Monday, July 17, 2017

Blended Week Seven: Design the Virtual and Physical Setup

Chapter 7 contains so much information, ranging from the physical set up of the technology to the way digital content is secured to the architecture of the school building. What thoughts do you have about this chapter? It's been great to see so much discussion between participants. Please continue to ak each other questions and share what you're doing in your classroom or school or what plans you have for the future.

For anyone who might be interested, it looks like registration is still open for the Blended Learning Forum sponsored by MSD of Warren Township this Thursday, July 20th. For more information and to register visit the conference website.

Next week we will read and discuss chapter 8, "Choose the Model."

349 comments:



  1. # 1 Favorite quote: 189 "Too often schools lead with the technology rather than with these (physical) considerations."

    # 2 For our school, leasing has been a better option than purchasing our one-to-one devices.

    # 3 Page 190 I enjoyed the simple example of a table lamp (for architecture) and the connecting point (as the interface). Nothing was really developed for two other critical components: access to electricity AND an electrician when something goes wrong. I think I have said this several times in my entries, but any technology is only as good as the infrastructure that supports it and the technology department/staff that offers service to it. Our county is still primarily using above ground electrical/telephone lines and internet service for many of our students is iffy. At the school's campus, we have a fairly reliable service, but there are a few "dead" spots in the building and there are days when no one can get connected.

    # 4 Page 194 We are a county that Ruby Payne (Generational Poverty Guru) researches and addresses in her many publications. Yes, society has "called on schools to do a better job of ensuring that all students master the skills and abilities they need to escape poverty," but some students from families where generational poverty is alive and well and entrenched in the system and learning to "work" that system is a venue they see as one leading to success. The "working poor," however, of which we have many, includes students who are intrinsically motivated to achieve and elevate the family's role in society. I had one students last year express her goal - not only to be one of only a few in her family who has gone on to university - but to do so without having to borrow any money! I believe that she will succeed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can really relate to your #4. We have done several Ruby Payne workshops for our staff in my county because we have many of the generational poor. We have to instill in them the desire to achieve and show them the ways to make it happen.

      Delete
    2. Your #1 was our introduction to using technology. We will be using iPads-now figure out how you can do this. Terrible beginning.

      Delete
    3. I can relate to #1 and #4 as we had I Pads given to kids just so we could be 1 to 1. Our school district learned that just throwing the kids a device was not going to magically make them successful. Teachers weren't trained well enough, and the monitoring systems were not in place to make them educational tools instead of game devices. Also, our school didn't have the band width to accommodate all the devices. Throughout my years, I know students wanted to better themselves, but they all had different needs. My focus was to teach students with curriculum and technology, not teach curriculum and technology to students. This led to success in my low-income, rural school.

      Delete
    4. I am unfamiliar with Ruby Payne workshops. Did you find them helpful?

      Delete
    5. I highly recommend Ruby Payne's book A Framework for Understanding Poverty. Let me also suggest that teachers check into the Indiana Youth Institute for free PD opportunities. This summer I attended a workshop on poverty that they sponsored. At this workshop attendees were assigned roles of people in poverty and had to pretend to survive on a limited income. There were various stations for essentials such as groceries, childcare, clothing, medical care where we purchased necessary items. We learned that people in poverty are constantly in crisis mode in order to survive. As a result, our students who are poor find it very difficult to focus on classwork when their basic needs have not been met. My school has a 50% free and reduced lunch rate. I often find myself thinking, "Here I am concerned about whether little Johnny can correctly place commas in a sentence when he is just wondering if there will be food for dinner." I think as teachers we need to be more sensitive to what our students are experiencing outside the classroom before we try to take them to the next level.

      Delete
    6. We have had several workshops, and read her books. Leaders in local churches have also used her materials.

      Delete
    7. I connected with 2 of your quotes as well #1 and #4. Schools need to make sure that when are investigating technology for our schools we make sure we know the needs of our school/students/teachers before purchasing so we don't have technology that doesn't meet them.

