Monday, June 26, 2017

Blended Week Four: Organize to Innovate

Thinking about your classroom/school/district, what type of team do you see as being necessary to move toward blended learning? What do you see as your role in that team? What else from this chapter would you like to discuss?

You all were busy reading and commenting while I was away. I have many emails and blog comments to read, so if you had a question for me I will respond today or tomorrow.

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Next week we will read and discuss chapter 5, "Motivate the Students."

375 comments:

  1. Good morning! I found that this chapter required a bit more thought on my part to wrap my brain around the various types of teams. The real-world examples helped to clarify.

    I feel that Heavyweight Blended Learning Teams are necessary to move toward blended learning. While a good number of teachers do not appreciate top-down directives, it is my belief that, with teacher input, it is necessary for school leaders to get input about a plan, develop a plan given the input, and roll out the plan throughout a school or school corporation. The text states that "the most important rule for team members is to leave behind departmental interests and instead work collectively to meet to project's goal" (p. 124). This can be a challenge for teachers and administrators alike. However, it is crucial to develop plans that are best for the education of our children.

    The text also states that the right mix of team members who show enthusiasm as well as those who are skeptical becomes "an important, but tricky, balancing act" (p. 125). It is easy to get the team built up with those who are excited to move forward, but a plan won't move if those who are skeptical are not involved. Those voices typically help by bringing up the obstacles and tend to keep the plans "real"; if these issues are not addressed, then those who were skeptical from the start will perhaps not implement the plan with integrity or just give up because it doesn't work for him/her.

    Blended-learning is an idea that requires thoughtful planning and team building with representation from teachers from all levels of willingness to participate.

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    1. I love how you commented on keeping the plans "real". I very much agree that you need to have at least one person who sees the potential downfalls of the program. It is best to work out as many of the problems as possible before launching a new directive. Otherwise, support will quickly fall away and you just wasted a lot of time and money.

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    2. I agree with you on getting my head wrapped around it...definitely a that made me reread a bit more! I also liked your idea on keeping the plans "real" I see so many times that a great idea can fizzle away because not everyone is involved or putting their top effort into it.

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    3. I appreciate when teams allow all participants at the table, not just those with a vision who refuse to look at the whole picture. I believe that looking at all components does not make one negative, but it helps teams create a plan that avoids possible pitfalls.

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  2. I thought that chapter 4 was written and included more for administrators. I thought that it was beneficial to have the explainations of the different teams and their functions but as a classroom teacher I don't think this chapter was particularly relavnt for me at this point. I am glad to know this information in the event that our school formulates such teams and I am appointed to one in the future or in the event that I become an administrator but I am not planning on taking that path at this point in my career.

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    1. Karen
      I agree this chapter is written more for the administration staff. I don't think the classroom teacher has the time to transform blending learning model on their own. Reading the types of team framework at schools were interesting to read.

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    2. I agree that this is more for administrators, and it is to the heart of all our "new" school improvements. We need the rallying cry to come from administrators that are educated and trained on what the goals and strategies are/will be. With what our school has tried to implement, our administrators were just as untrained us we were. Classroom teachers need the administrators to be the leaders like in the heavyweight model to help us understand the goal and the means to achieving it. We could work all year and all summer and not be able to accomplish these big of changes on our own.

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    3. We all know that without admin. backing the changes and agreeing to help spend the resources needed, no changes can take place. I sometimes feel that the teachers have no voice in innovation.

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    4. I see what your saying....However, I found it helpful to see what my role as the classroom teacher for each type of team would look like!

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    5. I also agree that this chapter was written with administrators in mind. A classroom teacher would have difficulty to implement a full scale blended learning school without the input and guidance of the principal at minimum. The example used describing how Toyota uses the team framework was extremely helpful to me. Actually, I found the descriptions very interesting.

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  3. My name is Juliette Lucas it will not show up in my google account for some reason.

    I am a teacher currently working as an IA in a Christian School.
    It seems to me we would need lightweight and autonomous teams at our school. Different areas would need to collaborate and work together to implement blended learning in our school as well as individual teachers in the lower grades incorporating their own blended learning into their classrooms. Organizing use and scheduling of the computer lap and Mac Cart lab alone would be an across multiple areas task needed a lightweight team. Middle school teachers would also need to work together as a lightweight team to make their blended learning and schedules work.
    I am an organizer. I could see myself being involved in the organization of the Mac cart and computer lab schedules.
    The other thing I'd like to comment on is the last segment of the chapter the cost of getting is wrong. This is true of anything you do. Research and careful consideration should be taken to avoid this.


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  4. # 1 As an owner and lover of a 1991 Toyota (about 44 MPH), I like the Toyota's industry examples. These, along with the examples from education, manage to appeal to both left and right-brained folks.

    # 2 Loved the chart on page 115(Relationship between Type of Project and Team). At our school, I participate in department meetings (functional) and grade-level meetings. Additionally, I participate in two heavyweight committees (Handbook Revision; Incentive Program). I thought that the descriptions and explanations of the powers and limitations of each type of team was accurate.

    # 3 We do not have Department Heads. I would be interested to know if that puts us in a minority or majority group.

    # 4 I am a firm believer in EVERY VOICE SHOULD BE HEARD. I am a Libertarian. I am an "older" voice. I have six children (adopted and biological). I have white, Latino and black children. I have two gay sons. I am a Christian affiliated with no denomination. I live in a household that resonates with voices from every perspective: staunchly conservative to flauntingly liberal; urban chicken owners who recycle to city dwellers who don't know a chicken is an animal....Within our own family umbrella we have learned that every voice must be heard and every voice matters.

    I do not think most school "teams" flesh this out at all.

    I have served on committees where only the principal's voice was heard. Period. End of story. I have served on committees where everyone voiced his perspective and EVEN IF 99% of the group disagreed, the principal still did exactly as he chose, and although the voices were heard they did not matter. I have served on teams where every voice was heard and every voice mattered. I think of one particular team where the voices did NOT align with the administrator's thinking, but the team's voice was the option followed, and the principal backed the decision 100% although it did not complement his own thinking/opinion.

    # 5 In describing the heavyweight team..."mindset never to represent the interest of their department during team deliberations..." Never saw that really, REALLY happening.

    # 6 In my personal opinion, most team work gets accomplished in the "meeting after the meeting." Individuals in pairs or trios discuss the meeting and process who said what about what.... Without time to process and reflect, the information within a meeting is often not really well analyzed. When new information, problems, tasks, goals, action plans - whatever - are discussed, no decision should be made until group members are allowed to individually and in private groupings think though the issues and perspectives.

    # 7 Sometimes I think I will slip my throat if I have one more meeting to attend!

    # 8 TEAM - Together Everyone Annoys Me I know this is trite, but sometimes, darn it, it is so true.

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    1. I loved reading your entry. I like it when we can keep it real. Surely nobody loves a meeting (unless there are snacks, of course!). I was surprised to hear you do not have department heads. I am not yet teaching, but that seems to be a very important level of communication in the schools I've been in as an aide, a sub, or a student teacher. They can be a great "go to" for administration--a rung on the ladder. It seems an efficient system for admin to communicate with the department head, who then either disseminates the provided information to, or gathers data from the teachers within the department. I come from the corporate world and these stepping stones are quite helpful.

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    2. I also loved your entry. I find #6 to be absolutely true as I have seen this happen many times, both in an industry setting and in education!

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    3. I loved your entry. It seems like it is going to take a lot more time than I thought at the beginning and I totally agree about having one more meeting to attend. You seem not to like teams but if I had to attend every meeting to have a voice at all of them, I may never leave school. :)

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    4. Your observations re meetings are spot on.

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    5. Department heads are generally found in high school. One chosen teacher represents a subject i.e. Language Arts has a department head who probably has an extra plan period if the department is large enough.
      And like the others your observations are spot on. Department heads carry weight because they meet on a regular basis with the principal. That group can influence the direction of the building. Yes, every voice needs to be heard - that can be done with school surveys.

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  5. As a classroom teacher, the lightweight team seems most practical. At my prativuzlndistrict, I fee! We do tap into the other teams here and there to bridge gaps and ensure some aspects of our technology usage (as well as ciriculum) are on the same path across the board and have a common purpose. I do agree with a previous post that this chapter does seem to speak more to administrstors. To give an answer to the question, I feel all teams are necessary at different times. The district/school needs to have a big picture and direction in place while giving the classroom teachers and teams the ability to work together on smaller details that impact them alone. They all have their own importance at specific times with the right people.

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    1. While I agree that this chapter sounds like it is aimed at administrators it is also good information to teachers. When you look at the descriptions of each of the groups we are included in all four. Department heads are teachers too. The Heavyweight and Autonomous call for the best in the departments to participate. Again those are teachers. We are given the opportunity to participate in the decisions being made on all levels. Volunteer! I don't like being told how to teach, so I try to be part of the committees that make those decisions. I also work with our state organization E/TEI and the Department of Education when opportunities arise.
      Daniel, I am putting this as a reply to your post simply because I started seeing a trend in the posts that precede yours. By no means is this directed at you. I am making a call to ALL teachers to jump in and take control.

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    2. I agree with you Laura. Too often only a few of us (in my building) will volunteer, but those who do not volunteer COMPLAIN! They do not want to be a part of the process, but they bash any policies, procedures, projects, or practices that emerge from the process!

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  6. I feel that on a district level, the heavyweight teams are most necessary for moving toward blended learning. Much of what our book has mentioned in prior chapters lends itself to large changes that I feel would need to take place on a "whole" school level--some of those changes are even structural/building-wise. As I was reading the section on Heavyweight teams on pg. 124, I was reminded of the process our district just went through for a principal search for our high school; it reflected the heavyweight team (somewhat).

    When you look closer at what is going on in each department at the high school level, I would say that lightweight and even the functional teams are the most applicable to establishing blended learning. I would say that at my school, we have a type of group already working as a functional group which is our PLC's. We meet together every other week with teachers that teach our same subject and collaborate. This would be a great time to work together on becoming blended as a content area if that was what the subject teachers wanted to do! My role would then be to contribute to my PLC and help my classes meet the goal that was created to help become blended!

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    1. PLCs are awesome! I love that we are provided time to work with other teachers in our departments to solve problems and develop curriculum. These are mostly functional teams, but Robin is awesome in pointing out that they can also be lightweight. I sometimes forget how often I call on the IT specialists to help install software for projects we want to do. I also run some of our lessons past our teaching coach from the math department. I never intended to be a math teacher, but there is no getting away from calculations in Engineering.
      Thank you for the reminder, Robin. I need to send emails of thanks to those contributing departments more often. I couldn't do what I do without their advice and support.

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    2. You got it right Robin. Our PLCs are organized as teams to improve our educational environment and implement, improve, design to meet our student needs

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  7. I feel like the functional or lightweight team would work best with our first grade group. I would definitely be able to help in organizing what would need to be done. Our first grade teacher group is a younger group but are great with incorporating technology when needed and knowing what programs work best for our kids. When we had to do Flex Reading Groups, we worked very well together. We created an organized schedule and set a goal. I think we would be a great team to work towards blended learning. Our first grade classes also have reading buddies with another grade level and while they are working on AR, there are others doing online reading practice.
    I like how at the end of the chapter it talks about how great opportunities can be missed and lots of money wasted when leaders do not organize strategically before trying to blend. I think this happens all of the time. Leaders jump right into something without even having a game plan.

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  8. Since this would be a total shift to some of the teachers/teams in my building, I would think you would just need a lightweight team at first. We wouldn't even run it past our prtincipal first. I would get a lightweight team together, and start making changed within my language arts team. Once we had things up and running like we wanted them, that's when I would call in the principal to come observe and go from there. I think it's important to have something to show the principal instead of just telling him about it. Also, by not involving him at first, you have as much time as you need to tweak things here and there to make it presentable. I believe my roll would be just to explain what this process would look like and help set it up. Unless my whole team decided to read this book, I would be the only one who would have any idea about blended learning.
    All of this of course is just a hypothetical situation because I am one of six people on my team and majority rules. I could walk into PLC excited about this, and they could completely shut it down. We have our first team meeting of the summer this Thursday. I plan on bringing up the idea of a flipped classroom to try with our honors kids. We'll see how that goes over....

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    1. Totally agree with you on trying it first then having the principal come and observe. I think there are people who need to see blended learning in action instead of just hearing/reading about it.

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    2. I like your idea of putting together a plan first, and then involving administration. Your setup is similar to mine, but I only have to work with one other Language Arts teacher and we usually agree on everything. I have found that things work best in our building if an idea is created, problems are thought of, actions occur, then evaluation, then administration involvement. This chapter was a little daunting to me and took me awhile to really process. The examples that were given were extra helpful in helping me see how I could fit into this. I at first felt like this was really speaking more to administrators with the power to make a final decision.

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  9. I too felt chapter four was geared towards administrators. It was not relatable and I found it hard to connect with. I thought it was helpful to explain the different teams as well as the diagram but as a classroom teacher, my role, if any, would be limited. As a small school, I think the lightweight teams would work best. I do see the significance of all the teams and the importance of using multiple types of teams. I have mentioned to my principal that I am reading this book and have asked her to take a look.

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  10. This chapter was short, sweet, and all about how to find the right people and set up the right team to successfully plan and initiate blended learning. I did not really find too much to comment on because it all seemed quite obvious. A change involving only the classroom would require only the teacher’s decision making, and changes involving a greater number of stake holders would require involvement from a greater number of people who were spread throughout the hierarchy of the department, school, or district.

    I do worry that the larger decisions may not always involve end users—classroom teachers. Yet I cannot imagine there is a district in place that would fail to involve classroom teachers’ input if a decision was being made to make complete renovation, such as transitioning to 1:1 technology, but perhaps that happens. And I likewise cannot imagine a teacher who wants to create station work, but feels the need to involve administration in that decision. It just all seems to be a no-brainer.

    As a side note, I do continue to balk a bit at the foundational concept that blended learning allows students to be “learning at their own pace” (129). I get it. I love the idea. I wish we lived in Camelot. But I just do not see it happening in the real world. I’ve spoken to students in a study hall who told me they do not complete their assigned work because “the teacher doesn’t really make us do it; she just assigns it and then we don’t do it because she doesn’t really make us.” My own daughter, a straight A student in the middle of 10th grade, got her first B when she took an online course for a required subject, but wasn't motivated enough to force herself to do the extra work it takes to get an A. I also know that, when allowed the freedom to choose my own pace, I raced through college online courses at lightning speed. I ended up with a 3.98 undergrad. This should indicate that I really learned what I studied, yet I feel I retained the material only long enough to take tests because of the pace I set for myself. I cannot recite the moons of each planet or the various Pacific battles of WWII.

