This blog is one of a series of updates from the Raising Blended Learners field. Kate Chambers is a 9th grade ELA Teacher in the Birdville Independent School District. Here, she explains how blended learning has helped her cater to students’ individual needs.
This year absolutely rocks! Check out my recent observations and insights about the vast differences in the classroom this year versus last year.
Last year, I directly taught theme and symbolism to all students at the same time. The students took notes – all of them – because they knew I would do a notebook check to verify that this task was, in fact, completed. Then, they all did a short activity. Next, all students read the same story that revealed a theme and contained symbolism. Finally, all students took a test. The test grades varied. Some of the students did very well. Some of the students didn’t do so well. Some of the students corrected their test in tutorials, but other struggling students simply accepted the failing grade.
This year, I changed everything when I introduced blended learning. Instead of teaching theme and symbolism to all students at the same time, I instead uploaded modules in our learning management system (LMS) , which provided students choice and flexibility in their learning.
This is an example of the symbolism module students accessed. In this module, students could interact with notes, take quizzes, complete assignments, and explore extension activities.
The notes were presented in a variety of modalities (typed notes, video tutorials, and helpful images) and students could select whatever modality they found most helpful. Each student could access these notes at any time and review them, copy them, print them, or ignore them as needed.
After reviewing the notes (or not), the students completed a short, but challenging, quiz over symbolism that required them to apply their knowledge by analyzing texts. Some students scored a 100, while others failed with grades as low as 20.
Based on his or her formative quiz score, I assigned each student a text to read.
If a student failed the quiz, he or she read a remedial text with more evident symbolism throughout. If a student passed but didn’t score an A, he or she read a text designed for on-level students with moderately difficult symbolism throughout. If a student scored an A, he or she read a poem with more cryptic symbolism throughout the poem.
Then, each student analyzed the text for symbolic meaning and had three assignment options to choose from to display mastery. All of the assignment options were text-dependent.
This page in the module was designed to provide simplified, scaffolded notes to which struggling students could refer.
OPTIONAL QUIZ REPLACEMENT GRADE
After reviewing the notes and completing the assignment, students had the option to replace their initial quiz grade by retaking the quiz.
If a student finished everything early, he or she could work on an extension activity to apply his or her knowledge of symbolism in a different manner.
Overall, the difference between last year and this year is incredible!
- I had high school students excited to retake a quiz.
- I had students naturally reflecting on why they did better on the second quiz.
- I had students who were able to successfully analyze symbolism even after scoring a 20 on the initial quiz.
- I had students who were proud of themselves for being able to complete the hardest assignment.
- I had students who asked to take the extension home for homework because it looked fun.
No, every week isn’t always as well-planned and successful as this week (yet). Yes, setting all of this up is extremely time-consuming (because it’s new). However, what truly matters is that this successful lesson design is an indication that we are headed in the right direction!