      I took have worked in a high poverty school for 20 years and making sure students have the skills they need is essential, but there are gaps in other areas as well when other needs are met in their life. When they are worried about where they will sleep, if they are safe, and then to learn how to effectively navigate technology is another skill as teachers we must teach them. Many students are not taught by their parents (not all) how to navigate social media, what is appropriate etc. Schools and corporations need to make sure they have procedures and teach how navigate this world effectively as well as communicate with home

      Delete
    8. I agree with your quotes too. #1 really connected to me. Our school has bought several kinds of computers over the years, and has now settled for Chromebooks. We get started on one computer, then have to change to another and learn how to use that computer. As an educator we are not given the training or the chance to give our input on what we think we should have or use. We have a technology coordinator who decides and chooses.

      Delete
    9. Totally agree with your number 1!!! Seems like too often schools rush into just getting the so
      Called latest and greatest tech without really considering how it is going to be used and if it will actually meet the needs!

      Delete
  2. # 5 Page 196 DIY curriculum I can't image that this would ever really be the most efficient course of action. A few years ago, our school board made a decision not to purchase any more text books in any form - hard-copy or electronic. We were directed to create units that aligned with standards and select free texts (on-line) to accomplish goals.

    I spent HOURS and HOURS creating units! It was so time consuming to do this all myself. Creating lessons, selecting texts, writing assessments that have higher DOK levels, on and on and on. Truth was, experts had already done this for Indiana standards. Why reinvent the wheel? Additionally, some teachers were just not "gifted" at creating units although they are fireballs when giving instruction. Some teachers did not create a single unit! They just didn't do it! (I have no idea if their evaluations addressed this lack of compliance, but I strongly suspect that they did not.) And then, the situation occurs when a teacher spends hours and days and weeks creating units for one grade level/course only to be reassigned to a DIFFERENT course!

    I am not suggesting that any curriculum purchased is always perfect and can serve as is.....everything may need some tweaking or minor adjustments in order to best serve any single classroom/student. But expending time, resources, energy, effort and emotions creating something that is already available - not smart.


    # 6 Page 202 This simple version of the 12 considerations when choosing software was great.

    # 7 Page 204 Chromebooks These are the one to one devices we have used for the past couple of years. Originally we had computer stations in only English classes; then we went one-to-one with traditional laptops; now we have gone on to leasing Chromebooks. We received some professional development for using these devices, but not nearly enough. The "learn as you go" method was good in that often our students became the teachers. It was no so good, however, when teachers had to "figure out" things in their already over-stressed time/work load.

    # 8 Page 206 We are ABSOLUTELY the school architecture described in the insert! The trophy case surely is a part of all Hoosier schools where sports rule! I am not sure the text gave enough emphasis on SAFETY! These days it is not safe for visitors to enter buildings without being properly vetted or "checked in" with the front office. Our building is locked totally and visitors can only enter via intercom request and office approval (unlocking the system). We have had several intense training sessions with the Indiana State Police and other local officials, and being safe is an absolute necessity that should be the first thing considered when changing/designing architecture.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am in a small private school grades k - 12. Almost all of our curriculum is teacher created. When I say that, I mean we find what we like best with in our grade level, what works best for us and for our students. What the teacher next door uses to teach a concept may not be what I use. The only text book that we follow is a math book and we supplement it all of the time.. very freeing.

      Delete
    2. Oh, I only wish I could teach this way again. Now, we are told what to teach when and for how long. We can only use the curriculum bought into and do not stray. I miss the days of freedom. I knew what the students needed and they were successful!

