Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Morning Blend ~ Math Focus

Enjoying that first cup of coffee this morning and wanted to share a few tips and strategies with infusing blended learning into your day, but with a Math focus. A question was posed yesterday from my good friend Jennifer Malphy aka @jmalphy on Twitter and on the WI listserv on how she can support her math teachers instruction with infusing the right type of technology tools and resources into the math classroom. First of all, I commend the Math teacher with collaborating with Jen on this topic, second I like the way the Math teacher is thinking to add "richness" to his class to active new learning in his classroom and thinking outside of the box.  This particular rural WI  school has had training with Google apps  and really dug into the forms and surveys and found great success.  Other readers responded and shared the resource of "Google Sketchup" to support this teachers resource collection. Yes, this is a perfect fit as well.

I guess I was thinking differently when this question was originally posed- I thought about a variety of tools to blend instruction instead of just one application.  I was thinking of a variety of creative ways of how this math teacher could incorporate more digital content, visuals/audio and reflection to extend the learning and engagement in and out of the math classroom.  The first resource that came to mind is a collection of resources and tools from Open Ed found here: http://openedsolutions.com/how-to-blend-math.html  

Open Ed Solutions provides great FREE online content and  resources to provide immediate solutions and ideas to transform classroom practice, and to think differently about instruction while impacting student learning. Open Education Solutions is a blended learning service provider. They help states, districts and school networks design schools and solutions that are innovative, personalized and deliver better results at the same or lower cost.

To extend your learning for the day- here are 10 steps to blend your math instruction from the Open Ed Solutions website:
1. Pick a core curriculum aligned with state standards.  An online math curriculum is simplest spine for the blended math program (more advanced systems will link learning objects to an assessment framework).   Proprietary vendors (e.g., Connections, Carnegie, Compass) will have the advantage of integrated assessments and data reporting capabilities.  Hippocampus from National Repository of Open Content is a good free option.  

2. Supplement learning options.  Locate supplemental content that provides alternative ways to learn including games, simulations, tutorials, and videos.  Khan Academy (now on Edmodo and Hippocampus) is a great library of video tutorials.  MangaHigh is a great collection of pre-algebra math games.  Small group instruction and online tutoring are also great additions to an online core curriculum.  

3. Develop an assessment framework linked to standards.  The core and supplemental curriculum may have embedded assessment.  Determine if you’ll need to add additional assessments to facilitate individualized progress.  An adaptive assessment will help place new students at the appropriate level.   Your state may require end of course exams (they should be available on demand).

4. Competency-based progress. To facilitate individual progress you may need to get a seat time waiver from your state.  Make clear to students how they will demonstrate learning and progress from unit to unit and course to course.  

5. Differentiated and distributed staffing.  A typical middle school that traditionally had four math teachers could run a blended program with three with help from paraprofessionals and volunteers.  Larger staffing ratios may require a contract waiver.    A remote teacher or partner could provide extended day helpdesk services.  Online speech therapists and other specialists can be scheduled on demand.  

6. Student access.  A computer lab setting works well for core curriculum access.    It’s ideal for supervision and support to have a double classroom with room for small group instruction.   Tablets are becoming a viable primary access device with the advantage of being highly portable and great for an at-home learning playlist.  Increasingly, districts will allow students to bring their own technology to school.  

7. Scheduling.  Students that are more than a semester behind should get a double block of math.   In middle school, a double with science could leverage a master teacher and facilitate project-based learning.  Active monitoring of student progress allows dynamic scheduling of small group instruction and application and integration projects.  Online curriculum and mobile computing can extend the learning day and year, it eliminates the need for snow days, and can even facilitate a three or four day week in a rural setting.

8. Leadership.  A blended learning program takes effective school leadership.  Designing and implementing a program requires plans covering academic, technology, financial, policy, and communications.  A master teacher, department chair, or assistant principal should act as program manager with responsibility for budget, scheduling, curriculum, and staffing.  As just one example, program leaders will need to overcome local and state barriers to seat time requirements in order to grant competency-based credit.  

9. Professional development and program management.  Online instructional experiences generate lots of data.  Teachers need time to analyze achievement analytics, consider program enhancements, modify scheduled lessons, and plan small group instruction.  A blended environment requires team-based staffing and active collaboration.  

10. Get some advice and share.   There are lots of interesting experiments combining online and onsite learning.  Get some help comparing options for technology, curriculum, scheduling and staffing your blended learning program. 

Thanks OpenEd!

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