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    1. Long distance high five for "I wish we lived in Camelot." :) Your examples following are wonderful examples of how the learner also plays a role on the effectiveness of these new teaching methods. Your own personal experience that you described at the end is the same thing I have discussed with students multiple times. One of them finally gave me a term that held true, "academic bulimia". They consume information rapidly right before the regurgitate the information back at us on the test. They have now emptied that short term memory space so they can do it again. Creepy, but accurate.

      My first encounter with taking online courses was during grad school. My A's were mostly a beneficial side effect of insomnia. I would read, post, reply to posts, and reply to my replies until about four in the morning. I would get three hours of sleep then head off to my eight o'clock class or go in for my office hours. I think I only retained about 60% of the information I studied.

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    2. I agree also with the "I wish we lived in Camelot." Students can only really LEARN WELL in courses or subjects that they are truly invested. They have to love the topic or love the material being taught. For us to think that students are going to excel and learn in blended on-line environments is a bunch of phooey. Students will do well and learn better if the subject and material is geared towards what they want to learn. Forcing any topic on students, no matter what platform they are to learn it in, isn't going to MAKE them learn it. We have to initiate teacher/student relationships and then spark their curiosity for them to enjoy the learning process.

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    3. Brenda, I also have some issues with the idea that students will learn at their own pace and everything will be good. Unfortunately, there will always be some students who do not want to learn the subject at hand. For these students "their own pace" will be a snail's crawl because they have no real interest in learning the topic. This is why a teacher's job will never be obsolete. There will always be a need for teachers to influence, model and interact with students in order to convince them that the topics they need to learn are actually relevant to their everyday lives. Great teachers make even the driest material come alive for their students, and can motivate students to want to learn something they otherwise wouldn't care about.

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    4. I really liked the "Camelot" reference. There are times I feel teaching, in general, requires us to live in Camelot. when ever we want to do something different than the normal classroom things, we have to convince all administrators to back us up.

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    5. I just told one of my friends that this concept would work so much better in a "perfect world" or as you said Camelot! I agree there are So many good things that can come about from these concepts, but I am just not %100 convinced that it is possible with the many barriers we have! I guess I would be the cynical member of the team :)

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  11. First of all I wanted to share a quote from page 114 of the text. "...there are limitations to how much any single teacher can do." I am very excited the authors put this in there, especially at the beginning of this chapter. For those who have read my posts on previous chapters, you know I believe that proper teacher training and administrative leadership is invaluable to any successful changes within a school. I do, however, believe that listening to those who are on the front lines of education (teachers) is even more important to the success. We see the changes in student behavior, fads, obsessions, career opportunities, and parental support. Being told how to teach from someone who has not been teaching in the classroom for a few years is frustrating to say the least. Creating teams at each of the four mentioned levels will be more affective than a lone teacher trying to do it all. The stipulation being that the teams are properly populated by the correct people.

    When discussing the autonomous groups the authors commented that they need to have both skeptics and believers on the team. I think it is good to have someone who is not drinking the Kool-Aid there to challenge the team. If the team develops something that even the skeptic can accept and appreciate then you've really got something.

    I have participated on teams from the first three levels. I regularly work with teams in my school and with the department of education. I find it most difficult to work on heavyweight teams simply because I struggle with leaving my departmental interests behind. Naturally, I think the content that I teach is extremely important to the proper educational development of students. I'm sure every teacher feels that way about his or her area of study. (As they should) Though I struggle not to bring everything back to how it will affect my department and policies, I have been able to successfully participate and contribute to Heavyweight projects.

    With our PLC groups I feel our department is constantly working in functional teams. In fact, our department is only made up of six people who share a common lunch period. We tend to all eat together every day in our office and discuss classroom and project ideas. We are always working on trying to update our department to meet the needs of the students. Our question that we always come back to is "What's best for our students?" This question leads our decision making. I think I work best in functional teams. It is directly related to my field of study, best practices within the field, and problems that I have directly witnessed so understand where the opportunity for change comes in.

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    1. I like the quote you shared from page 1114! It is so true that each teacher has a limit to his/her ability to handle all the things expected of us each day! It explains that we need to work in teams at all levels in order to best serve our students. Isn't the ide of teaching is to serve our students with the skills they need to succeed in life! So powerful and thought provoking!

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    2. I also like your quote. In a school, students move from grade to grade and level to level, which means that, as teachers, we are all dependent on each other. In this age of aligned curricula and high-stakes testing, there is less room than ever for teachers to deviate from pre-mapped curricula. That's not really a bad thing, but it is limiting. If a teacher inherits students that are below-level, there simply isn't time to re-teach an entire year's worth of material on top of the material that students are expected to gain in the current level. Sure, a good teacher must find time to re-teach a concept here and there where it was misunderstood or forgotten, but they can't do that for everything. We need to understand that the whole staff is a team, and our success depends on one another.

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    3. I concur with you completely, Laura. All of is in this small thread are seeing the same things. We are all driven to be the best we can be and provide the best education for our students, but we can't research and develop while being responsible for the events, changes, and problems that arise daily in our classrooms. That's why I've always said that I teach students with curriculum, not teach curriculum to students. We have to meet their ever-changing, daily needs.

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  12. This chapter focused in on the significance of picking the "right team" to lead each identified project. Our school district has created a tech team which is a great start since we just went 1:1 last school year. We have been able to create many technology rich activities just in the first year of 1:1. I think teachers will begin to explore more blended learning opportunities over time. I feel the tech team has been helpful already in providing support and resources needed as we experienced with 1:1 the past school year.

    I appreciated how the authors explained each team and gave examples to show how each team did its job. The authors make a good point in reminding teachers to keep in mind what the desired level of change is when looking at their classroom. The authors emphasize how specific teams can assist with tasks. It seems that the individuals in our tech team have specific strengths as we are also directed to certain team members depending on what assistance we need and/or problem we might have with technology. We are still figuring out things as far as various teams that need to be created since we are at the beginning stages of 1:1. I just see a connection as far as being able to go to a specific individual in our tech team to help get the task completed.

    I do believe this will be an ongoing process in making changes to implement blended learning in the best way. I think each school will progress at a different pace based on many factors. At the middle school level, it is nice to still have a team approach so each grade level team can discuss how to move forward with online learning in each subject area.

    Questions that popped up in my mind as reading dealt with funding, professional development, and flexibility. Will appropriate funding continue to be available to bring about classroom level/school district level improvements? Will quality professional development be available in each school as needed to assist teachers? How much flexibility will each school have to make necessary changes to implement blended learning? These questions can be tough to answer. It seems that it is best to focus in on one school year at a time and see what can get accomplished!

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    1. Your questions for moving forward are spot on, and must be considered in any project we take on. No, no, and limited have been typical answers, but with good front-loading of well-developed curriculum, I think at least two of those can be changed. I feel the key for my district will be seeing blended learning in microcosm working, and understanding how to adapt it for the larger community. That will probably require someone to take the plunge with no funding or PD. I'm still deciding if I'd be a good fit for diving in.

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    2. I feel it is important to create a balance of online learning with continuous human interaction as developing relations is so important. I know it is hard to make changes without the appropriate learning opportunities for staff, funding and flexibility among all involved when looking at positive changes for any school setting.

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  13. For my school, I feel like the functional or lightweight team would be best. I feel like I would first start with a functional team within my grade level because most of our decisions are made as a team for what we are doing so it is similar across the grade level. My team works really well together which is a true blessing. We can bounce ideas off of one another and decide what works best and how to align with standards. We work together to do what is best for our students. We have already started a reading buddy program with upper level grades so I was happy when I read about something that we are already doing in our school. My strength is in organization so I would make sure we have a plan in place in order to make blended learning successful. A lot of times money and time is wasted, because programs are thrown at us and there wasn’t proper planning in place before going forward with it. Then it falls apart. My team could create a plan and then modify it as needed. We could use our collaboration time each week to talk about the plan and how to go forward with blended learning. My principal has a lot of great ideas too, so a lot of times she gives directive on what could take place in the building, but that would involve the whole school and not just my second grade team.

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  14. I like the idea of a functional or lightweight team in which you would have a select few teachers from each course content area and have it ran like a pilot group. Once all of the kinks are worked out, then the process could be rolled out to every teacher in the building. We do this often at my school when introducing anything new. The last pilot group we had was for Canvas. A certain set of teachers used Canvas for a semester before all of the teachers were allowed to use it. Plus that gave a handful of teachers a lot more experience with the program so that they could be used among their departments as Canvas experts and help those new to the program.

    As a side note, I am loving the non-educational, real life industry examples they are using to explain all of this! I grew up with both of my parents working at Subaru building cars, so it’s making it easier to understand all of the examples.

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    1. I also like the real-world examples. I was struggling with the differences in team concepts but this definitely shed some light on the issue for me.

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    2. The real-world examples were great for me as well. I have always been a context learner.

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  16. After reading the chapter, I believe my school would benefit the most from the “lightweight” teams. We implemented the 1:1 technology and Canvas last school year. As the chapter stated, a heavyweight team is primarily found in charter or pilot schools. And, as most schools, we have several lightweight teams that function throughout the school year. Our school is small and I just don’t think there would be an overall “buy in” from all staff to completely override the system, which is what a heavyweight team would focus on. I think that my role would be one of Department Head (although that isn’t an actual position at my school) in that I would gather data from my department to deliver to the team as well as give them information that the team would deem necessary. The teams that are already in place seem to work together nicely so I wouldn’t see the need to change anything at this time.

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    1. Cortny
      I agree that the best team to move toward blended learning is the lightweight team. This team represents the abilities and interests of various departments in the school to work together to make improvements to our schools. To maximize the impact of blended learning SMART goals will need to be identified.

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  17. For our school to implement disrupting learning through blending, I think we need a heavyweight team. We need to create the overview to determine the level of blending throughout the curriculum. In that process, I would choose to select or create necessary curriculum. The more I read, the more I see myself in that role.

    As a classroom teacher, I have served on many teams with stakeholders from every group - students, parents, community members, faculty, staff, administration - with the main thought being to fill a space so a box can be checked. Many times roles other than administration or faculty were treated as the audience for the predetermined policy rather than as contributors to the decision. I loved how this chapter laid out the framework as well as the context each best serves.

    My only concern is the work that needs to happen ahead of team formation: convincing everyone this is the future of education and the direction we need to take.

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    1. You are so right. Convincing all of the stakeholders sounds like a daunting task!

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  18. Chapter 4 - Organize to Innovate
    I think to move toward blended learning should start with lightweight blended learning teams. Department heads need to coordinate activities to encourage teachers to develop their own blended learning models to use in their classroom. The department heads would need to pick one person in charge of the entire process. This manager would be the person who is checking and making sure everyone's work fits together for the blending learning model to work.
    At my school when there is a new instructional practice, they usually ask for teacher volunteers to work on the new instructional practice for one school year. The leaders then look at the results, work on making it better, then introduce the new instructional practice to the staff to develop the following school year. Usually the new instructional practice is introduced during our staff meetings throughout the school year.
    I think it is important to have an open mind to new instructional practices to better serve our students.

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  19. As I look at my district I think we are slowly moving from a Lightweight Team to a Heavyweight team. I say this because the Middle and High Schools have already moved to a 1:1 classroom and more of a blended learning approach to teaching a learning. At the elementary level we are more of a lightweight team. We just started dabbling into how to use technology in the classroom, and not just in a way of using apps for games, but actually learning. In my building I see these two different teams, but I also see functional teams. I think this happens when people have more training, a better understanding of technology, true collaboration, and a willingness to try something new without fear of failure. It is so important for teams to have a strong collaborative backbone-otherwise you don't have much a team in any sense.

    Currently I am still learning, so I think my role is to try new things, and when I find something that works SHARE IT! We teachers can sometimes be hogs with new learning-and we need to feel comfortable to share with those around us. I know I fear sharing because I worry I may have been the "the last to know," and there have been times that seemed to be the case, but there could still be that one, that could benefit from new learning.

    I will add, I have taught in two different districts, and my district has done a great job of "rolling out" blended learning. There have been lots of training opportunities, technology teams who are there to help us navigate or even do personal training, and the people on these teams have a true passion for it, that it gets you excited. I feel well equipped to move forward, because of them.

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    1. I agree about sharing. In my previous school, there was little sharing. In my current school, our administrator encourages sharing constantly, and poses questions for discussion that prompt us to discuss how we approach various challenges. I have learned so much from my colleagues, and had more professional development, in the two years I've been here than ever before. I do still find myself inhibited by the thought of sharing my own practices because I often wonder if what I feel is innovative is actually basic. Coming into middle school from high school, where many if not most of my colleagues came from elementary training, I think I missed a lot of the best practices for this age group. When I stumble onto something that works, I worry that my excited sharing would be met with eyerolls.

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  20. I think that a number of teachers in our building are interested in doing things such as flipping their classroom, station rotation, etc. I believe that can be accomplished with a functional team of the teacher, possibly department members, other teachers who have successfully flipped, and possibly an administrator for a guidance/support type of role. I, as the Asst. Principal, would be willing to help think of things that the classroom teacher may not think of such as how this will affect our students in respect to their other classes, how it will adffect the other department members, bringing in what possible parental concerns there might be, etc. My role would be more of a support role to help them get this implemented effectively. Our district is situated literally around a town, so we are a doughnut around that town. We cover north of town, south of town, and a little on either side of town, with the town having their own district. It is unusual to say the least, but we have elementary buildings and 7-12 buildings that foster to the north/south, respectively. With that, there are options being considered such as reconfiguring where the elementary boundaries would basically stay the same, but one 7-12 building would become the 5-8 building for the entire district, and the other 7-12 building would become the 9-12 building for the entire district. We would move from two high schools down to one. There are logistical problems with that town, and its separate district, being right in the middle of us. Obviously, there is an option to consolidate the districts (our rural district and the in-town one) into one large corporation. Whatever the selected option, it is going to take at least a heavyweight team to take this on. There are many decisions about facilities, financial considerations, administrative makeup, etc., that would be much too large for a functional or a lightweight team. I can see where an autonomous group may be sought because there have already been grumblings throughout the communities and staffs about what would happen to "their" school and how decisions would be made about who would be teaching what classes, and in what building. I'm not sure that a team of only insiders could be made that wouldn't bring their own biases/protections with them to the table. I, like anyone else, would naturally want to protect my position within a corporation. It would be hard to objectively be a part of this type of team when my position would possibly be on the line. I have bills, expenses, and children that I support like a lot of other people, and I have to be able to make ends meet. I would think at least a heavyweight group, if not an autonomous team, would be needed to address this situation.

