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Connected Educator Month #BlendedLearning: Participate, contribute and lead! #ce14

I am facilitating the Blended Learning Strand for the CUE Organization for Connected Educator’s Month. (#ce14 #blendedlearning)

I hope you will participate, contribute and lead! See the variety of ways you can do this below or linked here.

Participate, Contribute and Lead Activities:

  • Panel Discussion Webinar (Mondays – see topics below) – Looking for panel members
  • Discussion Board Weekly Conversations – Join here via Linked In (All week) – Need discussion board leader
  • Tweet Up as a follow up to the panel discussion – (#ce14 #blendedlearning) (Tuesday from 7:00pm-8:00 EST) – Need Tweet Up leader
  • Weekly blogpost – posted each week in response to the discussion topic. – Create your own blogpost and tag it #ce14 #blendedlearning 
  • Participants and Reflectors – Need people to participate and then provide reflections on October 27
  • Pinterest Board - Help update the board.

Weekly Panel Discussions

Webinar: Oct. 6, 7:00-8:30pm EST / 4:00-5:30 PST.
Blended Learning Panel 1: What is Blended Learning and What are the Best Implementation Strategies?

Webinar: Oct. 13. 7:00-8:30pm EST / 4:00-5:30 PST.
Blended Learning Panel 2: Blended Learning and Teaching. What does it take to be an effective blended teacher?

  • Registration is free, but please register
  • What does it really mean to be a blended learning teacher? This webinar will feature teachers who have transformed into blended learning. They will share best practices regarding classroom management, personalizing learning for every student, ongoing data driven curriculum decision making, and the pedagogy required for a blended learning classroom. Also included will be the types of ongoing support that is needed to be successful in a blended learning classroom.

Webinar: Oct. 20. 7:00-8:30pm EST / 4:00-5:30 PST.
Blended Learning Panel 3: Blended Learning and Leadership. What are the best ways for administrators to support blended learning?

  • Registration is free, but please register
  • This webinar and panel discussion will bring together administrative and teacher leaders who have implemented blended learning in their schools. Various topics for successful implementation including professional development, ongoing support, and structures for support will be shared. Whether you are thinking about blended learning, in your first year of blended learning or a blended learning school, join this webinar to learn and share important leadership principles to sustain and maintain your program.
  • Panel: Blended Learning Leaders, Administrators and Support Teachers

Webinar: Oct. 27. 7:00-8:30 EST / 4:00-5:30 PST.
Blended Learning Panel 4: Reflections and Insights about Blended Learning. 

  • Registration is Free, but please register.
  •  The purpose of this webinar is for participants to share their insights and reflections about blended learning. In particular, reflecting on any of the activities from the Connected Educator Month blended learning strand. Whether you viewed a webinar recording, saw a Tweet, or participated in the discussion forum, join this webinar to share your reflections and insights.

 * Join the Blended Teacher Network – It’s Free! *

The challenge of measuring #blendedlearning schools

In my post last week, I shared that I have visited a variety of schools around California and I was going to identify where they fit on the “Continuum from Textbook to Online Teaching and Learning.” I will eventually dedicate a blogpost to each school and their place on the continuum. But, first I wanted to just list the basics of each school so you can get an idea of the variables involved in determining where a school fits on a continuum from an outsider’s perspective. Categorizing where a teacher or school fits in blended learning can be challenging for a variety of reasons. In May 2011, the Christensen Institute profiled 40 schools that fit a general definition of blended learning. Since then, other organizations have written case studies about various programs. The field continues to better define what is meant by the term blended learning. Hopefully, in the weeks to come, applying the continuum to various schools will help to better define blended learning for you and your schools.

As you look through the basic information of the schools below, note the similarities and differences. What do you notice?

In the weeks ahead, I will apply the continuum to each school.

#BlendedLearning is not…

Previous posts explain how becoming a blended learning teacher is a process over time and can be explained by this continuum.

Often it is easier to understand definitions by identifying what it is not. I offer these ideas to better clarify the meaning of blended learning and blended teaching. Please do add in the comments of other examples of what blended learning is not. There are a variety of resources at the end of the post that may help as well.

Blended learning is not simply:

  • Putting lesson plans or content online
  • Emailing with students or parents.
  • Having students view videos online.
  • Using websites for classroom instruction.
  • Having students write blogposts or post a class newsletter online.
  • Being active on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook or …
  • Integrating technology into lesson planning and curriculum
  • One-to-one tablet or computer initiative
  • Using computers or technology on a daily basis in the classroom
  • Using an online math or reading program for student learning or remediation
  • Taking an online course

What else would you add to this list?