      Delete
  3. This chapter was very long for me. Looking at it as a whole, I think it was trying to illustrate that blended learning has so much more to it than what you're doing in your own classroom. Teachers in my building don't really have too much of a say so in the technology programs we use, we just use whatever is bought for us. However, the programs we use really should be more involved in what we are using in the classroom. As far as the physical set up goes, I cannot image teaching with no walls. However, if the whole way in which we teach changes, it may not be as crazy as it seems. In our school, some teachers are going to try different types of seating this year like tables, couches, and things of that nature. Going from simple changes in seating to no walls just seems almost impossible. I do have to say that at one point in this chapter I read that a specific school had 200 kids in it. The junior high I teach in (7th and 8th), has around 960. That's probably why several things in this book seem impossible. I believe blended learning can be great, it's just a huge process and it's even more difficult with an enormous faculty and student body.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Crimson, as I read the chapter, I too kept having the thought that teachers (in our building too) often don't have too much of a say as far as devices we use or software programs that we implement. We too simply adapt to whatever choices are made for us. Perhaps reading a book such as this will allow us to be a bit more of a voice? At least it could allow us the ability to reference ideas that we could present to the administration? I also could not imagine a classroom without walls. We don't see this in colleges either. But seeing bigger companies move from cubicle-type work spaces to the more open concepts (like Google and Apple have), perhaps it will trickle down to the colleges and high schools. I do remember having this type of layout in elementary school, where four classes of one grade each had their corner in one huge room. We still had our "areas" though. I agree that blended learning can be great...there is just so much to think about, adapt and integrate!

      Delete
    2. I completely agree! This was a super long chapter and I agree about the walls! I have taught in a room with no walls and I have to say I would much rather have my own room but have the freedom to change it to fit my students' needs.

      Delete
    3. I have been in schools where walls were removed and walls were rebuilt and walls were removed and walls were rebuilt. Many of the structures change, but the effective teacher remains a constant need.

      Delete
    4. Agreed. We were using 10 year old computers!

      No physical walls (unless I misunderstood) is a huge security risk. In case of bad people in the school - and hey after Sandy Hook who had locked doors and locked windows and buzzers - clearly bad people WILL find their way into a school, we need to be vigilant to keep everyone inside of a school building safe. There should be walls between classrooms just from a safety standpoint.

      Delete
    5. Agreed! I can see flexible seating arrangements but I just cAnt see taking away the walls!! I know how distracted I get by others... I can only imagine how distracting it would be to have no separation at all!

      Delete
    6. I feel exactly as everyone else does on the subject of "walls". It wasn't long ago, New schools in our community had few walls. Now they are rebuilding them. I like having my own room and changing the seating as I see fit.

      Delete
  4. This chapter was very long for me. Looking at it as a whole, I think it was trying to illustrate that blended learning has so much more to it than what you're doing in your own classroom. Teachers in my building don't really have too much of a say so in the technology programs we use, we just use whatever is bought for us. However, the programs we use really should be more involved in what we are using in the classroom. As far as the physical set up goes, I cannot image teaching with no walls. However, if the whole way in which we teach changes, it may not be as crazy as it seems. In our school, some teachers are going to try different types of seating this year like tables, couches, and things of that nature. Going from simple changes in seating to no walls just seems almost impossible. I do have to say that at one point in this chapter I read that a specific school had 200 kids in it. The junior high I teach in (7th and 8th), has around 960. That's probably why several things in this book seem impossible. I believe blended learning can be great, it's just a huge process and it's even more difficult with an enormous faculty and student body.

    ReplyDelete
  5. We started with the technology in our rush to get on board and "catch up." As our first year progressed, it became obvious that our instruction did not change, just our delivery. I can't imagine we will ever be able to DIY. Our staff is bare bones with little time to take on the work to develop our own. We will look at outside providers to try to customize to our needs. Our technology structure is is excellent, that is not a problem.
    I see some big challenges with the physical set up. The description of traditional school architecture of page 206, is an embarrassingly accurate description of my school set up. The best start for us , as suggested, will be Station rotations and Flipped Classrooms.
    The physical setting is just one challenge. As I delve deeper into the blended learning possibilities, I am a bit overwhelmed at what needs to happen to make it a reality. There are so many challenges. I am trying to imagine what I can do now to come closer to being blended, without being scared away by the enormity of an immediate transformation.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Chapter 7 had a lot of great teaching strategies! I really liked the idea for grouping students on each side of the classroom and then allowing them to work on a problem and share answers and how they got them. The idea of learning from each other in this setting was very appealing. I plan to use it this year whIle teaching math I think it would be beneficial for students and get them more actively involved. I can't wait to try it out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I liked the idea of grouping students to learn as well. Kids can learn a lot from each other and sometimes I think it is easier for them to relate to each other than what I may teach sometimes.

