A blended learning classroom
When Deborah Farrell started the 2019-2020 school year, she had no idea how much learning and teaching would drastically change in the school year to follow. She had enough on her plate with providing the very best learning experience for a blended learning classroom (a teaching environment that incorporates students across ages).
As a blended learning teacher, she had to take a new approach each day to her mixed classroom of 4th and 5th-graders: how much emphasis will be put on each subject area? How can these subjects be delivered effectively across a diverse classroom? How can the students work together collaboratively? How much teacher interaction can be applied in large and small groups?
These are worthy questions for any teacher, but are particularly urgent when teaching across ages. And these are also questions that would be further heightened and challenged by the events of 2020.
The dramatic onset of virtual learning
When COVID-19 suddenly imperiled in-person teaching, Farrell immediately set out to learn what e-learning tools were available and embrace them as rapidly as possible. She quickly learned that, although e-learning has its difficulties, the virtual format opened up her classroom to a huge number of innovative and interesting apps and platforms to facilitate all new ways of learning and teaching.
By committing weekends and days off to educating herself on technology, she starting out by watching videos like Vestal’s 21st Century Classroom, she’s learned a huge amount about how she can provide a more engaging learning experience for her students and is now keeping up with all the latest in edtech. She shared with us a tip on how she incorporates GoFullPage in her teaching!
Preparing content for your students
Never quite leaving behind the concerns of her students, Farrell is constantly looking for interesting articles and news pieces that she would like to share with her class. As an example, she might find this recent New York Times article about how dogs enrich the emotional life of a home. This piece could be a good discussion piece for the class to talk about their pets, how they bond with them, and how to treat all living things with care and dignity 🐈🐸🐠🐇🐩
There might be too much that’s high-level in the piece, so she can crop to have only certain information:
And then, she might want to remove advertisements, links, or images that can distract and take her students elsewhere:
And lastly, she can add some highlights or discussion questions:
Sure enough, Farrell is then able to create an exciting, interesting document for her students to follow along and stay in touch with fascinating news of the day!
According to Farrell, her 4th and 5th-grade students have been amazingly quick at picking up technology and troubleshooting technical issues, but it’s really thanks to teachers like Farrell who keep them engaged and excited about learning!