Friday, 1 February 2013

Next Year, More Personalized Learning

Blended learning is the combination of classroom learning with technology-based lessons and activities. At Greenwood, blended learning is used as one way in which we personalize instruction for students. Currently we run a handful of blended learning courses at the Grade 11 and 12 levels. In 2013-2014 we will run a few Grade 9 and 10 blended learning courses as well. We are increasing the number of courses using this approach because we have seen how it benefits student learning.

We have seen that learning time becomes more flexible for both the student and the teacher. Students who struggle with a concept can watch the video lesson, complete a different activity or conference with the teacher in order to consolidate the concept. Students who understand a concept quickly can move ahead to the next lesson or move beyond the regular content to complete some enrichment activities. Within a blended learning environment, technology helps students maneuver through the various available pathways without waiting for their peers or the teacher. The teacher can also guide the student to an appropriate pathway based on assessment results.

During the 2013-2014 school year, students in Grades 9 and 10 will experience a blended approach in a small portion of their courses (geography in Grade 9, history and civics in Grade 10). These courses will be more teacher-guided than their Grade 11 and 12 counterparts and self-pacing will occur within one lesson or within a small group of 2-4 lessons, rather than within a whole unit or within the entire course. We are exposing our students starting in Grade 9 to this approach for two main reasons: 
  1. We want to support students as they acquire the skills needed to be successful in a technology-rich course in the future. Students in these courses will have teacher support while developing their organization, self-monitoring and self-advocacy skills. This will help prepare students for the blended learning courses offered in the senior grades and in postsecondary.
  2. This type of course utilizes technology to help the teacher personalize and meet the needs of every student. At Greenwood, we have seen that using technology allows teachers to customize the programs and pathways for students and enhance student learning. As we move forward, we are continuously evaluating our programs and making certain that we use tools, such as blended learning, to support our learners.

Heather Thomas
Director of Personalized Learning

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