Blended learning resources…


#BlendedLearning IS about Blended Teaching

Peter West, who is the Director of eLearning at St. Stephens College, a K-12 independent school in Australia, recently wrote an article in eSchool News entitled “It’s called blended learning (not blended teaching) for a reason.” He brings forth several important considerations about blended learning. However, he misses several important aspects of blended learning – the most important of which is the way the teacher interacts with the student in a blended learning classroom or the pedagogy of blended teaching. He suggests that there is the teacher-centric and the student-centric aspect of blended learning. In both of these aspects, he focuses on the content from the teacher perspective and the student perspective, but does not discuss blended learning instruction or blended teaching.

I would like to respectfully add that the components of an effective blended learning classroom and school include not just the content, but equally important is the role of the teacher and the student. More importantly the pedagogy and strategies the teacher uses to provide the instruction facilitates learning. Simply having accessible and sequencing of the online curriculum is not enough to cause most students to learn. Secondly, in a blended learning classroom, the student has more control of their own learning and is actively engaged in how they learn best and which modes of learning work best, thus causing more customization in the learning environment. Overall, this means the teacher becomes more of a learning coach rather than the traditional “sage on the stage.”

If the teacher is utilizing a blended learning approach, the teacher is providing curriculum in multiple modes, communicating with students in a variety of ways, utilizing a variety of online tools and using various analytics to inform instruction on a weekly basis. With course management systems and content management systems, teachers today can now provide content in multiple modes including text, audio, visual, gaming and demonstrations. This allows for students to utilize the mode that best works for their learning. As one example, in learning double digit multiplication, one student may find the printed textbook provides what is needed to learn the concept while another may need to watch a video showing the steps while another may need to practice the steps repeatedly via an online math game to be successful. Teachers in a blended learning classroom have the ability to communicate with students in a variety of ways including one-to-one, via email and via online discussion boards, which allows all students to participate in a way that just one strategy, such as just face-to-face instruction, does not. Finally, most content management systems today allow the teacher to view how students are doing on a daily basis and can then adjust instruction for students based on their learning needs. Blended learning technologies allow teachers to customize instruction for students on a daily basis today in a way that face-to-face paper based instruction was not possible in the past.

The student role in a blended learning classroom changes as well. Students take a more active role in their learning. This takes the form of choosing learning activities that work best for them, making weekly decisions in collaboration with a teacher regarding their personal learning plan and then sharing content and ideas back to the classroom that can be used by other students as well. Research has shown that peer learning can improve student achievement and blended learning technologies and blended teaching pedagogy provide a way for this to happen on a daily basis.

Yes, how a teacher organizes content in a course management system is important. But, even more important is how the teacher utilizes a variety of strategies that better empower students to become more involved in their learning. Ultimately, the teacher in the blended learning classroom is the one who makes all of the above happen. Although the term that has become universally accepted is “blended learning”, being an effective “blended teacher” is what causes learning to become more individualized for each student. Effective blended learning encompasses the teacher, the student and the content.

Further resources regarding blended teaching and learning:

How to measure #BlendedLearning and what does it look like?

There are excellent blended learning teachers in most schools across the U.S. When I say “blended learning” I am talking about teachers who use technology to teach with on a daily basis, use a course management system such as Edmodo or Moodle on a daily basis, use ongoing data to inform their instruction and to customize learning on a daily basis, provide a truly student centered classroom where students have some control of their learning, and they are teachers who now function more as learning coaches rather than the traditional “sage on the stage” who imparts information for students to learn.

The challenge becomes how does a whole school become a blended learning school with all of these attributes of teachers. It is easy to start a new school and only hire teachers who have these qualifications. But, transforming a traditional school into what we would term a blended learning school that has blended learning as part of the culture and belief system of the school is the real challenge.

In order to identify schools that are already blended learning or on their way to become a blended learning school, it is important to have some measure that suggests movement in that direction. Blended teaching, just like traditional teaching is complex and involves multiple variables. However, teaching and learning really comes down to the teacher, the student, and the curriculum. In the broad sense, this encompasses teaching strategies, pedagogy and formative and summative assessments.

In an effort to identify schools that are exemplars of blended learning, I designed this simple continuum that I call, “Continuum from Textbook Enhanced to Online Teaching and Learning.” I have written about it before, but here is the quick graphic. A more detailed continuum can be found here.

Blended Learning Continuum Illustrated

Now, having visited many blended learning schools in the past 6 months, I will apply this continuum to a variety of schools to provide the framework by which schools may assess their progress towards blended learning. Follow this blog in the coming days and weeks to learn about how and where the variety of schools fit on the overall continuum.

Celebrating my dad and Chuck and Esther Abbott #MuseumCamp2014

My dad passed away four years ago this week. He was a man who was very involved in the Santa Cruz community. I can remember during my years growing up in Santa Cruz that he was busy volunteering his time as part of the Santa Cruz Redevelopment Agency and the Citizens Committee for Community Improvement. Two of the people he would often talk about in relationship to downtown redevelopment were Chuck and Esther Abbott. I think they actually came to our house once or twice for dinner. The Abbotts were equally concerned about the downtown Santa Cruz area and how to make it more inviting and attractive (the picture below is from one I took on the second floor exhibit in the Santa Cruz MAH).