      Delete
    2. Reading your response about kids learning from one another made me think about a program they are doing at my son's school. They call it "excel" and they homogeneously group the top 25 kids across the district together. I often wonder if this is a benefit or does it hinder kiddos. I believe that it is super important for kids to learn for all children and should be integrated. I know that this may be off topic...but gave me some food for thought.

      Delete
    3. I have found that peer groups can sometimes be a better teacher for certain concepts than I can. I can lead them to the material, but the students are often very good as a group in achieving the desired outcome.

      Delete
    4. I also liked this grouping technique, too. I teach a 2nd grade blended high ability group, and it's amazing how much of help those kids are to others. (Side note: I found that h/a kiddos do get easily frustrated when working with special ed kids, since they are so use to click click click on their device and tend to be speedy with things.)

      Delete
    5. I agree that this grouping technique is great. Kids learn so much from each other and enjoy learning more with peers.

      Delete
  7. Our school is on the chromebook side of things. Google really has a lot of items out there to use that are for the most part very user friendly. I utilize Google Classroom to assign items, upload class powerpoints, and make general announcements. The biggest thing that I am finding now is that not all of the technology programs are made available to the untested subjects. I don't know what thinking is for this, but I find that it leaves me scouring the internet for some hopefully semi decent program or activities that are free. It's really like playing the lottery and hoping for the best. I did appreciate that in this chapter it was stressed that we need to figure out our plan before we just willy nilly jump into the technology side of blended. I agree that we need to change up our school setting and allow kids to learn in different areas beyond my windowless classroom. As I am working on my own personal shift into blended I have many things to take into consideration as I start making my plan. I'm excited to see how this will go!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our school will begin using chromebooks this year. I have never used one before. What is the size/dimensions? We won't be getting storage carts, so how do your students store their device when it is not being used? I'm trying to figure out how I want to organize an area in my room based on the size of the device. I don't want them storing them in their desk and I'm afraid they are going to break easily if I don't have a proper place for them.

      Delete
    2. Sizes vary, but even one with a huge screen would be no more than 13 X 11. Of course, they are all less than an inch thin. Without a storage rack (most schools purchase a cart that rolls. It features slots for storing each Chromebook. Each slot has numbers that align to the students who uses that particular book. The cart comes wires for charging while not in use), you can just stack them and if you have 30 or fewer it won't take much space.
      You can purchase protective sleeves, but that could be pricey. I suggest (depending upon the age of your students) that you buy cheapo hand towels (on EBay you can order about 24 for $12.00 from Georgia Towels). Have the students (or someone with a sewing machine) hand-stitch the sides and they just slide the device in for stacking/storing.
      At our school, the students take the devices home. They are provided with a basic (kind of ugly) black case. Many students will purchase their own "fashion" cases.
      A CHARGING STATION will be needed. Chromebooks usually hold a charge for the entire school day, but will have to be charged overnight. It usually takes only an hour to charge to full power, but that would vary based on your model. You will need to purchase several really, really good power strips so that many devices may be charged at the same time. (Each device comes with its own power cord.) I set up a station in my room for those students who do not wish to take home the device or for those emergency - during lunch - charges. It is fun to laminate pictures of POWER CHARGE icons at that center/station.
      They do break, of course. But I have dropped my own device flat to the ground several times with no damage. Typically the most frequent damage I see if where students have spilled liquids on the keyboard or stepped on the screen.
      Hope this helps.

      Delete
    3. Thank you Krisanne for all of the information. Very helpful!! I will need to check with our tech department about what we will be getting. I'm pretty sure we aren't getting a storage cart though or charging equipment. I better start looking around. Thanks again!

      Delete
    4. Our students get the school issued soft black carrying cases (Grade 5-8 building). We spend a good portion of the beginning of the year in grade 5 working on proper chromebook etiquette, and we review that at the start of the year in grades 6-8. Students place the chromebooks on the trays underneath desks or on the top of their desks/tables. Students are required to charge at night, but we all have a few power strips in our rooms for those that lose charge or were not charged. We collect chromebooks before breaks to cut down on broken chromebooks.

