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Starting Slow

It has now been one month since I transformed how students learn in my classroom and I thought I would take this time to reflect and share with you my work. It has definitely taken me awhile to get to this point.

1:1 iPads
My school district is in year 3 of implementation of a 1:1 iPad program and has really encouraged teachers to integrate the iPad into lessons. It was pretty frustrating at first because not all of our students had iPads and we also had to switch learning management systems. I had spent a lot of time on making my Moodle compact and was initially disappointed to hear that I’d have to start all over with Schoology. Thankfully, Schoology is very easy to use, so it didn’t take me long to get my courses set up.

Starting Slow
With the new technologies available, I slowly started adapting my projects to incorporate the apps on the iPad. I also decided to put all of my formative quizzes and listening activities on Schoology so that students could retake them and to reduce my work load. Even though I was making these small changes, I knew that there was more that I could do. During our district professional development days, I tried to pick workshops that focused on using technology to transform student learning.

Flipping
One of the first workshops that I attended focused on flipping the classroom so that students listen to “lectures” outside of class as homework and then during class time, the students apply the new skills they learned. Unfortunately, this did not work for my content or students. Many of my students did not complete the notes out of class for various reasons (work, too much other homework, no internet access, simply forgot to do it, etc).

Mastery Based Learning
Another workshop that I attended focused on a math classroom and how the teacher used a mastery based learning method for her classes. The students would take a pre-assessment and then based on their results would be grouped together and then have to work through the activities to learn the essential concepts of the unit. I also observed a science teacher use a different approach where students were working through the materials individually and at their own pace.

Station Rotation
I have used stations for various units and have had some success, but it is not my favorite. One model of a station rotation is where students rotate through different stations and complete different activities. This model does not work very well for me because students work at different paces and there somehow never seem to be enough stations for all students. I’ve tried timing the students so that they all move to the next station at a certain time, but this usually causes students to get frustrated if they are still working and not ready to move on.

Blended Learning
All of the workshops that I attended were usually given by math or science teachers and I had a difficult time envisioning how their methods could be applied to my French classroom. I have looked for examples on how to blend my French class, but many of the examples are in the “core” subjects. Last summer, I joined a blended learning cohort in my district to explore other blended options. I learned that blended learning is where students are given choice in the pace, place and/or path of their learning.

Through this cohort, I have been able to collaborate with other teachers in different disciplines and I discovered that there is not a one model fits all. I’ve also had the opportunity to collaborate with one of the technology integration specialists who has really encouraged me to transform the way that my students learn French by blending my class. There have been some moments where I am being pushed out of my comfort zone and I sometimes question what I have gotten myself into, but the results I am seeing are worth it.

Stay tuned for my next post where I explain the biggest change I have made in my 10 years of teaching.

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