Using Technology to Individualize Learning
Blended learning is a phrase making the rounds in educational circles lately. But what does it mean? The basic definition is that blended learning is an education program that combines online digital media with traditional classroom methods.
In Marysville, we see it as a way to individualize learning for every student. It all starts with access to technology, and Marysville is close to having a laptop or Chromebook in the hands of each student in grades 5-12.
“The growth (students) have already shown within these programs has been tremendous,” Math Instructional Coach Jennifer Delahostria said. “That has been exciting. They seem to like it and the teachers are loving it. It’s opened up a lot of possibilities.”
Computer programs being used as part of blending learning include i-Ready and Schoology. Both tools help teachers reach individual students and their needs more quickly. Students who have already mastered a topic can be given their own enrichment tools to better sharpen their knowledge, while other students can get more one-on-one time with their teachers so they are getting the attention they need and learning at their own pace.
“All the things we struggled to find time for - finding enrichment for our students that have mastered content, now I have time to work on a more challenging activity with them,” added Delahostria. “When they’re not with me, they’re getting something above level, as well.”
When a student begins using i-Ready, it immediately assesses his/her strengths and weaknesses and preloads a program for the correct level. As the student advances, the program does, too.
“It works with your abilities and your weaknesses,” fifth grader Reese C. said. “If you have already mastered adding and subtracting fractions and the vast majority of your class hasn’t, you don’t have to sit through the lesson with your teacher.
I want to challenge myself. I don’t want to sit here and listen for 20 minutes about something I’ve already mastered.”
Items are saved onto a student’s profile and he/she can access it at home, making for easier interaction with parents.
“I think it’s really cool because you can work at your pace,” William B. said. “My mom has a computer at home, so I can get on the computer at home and do my work there too.”
Being able to simultaneously teach students on multiple levels gives the feeling of accomplishment to teachers. Delahostria adds:
“I think teachers are excited about having more time, and it’s a better use of the time we’re given.”