEY are sharing, THEY are doing the work. This is all because I decided to own that I shouldn’t be the creator.  Instead of receiving only a few resources from their teacher, they now have plenty of sources to choose from since their classmates are providing the material and posting it in an open forum on our class site.

The hybrid environment has made it easier for me to loosen the reigns and give the students control, and what a difference it has made. I feel it’s a place where we can all call each other learners!

Side Notes:

  • The students shared some REALLY awesome examples of words to prove their understanding. They’re going to have some really cool study guides for a final now and in the future.
  • I love admitting that many of my students are smarter than me

 

 

Teaching in the Hybrid Classroom (My three year journey)

It’s been way too long since I’ve blogged. Seriously. It’s been awhile, but you look FANTASTIC. New haircut? To be honest, I haven’t written because I felt like I could never really think of anything special to post. But after attending so many awesome sessions at MACUL (that deserves a WHOLE other post) this year, I started to think about finding my own niche in the field of education, and it’s been right in front of me the whole time! I need to share what I’ve been doing as a hybrid instructor these past three years!  Before I begin, let me say this – teaching in a hybrid environment has changed my entire philosophy on what education should be, made me rethink who the learners should be in the classroom, AND allowed me to realize that learning takes place beyond the classroom walls. As a teacher, the hybrid class has given me permission (and time) to realize that the traditional teacher role is changing.

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Example of what the front page of a normal week looks like. Within each folder, there is instruction, screencasts, discussion board, and assignments.

I’m getting ahead of myself here. “What’s a hybrid class?,” you ask! (great question, btw!) My hybrid class is an 11th grade English course in which students are not required to be in my classroom at all times. We like to use the term hybrid because it’s a mix of both worlds: face to face time AND ONLINE time. On assigned online days, students (who have achieved a C- or higher) don’t have to be present. They have permission to stay at home during our scheduled time. Students with lower grades, are required to be in class with me on those given days. On assigned face to face days (traditional brick and mortar), all students are required to come to class. This means that all of my instructional materials are on our learning management system (we use Blackboard). Everything I would normally give my students in the traditional role can be found on my Blackboard site. My site now includes lessons, videos, discussion boards, assignments, journals, and resources for students to be as equipped as possible to complete assignments. Students have access to this material at all times. 

So, let’s pause. I need to at least. Think about how this concept is different than a traditional course: students work at their own pace (I go week to week), and if they understand the material (and can prove it by working on assigned material within a given time frame), they don’t necessarily need to be physically present in class on certain days. This allows me more one on one time with the students who truly need it. Class size is cut down on online days, and I can now focus on the students who are struggling with the material. Pretty cool, right?

When I do require face to face days, these class periods STILL tend to look different than the traditional class because I don’t really have to focus on the direct instruction piece for as long as I used to. Since the students already have ALL of my teaching and instruction within our Blackboard page, students can then work at their own pace in class, and I have time to walk around the room to assist. My role is changing, and I’m really digging it!

Teaching a hybrid course has really given me the ability to think about the learner rather than just the teaching itself. I’m able to see that there are many types of learners in my classroom, and some students need more one on one assistance than others. For once, I feel like I have time to be able to sit and work with students during class. Does this mean that every single student in my class has passed with flying colors? Certainly not. We will always have learners who struggle (and many who choose not to do the work), but I can certainly (and vulnerably admit) say that those students are more on my radar than ever before, and I feel like I have more tools to assist them with than ever before.

I look forward to continue adding insight to my observations from what I’m learning because in the hybrid classroom…we’re all the learners! I’ll be writing much more on this….