Opportunity Culture Voices: Blending Better Learning for More Kids

by | February 19, 2016

Technology in education is one of the most exciting, terrifying and threatening developments for teachers today. Now into my second year as a blended-learning history teacher—meaning I have a group of students in my classroom every other day, assigning them to work online, at home, on the ‘off’ days—I’ve found the scary parts less frightening than most fear, with far greater benefits than I expected.

“My blended classroom opens the door to 21st-century learning, student-centered instruction, project-based learning, and an emphasis on learning as a lifelong experience, not just what you do for six hours at school. Rather than being another challenge for teachers or a new education fad, my class helped tie this all together.

“It’s been intense but gratifying: Because I teach one class while another works from home, I reach twice as many students in that period than in a traditional setting. The challenge is to reach more students while keeping results as strong as before I extended my reach—and preferably stronger. In the first blended year, my students’ growth scores in American History I were well above the district average, with students exceeding “expected” growth; this year, my blended class averaged higher growth than my traditional class.

“And this isn’t restricted to already-great or highly motivated students—I’ve seen high growth from honors, ESL, special education and average students alike.”

–Cabarrus County, N.C., American History Blended-Learning Teacher Scott Nolt, in Blending the Best: Better Learning for More Kids

What does Scott Nolt pinpoint as keys to getting that high growth in his students? In the latest Opportunity Culture column in Real Clear Education, Nolt notes three big priorities educators should focus on in designing a blended class–including a total commitment to a whole new way of teaching that makes truly personalized learning possible, and an ability to adjust quickly to the different needs of a blended environment. “My class is evolving faster than ever,” Nolt says.

Read more in his full column, and hear his thoughts on students in a blended classroom.

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