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  21. In my school's situation, we are considering blended learning for the four cores. I guess I am trying to figure out the role of those outside of the core courses.This would lend itself to the lightweight blended-learning teams. Coordinating between the departments to create a comprehensive plan with consistency would be necessary. They may discuss how to block time and work together in larger groups. I do see a role for a heavyweight team initially to make those changes that occur within the current school day framework. In my situation at present, an autonomous team seems like a stretch. It may be able to redesign the curriculum but many things would have to happen in order to have the freedom to change the budget, influence staffing and facility design. I agree these things must happen to have a chance at success. In my current reality, that is likely in the future.
    It really takes boldness and conviction to make all of this happen. Isn't it amazing how the failing traditional system has such a hold on us that it makes it hard to break free. The second paragraph on page 127 is a great example of the hurdles that can be put in front of us when trying to disrupt. There are many interests that have to buy in to make it all happen. I am trying to make this happen in my 7/8 school. How does that work if it is not part of the entire corporation? If they are not blended before they come to me or after they leave me, how can I get the backing to disrupt? I am determined to do it but the obstacles are many.

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  22. As I read about the different types of team and considered the question, I think the best type of team would be a heavyweight team. Moving from a traditional structure to a blended structure is a substantive change.

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  23. Before determining the type of team that would be necessary, our district would first need to identify the level or model of blended learning that we would like to implement. However, since I identified declining enrollment as our rallying cry in my Week 3 blog posting, I feel that building a blended learning environment that targets students who are withdrawing because they are not successful in our traditional factory-focused style of education should be our goal. After reading Chapter 4, it seems that our best course of action would be to create an autonomous team who would focus on creating a “school within a school” at the middle school level.

    For an autonomous team to be successful, it would need to secure authority over staffing, budgets, facilities, and curriculum for targeted students. To accomplish this, a team member would need to work closely with administration because even though authority can be given, there will also need to be restrictions based on budget, facility availability, and state laws. This role as liaison would potentially be the one that I would assume. The flexibility in my daily schedule, my experience in writing grants, and my familiarity with online curriculum resources would allow me to provide knowledgeable insight to both the administration and the team. Furthermore, once the team and administration determines mutually accepted SMART goals to prove success, this model could be used to develop autonomous teams at both the upper elementary and high school levels.

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    1. A declining enrollment challenge does sound like a great opportunity for an autonomous team to step up and explore a whole new way to meet the needs of the students leaving due to a lack of success in a traditional setting. If authority over the "school with a school" concept could be secured, you'd be able to truly work to set up a situation in which students really would have an opportunity to succeed. That's the dream, right!?!

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  24. Our school would definitely need a Heavyweight team to get the ball rolling with blended learning. We would have to redesign how our classrooms look.

    I appreciated the author using toyota cars as an example...it really helped me wrap my head around what each team was.

    I think my roll would be as a classroom teacher incorporating and implementing the new model and recognizing what works and what doesn't.

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  25. Since my students have their own Chromebooks and I have access to a variety of online programs (Google Classroom and other skill sites), I can be my own functional team and work to blend my classroom. I see my students twice a day and have been thinking about the possibility of treating one of those as a kind of Lab period where students work at their own pace and level to target skill development. I've got access to programs like Study Island and NoRedInk that allow students that freedom, but my district is exploring Odysseyware for credit recovery courses. It seems like that might be a good program to meet students where they are and challenge them while I assist them.

    Since I'm not sure if this will work, it seems like a Lightweight Team would have been a good idea when exploring new online course programs. The team would have been able to explore the connections between software options and different classrooms to identify and then support implementation.

    Since I don't have the administrative weight to really push out a team of any kind, I think I'm looking at the functional role in my own space. I miss out on the dialogue and processing that I think would be beneficial, but at least there won't be any arguing!!

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    1. :) sometimes working on your own is best, isn't it !

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  26. For the type of blended learning I envision, I would need a lightweight team. Partly because I would need to coordinate with other groups in the school and partly because I don't have the scope of knowledge necessary to envision bigger changes outside my department.

    I would like to do some sort of rotation, probably a station rotation model in the Language Arts department. It actually may only work at my grade level because we are the only grade that blocks a 50 minute Reading & 50 minute Writing class with one ELA teacher. Since I have the students for 2 hours at a time I don't designate 1 hr has to be reading and 1 has to writing but just blend them together and let the flow of the class determine how the time is spent. I think that some added structure would be helpful in making sure students are getting the most out of their class time though. Especially with over 30 14-year-olds in one room for that length of time, it can be a challenge to reach all of them at their pace and level as well as sustain their interest. A rotation model would make sure they are getting different types of instruction so they are not "bored" with the same thing for too long. It would also free me up to spend more time with each student and let them control some of the pacing of their learning.

    I would need a lightweight team because I not only have to coordinate with my grade level ELA department so we can all offer the same curriculum options but also with the our tech department. The tech department would be able to help us set up the programs and hardware we need to be successful. There would also be some coordination with admin to approve our proposed changes.

    I see my role as being a teacher leader and team member. I would be proposing the idea and working with my colleagues to figure out how to make it work for us. I would need to convince my team members and my admin that this is the right move for us and is feasible.

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    1. I like your thoughts on the lightweight team. I know that the tech department would be on the team I just didn't think of them as a separate entity which puts multiple departments as part of the team. You are right that a lightweight team would be the way to go.

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  27. I think that this year the best group would be a functional team. This year my 5th grade team is doing a rotation between math, reading and chapter books. This would be a great time to use the flipping the classroom for math. The classes are going to be divided according to ability, this would help the teacher who is doing the math rotation. He would be able to focus more on the needs of each group instead of having to spend the majority of the class explaining the concepts.

    Next year we would need to also have a light team, so we could add on the rotation for 4th and 6th. We have several teachers that are very insecure about using the internet for instruction. By rolling it out to one group and then the rest of the intermediate classes, I think that the younger grades might be a little more receptive to this kind of change. Also with the 1st grade teacher that is using a modified blended class, we might be able to get more buy-in with the lower elementary teachers. I think having her as part of the functional team to share the experiences she has had would be a good opportunity for the movement to the light team. If my building can get a good process up and running I think that we would see the other elementary try to do this as well.

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  28. As I look at the idea of teams to implement, improve, change fix problems, I remember my time in the Army where we organize for combat based on the mission and the problems leading to accomplishment of the mission. The is the same with Toyota as the book relates how teams can be organized to meet problems or implement new designs of vehicles. In the classroom we can also use teams designed to bring about desired results. in most cases functional blended teams are already created within departments. I teach IB Psychology and work on functional ideas with my psychology professional learning community and more specific IB functions within 4 functional IB teacher meetings per year. This can work very well when we disrupt the classroom and introduce blended ideas. We share, implement improve etc on a functional basis.
    we may also, though see the IB coordinator as a project manager as we introduce IB programs between the various departments. This is a more light weight approach and has worked well for us in improving and growing the IB program in our school. sometimes we need and use a more autonomous approach in say the history department with its plc leader within the social studies department. Or in my case the Psychology plc leader working with other plc leaders within the social studies department. This could also be considered heavyweight when the department chair works like a project manage in implementation with plc leaders working with their team but also with the department and with the department chair.
    the point to me is that is very important to organize a team to meet whatever the desired outcome. Certainly, if we are starting the potential disruption of the blended classroom using the best team organization is critical

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  29. Throughout the comments so far, there has been mention of the need for voices to be heard. It is a wonderful idea to promote a rallying cry for the voices of all involved in education. It is a wonderful idea to suggest that we should work together for the good of the students.
    With that said, I don’t feel like blended learning, as it is being presented in this book, is what is best for all of our students. We need to consider what the authors are suggesting to us. I love the idea of integrating technology into my classroom. I love the idea of changing things to better meet the needs and interests of our students, even if that means changing how my “factory-style” classroom/school operates.
    I don’t love the idea of taking curriculum decisions out of professional educators’ hands and putting them into computer programs. I am happy to use computer programs as a tool in my toolbox for my students but not as the only or primary tool. I need flexibility in my decisions. There will be times when a flipped classroom is exactly what my students need—but not all of the time. There will be times when station rotation would be effective—but not all of the time. I need to be able to make that decision because I am a professional, with education and experience, who is capable of doing so.
    I don’t love the minimalizing of personal relationships with the students. We forget that a significant part of what we do is helping our students form identities about who they are as learners and people. Yes, “factory-style” schooling often neglects that idea, but I don’t believe that blended learning addresses it. It works as a quick fix for test scores, but does it really help students evolve as human beings?
    I don’t love the idea that we are assuming kids are learning because a computer program tells us they are. Have we thought about what their learning looks like coming from a computer? I don’t believe that multiple choice responses give the whole picture. Some kids are excellent guessers. Some have learned how to play the system. Are they learning? What about those students who show their knowledge in ways other than those provided by the computer?
    I love the idea of forming teams to push for education reform, but we need to take time and think about what kind of reform we are pushing for and what the unintended consequences would be. Most of the classroom-level reform comes through the “lightweight teams” which, in my school, are typically our PLCs. We work together and help each other make professional decisions regarding our students. We lend support, try new ideas, and see what works. Heavyweight teams seem to come from above—more of an administrative level (as many have mentioned already). The book’s description of this puts the value of the system over the value of the people involved. Heavyweight teams are necessary to bring large reform, but those leaders need to consider if the reform is more important than the people involved.
    Voices need to be heard on all fronts. We need more information about what blended learning involves. We need to understand the unintended consequences that it could bring before we fully immerse ourselves in this. I recommend reading a book called, Students at the Center by Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda. It takes personalized learning well-beyond blended learning and discusses education that would meet the whole student…not just the data a student can produce. Our conversations need to be around these larger ideas, not in how we can rally to help advertise for blended learning companies.

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    1. Yes! I completely agree! I have been struggling with this book for weeks now, feeling like I was the only one who felt critical about it and the ideas of blended learning, but you've hit the nail on the head! I hate the idea that I'm losing those relationships with my students. Some computer programs are excellent, but I'd hate for these kids to be staring at screens all day, every day, and then going home and doing more of the same. That's not the way for them to grow as people. Thank you for putting it into better words than I did!

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    2. I like your comment that we need to focus on the big picture. Blending learning has a place but all students can't work solely on a computer. I teach special needs students at high school level and how am I able to teach basic functional life skills like doing dishes, cleaning, doing laundry on a computer screen! I don't think this book gives much thought to these types of skills!

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    3. Thank you for your input! I have also been struggling with the content of this book and will be discontinuing my participation in this book discussion. I'm read another book that will benefit my teaching and students in a more relevant way.

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    4. I usually tend to skip the really long wordy posts.....but this was AWESOME. I agree in so many areas. I became a teacher and I am STAYING in the classroom because I want to teach. I do not want to point to the 1:1 devise and say, "figure it out for yourself, just follow the curriculum, take the tests." Do not get me wrong. 1:1 is and can be a great thing. But, knowledge is passed from person to person.

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    5. I completely agree with this post. I have put off posting after reading this chapter because I was trying to process and decide how to answer. I, like you, want to incorporate some more effective technology into the classroom but I am not in favor of trading it in for a less personal approach. I love interacting with my students. I do like the idea of personalizing lessons however to fill the achievement gap.

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    6. Agree with this post too! As I have read, I want to teach, not because I can, but because I want to. I don't want technology to take the place of the 1:1 interaction with teacher and student. You can use technology in education, but it will not replace the teacher and what they can give to the student's learning.

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    7. I'm intrigued by the book you mention. Do you care to share more about it? Also I agree all parties need a voice for full buy in to occur!

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    8. Natosha, a friend of my recommended it to me when I expressed my deep concerns about blended learning. It really encompasses what I think many of the teachers are trying to do. It takes you through and explains different ways you can personalize your learning within your context. Quite frankly, it has changed the way I see teaching. I would strongly recommend reading it. It's very short. I read it in a day. If you or anyone else wants to read it and chat about it, I would love to have a conversation around a book that is student-centered and very applicable to our current contexts.

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    9. I agree whole heartedly!!!! I have felt very negative towards this book so far. As an elementary music teacher I feel it is so important for students to have personal interactions, not just technology based lessons! I think students are too technology engrossed at times and are losing out on how to properly communicate with others as it is! (I sound like my grabdma!).

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  30. I think in my classroom/school I will have to start with a functional approach. I need to sit down and have a well thought out plan to bring to my principal and see what he thinks. I personally think it would be very beneficial for my students to have a blended model in a station rotation setting. I think after I master this aspect with my functional team and we can show success we will get a longer rope to do more disruptive things. I see my role as being a first to fully implement a blended model, so functional model is the only thing I see working since I will most likely be on my own.

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  31. In my school, I think a lightweight team would be the most effective at this point. We've already gone 1:1 across nearly the entire district (we're working on elementaries at this point) and it's recent enough that the teachers and administrators are still willing to hear new ideas and try new things. Lightweight teams may be the best way to make actual changes. There are definitely some changes that would probably need to happen with a heavyweight team (like the fact that our multiple middle schools have to be incredibly aligned in terms of class lengths, curriculum, etc.) because we wouldn't be able to change them at purely a school level.

    Being a 4th year teacher, I still often feel like I'm on the bottom end of the food chain and that no one would want me in charge when most of my colleagues have 10+ years of experience on me. And my personality, which tends to be more on the shy side (it makes teaching interesting), means that I don't really want a leadership position. So in terms of what my role would be on these teams, I don't mind being a soundboard, if someone has an idea and wants to bounce it off of me. And I wouldn't mind someone giving me a framework to work within as long as I get to create my own classroom and lessons within that. I think flexibility is the key here and finding ways for teachers to still do what they are trained in and flourish is the way we're going to help our students succeed.

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    1. I think having teams with members of all kinds of experience is best when talking about changes or making decisions in a building.

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  32. I will be a first year teacher come August, so this chapter was a it overwhelming to me. I really liked the Toyota examples the author used throughout the chapter. I feel that a functional team would work best in the school that I will be at. As a first year teacher, I look forward to creating my own classroom environment and lessons. After my first year of teaching under my belt, I feel this chapter will be more beneficial to me.

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  33. For my classroom, I think a functional team is ideal. My district is large enough that I have at least one additional teacher that shares the same course curriculum on a semester basis. I have had the opportunity to share ideas and resources with these semester teams, and the flipped classroom approach, or student rotation work which focuses on PBL has already been implemented into a few curriculum units. I enjoy the collaborative element in my school and am always anxious in a positive way to execute new ideas in the classroom.

    At a district level I see a heavyweight team being most beneficial. Rethinking the “architecture” should involve multi-views and perspectives. I especially liked the idea that the nay-sayers should be a part of this team in order to better understand all perspectives in making potential changes/decisions, as well as thwarting any attempts at derailing a project at a later date. Again, a strong emphasis was made to the real time data and individualized learning possible with Blended Learning. My continual concerns have been related to assessment, and in order to create a new architecture for learning, the assessment function MUST play a significant role in the decision making beyond the mere walls of my individual classroom.