AbbottsTogether, they worked with others to beautify the downtown area to attract more business and to also make it more appealing for people to live in downtown Santa Cruz.

As part of Museum Camp last week, I was part of a group that happened to select Abbott Square as their project. This caused me to not just reflect on the project at hand, but also on my personal experiences I had had with the Abbotts, and my dad. I have lived through the development of the Pacific Garden Mall (Pacific Avenue which was a project of the Abbotts and my uncle was part of the design process), the building of the town clock (I was there at it’s dedication on July 4, 1976, the nation’s bicentennial and was one of my dad’s projects), and the devastation of the 1989 Santa Cruz earthquake. Although I was not living in Santa Cruz during all of these times, I still felt the ripple effects of the various events in Santa Cruz and their impact on the community.

In researching Abbott Square and the Abbotts along with my teammates, I learned more about the history of the Abbotts and their impact on the community. I was interested in learning that Abbott Square had earned a grant to be transformed and that the vision is to make it a town square.

It was interesting in reading about the character of Esther Abbott (she passed away in 2008) and realizing that Chuck Abbott passed away when I was a junior in high school (1973). I did remember hearing my dad talk about how Mark Abbott, the son of Chuck and Esther Abbott, had died in a surfing accident and how the Abbotts had contributed to the development of the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse Surfing Museum, one of the few surfing museums in existence in the world. My grandparents had pieces of art that Esther Abbott hanging in their house for many years.

Now, as I learned, Abbott Square will be transformed over the next few years as a place where people can gather and perhaps be a place where visitors may start or extend their visit in Santa Cruz (another earlier article here).abbottsquaremodel

In order to develop this as a place such as this, it will take additional funds. However, as I have learned from watching Santa Cruz over the years, and now as a resident, I have no doubt that Abbott Square will receive the needed funds to be transformed.  It will become the place that so many community members desire and it will become the vision of the Abbotts and others, like my dad, who put a lot of their time and effort into making Santa Cruz a great place to live.


Final Reflections on #MuseumCamp2014

As I have mentioned before, I am an educator and my expertise is in the field of online and blended learning and school libraries. When I originally say the “Museum Camp”  notice in my local city with the theme of “social impact assessment”, I thought it would be interesting to participate. Everyone attending had to apply and on top of that, there was a fee to attend. I felt honored to be accepted. Now, having attended Museum Camp, I have gained even more insight into the world of museums and the arts and how they enhance all of our lives. I enjoy visiting museums wherever I travel and also enjoy performing arts events. I have never been an “artist” in the sense of painting or drawing or designing things but certainly appreciate people that are.

As I have mentioned in other blogposts here,  here and here, as part of Museum Camp at the Santa Cruz MAH we were put into groups of 4 and guided to complete some type of experiment or treatment to a place in Santa Cruz, Ca. The experiment had to somehow measure social impact of the location or treatment of the location. At the conclusion of the camp, there was a time for reflection by everyone who attended. The various reflections that were shared included:

  • Small, simple adjustments to space can have big impacts (in the picture below, our group simply used colored masking tape to change a space and then observed this)
  • Thinking about how to assess an art installation or art exhibit is good to do ahead of time
  • The data collected in assessing an art installation is important to share with the community  and members of the museum community (note this mural installation in Brooklyn, NY that helped to reduce crime in the area)
  • Arts and museum programs do impact communities in a positive way especially when the museum and art programs involve the community










My personal reflections include:

  • Museum and art professionals are passionate and intense individuals who care deeply about their respective communities (and they are lots of fun, too!)
  • Any art installation such as an exhibit in a museum, a mural on a wall, a community performance or an installation in any public space takes lots of planning ahead of time (including how it fits with the goals of the museum and the overall community). One example of this type of planning is how the Santa Cruz MAH secured a $250,000 Artsplace grant in partnership with the City of Santa Cruz to re-imagine Abbott Square.
  • Assessing the social impact of the arts is time consuming and expensive. However, when it is undertaken, it yields results that are useful for informing the museum professionals about what is working as well as informing the community about the impact the arts are having. This results in increased funding, grants, and attendance, as well as a community that better appreciates the importance of the arts.
  • Similar to education research, the best arts and museum research is done over time and the results are analyzed and compared from year to year and communicated ongoing with stakeholders.
  • The organization of the Museum Camp could not have been better. The counselors and museum camp staff were all helpful, friendly, and accommodating as each of our groups figured out what we were doing.
  • The “action research” format of Museum Camp is something that should be replicated in other fields, including education, so that those attending actually produce a product of some type. This process caused each of us to understand the social impact assessment process in a much better way than a typical classroom and lecture type of learning. The schedule and process of the event can be found here.

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