Blending Learning Environments Help Engage Different Types of Learners in the Classroom

iStock-502190380.jpg

Lately, we’ve been giving blended learning classrooms a lot of attention because of the benefits they provide for students. One of these benefits is how digital learning can incorporate different styles of learning, but just what are these different types and how can they be used? Although the number of different styles of learning varies depending on the source, most people can typically agree on the following four:

Visual Learners

This is the most common type of learner, encompassing around 60% of students. Students who are visual learners typically prefer demonstrations or descriptions of how something works. These students tend to be easily distracted when a lesson requires physically moving around the classroom. Digital learning can help these students by enhancing the types of visuals shown. Instead of simple diagrams in textbooks, it can show animations and the flow of how concepts relate. For example, these students would understand the concept of surface area best by seeing three-dimensional animations of different shapes and how they have different numbers of faces and can unfold into a net.

Kinesthetic Learners

These students learn best when moving and acting out new lessons. They need to be highly involved in learning and often have a lot of energy. This type of learning tends to be more common in younger students, but can still be found in some older classrooms as well. Kinesthetic learners have trouble sitting still and don’t retain information well in a traditional lecture. Many programs include hands-on activities for these students. For example, these students would understand the concept of surface area best by physically measuring and counting units on different shapes. When sitting at their desk is necessary, digital learning makes it easier on these students by providing virtual manipulatives and engaging them often through clicking, dragging, and interacting with their computer or tablet.

Auditory Learners

Students who identify as auditory learners usually learn best through dialogue, discussion, and lecture. These are the students who can memorize content through repetition and solve problems by talking them out. However, they can be easily distracted when there is a lot of excess noise in a classroom. In a digital program, these students thrive when all instructions and explanations are read aloud to them, and they can focus better when wearing headphones. They typically do best when this approach is combined with the traditional methods of group discussion and teaching others a concept they have already mastered. These students would understand the concept of surface area best if it was explained aloud to them, step-by-step, and they then discussed it as a group.

Tactile Learners

Tactile learners are similar to kinesthetic learners, but don’t need to get up and act out concepts. Instead, they learn best by taking notes, drawing, or tinkering with objects. These are often the students who doodle during lectures, but still seem to retain the information instead of being distracted by the process. When learning through technology, these students need a program that asks them to follow along with new concepts by answering frequent questions and writing out responses. To understand the concept of surface area, tactile learners would follow along as it’s explained to them, drawing their own diagrams with accompanying notes. It’s important that if these students are using a digital program that they are still provided with a place to write and take notes.

What type of learner are you? It takes a lot of practice for teachers to teach in a way that reaches all these types of learners, which is why blended learning classrooms are so valuable. It’s an easy way to reach students who may be distracted or unengaged in a purely traditional classroom.

To learn more about how Wowzers K-8 Online Math program can help you reach all types of learners, contact our team or try a free trial

 

Want to learn more? 

sales@wowzers.com

P: 872-205-6250

F: 888-502-2106

How Blended Learning Programs That Include Test Prep Help Students Get Ready for “High-Stakes Testing”

iStock-494975618-1.jpg

Just talking about “high-stakes testing” raises the stress level of most teachers. The idea of trying to summarize everything a student has learned into a single test is a terrifying proposal, particularly with students who are easily distracted, overwhelmed, or unengaged. Now that most testing programs are done through a computer, this adds a new level of complexity for students who may be unfamiliar with the format. In order to get the most accurate result possible, test prep programs help prepare students for these tests in a few simple ways.

Familiarity

Test prep programs have put a lot of research into the types of questions students will run into on high-stakes tests. By familiarizing students ahead of time with these types of questions, students won’t run into the time-consuming process of learning how to use digital tools and manipulatives during the test itself. By practicing and learning how these tools and questions function ahead of time, students become more confident in their abilities and are able to show what they really know, which is the ultimate goal. Probably the most frustrating part of high-stakes testing is seeing students struggle because although they know the answer, they don’t understand how to input it correctly.

Extended Response Practice

Long-form questions, where students explain their process or defend their answer, is becoming a large part of high-stakes testing. Although students practice basic concepts on a daily basis, the act of writing out their thought process is less common and less practiced. A good test prep program includes a variety of extended response questions, where students can practice transferring their knowledge into logical, sequential text. As an added benefit, this type of practice allows teachers to analyze whether students are truly understanding new concepts, or whether they have simply memorized the necessary steps.

