Let’s take a look at three math instruction “truths”:
- Math skills/concepts have a somewhat linear development cycle; often building, or scaffolding, upon one another.
- To gain mastery, math skills require a two-fold "how to" method: practice and understanding.
- Most importantly, individual students often learn scaffolding skills and develop mastery at a very different pace and style.
The above three generalities can be very daunting for math educators of all expertise and experience, especially in a classroom of 25-30 students. Simply put, the traditional lecture structure makes addressing one of the bullet points often feel a bit like “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, meaning focusing on one point may neglect the other two.
However, we feel (here at Wowzers) that the individualized and differentiated instruction opportunities found in an effective blend of online and offline instruction methods provides math educators enhanced opportunities to meet the math learning needs/goals of each and every student, (in other words, having enough to pay Paul and Peter, with some left over to pay Mary too).
Read below the break to learn about three value points of blended learning in the math classroom!
Three Value Points of Math-based Blended Learning
Okay, that’s enough of the cutesy stuff. Let’s “get down to the brass tacks” of how blended learning helps educators meet the individual learning needs of each math student. To do so, I have identified three general areas that blended learning truly enhances the math classroom:
Blended learning provides educators the ability to simultaneously:
- Address all student learning needs/goals, including enrichment and reinforcement
- Increase engagement and self-driven learning
- Scaffold basic skills and promote higher-order thinking
Let’s take a deeper look at how these three advantages can be achieved in the twenty-first century blended learning classroom!
1) Addresses enrichment and reinforcement
As we mentioned above, math curricula often feature a linear progression of skills and concepts, so if a student fails to master a fundamental skill early on, they most likely will struggle with subsequent related skills. Additionally, as the math teacher attempts to reach both the entire class and help the struggling students, excelling students have a propensity to become disengaged with stuff they “already get”.
Blended learning strategies and models have proven quite adept in providing quick and effective personalized learning opportunities for all students within the traditional math classroom construct.
Via the advantages provided by online learning tools and an optimization of teacher instruction time, gaps in background knowledge can be identified quickly via formative/continuous assessment means while the individual curriculum is instantaneously modified (by the teacher) to fit the student’s learning needs. Lessons and concepts can be reordered based on the need, preference, and pace of the student, whether the goal is reinforcement or enrichment. This becomes especially valuable in an Response to Intervention (RTI) setting.
2) Fosters self-driven math learners
Now, don’t get caught on the idea that blended learning is only beneficial for excelling and struggling students. By taking advantage of customizable curriculum and the heightened engagement provided by a mix of online and offline learning resources, the teacher can create a student learning experience that is both enriching and self-driven.
So how does math learning become “enriching and self-driven”? That’s defined by how you, the math educator, utilizes the constructs of your blended learning model.
For example, many of today’s online learning tools are designed to help students gain an understanding of basic skills and the cause-and-effect nature of interactive learning content -- whether it be a simple skill-and-drill stuff or a fully comprehensive game-based learning platform. The combination of engaging interactive learning content and valuable offline learning experiences, including feedback from peers and the teacher, helps students drive their math learning in ways never possible before.
3) Creates valuable one-on-one instruction opportunities
The self-driven learning nature of an effective blended learning model frees up the math teacher to move from a lecture-based instruction method that may only target auditory learners to instruction methods based around peer groups and individual exploration (project-based learning, problem-based learning, real-world application, etc.).
Whether your model is rotation-based, a flipped classroom. etc., the constructs of effective blended learning helps the educator minimize the setup work related to drafting worksheets, grading homework, and reinforcing already-taught topics because much of that early work is taken care of by reliable and customizable online math resources.
Instead, by utilizing the above-mentioned self-driven aspects of developing basic skills via online math resources, the educator is afforded more time for valuable one-on-one instruction opportunities in which he/she can help students develop the higher-order skills required to put those basic math skills and concepts into action (i.e. the good stuff)!
More Blended Learning Resources from Wowzers
Obviously, these three value points are not the only advantages of blended learning in the math classroom! We'd love to hear how you utilize blended learning strategies and methods to enhance your math instruction and curriculum.
- Shoot us your ideas, stories, questions, and comments at via our Facebook page or tweet us at @Wowzers!
Also, if you'd like to learn more about the advantages and best practices of blended learning, be sure to check out the rest of the helpful blended learning section of the Wowzers Blog.
- Want to see how the Wowzers Online Math content can be your classroom's blended learning math solution? Be sure to check out this quick 35-second video!