    I would be more than happy to sit on a team to discuss Blended Learning for our district. I was however pleased to see Horn and Staker challenge each of us as educators to “act entrepreneurially” when it comes to making instructional changes in our classroom and our school.


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  34. I think this chapter was meant for both the teacher and the administration. I think the teachers who are using station rotation or flipping their classrooms are using lightweight or possibly functional if it's part of a middle/high team with a department. I think when you start to discuss the logistics of the buildings, district, community, etc. you are going to need a different approach with a different team such as heavyweight team.

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  35. The teams described by this chapter are very important for education in general not just for blended learning. I am blessed to work at a school that has functional teams and lightweight teams. I work in a functional team on a daily basis. Our special education team works to do what is best for our students. I also feel like I work hard at the functional level for my own classroom in order to bring changes that best enhance individual learning. Blending technology can be hard to accomplish in a functional life skills classroom but it is part of the changes in society. I will always be part of a functional team being a special needs teacher.

    Our lightweight teams work hard to make an environment that is cohesive and find ways to improve what we do. Those who have embraced blended learning are helping lead the way for others to join in this arena of education. I have been or lightweight teams for various aspects of school life.

    I feel our corporation needs to,develop a heavyweight team in order to continue bringing true blended learning to all our buildings. I hope that all sides of the issues would be considered when selecting a team to be sure all types of students are represented when making important decisions about blended learned no.

    Leadership isn't my thing. I am always willing to help on any sort of team but I don't want to be the one in charge. I am still fairly new to special education in role so I like to be supportive to our team but want someone else to be the leader.

    Enjoy your week ahead and Happy 4th to all.

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    1. You can succeed at becoming a leader. I am with you on the leadership not being your thing. But small steps will get you there. I am in my fifth year of being a department leader and still learning. My "team" supports me and really, none of them want the job either, but the organization I bring makes it all work at this point I think. They are a diverse group but in the end, we all have the same goal of nurturing the kids! Do not sell yourself short just yet!!

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  36. I am already a part of a "team" at my school that our relatively new principal formed with the directive of affording opportunities for voices to be heard. He is trying very hard to do some new and radical things with our schedule and our curriculum. While his intentions are golden, and I believe well founded in thought and research, he faces many "voices" of opposition. This chapter firmed up my desire to tell him something: HE MUST JUST MAKE THE DECISION AND IMPLEMENT HIS VISIONS. There is no way to please everyone in a building or a community, even a small one such as ours. I personally believe in the direction he wants to go, but I am in the minority I fear. I am going to FOR SURE recommend this book to him - especially this chapter!!

    I also very much enjoyed the way this chapter makes it clear than an INDIVIDUAL teacher can take some steps to shake things up a bit. It helps me remain motivated and determined to continue to take the small steps I have been taking the last two years and add in a few LEAPS!! :) Bring on 2017-1018!!! :) :)

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  37. I very much appreciate the comparisons to business in order to explain the framework for team design in this chapter. While I felt that this chapter was geared toward administration, it is important to remember that the classroom teacher plays a significant role on each of the four teams discussed.

    In order for disruptive shifts to occur within a school, I believe that all four teams must be present. Functional and lightweight teams allow for changes to occur at the classroom level, but when administrators are looking for a shift in overall culture and instruction, heavyweight and autonomous teams must also step in.

    "Picking the right mix of team members who are already excited to innovate - but also involving skeptics to hear their views or keep them involved so they don't derail a project in a heavyweight team - can be an important, but tricky balancing act" (p. 125). I absolutely love this quote. Every school has a group of teachers who are ready to jump in to blended instruction. But, it's essential to include and hear the skeptics. The more this group feels involved and heard, the more likely they are to hear our point of view. And, while administrators can force change, it really is implemented with more fidelity if you can get buy-in from the staff. I believe that helping all parties involved see the big picture makes it easier to focus on the ultimate goal and less on the individual's best interest.

    Autonomous blended-learning teams are essential in order to obtain proper implementation of new technology. Teachers must understand and believe in the new context so that technology just doesn't get placed on top of the existing model. In this substitution model, class progresses as it always has with the teacher being the provider of content while students consume information. Little is different, and the computers do not improve learning. This leaves the skeptics even more skeptical and the administration scrambling to back up the technology initiative.

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    1. "Picking the right mix of team members who are already excited to innovate - but also involving skeptics to hear their views or keep them involved so they don't derail a project in a heavyweight team - can be an important, but tricky balancing act" (p. 125). I love you chose this point. I agree totally with your opinion.

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  38. I really liked the emphasis on picking a balanced team. I feel that, especially when building technology teams, it is pretty common to only include enthusiastic early adopters, and that often one subject or grade level is over-represented and other subjects or grades are barely considered.
    For example, higher-level math teachers and foreign language teachers often need their students to respond with non-Latin characters. Many of the programs our district has bought into require extremely time-consuming, counter-intuitive, awkward work-arounds like going seventeen menus deep to find the appropriate character, or inserting mouse-clicks mid-word for 7 out of every 10 words in an essay thereby disrupting the students' train of thought and interfering with their ability to self-express, or having to save all text as image files.
    As stated in the reading, it is also important to include skeptics and allow them to play Devil's Advocate before coming to conclusions that affect others. I know our district is always looking for committee members with a positive attitude, and although certainly, the assumption should always be that there is a solution and the committee will find it, I feel that a lot of time and money can be saved if a skeptic is allowed to anticipate problems take proactive measures than if enthusiastic members are give free reign to make policies and then all of these issues need to be addressed after the problems occur.

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    1. I agree that balanced teams is important! Those of us who get excited and who like to experiment with new things need others to help us look out for practical issues. and potential pitfalls. Conversely, some of those who do not like change, need those who have jumped in with both feet to give them the courage to try something new!

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  39. Under "The Cost of Getting It Wrong," the author states, "One of the most common mistakes is asking classroom teachers to use technology to personalize learning and then expecting them to create a truly transformative learning model on their own." (p. 152) After reading many of the comments, I feel like many of us are in the same boat. Many districts want to shift focus toward the blended learning model, but instead of forming these heavyweight teams ahead of the game, they are relying on teachers to attend professional development and then miraculously change their teaching methods overnight without much support.

    The author also states that context is just as important as the technology, If schools truly want a blended model, the context much shift away from the traditional classroom; otherwise, it's just a new layer on top of the old system. I think that in order for our educational system to really become innovative, we need to shift not just toward technology, but perhaps begin to move away from the traditional classroom overall. It will be a difficult task, especially at the elementary school level. "The culture of the traditional classroom is so deeply accustomed to students moving in standardized batches at a set pace that setting a new priority for flexibility and self-pacing is extraordinarily difficult within that context." (p. 151)

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  40. This chapter was not the most fun to read....It seemed geared to those who are ready to go all in on blended learning and here is how you can introduce it to your individual school district. I did enjoy learning the difference with the four groups for Team design.
    I like the idea of the Functional Teams. I believe these can work the best. In schools, especially High Schools, there are many different subject area's and ONE blended learning platform is not what's best for ALL. Let the departments & teachers decide what programs are best for them and their students. When it is a top down heavyweight team deciding what is best for every department, classroom, teacher, & student, then you are bound to run into numerous people looking to resist. Let the individual teacher/student decide what works best for them. I also do not want principal's or superintendent's deciding what way we are going to go as a grade level, subject, department, or district. Let us be part of the committee that decides which way we are going to go and which works best for us. If we are in on the choice, we are more likely to use the platform.

    It was interesting to learn that Spiders and spider webs were to blame for the faulty Japanese air-bags. ???????

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  41. I'm not sure but I think my school would need a heavy weight team. Administrative backing and accountability would be necessary. In addition we would need a plan of how to fund and obtain the necessary technology to even start.

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    1. I agree with you that the proposed transitions would require money, but I think it goes even deeper than that. I think that you would first need to identify the areas of nonconsumption in your district (or school) in order to identify relevant technological solutions. The school at the beginning of the chapter had a good idea, manipulated the situation as a threat (of which I am still not entirely comfortable with or convinced of the absolute necessity) and shifted the focus to the thought of it being an opportunity, and were still unsuccessful. I think that the key to this really lies within an autonomous group that can identify the areas where technological solutions make the most sense and what the solutions would be based solely on the needs of the people involved.

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  42. What kind of team do I see as necessary to move forward with blended learning? I think the first 2 types will be equally necessary. The functional team is necessary, because each individual teacher will have to make decisions on how to change their individual classrooms to facilitate blended learning. In our school, the functional team in the form of PLCs could also be very useful as groups of individual teachers could work together to prepare blended lessons and implement ideas within their content areas. As a classroom teacher, my role would be to bring ideas to the PLC and make changes in my own classroom, and perhaps take successful ideas up to the next level for a wider dissemination.

    Lightweight teams could transfer good ideas found at the content/department level to other areas of the school. They could also help coordinate the allocation of technology through out the school so that all areas have access to needed resources.

    Schools that wanted to make a "disruptive change" would have the autonomous team as the most important factor because they would need to have many fundamental changes in the ways that schools are organized.

    As many people above me have noted, I think that a very necessary part of these teams are people who are skeptics. The skeptics will be able to point out drawbacks and problem areas before new ideas are implemented. By addressing the topics that skeptics present, problem areas and possible pitfalls can be avoided before new ideas are implemented.

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    1. I really like your idea of using the PLC as the functional team. I think that also, to a degree, you are suggesting that your PLC identifies some areas of nonconsumption to apply blended learning as a solution. I think that is a really great idea. I also like your emphasis of the skeptical position of importance on the team. They are the people with the sticks who can poke holes in the bucket that you come to think of as fool-proof. They can see the pitfalls to which originators of an idea are often somewhat blind. Great comment!

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  43. At our school, I think that functional teams would be best suited, MAYBE light weight teams. Right now, I am under the impression that as long as each teacher is using technology in some way, then we are moving in the right direction. Each PLC group and/or department might have more specific guidelines that they wish their teachers follow, but I feel like we have a lot of freedom to use technology as we please (this would demonstrate functional teams).

    If there comes a time in which we would like to synchronize what is happening in classrooms across departments, this is when light weight teams would come into play. As I said, there is some sort of technology being used in our classrooms. Light weight teams could be used with department heads to share ideas to find a few common ones that work and bring those ideas back to their respective departments.

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    1. I will add that this was the first chapter that I really felt like the authors started (just a little bit) focusing on what happens at a level lower than an entire school or an entire district. I was able to think about what I can bring to the department meetings we have or the PLC meetings we have, not just "how can I change the entire school's/district's outlook on blended learning?"

      I enjoyed reading about the different team structures and their different roles/impacts they have. I would have seen this more fitted at the beginning of the book - organize teams to work toward a common goal, THEN create a rally cry and present the information.

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  44. Won't each of these types of teams be necesary as we move towards blended learning? It seems to me that there will need to be those who jump in with both feet and provide the model for those who are more unsure. In order for a true and consistant change to occur, it seems as though all will need to be a part of the planning and venture.
    At this point, at our school we are implementing SBG. Although I have been given the liberty to grade and teach based upon mastery for the past couple of years, and for many years prior at another school, this type of disruption has encompassed each of the four groups described in this chapter at different junctures. There are still those at our school who are not on board but the school has decided to implement mastery based teaching and grading this coming fall. I believe that the hope is that those of us who are on board and who have jumped in and have some experience will be able to assist those who are coming in only because they have to do so.
    I look at blended learning in a similar fashion. I am one who is totally on board with blended learning and look forward to implementing it more consistantly in my class this year. I already flip my math class and do some inflipping with other things. I am very fortunate that I am given the flexibility to be able to do this in my classroom. That being said, in order for others to make the jump, it would take different groupings of teachers and administrators in order to implement a large school wide change. I am interested to hear how others of you think.

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  45. I think each of these teams are important for the district as a whole. I've taught elementary in the past and see more of a Functional or Lightweight team would be best in that type of setting. No sure I'd feel comfortable with Autonomous at that level of education. As we get to older schooling maybe a bit more of a Heavyweight or Autonomous version. I think the Autonomous is a must in today's high schools. High schools need to really look into this as a great investment in deepening children's learning. It would shake up the model, but feel districts would be amazed at how it would change students achievements.

    If I was forced to see one implemented I'd lean towards Autonomous team. This particular team scares me the most because it's such a different mindset for most districts that it would take some time for buy in from the community. Certain communities I could see making this a difficult transition. Once established however I think the results would be astounding.

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  46. This chapter was difficult for me. I understood all the different groups, but couldn't connect with how that would all work in my situation. I loved the Toyota examples used. It did help explain each level. I can't see our district/school going to a flipped classroom. We have too many families that have no internet connection at home. The whole process seems that it would take a significant amount of time and everyone involved would have to be 100% on board with changes in order for the switch to be totally effective.

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  47. I feel in my building, the functional teams would work best to start. I think there are a few teachers or subject areas in my school that have teachers who would be willing to implement a blended learning classroom. Depending on what they teach and who is teaching, I can see the blended learning looking different in those classrooms which I think is great. These teachers or specific subject areas then can share with administrators or fellow teachers to help start incorporating the blended learning throughout the building.

    I do think my building will run into issues with scheduling, length of classes, sharing teachers between grade levels and schools, and those who resist change to fully try a blended learning environment.

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    1. We struggle with scheduling and being able to get computer time with limited resources. We are going to one to one if the future. I hope that it is sooner than later. It would solve a lot of issues.

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  48. In my district, I think that the most impactful way that we could go about transitioning to a blended model is to have an autonomous team to define our areas of nonconsumption and brainstorm ways to address those areas. I think that a pilot program could be a great way to figure out how the blended model interacts with the needs of the administrators, teachers, and students involved so that when the district has a roll out, the teams could transition to lightweight teams and implement the strategies more effectively. I think that having the leaders of the lightweight teams be members of the autonomous group would be beneficial so that teachers would have a direct resource for problems that will arise in presumably the same ways they would within the autonomous group. It would help the teachers build procedural fluency with the disruptive process until they were confident to handle the new model independently.

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    1. Incidentally, I forgot that I also wanted to discuss something else. I feel like the author's are still trying to instill the idea of moving away from the factory model, yet they continually come back to ideas that actual factories and businesses use to further their own profit margins. I feel as though the idea of running a school like a business is definitely frowned upon, yet we continue to use business practices to "revolutionize" the way we run schools. I don't mean to sound like I think blended learning is bad, because I think it is good and innovative, but I also can't help but see the similarities between the processes described in the book and those employed by fortune 500 companies such as Cummins and the like. If we are trying so hard to remove the influence of the factory model, then why follow the same protocols that they have developed in order to change? I think that the ideas proposed are sound, but I think that the tone suggests something contrary to the actual content being proposed.

