Being a teacher = being a learner (HQBL: 1)

teach_learn

They say being a teacher is being a learner too, and I quite agree with that! So, when I saw a new course on coursera focused on Blended Learning I’ve decided to give it a go. Yay!

As the course is going to take 6 weeks, I’ve thought of sharing the ideas on the blog and give some examples of how they could be implemented in the EFL environment – I’m planning to experiment on my teenager groups who have already agreed and are surprisingly excited about it 🙂

So, let’s explore the idea of High Quality Blended Learning!

Blended Learning: Personalizing Education for Students by Brian Greenberg, Rob Schwartz, Michael Horn

First of all, let me remind you what blended learning is. Basically, it’s a program in which a student learns at least a bit through online learning with some element of control over the learning process (its time, place, path and/or time), but is supervised by a teacher. Both classroom and online learning complement each other.

Now, the lecturers define High Quality Blended Learning (HQBL) with the following aspects:

  1. personalization (a very learner-centered approach)
  2. mastery-based (focused on student’s achievement, not time)
  3. high expectations (student should have a clearly defined goal)
  4. student ownership (student is in control of their education)

The lecturers present three different HQBL models along with real-life examples:

Station Rotation Model

Here students rotate on a fixed schedule between different learning stations, and at least one of them is online. Other stations are usually small groups work, group project, individual tutoring, pencil-and-paper assignments etc. KIPP: LA is an example of this model.

Lab Rotation Model

Here students rotate on a fixed schedule between a classroom and a computer lab where they study online; the classroom is generally reserved for other activities. The example of this method is Navigator Schools.

Flex Model

Here online learning is the backbone of the course. Students have customized schedules, but the teacher still provides face-to-face support (small groups or individual, depending on a type of the model). Summit Public School is an example of this approach.

Now, you probably think what I’ve been thinking: if my students were to work on any of the programs above, they wouldn’t know what to do! People used to typical school education (learning for tests, not for real life) may have problems with HQBL simply because they don’t always have their goals defined (a typical educational system does not require that) and, well, not all of them know how to be in control of their own education.

So, before I jump with both feet into HQBL, I’ve decided to start with something smaller: Flipped Classroom. Here students rotate on a fixed schedule between a) face-to-face teacher-guided practice in class and b) online delivery of content after school. Seemed easier for my students to grasp the idea of HQBL and somehow try to control the way they acquire information.

In order to move on, I’ve used one of my previous posts – a homework for B2+ students. In the original homework, I wanted my students to write a composition, but to make it more interesting I want to change it a bit and adjust to something reminding Station Rotation.

The students are still to find information about the incident, but I divide them into groups: the official-government-statement followers, the conspiracy theory supporters and the reporters. When they collect information (online) and decide in their group (see, groupwork) on their line of belief, they are to take part in a panel discussion (this form of discussion is extremely popular in Poland at the moment due to political issues). The reporters ask questions to each group (and dig into their theory, looking for weak spots) and finally every group makes a report of the discussion (online or pencil-and-paper).

Huh, seems like a lot of work, eh? I think it can be easily done in a 1.5hr classes and since I have the opportunity to do it next week I’m definitely going for it. For homework they would have to read about the incident. The stations would be as follows: online (to check more complex issues), small groups discussion (line of presentation / making questions as reporters), face-to-face teacher consultation (to check linguistic correctness).

Will it work? Hopefully 🙂 I’m going to update this post next week and write another one about the HQBL course.

Wish me luck!

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