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

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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.

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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?”

Where Can I Find PARCC Math Assessment Sample Items and Examples?

In today’s blog post, we wanted to take a quick look at the available PARCC online assessment practice and sample resources.

Screen_Shot_2013-11-18_at_9.49.44_AMThe Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of two state consortia developing Common Core-aligned assessments, has recently released updates to it’s “sample items” and “task prototypes”.

  • Looking for Smarter Balanced practice resource information instead? Be sure to check out last week’s blog post!

These free resources are designed to help both educators and students visualize and practice the basic scope and functionality of the mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA) interactions prior to the 2014-2015 assessment deadline.

Read below the break to learn where you can find the free PARCC resources and what value they provide to teachers and students practicing for the online tests. Continue reading “Where Can I Find PARCC Math Assessment Sample Items and Examples?”

How to Know the Difference Between Differentiated Instruction and Personalized Learning

differentiation_personalization_imageThe modern education landscape is filled with instruction methodology buzzwords (individualized, differentiated, personalized, etc.). Each seeks to explain how to best develop instruction that is engaging and adapted for individual differences.

Though these terms may often be used interchangeably, they truly refer to different concepts within the classroom.

Today, we wanted to take a quick look at two of the most often confused concepts: “personalized learning” and “differentiated instruction“. Read below the break to learn about the distinction between the two and what the relationship between the two terms means for your classroom and curriculum. Continue reading “How to Know the Difference Between Differentiated Instruction and Personalized Learning”