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    2. Zech, you make some very good points. Since you are one of the newer members of teaching staff at our corporation and school, you have seen some of what frustrates teachers there. I feel like our corporation is very innovative in ideas. Where we lack is the organization to put all the innovation into play. This chapter is a good starting point for all of us including administration. One of my chief complaints is that they come up with all these ideas, make them policy, and send it all down to the teachers to figure out. Teachers are already over worked, out of time, and stressed to the max.

      I think the organization needed depends on at what levels blended learning is to take place. If it is corporation wide we need a heavyweight team to begin the process and add lightweight and functional teams as things begin to take shape.

      I know at my grade level we have used more of a functional team approach in order to make minor changes. As a team we have met to agree to using different approaches, swapping kids for enrichment, reteaching, and remediation. Several of us have tried components of blended learning and then we have gone back to the team to report on how it is going looking for ideas to improve it or give suggestions to the others who want to try it.

      Since my position is as a teacher, I find that using the functional team or lightweight approach to be very useful. I do think we have had heavyweight and autonomous teams but they have failed to team up and bring in lightweight and functional teams in order to getmall on board with their shift. That has caused teachers to feel like they have had no input into the changes and have not been able to have a good grasp on implementation.

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  49. I have independently on my own utilized within the blended format the flip concept and computer rotation. Computer time can be difficult to have access in our building. This does make rotation a creative challenge especially during assessment time frames. In our district we are leaning in district change with one to one. This could help greatly to supply access to all students. It will be down the pipeline for the middle school setting. My content partner and I have discussed teaming together and doing a grade level/content teaming to implement technology with a focused rotation as a station in learning.

    I felt page 127 in the second paragraph reflected well why change doesn't occur. There are times when setbacks, lack of resources, or lack of support makes it difficult to evolve from the factory based classroom.

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  50. To move forward with blended learning in my district/building, it seems a lightweight overhaul is necessary to make noticeable changes. I appreciate the Toyota analogies because it provides a clear visualization of the changes that could happen with each label: functional, light and heavy weights. I believe some individual teachers have managed very well within their own classrooms a true blended environment on a functional level. (Karlan Varner who participates in this book blog and routinely flips her classes would be one good example within our own building.) The best examples of lightweight teams that I have seen within my building/district have not had anything to do with blended learning, but I do believe their impact can teach us how expansive light weight management must be in order to achieve a purpose. One such implementation was our PBIS program several years ago. This initiative was efficiently accomplished with a lightweight committee of cross-curricular teachers, staff, and administrators at all levels. As a member of the original committee, we were professionally coached to create ‘buy-in’ among fellow members and ‘sell’ the system to students. That implementation reminds me a lot of the mind-shift that must accompany any new or earthmoving event such as blended learning. Likewise, another change a few years ago that provided remediation time during a homeroom period changed the school schedule of our entire district brought on by another lightweight team of many disciplines. Both of these reorganizations were supported by explanations and plans laid by lightweight teams. Their work is still intact many years later and has outlived the original personnel team that designed their structures. This sustainability in my opinion shows the durability and effectiveness of the programs. Too often initiatives only survive as long as the person who implements them is employed at the school or has the energy to keep something afloat. There is no question that an overhaul as expansive as Horn and Staker’s blended learning models require a team of lightweight or heavyweight magnitude. As it stands now we individually pirate programs and cobble together a few training workshops where we can. We need professional modeling of a blended system, extensive professional development to teach us how to implement it, and professional supports that continue for years in order to blend successfully.

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  51. I would think a lightweight model would be most appropriate. I appreciate the analogies with the Toyota which made things easier to understand. I think, like others have said, that this chapter was geared toward administrators. The very first thing I jotted in my notes was "organize the right team". This is critical for success and should be given serious thought.
    When reading about the functional teams I could see that experimenting with the station rotation would work best with elementary math.
    With the need to involve so many in order to have success much thought must be given to those on the team. Strong leaders are needed to create strong and productive teams. The need for effective professional development is a must in this endeavor.

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    1. Your quote about the need to "organize the right team" struck me as I read the comments. It's not enough just to have a teacher but a teacher with good working relationships with staff and is willing to change while being an advocate for their children and co-workers.

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  52. After reading this chapter, I have mixed feelings. I feel that this chapter was geared towards the administrators. I thought it was good to explain the different teams, but I feel as a teacher, my voice wouldn't be heard too loudly.
    If I was to chose one team, I think it would be the lightweight. We have been doing PLC for a while, meeting once a week for 40 minutes. I know that the higher math and sciences do a blended learning with their classes. They would be good roll models to present to the staff and administrators on how to have good blended classrooms.

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    1. I can understand your feeling, Sandra. Perhaps the real message this chapter offers is that we need ALL teams in order to make blended learning work. Therefore, you would be needed close to "home" regarding the matter and issues, while admin or autonomous teams are needed when re-creating a framework district wide.

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  53. I agree with most of the above comments. This chapter was more suited to administrators than teachers. I did find it interesting that the authors used business models, such as ones employed at Toyota, to illustrate how the right teams need to be organized to lead projects. Perhaps schools would be wise to implement more business ideas into the classroom.

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  54. The necessary team members are at least two grade level teachers in the same grade. From the ground floor, these two are very crucial because they can share ideas, support each other in the trenches along the way, and work together to analyze data and discuss the effectiveness of a blended learning model.

    Another necessary support component has to be all or at least one member of the administrative team. The administrator(s) needs to be aware of what is happening in the classroom and how blended learning can positively impact student learning. Also, a collective voice and shared vision by the administrative team would assist teachers in working with parents and students that have concerns or questions.

    Finally, other teachers from different grade levels need to be involved in adopting a blended learning model too. This process will not be nearly as effective if only one grade level adopts blended learning. The long term effects of blended learning will become marginalized unless it is repeated each school year. Ideally a school would have at least two classrooms in each grade level using blended learning strategies. Then student learning and achievement could be recorded over longer periods of time.

    Another thought I had moving into the new school year is how to maximize time with students by flipping my mini-lessons and giving students time to practice on their own. Could I pull this off in my own classroom during station rotations? Our district is adopting a new homework policy in which students can only read at home. This would mean if I tried flipping some of my lessons then students would not be watching the flipped videos at home but rather I could post them and have students watch in class. Either way, I need to find a strategy that is best for my students but also one that I can feasibly manage and plan for each week.

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  55. I believe that the team I would need for my classroom would be a functional team. We are already in the process of getting technology for every student and going 1 :1. I think for the district/school we would need a Heavyweight or Autonomous team.

    I think that we need a Heavyweight or Autonomous team because we are implementing technology into the classroom without a real plan in place. The chapter talked about the technology being just an extra topping that is never used. I believe that as a school, we need some guidance in this department and need to start using our technological resources.

    "One of the most common mistakes is asking classroom teachers to use technology to personalize learning and then expecting them to create a truly transformative learning model on their own." I feel strongly about this statement. We are given the technology and then no real guidance of how to use it in the classroom.

    "Spotting kids learning at their own pace is like catching a glimpse of Bigfoot." This quote jumped out at me because the school day is so structured and the students always told what to do, where to go, that when students are given some some opportunity to create; some students can't comprehend those assignments at all.

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    1. Coriann: I enjoyed reading your post because it reminded me of some of the things that had been important to me when I read the chapter, but which had sort of fallen of my radar afterward. You wrote a great synopsis of the highlights of my own reading. Like you, I worry teachers are being given a tool and expected to practice on students. I reiterate constantly that student learning should not be risked due to our own learning curve. I still do not understand why states or districts do not have common less plans and resources. From that foundational base, teachers can expand as needed for their individual classes--but give us something to start with. As it is, some of us spend hours and hours writing or searching for just the write lesson plan, when we could rely on experts at a higher/broader level to write the assessments and plans. To me, this is the same as giving teachers a web site or app, and giving devices to the kids, then saying "play with it." That is going to create a lot of really exceptional gamers, and teachers without foundational knowledge to support the students in their academic pursuits. Sigh. I hate to grumble, but I see SO many teachers in tears most weeks, desperate to leave the "profession," that I worry for our kids.

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  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Sorry to delete. I accidentally posted an original comment when I meant to make it a reply. Oops.

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  57. At my corporation we have had autonomous and heavyweight teams to make big shifts in instruction and learning however, I think where we have stopped short is to bring in the lightweight and functional teams to get their buy in and help in implementing at the classroom level. This is a very important step in order to help teachers feel like what they are doing is a good idea and want to help make it succeed. We are a fairly large corporation and communication is key to help teachers understand what is taking place.

    If functional and lightweight teams are used then those members need to report on progress the team is making in order for teachers to have more buy in and be able to offer feedback. If the teachers do not understand the need, benefit, and process that has taken place they will not be helpful in implementing the changes. Without teachers, change will not take place successfully.

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  58. As I commented in Sandra’s post, I believe the message of this chapter is that we truly need ALL teams in tact in order to make blended learning successful. In fact, we need all support teams in order for any school or organization soar. Therefore, I believe my answer to this week’s question is that we need all support teams. While not all schools may have each team, I am certain my district does have functional, lightweight, and heavyweight teams. They seem to work very effectively when issues are addressed. My question is whether my school district has autonomous teams. Then my thoughts lead me to wonder if blended learning is truly a topic these teams are covering or interested in at the current moment.

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  59. I feel that on a district level, the heavyweight teams are most necessary for moving toward blended learning. But realistically for our small Catholic k-8 school, I see a functional team working well to make changes in our middle and elementary programs. I think that by beginning with small classroom changes toward blending learning teachers would take ownership in the process and "buy in to it" more.

    That being said, I found a statement on page 127 particularly interesting, "No matter how much of a breakthrough a particular technology is, when it arrives in the context of the existing system, the existing system starts to shape the technology to conform to its dimensions." This is a strong statement to remind those making changes to a blended learning environment to jump all the way in with both feet. Let the technology shape the classroom, not let the classroom shape the technology.

    As high ability coordinator for our school I see my role as an advocate for our high ability students. I need to make sure blended learning is meeting their needs. Many people would think that blended learning would be an awesome learning environment for HA students; being able to work at their own pace. I often have to remind teachers and parents that HA does not always mean high motivation. As I continue to read more about blended learning, I feel that in order for it to be successful, students need self motivation. I looking forward to reading ch 5 Motivate the Student.

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  60. I would say that for true classroom buy in and curricular changes the "heavy" lifting or pre-lifting needs to be done by the lightweight or functional team. This could be departmental PLC's or some other localized small group of educators who get together, identify the problem and a potential solution and THEN present it to a heavy weight team or a team authorized to make the structural changes etc. necessary. I've noticed that if my dept. starts working through a curricular change or a new type of learning tool, we "test" it out and trouble shoot before taking it to a larger group. It then usually evolves from there. I believe that real educational change comes from teachers who are passionate about student's learning and being successful. Heavy weight teams (admin. etc.) may not be as invested or have a clear picture of the intricacies of the issue/problem to be resolved. Once the lightweight team has identified it, then the heavyweight team can come in and analyze the problem/solution through the lens of the "bigger picture". I do think members of the heavyweight team should include members from the lightweight team to further explain the vision of that team. I'm not sure the authors are realistic when they say that heavyweight members leave their bias and departmental mindsets behind but I do think a balanced team that is willing to see the perspective of all members is the most effective.

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    1. I agree that one team alone is not necessarily the best way. I like the idea of using the lightweight team to work through curricular change first and then presenting it to the heavyweight team. The lightweight team members will most usually be the ones in the classroom seeing if the change is effective or not.

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  61. Blended learning really does have to take on a team effort. The issue in our school, as in many is the fact that there are multi-faceted levels of knowledge and comfort with technology. We have been successful this past year in addressing this as far as during professional development providing for the ‘sharks, minnows, and tadpole’ groups if you get what I mean. So I believe strongly that this HAS to continue. Blended learning will only be successful if there are educators, administrators,and tech support working as a well oiled machine to make it happen. Equipment has to work. Internet has to work. Band-width must be capable of handling the load of perhaps on one day all students will be on- line. This has been an area that needs improvement for us. My role first and foremost is to educate myself about blended learning- hence the class and book!- and become an advocate, not an adversary of the program. I will stay in the’ tad-pole group’ because I feel that I am on the lower end of the knowledge of these systems and my ability does not run too deep. However, being one of the veteran staff members, I feel my attitude towards blended learning is what will be foremost for me to contribute with. Being able to learn new things, and implement them without complaint will only spur other staff members on to see the same possibilities.
    I would like to discuss the Autonomous Teams concept. I cannot understand the real difference into the above mentioned scenario that I wrote of and how the Autonomous teams are any different than these. In essence- why separate this concept?

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  62. Since our corporation is new to the blended learning world, I believe that a functional team will be met with great enthusiasm from several. Hopefully after this year we can take the next step or two. Our technology crew has done an awesome job of helping us be successful as we move forward. I think that my grade- level teacher and I will both flip our classrooms and lean on each other for advice and support, while still seeking experienced teachers who will be able to help us stay the course. It seems as if we will have encouragement from administrators to be able to move forward toward successful blended learning this year.

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  63. I will be honest and say that I struggled getting through this chapter a little bit. For me at least, it wasn't as easy to consume as the previous chapters. I think at my school this coming school year, my co-teacher and I will be more of a functional team. We are the only grade in the whole school who will have our own class set of Chromebooks. The other grades will still be sharing carts with scheduled time periods until our corporation fully goes 1-1. My co-teacher and I will have the opportunity to implement blended learning in our classroom and make changes within our classrooms without impacting the rest of the school. However, we will still have to follow the school wide schedule time allotments and there will not be a lot of flexibility when it comes to extending subject times because of push in of our special education teachers. As it says on page 130, "Functional teams do not have the power to abandon the traditional classroom entirely or to implement a disruptive model independently..." Our blended learning environment will be catered to our grade level and students but will still depend on the school wide schedule and transition times.

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    1. I think your experience this year will be invaluable for the teachers at your school who go 1:1 in the future.

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  64. When implementing blended learning and 1:1 initiatives, I can see that Heavyweight teams are the best fit for districts in that situation. Blended learning environments redesign how classrooms function and that requires new implementations to make that happen.

    In the case of my district, we are past introducing 1:1 technology and should feel comfortable with blended learning in our classrooms. I feel the best team to make improvements would be a Lightweight team. We have strong communication that takes place across each grade level. Each grade level has a department chair. This person could help coordinate projects and ideas not only within the grade level but could reach out to other grade levels and departments as well. If a new way of teaching something is introduced at a particular grade level, the Lightweight team would reach out to the next grade level to coordinate these changes. All team members are stakeholders in the team and should represent the interests of their departments.

