The role of the classroom teacher is changing. However, the teacher’s role as the instructional leader in the classroom has never been stronger. To steal an analogy from journalism, teachers are no longer reporters writing articles, and instead, editors putting together entire newspapers. With the explosion of online resources and an abundance of printed materials, teachers can move away lessons heavy on direct instruction and focus on increasing opportunities for student creation, collaboration and critical thinking.
Take my classroom as an example. By utilizing blended learning strategies, I am no longer tethered to the front of the classroom talking at my students. I am free to move around the classroom, having discussions with small groups and helping students one on one. For each lesson, I pull in resources from a variety of sources and set up dynamic learning experiences for my students.
A recent lesson on the Roman Empire highlights some of the advantages of blended learning in the classroom:
In this lesson, the students were learning about four different aspects of the Roman Empire. Each student selected a topic and were given time to research. I provided them with scanned pages from textbooks, links to relevant websites, and a playlist of YouTube videos that helped build visual context. Each student was required to utilize the different sources to take detailed notes. With their notes, the students created a presentation that synthesized their information and posted it to their Blogger history portfolios.
The next day, the students did a virtual gallery walk where they visited each other’s websites and used their teammates’ presentations to complete a graphic organizer. The students were encouraged to leave a positive comment for each of the history portfolios that they visited. After the gallery walk, we came together for a roundtable conversation where we discussed different projects and reviewed critical information.
All of this was accomplished in the same amount of time that it would have taken for four direct instruction lessons on the Roman Empire.