      Delete
    5. I have a colored drawer cart that I use as a charging station for the Chromebooks in my classroom. The chargers stay in the drawers so students can just plug them in as they need charged.

      Delete
  8. This chapter gave good information and a lot to consider as I prepare for this new school year. Our school is going to the use of chromebooks this year as we move 1:1. I have learned a lot about Google Drive, docs, sheets, and google slides. I have enjoyed learning how to use these tools. I love how I can access them away from school when most of the documents I use are saved on my drive at school that can be hard to access at times unless being saved to a flash drive. Our teachers also have Lenovo computers. I'm anxious to see how I will be using both devices. We did have a few Ipads in our room before, and I'm not sure now what the district will be doing with all of those since now we are using chromebooks and Apple is different. I'm hoping as a teacher that we get our devices soon because I would like to be familiar with them before the year begins in less than a month. Yikes! I still feel there are many unknowns about this year, but I know it will take a lot of learning/patience. My hope is that the chromebooks have been researched enough and will be a good type of device to use and give us good resources to use for our students. It is good to read that they are popular device to use in schools. I see pros and cons with this type of device. We don't have much say in what is selected for us in regards to technology. I do agree that we have to change our school setting in order to allow kids to learn in different areas/ways. The staff at my school will have to work together to share ideas. I have a lot to learn and consider as we move in this direction as a school/district.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kelly,
      I think its great that your school is going to 1:1 with the chromebooks. Hopefully they have a lot of professional development so that each teacher feels comfortable using the new technology in their classroom. I agree that the staff at your school will have to collaborate to utilize the technology to the highest degree. Has your school planned a certain time of day for teachers to work together and share ideas concerning curriculum and technology? I know some schools designate part of each teachers prep time to be spent in collaborative groups for just such a purpose. Just wondering if that has already been implemented at your school and if so how it works? Good luck with the 1:1 setup this year!

      Delete
    2. Tricia- We have had some trainings, but I was hoping to have the device over the summer to practice. We haven't received our devices yet, so it is making me nervous getting them when the students will be getting them right now. We do have an assigned collaboration time after school one day that can be used to work on technology or whatever we want to work on. I'm hoping we can get more practice and training throughout the year though. This year will just be getting familiar with our devices and how to implement some things in the classroom. Thanks!

      Delete
    3. I went through the 1:1 last year with middle school with the laptops. I suspect we are in the same school district Kelly. :) My biggest suggestion is to rely on what you know to be good teaching practices and then to incorporate the technology in ways that enhance and improve lessons. I also suggest that you plan longer than you think it will take at first. I found with my 6th graders, they came with a wide range of capability. Organization is huge with google. The nice thing is that the items save automatically. The hard thing is that they may not have names and students will have trouble finding their items. I also want to encourage you to "use" each other in your building. If you do something really cool, send out an email explaining the way the technology worked. I don't thinking it's bragging and it can serve as a springboard for other teachers. Hopefully then, others will also share their ideas. Finally, take heart if it bombs sometimes. These are great times to show the students how to move past failure. Good luck. I hope you get your devices soon too.

      Delete
  9. I really liked the list of things to consider when purchasing software. These are extremely helpful. While our principal is in charge of making the decisions on what to purchase, all of the teachers have a say in what we get. She knows that we are the ones who have to work with the programs and what will suit our students' needs. We discuss as a group all possibilities. Some of the teachers have even introduced the rest of us to new programs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel other teachers are our best options in finding software to help. Trial and error sometimes is expensive, but gleaning from others is less time consuming.