Review

Most high-stakes testing covers content over a long period of time, sometimes even years of learning. Practicing with a test prep program beforehand allows students to review the content and brush up on concepts they might have forgotten in the months since they last used it. By reviewing each student’s scores, it’s possible to revisit this content before the real deal. This type of analysis also highlights whether the classroom as a whole missed an important concept, and what would be beneficial to review.

Rather than leaving students to fend for themselves, creating a stressful environment where they are setup to fail, test prep programs give all students a fair chance to truly demonstrate their knowledge and abilities to the fullest.  

To learn how Wowzers K-8 Online Math program can help students prepare for “high-stakes testing,” contact our team or try a free trial

 

Want to learn more? 

sales@wowzers.com

P: 872-205-6250

F: 888-502-2106

How Blended Learning Programs Build Self-Esteem

iStock-182156597.jpg

On average, teachers spend over a thousand hours with their students each year. It’s no surprise, then, that students’ relationship with their teacher can be an extraordinarily valuable one. When many children are asked who they look up to, identify with, and gather strength from, their answer is often a teacher, either past or present. Although many teachers would answer the question, “What is your job?” with, “To teach, of course,” we know the responsibilities of a teacher go far beyond simply providing lessons and grading work. Teachers play a valuable role in the self-worth and self-esteem of their students.

The most successful teachers have several qualities in common: they are optimistic, charismatic, and determined. These teachers generally have several facts in mind when working with their students:

Fact 1: Students Want to Be Successful

Teachers who believe that every student wants to experience success in learning approach each new objective with a positive outlook. If students struggle or fail to succeed, they work to discover why. Many of these teachers use a blended learning approach because it helps eliminate the fear of failure. When using an online program in conjunction with traditional methods, students are able to work independently at their own pace, often on content that is at a different difficulty level than many of the other students. By linking this adaptive approach with a strong role model as a teacher, students experience more success and work on building their self-esteem and positivity towards learning.

Fact 2: Students Desire Immediate Feedback

Students want to know how they’re doing. When they’re feeling unsure or confused, it often leads to self-defeating behaviors such as inattention, giving up, or goofing off. Truly effective teachers recognize these behaviors not as disruptions, but as a request for help. By combining their skills with a technology program that gives this immediate feedback, teachers are able to provide their students with more direction and attention. This engaging approach helps students build their self-esteem and experience more opportunities for success.

Fact 3: Students Learn Best in Different Ways

Studies have shown there’s no “one way” to learn. Students’ brains are highly unique, meaning that individuals learn best in different ways. The most memorable teachers not only recognize this fact, they also recognize that they teach best in different ways. By interweaving their personal teaching style with technology, teachers are able to present material in many different ways, reaching more students than they could in a purely traditional classroom. These multiple approaches lead to a greater possibility that a student will have an “ah-ha” moment and truly grasp the content. When this happens, it’s a very powerful motivator that leads to a greater self-esteem.

Fact 4: The Sharing of Ideas Leads to Confidence

When a student really “gets it,” sharing their ideas and knowledge with peers leads to even greater confidence. This is the reason that blended learning classrooms include both technology and in-person work. Many online programs also include offline, differentiated activities after each learning concept that allow students to work together, share their ideas, and mentor other classmates. Teachers who recognize these accomplishments and milestones raise the self-esteem of their students well beyond what is possible when students work independently.

By reminding themselves of these facts, teachers can create a positive relationship with their students that is based on success. A blended learning classroom becomes a motivating, safe environment for students, especially those of whom are building up their self-esteem and look up to their teacher for strength and support.

Contributing Author: Jessica Kuras 

To learn more about how Wowzers can help teachers create a blended learning environment, contact our team or try a free trial

Want to learn more? 

sales@wowzers.com

P: 872-205-6250

F: 888-502-2106

Why You Should Use Blended Learning in Your Math Classroom

Let’s take a look at three math instruction “truths”:
  • Math concepts typically have a somewhat linear development cycle; new concepts often build, upon previous ones. 

  • To gain mastery, math skills require a two-fold “how to” method of learning that involves both practice and understanding.

  • Most importantly, individual students often learn scaffolding skills and develop mastery at a very different pace and style.

Continue reading “Why You Should Use Blended Learning in Your Math Classroom”

Blended Learning: The NEW Normal in 2017

2017.jpg

As we head into 2017, more schools than ever are looking to incorporate blended learning into their classrooms. Blended learning is the practice of combining traditional teaching methods with technology. Of course, the big question becomes: Why is this type of teaching growing in popularity each year?

