Learning in the 21st Century Blended learning

Modern 21st century education requires that students be taught new learning skills, literacies skills and life skills as well as 18th century skills in an 18th century system. According to Thoughtful Learning, "To hold information-age jobs, though, students also need to think deeply about issues, solve problems creatively, work in teams, communicate clearly in many media, learn ever-changing technologies, and deal with a flood of information."

What has changed?

You may have noticed a handful of classrooms have been shifting the way they teach and learn here at Gibbon Public Schools. These ten teachers have been involved in an initiative we call Blended Learning. We are "blending" online instructional strategies with face-to-face instructional strategies to go deeper into our content and standards while better serving all students in our classrooms. This is often referred to as personalized learning because it allows teachers more time during class to work with individual students. This model allows students choice over elements of their learning, including time, place, path, and pace. These teachers focus on creating quality materials for students, creating quality interactions between students, and creating quality time for teachers to work individually with all students.

“I honestly love this system. Everyone can go at their own pace, ...I think it’s helping me understand things more, since I can go back and say, watch a video again as much as I need to….” - 7th Grade Student

There is high value in face-to-face instruction; no argument there. Research tells us that the combination of face-to-face instruction WITH online instruction significantly increases learning for students. Online components are used to enhance learning, allow opportunity to practice concepts, rewind classroom instruction, and give students a way to creatively reveal their understanding. Because of this, students have more time to learn, more time to collaborate on projects, and more time to get extra help from their teachers.

“I love it because I can work on my own pace and it’s more organized. It helped me out a lot and my grades have changed dramatically.” - 8th Grade Student

Some positives we have seen from this initiative include significant improvement in student classroom engagement, student behavior improvement, and students that are more motivated to learn and turn in work. Teachers have put in a great deal of time in and out of school to plan lessons, create videos and keep up with the extra grading but so worth it because it is has been so exciting!

Textbooks only match some of the Nebraska State Standards. This is typical across the United States. Teachers use some parts of their textbooks in their lessons but they constantly searching for a variety of other resources to support the standards and their course content. Teachers at Gibbon Public Schools use Schoology to organize all these resources, such as links and videos, for their courses. This helps staff and students to be organized in their day-to-day work. Schoology also allows more flexibility in the way a teacher delivers his or her materials to students.

The modern textbook, teacher's manual, and filing cabinets.... all in one tool!

There are some experiences that we would never be able to provide for students but with the iPads, we can! One of our latest additions has been Google Expeditions. This is an app (for iPad, iPhone or Android devices) that takes you into a different location with a 360 camera. Third grade dove into the differences between animal and plant cells. Fourth grade explored the eye. And careers classes explored a variety of health careers.

Blended Learning has been such a positive experience for both teachers and students. It takes a great deal to turn away from the 18th century traditions of education toward future education where technologies exist that we can't even imagine yet. These ten teachers have had a very successful start to implementing this change.


Created with images by Grand Canyon NPS - "02423 Grand Canyon Historic_Second Grade Classroom c. 1953"

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