      Delete
  10. This chapter should be entitiled, “Investing Time and/or Money”. There is a huge time investment to create the curriculum in the integrated approach. There is a huge time investment to curate and coordinate the curriculum in the modular approach. Offering the 12 Considerations of choosing software, Horn and Staker acknowledge the complexity of this, yet in most school districts all of these considerations are put through the price filter first. If the cost is prohibitive, then we must make our own or seek only what is free or pirated. I am very grateful that in two of the departments in which I teach, there has been some provision of quality online programming at an affordable cost. In both cases, students are sent a message that our school district is attempting to offer up-to-date and flexible curriculum models. However, if the programming were costly which is the case with some of the programs on the list at the end of the chapter, i would have no provision of any programming at all, and I would be left to make or cobble my own which is the case in other departments. Some programs such as IXL which I used for e-learning days a few years ago has ceased being free for its optimum use and now is quite costly, leaving one to wonder how long any program will remain free.

    In additional cost concerns: according to Horn and Staker’s concept of a blended educational environment, schools’ structural designs should be open to accommodate blended learning. However, the costs are great to convert a segmented building with classrooms, and the price of constructing a new one would likely be more. This is where I take issue with the theory that if there are hallways and lockers, then there must be a lag in effort to modernize instruction (pp. 205-206). Our buildings are out of date by the standards of Horn and Staker, yet redesigning is irresponsible to accommodate instruction only. I would like to see a chapter on how Horn and Staker would repurpose all of refuse building materials that are presently dividing the nation’s buildings into classrooms in order to be ecologically and fiscally responsible when discarding these. They do acknowledge that the appropriate time to change the layout is when a new school needs to be built; however, if quality materials were used in the first place, this might be a century apart from the original construction.

    I am very proud of what so many of my colleagues and I have accomplished in our five years being 1:1. Six or seven years ago, I would not have recognized more than a couple of programs on the Appendix 7.1 Snapshot of Online Content. Anyone who is participating in this summer book blog, whether in a 1:1 school or not, novice or accomplished, is to be commended for considering the concepts presented here, another feature that would not have made its way into my summer six years ago. I appreciate a wide range of perspectives; so, I am torn between progress and the price of progress. I regard highly the ability to use discernment when presented with some theories that are too costly to be practical in some locations.
    Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is. -Ernest Hemingway

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also have some concerns with the cost of integrating blended learning! Technology changes so fast which was noted in this chapter so teams in each school district need to pick the best technology that will fit all students for possibly a few years depending on funding.

      I agree with you that teachers need to think about what they can do with what they have! Teachers will need to continue to be creative in their lessons integrating technology along with their design of their classrooms.

      Delete
    2. I love your Hemmingway quote. That is exactly where I am at. I teach at a Christian School which is in a church. Being that the church is the owner of the building, we can only change so much. There were great ideas in here that would be truly amazing if we had an endless budget or were building a new building.

      Delete
    3. I was also excited to see how many programs from the list on Appendix 7.1 that I have become familiar with and have utilized in the classroom. We have only been 1:1 for one year at the elementary and I am happy to say that I was using several of those programs prior to this when all we had was a computer lab setting once per week. Our school is making progress with the 1:1 initiative.

      Delete
  11. Chapter 7 Design the Virtual and Physical Setup
    Introducing the four different types of online-content strategy was interesting. I like combined multiple providers strategy. This strategy allows for a variety of pathways for each student. This strategy will maximize customization for each student. Schools must look at their computer operating systems and then determine what online-content strategy to choose --build your own, use one outside provider, combine multiple providers, or use a facilitated network.
    I thought it was interesting to learn the five top learning management systems vendors are Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Instructure, Moodle, and Sakai. My school got rid of Moodle last April. The learning management system I use is Canvas. Canvas is user friendly. Students don't seem to have any problems using the system.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Laura... I was wondering if Canvas is new enough that it wasn't evaluated for the book. (I'm also a CCS teacher)

      Delete
    2. We currently use CANVAS also. I agree it is very user friendly. Students and staff seem to be able to use it pretty fool proof. I just hope it stays around for more than 3-5 years. We have gone through moodle, ny big campus, and now CANVAS.

      Delete
    3. We just went 1:1 last school year, and we also use Canvas corporation wide. Our middle and high school teachers love Canvas.... elementary, not so much. I am actually going in this week to work with our technology coach on Canvas, because I don't feel I use it with my 2nd graders enough. It's not very little-kid friendly in my opinion.

