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Travis Heights Elementary believes that blended learning is incorporating daily use technologies (equipment and resources) into lessons in a way that allows students to collaborate, communicate, and solve problems by:
- Discovering new ideas (video, web quest)
- Expanding understanding using critical thinking ( research, Skype)
- Interacting with knowledges (polls, activities, apps)
- Sharing their learning (blogging, video, email, presentations)
- Assessing their abilities (quiz, journaling, portfolio)
These five components of Blended Learning ensure that our students become digital natives who are prepared to use technology as a tool for improving the world and themselves.
What is it? Blended learning uses online technology to individualize and accelerate student learning. Travis Heights has been a leader in media rich instruction. We have piloted purposeful integration of technology into the Science curriculum with our 3rd-5th grade students since 2008. We have extended this practice with blended learning for math and reading in grades PreK-5th. “Blended learning is any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.” (Innosight Institute, 2011)
Why are we doing it? Travis Heights utilizes the Rotation model. The Rotation model differs from the traditional centers in that the students use online curriculum that is individualized to their specific needs, tracks their progress and is monitored and adjusted by the teacher. THES was fortunate to work with Pamela Barrier, a consultant for Learn Forward, who helped us develop and implement our blended learning pilot with Kinder and first grade classrooms. This pilot was expanded to second and third grade classrooms last year. This year, blended learning is being implemented across grade levels. To learn more, this video shows blended learning in one elementary school: Blended Learning Model
What will this mean for my child? Every child will work with technology daily in classroom settings or in the lab. Every student will work on their keyboarding technique, as this is a necessary skill for efficiency. The use of a media rich program will help students learn how to be effective communicators and collaborators of their learning. In addition, blended learning will allow teachers to have real time data and to differentiate instruction for multiple levels in a focused manner that we have not been able to do before.
How can I help? We have been fortunate to have the assistance from Austin ISD’s Instructional Technology department to find used hardware for our campus and a large portion of our TEA grant to start up as a charter school was used to purchase new Chromebooks for each classroom. Cost for software continues to be an additional component for our campus. The $5 charge for school supplies is one effort to address this issue. Also, working with young students as they are learning to use the technology is like working with children in a garden. An extra pair of hands is helpful in the younger grades when students go to the lab. Check with your child’s teacher for the times she/he could use help.
Blended Learning Graphic from Global English Website