Individualized Attention

By taking advantage of technology, teachers are quickly able to identify what concepts students need additional assistance with. Some online programs create easy-to-read reports that highlight what lessons students have mastered, and which they are still struggling with. While most of the class continues through the digital curriculum, teachers can rotate through small groups of students. As many class sizes grow larger, this creates an important time-saving measure to quickly narrow down on what students need help with, and allows teachers to provide each student with individualized attention.

Varied Methods of Learning

As any teacher can tell you, different students learn best in different ways. Some learn through example, others need an explanation that builds on itself piece by piece, some require visuals, and others learn best through repetition. By incorporating technology into their curriculum, teachers are able to supplement their lessons and teaching style with others, such as games, models, and animated visuals. This allows every student to learn in whatever way is most effective.

Specific Feedback

It can sometimes be difficult to judge if all students are understanding material in a classroom that uses solely traditional teaching methods. With digital learning, students typically receive immediate feedback whenever they enter an answer. More advanced technology can even check for common mistakes and tell students exactly where they went wrong and how to correct their errors. By immediately correcting misconceptions and getting students back on the right track, technology allows teachers to spend more time moving forward instead of backtracking when they realize their students misunderstood a concept.

Learning at a Different Pace

One of the challenges of teaching an entire classroom is that teachers can only go at one pace – it may be too slow for some students, but too fast for others. By switching between traditional and digital methods of teaching, teachers can provide faster learners with additional projects and a more advanced curriculum, while students who need a little more time to master a concept can have the extra practice they need.

Keep Learning Fun!

Perhaps most importantly, by varying teaching styles between traditional methods and technology, teachers can keep their students engaged and interested in learning. Technology often allows students to track their own progress, rewards them for correct answers, and incorporates games and interactive learning. In an environment where students often become bored and fatigued by learning, this keeps learning fun and exciting.

Screen Shot 2016-12-20 at 1.45.01 PM.png

To learn more about how Wowzers can help teachers create a blended learning environment, contact our team or try a free trial

Want to learn more? 

sales@wowzers.com

P: 872-205-6250

F: 888-502-2106

The Educator’s Guide to the “Blended Learning Lesson Plan”

Screen_Shot_2013-12-30_at_1.52.33_PMTeaching via a mix of educational technology and in-person instruction — a blended learning model — can help you enhance engagement and progress within the classroom. However, instituting “blended learning” simply for the sake of adding technology to the classroom does your students (and you) a disservice.

Just like any other lesson construct, clear and concise learning goals are an important key to progress and achievement, especially when new elements (such as educational technology) are brought into the classroom.

With these set goals in mind, lesson planning remains vitally important in the blended learning setting. But, what does a Blended Learning Lesson Plan look like?

Read below the break to learn about important elements of a blended learning lesson plan and to view a sample math lesson plan. Continue reading “The Educator’s Guide to the “Blended Learning Lesson Plan””

4 Response to Intervention (RTI) Strategies for the Math Classroom

Response to Intervention (RTI): If you’ve been in the classroom within the last ten years, there is a large chance that you’ve heard of (and utilized) this reinforcement and recovery measure.

rti_math_activitiesAfter first learning about RTI models, many educators (and myself) asked, “Is this just another complicated, drawn-out mandate by bureaucrats that never set foot in a classroom?”

However, after taking a closer look at the basis behind Response to Intervention models, you can quickly see the merit of a three tiered classroom system. RTI is based on valid research completed on teacher-proven methods for instructing and assessing all students (across the entire learning spectrum).

Read below to the break to learn about four quick strategies and activities you can use in your math classroom to optimize the “teacher-proven methods” of your RTI model to meet the unique learning needs of each and every student.

Continue reading “4 Response to Intervention (RTI) Strategies for the Math Classroom”

Where Can I Find Smarter Balanced Practice Tests and Sample Items?

Smarter Balanced Assessment UpdateSo you’ve taken your first year of the Smarter Balanced online assessments and now you’re looking for places for your students to get more practice.

Don’t worry! Free Smarter Balanced examples, practice exams, and test samples exist and they are readily available. The best part is, you don’t even need to scour the Internet to find them!

Continue reading “Where Can I Find Smarter Balanced Practice Tests and Sample Items?”