      Delete
    4. We are heading toward using Canvasas, too.. It seems that as has already been stated that our middle school and high school teachers like it, but the lower the grade taught it's not as used. I definitely feel inadequate, but I need to figure it out because our corporatio's 3rd grade teachers are working together to load spelling for the year. I definitely dislike feeling inadequate!

      Delete
    5. We have used Canvas now for about 2 years... and I love it as a high school teacher, but even it has some flaws. I have made many ASL tests on it, and I wanted to go back and use it for a final. It has a file for the saved videos you have put up, but doesn't tell you what it is. So you have to sort through many pics, which means many hours.
      It is nice for the students to be able to comment and to send you reports and things.

      Delete
  12. I am relieved to finally discover a chapter that doesn't infuriate me! Their statement, "Too often schools lead with the technology rather than with [problems, goals, teams, and student and teacher issues]," rang true to me (189). Our school district has been one of the last to join the technology melee that has been happening throughout the state. Many have asked what's wrong with us for taking our time. We have yet to go one-to-one. Through committees of teachers, administrators, community members, etc., we have studied what our district needs before throwing technology to the wind and hoping it goes somewhere. Just recently, we have added Chromebooks, iPads, and HP 360s to our resources. They are on carts and accessible by anyone in the building. This way we are not limited to the confines of Apple products or stuck with the unpredictability of PC devices. It also leave a lot of flexibility and respect for teacher choices. I can determine what will work best for my students and when. Students have access to devices in many different ways and our scheduled Student Resource Time allows them class time to use them with teacher support.

    I also liked the idea of changing the look and feel of my traditional classroom. This can be difficult when I only have desks and need 30+ within my space. There is only one spot in my room where the teacher's desk can be reasonably situated. I am still trying to be creative and think of a way to utilize the space more effectively.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel like you wrote my reply for me :) Several buildings in my district are a one to one and we do have technology accessible for teachers and students, but no scheduled Student Resource time. In my building specifically, we have some committees of teachers, but there are several that insist upon doing their own thing and leading with the technology, not necessarily with goals driven by standards and/or student needs. This has become quite frustrating for myself and other people on the staff. Some are using the technology appropriately while others are just using it and it serves no purpose. I also have a classroom where the teacher desk is only able to be in one spot due to technology hook up, and it just happens to be the most challenging place for it to be. I'm constantly changing things around in my classroom for students to be able to work in the best way appropriate for themselves and for the tasks at hand.

      Delete
    2. @Kim Johnson: I have written a reply to your post below.

      Delete
    3. This too is a problem for us. When the computers were put in at our school, they decided where to put them. Some of them are not in a place where we can move to make better space for our students.

      Delete
  13. This chapter gave me a lot to consider as we move into this coming school year. We will be 1:1 with Chromebooks in the fall. We have yet to receive our devices though, which makes me a little nervous! It is comforting to have read that Chromebooks are becoming so popular among devices in schools. As I began to put my classroom back together last week, I thought a lot about how to ensure that I will be allowing my students to learn in a different way than my students have in the past. Some of the things that I changed include eliminating my teacher desk and creating more flexible space for seating beyond the kids tables. These are just the changes that I have made so far. I think there are many other things that I can do as far as structuring our physical space. I have learned a lot so far in regards to our new technologies but I still have a lot to learn. It is going to be so crucial that our staff works together in this and keeps a positive attitude. I really appreciated the ideas that this chapter presented and I think they are going to be beneficial to all our teachers as we move forward in shaping our classrooms in a way that allows kids to learn differently that they ever have before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love flexible spacing - I think that there is so much you can do when not encumberd by desks in rows... that being said, it is always a challenge - albeit a worthwhile one, to help students to learn how to function in a flexible space. I know that the beginning of each school year, it takes us quite awhile to learn to actually WORK when we get the opportunity to sit on a couch - or on the floor - or with a group!
      We are 1:1 with Chromebooks as well. I use flexible space but I insist that computers are on table tops. This is so that they are relatively safe and so that I can easily monitor what is going on!
      Good luck with the new classroom design!