    As a specials teacher, not only do I serve as a member of the team of specials teachers but also grade level teams since I see students of all grades. I have an interest to see how blended learning is working in each grade level. I find it new and interesting to see how classroom teachers across the grade levels incorporate blended learning so that I can try it in my music classroom.

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  65. I think once a goal has been established a functional team of grade level teachers is sufficient to decide how to implement within the classrooms. At that same time though it may he necessary for a lightweight team to discuss what each grade level had planned so they could discuss changes that need to happen at each level so that sudent progress can grow vertically. This may lead to the need of a heavyweight team if significant changes are needed. All this said if the corporation's goal is to completely change the system then an autonomous team is needed.
    I guess in short teams needed depend highly on what your goal is.

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  66. I work with a small staff so functional teams would work best for me if any at all. I am really focusing on changing my class to a station rotation model. I don't need any assistance in doing this. I am moving to a new site, however, with 3 other teachers, so we could work together to do station rotation, but again this would be within a team of HSE teachers, so it would be functional. If I did work with the other instructors, I would see my role as critical to lead the change. We have discussed doing some station rotation but there hasn't been any formal attempt yet to do this. I think I will start with my class. I hope that they will see my model and be interested in discussing more how we could do something similar collectively.

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  67. My school doesn't have any knowledge of blended learning or how to incorporate it. We share three computer labs with roughly 700 students. If we were to implement this, it would start in the classroom. We would need only a functional or lightweight team to start. It would look like the other Science teacher and myself meeting together to think of ways to implement this in our curriculum. We are both reading this book and have already had some conversation as to how to make this happen. It isn't something we would need to contact our principal about. The only thing we would go to her about is if we are in need of something that we don't have. We have already went to her to ask for our aides to be shared amongst just our classrooms so that we may utilize the same aide in helping cover a station in the computer lab while we have smaller groups in the classroom.

    I felt as if this chapter was a waste of my time. I don't mean to be blunt, but I was counting the pages left until the end. I feel like this book has given me some good ideas and that I have learned the just of blended learning. However, unless they give me some great resources as to where to find some good, FREE, online, individualized type lessons to use, I'm not sure that this will happen. Maybe it is yet to come...

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  68. At my school, I believe we are already split into groups which fit the functional team model. We have weekly departmental meetings throughout the year. The problem is we don't always use/have the time to improve upon our use of technology. Furthermore, coming from such a large department (16 math teachers at the high school), I believe we could break down into even smaller groups based on courses taught. For example, we could form a functional team comprised of all the Algebra 1 teachers. We try to do this already; unfortunately it feels like we never have all the time we need together to do what we really want (I'm sure almost everyone else in this discussion feels something similar). I think starting with a clearer goal regarding the use of technology in our rooms would benefit us greatly.

    Page 130 was a significant page for me. I underlined two contrasting quotes: "One of the most common mistakes is asking classroom teachers to use technology...to create a truly transformative learning model on their own," and "But the point remains that classroom teachers can and should act...to bring about classroom-level improvements." While reading the first quote I felt glad somebody was empathizing with my plight as a teacher hesitantly trying to integrate technology. When I read the second quote though, I stopped and had to reconsider my previous thoughts. The fear of not knowing how to best use technology in class has stopped me from trying many new things altogether. This page helped pull me from my self-pity...I'll have to bookmark it and reread it in August!

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    1. Amber you are not alone. Many educators utilize technology in a limited facet because of that uncertainty. I wish as adults we didn't struggle holding onto fear of doing it wrong or making a mistake. I love how our youth look at technology. They are not afraid of maneuvering through it.

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  69. I think we will mainly have functional teams at our school. Our grade levels are generally given the ability to do what we want within reason. The functional teams will either be the entire team making decisions on things or individual teachers. We have had many opportunities for trainings but some teachers move at different speeds. Sharing will be important so everyone doesn't have to make the same mistakes. It's a big undertaking to go 1-to-1 and I think people have to experiment for themselves.

    There will likely be some lightweight teams incorporated just so there is continuity across grade levels and schools. However, I think it's important to not have those light weight teams making too many decisions for the individual teachers. Incorporating computers into a classroom isn't a "one size fits all" type of deal. If the district or individual schools put too many restraints on the teachers, they will feel like they have to use the technology in the same way, whether or not that works best for them and their students. Like many people have said previously, there is a wide range of knowledge on this subject. It would be unfair for everyone to be expected to be at the same level at the same time.

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  70. Honestly, there are always teams working in various capacities at any school I have worked in. Part of my concern comes with how they are put together. At our school, it seems the same people are on all the most important teams. All teams need to be equally important and feel it. I really liked how they said a mix of people in age, experience, and roles need to be involved.

    At our school, we tend to have a lot of teachers that are unwilling to make any changes in their style. I love to try new things that may help students become better learners. Isn't that our job?

    This chapter was one of the least interesting of the book thus far. The industry examples helped quite a bit. I still feel that teachers ultimately have very little say in what or how we teach. Now that tests rule (which is outrageous) on not only the students but also we teachers, the ones above at the administrator level, are making all decisions. As said previously, many have not been in a classroom for years, yet, they know all. Reminds me of our politicians making so many rules about school and they have never been in a classroom. I would like to see every one of them required to spend a week in a public school before they are allowed to make school decisions.

    There was another rant. All I want to do is teach whatever is best for my kids. From what I have read and seen, blended learning is it.

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  71. I feel that an Autonomous Group would be the best if possible, although I think this type of group is less likely in the large majority of schools in the nation. Most schools do not have the ability to give a group it's own budget and allow them to do just about anything they want. I agree like others have said that it is important to have a mixture of skill levels and also a mix of "enthusiasm" for the change towards blended learning. It will allow all types of teachers and staff to really figure out all aspects of what the school is wanting to do. If only teachers and staff who want to make the change are in the test group then most likely they will not think of all of the obstacles the school may face.

    I think a functional team would be a great place to start for a small school like mine. While it would only take a small group of teachers from 6-12 to cover one subject or department it would hit all students. By using the functional model, schools can have a smaller test group or subject area while hitting most if not all students with the newer concept of blended learning. Schools could gather data from the whole spectrum of students and see whats working.

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  72. I would be starting off with a functional team. Our school hasn't discussed blended learning, so it is probably a new concept for most teachers in my building. I would be looking at redesigning my classroom for a blended learning environment. I would be discussing changes with my principal and talking with my colleagues in the math department about my changes.

    In theory, each team type sounds like it would work well, given that they each have a specific situation to thrive in. In reality, most of us have probably worked in an environment where we have been told what changes are going to be taking place and good luck.

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  73. I think that our school has numerous functional teams. We have grade level teams, technology teams, textbook teams, etc. It seems that it is often difficult to get the most accurate information from all of the teams within the school. While, we usually have a member from each grade level on the various teams, the teams often get switched around each year. This causes the new members to be unaware of the information that they should/ need to share with others.

    I feel like each year we are asked to be on more and more committees. When this happens I don't feel like I can adequately give my all to each of the committees. I believe that most of the work is done by a few members, while a majority get by without contributing.

    This chapter was a little difficult for me to complete reading. I just felt like it pertained to administrators. I'm here for my kiddos and will always do what is best for them in the long run.

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  74. This was a hard chapter to digest. When the book gives examples that relate to congress, or to a car company, it often confuses me more than if the authors would just give classroom examples. It took me an extra long time to read chapter 4.
    I've been asking to make some changes in my building. The book nails it when it talks about on page 128 that it takes someone with significant power to make things happen. I cant make any of these teams (functional, lightweight, heavy weight, autonomous) bc I need the business manager to say yes to the money needed. So I'm back to square one.... which is no where. I feel no real change can happen. It's like the example given on page 127 where the teacher doesn't have the resources to buy the furniture to make the changes.
    I want to grow the program, but I cant bc I cant even get some of the small items needed (like wifi) not alone the bigger ones like staff and computers. So it seems as if it's not really a grassroots movement... it's a top to bottom movement. And I'm at the bottom.
    On page 129 it talks about student truly having control over the pace of their learning. I would like to see this in action. How does it work when a kid just isn't moving along when you know they are able to? Can we really, In Indiana, do this when it seems as if everything is tied to the graduation rate? If a student moves along slowly, and then doesn't graduate on time, does the school ratings go down? I would like to know if this can truly work on at your pace.

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  75. As I look at the school where I teach, I definitely thing that our principal would be very open and supportive to changes and a functional team or a light weight team would be sufficient for changes in the classroom. I really think we are totally free to choose how we think is best to run our classroom. As long as students are performing, I do not think there is a problem trying new teaching methods. However, for changes to take place throughout the school building or even throughout the district, a heavyweight team would be needed. Our district tends to be very conservative. In order for something to be tried so drastically different from the traditional class setting, would be a hard sell to the community. In fact, funding has been declining for rural schools such as ours, and they continue to try to hang on to the traditional methods making the variety of classes offered smaller and smaller. Perhaps changing to the blended learning would open new avenues for money to be used in other ways while still opening doors for additional classes and services to be offered. The bottom line is that the community has to buy into this. I am not sure the community where I live and teach is ready for this. I would love to know if any rural,public schools in Indiana have made this drastic change. I would love to visit these schools if they have!

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  76. Sorry. Just read first line. Should be think and not thing.

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  77. I feel like in my school we would need a lightweight or heavy weight team. We already have/have had a few teachers move to some form of blended learning without changing the overall school environment. Even though these teachers were not actually a team, it shows that there was not enough pull to make a large scale systematic change. One of the things that really hit home was when the authors mentioned "picking the right people" for the right team. As I think back to the PD that I have been a part of and the people that are leading the PD, I can't help but wonder how things might be different. So often, the professional development is led by administrators who are reading a powerpoint that someone else put together for them. If this is the type of team put together to move the district to blended learning it will stall before it ever takes off.

    Like others who have commented before me, I believe this chapter was geared towards administrators. As a classroom teacher, I don't have control over the decisions outside my own classroom. I found the chapter to be both interesting and informative, but not really anything I have much influence over.

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  78. I work in a middle school and we have team teaching. I work with four other people and we all teach the same group of students. It is wonderful to work as a team as long as we work well together. The team I currently work on has each other's backs. We support each other and help each other in any way needed. This is only a recent, in the past, I had worked with a group that was hard to trust. That is the key to working as a team, making sure everyone works together. This is sometimes hard to get that group that can work well together. This idea is also what I see as what can be the problem for a blended classroom. If the group can't function properly, then now matter what you try, it will probably fail. I feel strongly that a good/great teacher can make learning fun as well as educational no matter how they teach it. They can use hands on, lecture, or any other technique. It is because they are passionate about the subject that makes students learn.

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  79. First, I feel this book is written a little backwards. It starts off by explaining how great this strategy is and how to organize it in a school. All of that happens even before the details of how to actually implement it in a classroom and describing what teachers would need to do to turn it into their curriculum. I am hoping for more specifics later.

    Second, once you have some sort of software/ computer resources it seems as though any teacher could make this happen in their classroom. However, that is easier said than done. To completely redo your curriculum would and should take a lot of time. I foresee this best implemented as a team of like-minded and well-coordinated teachers teaching the same subject. For example, if this was started in an elementary school, it would make sense to have one teacher create/manage the math course, another in charge of reading, and a third for science, social studies, etc. To create an entire online course that is any good can take A LOT of time and effort.

    Third, because of the previous observation, “vendors” will likely be utilized to do a lot of the curriculum management. I wonder if the educational-industrial complex has figured this out? Many districts will be outsourcing their online curriculum to companies and removing a good deal of input and control from individual teachers. Is that a good or bad or just inevitable prospect?

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    1. Yes--totally see your point about the vendors. As schools are adopting curriculum programs to use with blended learning, what is the trade-off? Are we losing some of our local control? The curriculum programs could get specific with each state's standards as some of the textbook companies have done.

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    2. I imagine that the online curriculum companies are loving the whole blended learning idea and are gearing up for stiff competition in that area. This is great. Choices are always good to have. The difference, of course, is the online aspect. With traditional texts, the teacher can modify, skip a text, add a text, linger on a text, skim a text, and on and on...making decisions that fit her current classroom. With the online method...the on-the-fly modification and refitting for the situation is lost. I don't like this.

      Even as I teach with a one-to-one (no paper texts), I find that I may be using different texts for the same standard because I fit the group to the text. I may use the very same text in two totally different ways. I may use one text for a standard - once and never return to it because it wasn't exactly what I needed.

      So, yes, I agree that individual teachers and corporations will lost much of the control.

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    3. Yes! This is just one of the things I am concerned about. Vendors will be making the decisions, not the teachers! I read ahead and they describe how the teacher role will significantly change with this concept. I think we really need to ask some difficult questions before jumping in.

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  80. I would see my school forming a heavyweight team to get the ball rolling. Initially we would need them to put the parts together for a new system. We currently have very little going toward blended learning, so it would require a lot of communication and professional development to get the heavyweight team's ideas to resonate with all of the teachers.

    After the new components of the system are in place, I would like to be on a lightweight team that discusses how the different subject areas are able to use blended learning techniques to reach more students. That is one major area of change I foresee as I read this book. As we implement blended learning techniques, I see a need for more collaboration among teachers about best practices. This is a new frontier. We can't really ask teachers, "How did this work 10 years ago?" because very few teachers were doing this 10 years ago. We are all learning together.

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  81. I don’t have any experience with blended learning, but if I were to try it out, I would like to start with sustaining innovations. I find the flexibility of the Flipped Classroom to implement quick changes and allow opportunities for deeper learning through in class projects and activities appealing. Because it’s a classroom level change, a functional team would be enough to make these changes, or a lightweight team could be used to help implement hardware or create videos, if needed.

    Has anyone tried this? I am interested to know what technology, apps or programs were helpful to record videos and how much extra work/time-consuming it was for the teacher to create the videos.

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  82. My school corporation has sent teachers mixed messages about blended learning. When we first went 1:1, there was a concerted effort to push technology, and teachers were encouraged to use the laptops to design lessons. Teachers received opportunities to attend professional development sessions and the SAMR (substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition) model was frequently discussed during faculty meetings. A couple of years ago three teachers in my building were to offer "blended learning" to a handful of students. These courses were to allow students to take specific classes online that wouldn't fit into their schedules, and the corporation described this as blended learning. The class I would teach was Current Events, scheduled for 2nd semester. The other two teachers both taught their online classes 1st semester. By the time 2nd semester rolled around, I was told there wasn't any money left to pay me, so the course was being cancelled. There was so little warning and so little said, I always wondered if something went wrong with the blended learning idea, or if it opened a can of worms with other students expecting to be able to take courses online when they experienced schedule conflicts. This example illustrates the need, I believe, of the lack of proper implementation because we needed a lightweight team troubleshooting and organizing our blended learning.

    Another example would be my corporation's use of eLearning Days. When we first started utilizing eLearning Days, I felt we did a pretty good job of being consistent with them and educating parents and students about the benefits of the eLearning Days. Like so many initiatives we start, they lose steam and I don't feel we are utilizing the eLearning Days as effectively. Teachers try to do what is expected, but our public message has not been as clear, and the placement of our eLearning Days in our school calendar hasn't been consistent, nor our usage of these days. Other issues were more pressing, and without a lightweight or heavyweight team for eLearning Days, our effectiveness, and the popularity of eLearning Days, has diminished. Whether the topic is blended learning, eLearning Days, or another topic, we would benefit if we would form functional, lightweight, heavyweight, and autonomous teams.

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    1. I wonder if low enrollment contributed to these classes being cancelled. We decided to roll our locally developed online courses through summer school. This has allowed many of our teachers to develop the skills necessary to successfully teach online. Now that we've been doing this for a few years I believe we're ready to offer online course work during the traditional school year. I wonder if a small pilot similar to this developed by a lightweight team would have helped sustain the blended learning initiative in your district.

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  83. I managed to plow my way through this chapter in one setting. I tried, I really did, to apply it to my experience, but I failed. In my mind, this chapter needed to be read by my administration, not me.

    As of now, I am the only member of my school reading this book and considering implementing a blended classroom. Therefore, the Functional Level makes the most sense for me. Once I have a tried and true model functioning in my own room, I will have more influence in suggesting the other ELA teachers follow my lead.

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    1. *Pushed the button too soon!

      I wanted to mention this quote on p. 130: One of the most common mistakes is asking classroom teachers to use technology to personalize learning and then expecting them to create a truly transformative learning model on their own.

      This one hit home, as I have a box full of unused technology sitting in my classroom closet. Unless the teacher "buys in" to the technology, it won't be used effectively.

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    2. I agree that this is more of an admin. chapter. Deciding what type of team needs come from the top down vs. the bottom up.

      Being trained on the technology is a must. We also have boxes of technology that was bought but the staff was never trained on it so it is sitting in closets and drawers and not being used. We were promised one thing, but delivered another, so there was not much buy-in, which is always needed so it can be used effectively.

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    3. I also agree with this. One other person from my school is involved in this study. We are both math teachers but as far as what can be done in the near future (the school year that is approaching) I think we will also be looking at the functional level as to what can be implemented in our classroom this year. Once we do that, we can meet with admin to see where to go from there. It may be that this is all we may do: allow each teacher to implement a hybrid of blended learning within their own classroom.

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  84. I believe that the text was making a strong point that HEAVYWEIGHT teams would be mandatory for successfully implementing a blended structure. If online curriculum is to be purchased, those who control funds must be included. Teachers, parents, students, and administrators should be involved in selecting the curriculum - with departments having the final authority to choose for their slice of academia. If some instructional time is to be done at home, parents should be involved. If technology experts are going to be needed, then they should be a part of the process. Custodial staff and kitchen staff may need to be a part of the planning. Will buses need earlier arrival, multiple day trips, extended evening hours? Then include those folks as well.

    But no matter who is doing the talking....without the authority and the autonomy...nothing can happen.

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  85. Similar to the iZone initiative in New York City, I believe that a system-wide change like this will take the organization of multiple teams at various times throughout the process.

    In my district, many innovations originate at the building level and are scaled up to other buildings following some success. Rather than innovations developing from a heavyweight team I could see a lightweight or autonomous team starting this work. After some success, the formation of a heavyweight team could adopt the work of the lightweight team to scale up the innovation to other parts of the system. I see myself supporting the work of the lightweight team with professional development resources or other infrastructure supports. As the innovation was scaled up, I would participate as a member of a heavyweight team to aid in the adoption system-wide.

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  86. I would think that all of these teams would be necessary if a whole school district is moving towards blended learning. We have several teachers that already incorporate blended learning in their classrooms. The Functional Teams seem to be their way to handle blended learning so far. Each department or teacher implements what is best for their classroom. I’m not sure a (mandatory) usage of blended learning throughout the school district would work if teachers, staff, administrators, and these teams are not fully trained on what blended learning is and how to incorporate it into classrooms. It seems to me that my school system always jumps into new ideas with enthusiasm…but after a period of time…that enthusiasm fizzles out and it is pushed aside. If blended learning is incorporated into my district, I hope all of these teams are formed and it’s not just another “fad” that we try to implement.

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  87. I think functional or lightweight teams have the best likelihood of changing third grade at my school in the short term. To get long change across the district,, I think heavyweight teams are needed. WE don't have 1:1 yet, so a heavyweight team would be the best way (having teachers, parents, administrators and support staff make up the team) Our district already has blended learning for non-traditional students. As an IA, I've been the one that has had to implement heavyweight teams decisions where there wasn't really a problem. I think it's important to incorporate all stakeholders so that the "solution" isn't just thrown out without people buying into the solution. Sometimes it feels as if administration comes up with a plan and teachers are to implement (if teachers don't buy into the plan then the IA's are forced to implement with little input into the process.

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  88. Blended learning can take many forms. One goal for us this year is to expand the instructional technology opportunities for our students across the district. We are forming an Instructional Technology Task Force comprised of district admin., building admin., teacher leaders, and passionate techies! We really need to knock down barriers for teachers so they have what they need in order to accomplish this goal. We would like to see the use of our already existing resources, Canvas, Google, Edmentum, better utilized in all classrooms and departments. Not only have we invested monetary resources in these programs, but professional development and long-term contracting. We feel that by empowering those who currently use these resources consistency and with fidelity, the enthusiasm will be contagious. I also need to know what barriers exist so we can ensure successful implementation across the district. I feel that the functional and lightweight teams may be the best approaches for us, although we do have district staff with decision-making power involved. There will be times where the functional team will fit best within classrooms and departments, and lightweight teaming for a more vertical alignment. If anyone has suggestions for me, please share! We have good ideas, but if you lived through a process such as this, I would love some feedback.

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    1. Holly -

      It is great thatyou invested resources, both financially and through PD to help the teachers in your corporation. Empowering your staff in this manner should excite them, make them feel part of the process, and help with successful implementation. The trouble is changes like this scare many people. Especially staff members that have been doing a different way for an extended period of time and if they are intimidated of technology. I have witnesssed the last two corporations I have been in and I don't know what you do about this. You can make part of the process, give them opportunities to be invested in the process, but for some it still will not be enough. You hope that if they experience the benefits of the new policies that will jump on board.

      Nice post!

      Paul Walker

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  89. Lightweight blended learning is done on a regular basis within departments. If myself and other MS College & Career teachers want to discuss curriculum related items within our department that is lightweight blended learning,

    If I want to do a co-groups unit with the ELA or Social Studies teacher about different ways propaganda effects the information we receive on a daily basis that could be considered lightweight blended learning, because members of more than one group are working together.

    Heavyweight blended learning teams are when teachers, building administrators and Central office staff work together to change some part of the educational process. It could be about curriculum, discipline, or attendance policy changes. It is works best when higher level administrators are willing to listen to.ideas from teachers and building related employees. We are fortunate in Elkhart that we have Central office staff and building administrators that willing to listen to ideas from classroom teachers. This creates an environment where everyone is involved.





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  90. I think for my school, a lightweight team would probably be the best. I don't know if it should be department heads, but one or two people from each grade level team that is comfortable with using the technology we have and has tried some of the blended learning techniques in their class already. They can meet, discuss, and then bring those ideas back to the rest of the teaching team. The leader, I could see our district technology PD guy. He is great at guiding us in using different tech already, to put him in this roll would be great.

    My role? Since I am switching positions, I don't think I would want to be a leader within the grade level the first year. Since I have a basic understanding, I would help my teammates, but would not want to be the leader for the first year. After the first year, I would definitely step up and be in that leadership role of helping those who want to learn how to use blending learning in their classrooms.

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  91. In terms of my classroom a functional team is what is needed for me to be able to instill a blended learning model (flipped classroom). My administration would let me have the power to do this in my classroom because it is only directly affecting me and my students and I have them for the entire year. I would also want to work with my department but that is still staying within a functional team. However, if this is to be a school-wide initiative we would have to implement a heavyweight team with many different members making up this team in order to get change. I feel the station rotation model could be very beneficial for our school corporation through remediation. However, I wouldn't be able to do this on my own. It would require a heavyweight team. I think my role on this team would be to a member and seek ideas that fit the corporation as a whole and not just focus on the math department or high school that fits my personal needs.

    I definitely thought this chapter was great for leaders and administrators that want to move toward blended learning. Anyone that wants change, including me, is considered a leader if willing to speak up. I'm excited to share my thoughts with administration and see how we can move forward as a unit towards a blended learning model that will help all students, not just my classroom.

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  92. Chapter four discussed the four different types of teams needed in order to implement blended learning. I feel all four would be needed in order to fully develop blended learning with in a school district. As for my own classroom room a functional team is needed as I move toward blended learning. I have the flexibility to change my classroom in many ways to help facilitate this. I can flip my classroom, create stations, or change the physical set up to work best for my students. This would not affect the way any other class is set up or ran. Our corporation is slowly introducing the blended classroom at this time. The middle school where I teach received chrome books for every student for second semester. The students picked them up at the start of the day and returned them at the end of the day. Just starting this up took some heavyweight blended learning team work. The middle school had to change their daily schedule to allow time at the start and end of each day to allow students time to get and return their chrome books. This is not something that could have been done on a lessor level. I believe that currently our building is using the functional and lightweight teams the most. As for the corporation that is definitely a heavyweight team. Once school was out for the summer for the students our corporation offered a two day workshop on blended learning and implementing it into the classroom. They continue to offer opportunities for us to learn and offer support as we move forward.

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  93. The heavyweight teams are most necessary for moving toward blended learning. Blended learning would be a large change and I think the Superintendent and Principal would be of utmost importance in this move towards blended learning.As I was reading the section on Heavyweight teams it made me very certain that this team would have to be behind blended learning for this to work. I can see this team leading the way with parents and getting them involved and on board. The role I see myself having would be a leader among the staff and helping get this up and running and running well. I still think this would be a major undertaking but it would be worth it for the student learning that this would increase highly. Blended learning is something that would have to start from the top because without their support lots of students would fail and if they are not supporting this the teachers will become the bad guys.

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    1. Agreed! I was excited to see that there was some opportunity for teachers to try some aspects of blended learning in their own classrooms. I am willing to take a risk this year and try it; however, long term will this sustain for overall student success!? Ultimately the disruption needs to come from above, I just hope that it is presented in a way that teachers are receptive to!

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  94. I felt that it was very hard for me to connect to this chapter. I'm a resource teacher so I work with almost every teacher in the building instead of just working with one group. For me I would prefer the functional team so I can work with each contained grade level, since some grade levels tend to work differently that others.

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    1. I am right there with you! Trying to figure out the teams is difficult.

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  95. Creating and orchestrating teams is critical for success--personal learning for each student. The plan must have buy in by all stakeholders. Constant monitoring throughout the implementation must happen for successful outcomes. Teams at all levels must cooperate and collaborate to make the beautiful music. The strategic plan and right people on the right teams are critical,

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  96. Being part of a team is definitely an integral part when implementing blended learning. I really liked the idea of being a part of a functional team. Being a Spanish teacher, I see my subject (Spanish 3) as just one part of the product (which would be learning all levels of the language.) My level is just one step. So therefore, I think it would be beneficial to work with other Spanish 3 teachers. "A functional team works best to make improvements at the component level." We work together all the time to make improvements to "our" course and make sure it is vertically articulated with other levels.
    I do think there is more applicable information for those educators who are on the administrative side of education.

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  97. I am still having trouble viewing true blended learning in the third grade classroom. If anyone can shed some light I would love it. I was a part of a heavyweight team when we were exploring a 1:1 program several years ago. It was a very eclectic team, with people from all divisions and departments. However, it was difficult for people to put their own departments/divisions needs to the side for the good of the project. Honestly, I just don't know if my school is ready to embrace blended learning.

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    1. I do see your point as well! I would love to see how schools with teachers and administrators with so many different points of view were able to be successful in implemented blended learning. If one individual is not on board, is the program still successful?

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    2. I completely agree Erin! As a 5th grade teacher, I can see my school creating functional teams to possibly try something like flipping the classroom, but I don't even know if that would be applicable for the primary kiddos and their teachers. I also think it would be hard to get buy in from our parents. I teach in a fairly affluent district where most of the parents are very supportive of our teachers and our schools. What they don't like though is when we teach their kids all of these new ways to do things. It's not that they're against their child using a different algorithm for division, it's just that they don't understand it and therefore have a hard time helping their kids. This is tough for them, because they feel like their role is to help their kids and succeed and they don't even know where to begin! I think if we attempted to fully embrace blended learning, especially at the elementary level, we would get a lot of flack from parents.

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  98. Finally my question was answered in this chapter on whether it is not only possible but successful to participate in a blended classroom as an individual teacher! But as I have learned that process is possible but would do better if there was a support system surrounding it. At our school, as the largest in Indiana and one that has endured several changes and educational trends, we would need heavyweight teams to guide the vision. However, with as large as a campus as we have we do work best through department centered work and in PLCs; therefore, the lightweight teams would work best as departments and PLCs could best develop ways to implement blended learning to fit their curriculum and students. I do like the heavyweight teams as it creates true collaboration when teams "transcend boundaries" and coordinate efforts like interdisciplinary teams did at the middle school level; supporting the efforts of other classrooms. I think in developing a team framework in such a large school, the challenge would be in creating goals and a level of change that everyone is on board with and which would lead to a more successful implementation. What was great to realize is that our school already has many of the attributes in place for blended learning; blocked schedule, technology, ability to make classroom decisions and try new approaches, learning coaches that could act as lightweight managers and a supportive administrative team. I love the quote of "Spotting kids working at their own pace is like spotting Big Foot". It is definitely a goal we could all work more towards!

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  99. I did not really enjoy this chapter. I love real world examples but found the Toyota examples off topic. I would prefer examples dealing with education settings. It seems to me that it really wouldn't matter which team was used for my school. I think they are all important. My school is so small that usually all the teachers are on the team. We do have some smaller teams for school improvement, field day, awards day, and other similar groups.

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  100. I would agree with the authors that the school or district " will likely need to use several different teams for different purposes at different times (p 129). I would think trying to completly replace the curriculum with an online model at the district wide level would require several different teams of people looking at all of the options available. At the school level I would think a functional team would be very useful for a grade level or department to form within itself. This way that grade level or department could make their changes and not have to worry about other subjects or grades.

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  101. I am on the technology team at my building but I really don't have a lot of input into making the school a blended learning model. I am also a preschool teacher in the building and it would be difficult to do this in my classroom. I think this chapter applied more to administrators instead of teachers. I also know after many years of teaching that some teachers given all the technology and programs would not use them unless they completely bought into this. Many teachers do not like change and there is always so much change that they are directed to do each year without the resources or training to do them effectively. Then when they are comfortable all is changed again.

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  102. I think if my school were to truly focus on developing a model that is completely blended, then we would need to develop an autonomous group. With the way we have been approaching the purchase of new furniture it seems like we are setting ourselves up for a blended environment, but we don’t seem to be making those curricular changes as well. It’s almost as if we’re buying the furniture and hoping it will change the way we teach. While this is likely the team approach that we would need for us to move to a completely blended model, I don’t see my school or corporation doing that in the near future.

    Since our district is thriving and doesn’t seem to need to look for a disruptive innovation at this time though, I would say we would be more likely to form functional teams at my school. In this case, I could work with my teaching partner at my grade level to develop ways in which we could flip the classroom. This would be one way that we could move towards a hybrid model that would allow us to make strides towards better meeting all of our kids’ needs.

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  103. Though this chapter seemed more geared toward administrators, I think as a classroom teacher it is important to look at what would be involved in making the changes that we are proposing. There are certainly some changes that I can make in my own classroom but many would require at least a small team with a specific goal in mind. I think functional teams would be most likely at my school right now.

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    1. I believe that teachers, would want to be involved in the decisions that they are going to be responsible for implementing in their classrooms. I think we need more than one group - one admin, one school, one grade level or subject area.

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  104. As I contemplated this question, I could see the value of using multiple types of teams, but when I looked at it from a teacher's perspective, I would not want an administrator or downtown mandating more changes to how I teach. I think I would feel more overwhelmed if I wasn't prepared for blended learning. I like functional teams since I would have more control. I think making small changes would promote huge changes if teachers had the responsibility to work with their grade level teams to increase blended learning opportunities into their classrooms in stages.I also question if unreasonable mandates or different perspectives would be used for evaluation purposes? What one administrator may see as blended learning, another may view differently. There are a lot of uncertainties as I look ahead at Blended Learning. The evaluation process can be scary if you are trying a disruptive model.

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    1. I agree with how you have set this up. It is just about the way I feel it should be set up. Something of this magnitude needs input from more than one group.

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  105. When I started this chapter, my enthusiasm for blended learning quickly waned. But, when I read that a functional team of one was possible, I was encouraged again. I cannot envision my district making bold moves to change the structure of delivering education. Change moves sloooowly through discussions and committee meetings. In my building, functional teams of one will prevail.

    I thought the second paragraph on page 127 precisely summed up my experience and likewise expectations. Therefore, I will go it alone and attempt to blend as much as I can.

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  106. This chapter was difficult for me to get through. I thought it was more applicable for a school that is ready to begin full-on blended learning, which my school is not. If my school were to consider blended learning in the future, I think a lightweight team may be best. We're currently going 1-to-1, so I think teachers would be open to learning about new things. I think some things would have to be done at a heavyweight level, like ensuring that each elementary school has a tech coordinator on site.

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  107. I hope I have given this question enough thought that my answer means what I want to say.

    In putting together teams, I think that it has to be more than one. I believe that there has to be a corporation team so everyone knows what is going on. This type of team would be a top down. This team would set the guidelines on what is going to happen district-wide, setting the directions for everyone to follow. Those guidelines should be vague enough to allow for others to have a hand in developing the guidelines for their individual buildings. Each level of the district, elementary, middle and high school should have the ability set their own guidelines, as each level of learning is different. For these teams, I believe they are going to be school level, with the principal in charge. This group will have the ability to create groups within each school.

    This seems like a lot of people, but it is what I feel is needed. As superintendent, he/she has overall responsibility for the district. Each building is the responsibility of the principal. Hopefully this structure, working together, getting information from each other, the goals would be meet for the district.

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  108. This chapter overwhelmed me, especially in the beginning, but a plan as elaborate as those described are probably necessary to implement such a change in a school. That being said, the need for such intense planning/committee forming/group effort makes the chance bleak for my district to properly make a change. For my school, the best bet is a functional team, possibly at the level of the individual teacher. We are such a small school that we do not have large departments or well-organized teams, and we are not successful with continuity and commonalities across different curricula, therefore I'm skeptical a school-wide change would be embraced. The decision to change would have to come from an individual teacher, and she would have to be brave to face the opposition from students, colleagues, etc. On a positive note, the hope would be that the teacher who did attempt to change her classroom would be successful and give her fellow teachers the drive and tips to change their classrooms as well.

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    1. Kori,
      Than you for sharing. I am from a small school as well and I found this chapter frustrating just a little bit. I think there are so many great thoughts in this chapter but we don't have individual department heads so all these different teams that were discussed really made me think about how this would work in my school.

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    2. I wonder how other community stakeholders might get involved in some fashion to help you move your work forward?

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  109. We have had all of these types of teams involved at my building for various initiatives. Most recently, our assistant principal formed a functional team including the Special Education Department and myself as the Alternative Program teacher to address the issue of providing more for our at-risk students. She outlined her concerns and met with each of us individually to get our input and present her solution. She then met with us collectively to see how we could work together. Once we all knew we were all on the same page, she organized an in-service day to view a variety of programs we could utilize to strengthen our curriculum and free up the teachers to work with students in smaller groups with intentional instruction. We then selected a program and received training in order for each of us to use it appropriately in our classrooms. The way I utilize the program will look different than the way the Special Education teachers use it, but for the same purpose and outcome! The funding for this of course had to be approved by the Superintendent so perhaps this example could be a lightweight team!!!

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  110. I think a lightweight team is needed before a heavyweight team could move forward. I think that could help with buy in for teachers. I agree that this chapter was a lot to take in-- there are a lot of moving parts going on when moving forward with new initiatives and my biggest concern is always figuring out how to get teacher buy-in so that we can increase student buy-in.

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  111. Our school is a very small Catholic school. We typically have 1 teacher per grade level. We do not have department heads, because each of us is our own leader for our grade, but we work together as a large team to do what is best for our school, students and community. As I read chapter 4 the team that best describes our school would be Functional. When we begin talking about implementing new things that would improve our school we discuss all the different aspects to this change and then each of us begin to brainstorm how that would look in our own classrooms. Since we do not have "teams" we become each others team to work on ways we can implement this new idea.

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  112. I liked that there was mention of the fact that there should be several types of teams represented in order to serve different purposes at different times. While this is something many people realize, I think it is something that is quickly forgotten or that is let fall to the wayside. It's much easier to keep things in check if everyone is expected to do the same thing. I also really liked the section at the end where it spoke about the cost of getting it wrong. When our focus is truly on the right thing and the right intention, hopefully we will focus on getting it right and doing the work to make that happen!

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  113. CTE teachers are hard workers willing to try most anything thrown at them. I envision a group of CTE teachers creating the model for blended learning. Those teachers will mentor the remainder of the group. All this will be under the direction and support of the CTE Director. The work done would be guided by the lightweight blended-learning team.
    I see my role on the team as one who champions the cause – why blended learning, benefits for teachers as well as students, the sales/marketer, and as a visionary. My fellow CTE teachers are extremely talented. Many would be willing to begin the process of using blended learning. The quote on page 125 resonates, “ultimately success comes from not only forming the right type of team but also having the right members on that team.”
    This chapter is an important read to the administrators in a building. If the administration is not on board success will not happen. Teachers need continuous training. Meetings are a great way to provide the training, but my building meetings are held after a long day. Too bad we no longer have ½ days to allow for professional development.

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  114. I really appreciated the way the authors used Toyota to help put the descriptions of each team into context. I found it very helpful in understanding the differences in the blended learning teams. In some ways, I identify with the functional blended learning team. I feel at this time, my teammate and I are working towards improving our reading and, hopefully this year, math station rotations within our individual classrooms and thinking about how to make our RTI time more effective and productive. To accomplish this we have attended multiple professional development sessions, we collaborate on a daily basis, we seek advice and guidance from our colleagues that are ahead of us in this transition, and we are both participating in this book study to further our engagement in the process. At this point, we are not ready to think outside of our own curriculum and classrooms, but I think we may be ready to head in that direction as early as second semester, depending on the circumstances.
    I definitely see that in my corporation, there are multiple types of teams at work. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I think that they have a very realistic vision of this process and they have been been content in moving in a very reasonable and methodical way. From what I see, I see that we take a step forward and evaluate. Take a step forward and evaluate. I think that their creation of their teams has been very thoughtful and effective too. The needs of our secondary buildings are different from the needs of our elementaries. We, the teachers, are also at very different places in terms of our knowledge and level of comfort with blended learning. While being supportive of that, I feel as though they have made it clear that this is the direction we are going. Our resources are abundant and easily accessible to us (the teachers) and I don't see us (the corporation) "getting it wrong."

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  115. I look at establishing the teams in my building to move toward blended learning in two ways 1) supporting the work of individual teachers (functional teams) that are passionate about this work within their own classrooms and can serve as models for others as we role out bigger initiatives and 2) establishing a lightweight team to problem solve how to use blended learning to support the students in my Rally Cry (abundance of unexcused absences and those with parents demanding homework). In the first case I see my role as principal as a support, a sounding board, an encourager, and possibly a resource provider. In the second case I see myself more formally involved in the team especially as it applies to identifying the targeted group of students initially and throughout the year. I was struck by the comment in the summary that Leaders don't necessarily need to know the model they want to employ but the DO NEED TO KNOW the scope of change they hope to achieve in the process. I think so often we lose site of the tree in the forest.

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  116. I also found that this chapter required a bit more thought on my part to understand the various types of teams. The real-world examples really helped with clarification and understanding.
    I think that heavyweight blended learning teams are necessary for my school and district to move toward blended learning. While a many of our teachers do not appreciate directives from “the powers that be”, I believe that this is what it would take for our school to get going on developing implementing blended learning. Of course the administrators should look to the teaching staff for their input. It is imperative to get all involved so that all aspects of the process are looked at. I would hope I am one to be excited about this process, but reality of more work and change makes this excitement fade. The implementation of blended learning should only happen if training for all is available. Many will resist or not try it if it doesn’t suit their teaching style. These people will be the obstacles to this change.

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  117. For my school, I think a heavyweight team would be the best fit for our needs. Last year, we implemented 1:1 technology, using Chromebooks. I loved the idea, but the implementation was quick, and few staff members understood how to use, nor teach our students how to use the Chromebooks appropriately. By the end of the year, the students were teaching the staff how to use the computers, or how not to use the computers for school use. As a special education teacher, in one of the three self-contained classrooms, I see myself and my peers giving information to the special education department head, as to how we struggle to use the chromebooks in our classrooms, and how we best use them with our students. I found this chapter to be a little more heavy material, that required more thinking and note taking on my part.

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  118. We have had Heavyweight teams help us launch 1:1 with iPads. Teachers have been left to mostly independently figure out how to use and utilize the iPads within their own classrooms (with some certain program requirements, like Canvas, Harmony, and RenPlace). Teachers are free to form Functional teams if needed or desired. We do currently use Functional and Lightweight teams as needed. As a special ed teacher, though, I am on the fringe and not always included on these teams. Luckily, our special ed department does have Team meetings monthly, but we have not yet taken on any specific blended learning topics. From reading this book, however, I plan on creating a plan and sharing my ideas with that team to get the ball rolling.

    I did appreciate the real world examples they used in the book to help explain the teams. I'm not sure that I would have been able to make those connections on my own-it did stretch my brain in this chapter. I feel like that the whole teaming and planning/organizing component is usually skimped or overlooked when there are big ideas. We are so excited to get going on the big ideas that we skimp on the planning and organization for the long term (which, I think, is why it seems like many schools jump from one idea to the next so quickly!). It has been helpful to read about the different kinds of teams and how they are structured and used to work through ideas and issues for long term success.

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  119. We all know how hard change is, or can be, for many teachers. We have a large variety of teaching levels, with some just eagerly starting and others who have practiced many different methods of presentation and feel secure with what they finally feel works most effectively. Making the change in how to implement technology definitely fits this. There are younger teachers who have used technology in their own learning and feel ready to face the challenge of teaching their students with both feet running for blended learning. However, you also have in a same building, teachers who are not familiar or comfortable teaching technology, because they don't know how to affectively use it themselves. We have all been in a situation when we have to teach a standard that we are unfamiliar with. It takes a lot of time and practice to feel as though we can teach the material so that it benefits our students. Expecting every teacher to be able to immediately create a blended learning environment is, in my opinion, is an unrealistic expectation. For that reason, to begin with, I feel that a functional group is where our school district needs to start, so teachers at the classroom level have the tools they need to feel comfortable teaching and implementing technology in their lessons. Each grade level team member needs to help one another investigate, practice, and establish guidelines and procedures for conducting lessons involving blended learning. Starting slow will give our more established teachers an opportunity to see how blended learning works and how it will help students in the classroom.
    With that being said, our corporation has also developed a lightweight group that has helped all teachers in the corporation learn about a program that students, teachers, and administrators can all communicate and utilize for lessons, homework, and other essential details needed to begin a blended learning classroom. Teachers in our middle schools and high school are already implementing the Canvas program by using it as the sole communication tool between home and school and student and teacher. Elementary teachers in our district were give a year to get familiar with the program. Training was provided and a team was established for questions and extra "tutoring" so that everyone can learn the program at their own pace. Elementary teachers are now expected to implement Canvas this coming school year.
    I feel, like with any new concept presented, groups in charge of making changes for others need to consider all levels of learning and development. Training needs to be readily available at all times in order for it to be an effective change. People are not going to be willing to take the next step toward blended learning if they do not feel comfortable or if they feel overwhelmed. Leading groups, no matter what type of group, need to take into consideration the some people know nothing about where to start with a new concept. All trainers should begin at the beginning, and allow those who already know the beginning to be trained at their level. Teachers also need differentiation so there is no gap in their learning.

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  120. A disruptive change would be necessary to move the school corporation forward with academic test scores and finance. An autonomous blended-learning teams would be the best option. Them having the ability to break free from the tenacious grasp of the established priorities and start anew in a fresh context as stated in this chapter could very well be the change needed to motivate both students and teachers.
    Some would resist but I like the idea of starting the rally cry as a scare tactic and switching to it to an opportunity. I believe teachers, administrators, and leaders should have a voice in the process. The final decisions would be made by the leaders but I would like to be heard. If ideas are altered that's okay.
    Teachers make changes in their teaching strategies therefore functional teams already exist. Grade level meetings (elementary) could qualify as lightweight teams and perhaps district board meetings are the heavyweight teams. I know I do participate on the first and second team. I can voice an opinion during a meeting of the third teams. Change comes from the top.

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