      Delete
    2. I have also been thinking about seating arrangements and the overall feel of my classroom. I have never been a fan of putting desks in rows, and I have found much more success with grouping students. I like the flexibility this provides. I just arranged my seats in the classroom last week. They are grouped by the days of the week so that I can assign things in this fashion or call a group for an activity or sharing using the day of the week. I am trying to come up with something that each day of the week showcases in the classroom. Still thinking....

      Delete
    3. Our high school is going 1:1 this year. At the middle school we have a year to think about what we are going to do, I believe that I am actually looking forward to the changes that are coming. I have taught on-line before and have had some training in how to set up a course. I will be able to utilize my training from the college in setting up my class.

      Delete
    4. I love your positive attitude towards your new class room set-up. :) How did you eliminate your teacher desk? Do teachers have desktop computers? I love the idea of tables of students. I also feel that I have learned alot, but have so much more to go.

      Delete
  14. I am glad this chapter served its purpose: you probably have one of the best view points, coming from a school district that has truly studied the layout of implementing technology. As costly as technology is for both schools and for families, you have made many good points about making a transition with a plan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ Kim Johnson: I actually meant this as a reply to you rather than a new post.

      Delete
  15. After reading chapter 7, a sentence on the first page stands out to me. The authors state on page 189, "The rate of technological change in the past several decades has been breathtaking." This just emphasizes to me how drastically technology has changed in our lives over the years. This technology change creates a huge challenge for educators! I agree with the authors that it has been important when looking at blended learning to read and think about goals, teams, student and teacher experience, and problems before technology and devices.

    The authors identify the differences between interdependent architecture and modular architecture by using a chart. Again, I agree with the authors in that there is not "one pure" architecture necessarily in a school. Teams do play a significant role in each school! It is essential to discuss and look at what the needs are in a school. It does seem that students are motivated more by having choices, flexibility, and opportunities while in the classroom. This makes sense as most of us are motivated with choices. There are a few questions that come to my mind once again after reading about making changes to integrate blended learning...

    Will my school district be able to continue to afford technology needed to make more opportunities of personalized learning for students?

    Will my school district have the flexibility to adjust to students' needs while integrating blended learning?

    Will the technology that is chosen continue to be a good fit for all students?

    **Working as a team in deciding what would be best for students is key to a successful learning environment. I do like the twelve considerations when choosing software that the authors listed in the book on page 202-203. This list can be a helpful resource to any team. I believe our school will have to choose technology based on what would be a good fit for students but would also have to look at cost of the technology. As far as our school changing design to an open architecture, I just do not see us taking down walls, purchasing new furniture with wheels, and using folding tables and chairs at this time. However, I do see teachers being flexible in trying to make adjustments to their classrooms with the furniture that is already in their classrooms. Teachers are already creative when planning lessons so why not add the idea of changing the design of the classroom!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow! This chapter provided so much information and ways to look at how to create a blended learning environment. So many choices, lots to take into account, and so many ways to launch it.

    I know teaching preschool that it seems hard to wrap my head around how this program would work for us...but seeing a change in our standard school systems k-12 I feel like is a must. I really liked on p. 194 when the author standard schools ..."although designed to ensure reliability and performance, result in the exclusion of flexibility and customization." I think that customizing learning will help those "stragglers" find a better way to learn. As the author continued to talk about passing one grade level before moving on to the next...I can see how this hinders many...it hinders the higher level kiddos with providing a barrier to move up and the lower kiddos who may struggle with certain subject areas.
    I really like the al a carte idea. I agree with the need of choice and flexibility!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WOW! was right. I was a little overwhelmed. I also am having a hard time wrapping my head around how this program would work in my building. It is so far removed from what we are doing now. I love the thought of creating buildings for blended learning- open spaces with technology rooms where the teachers are the facilitators. I am very excited for the changes that are happening now in some schools. I would love to visit one to experience it first hand.

      Delete
  17. I have started noticing teachers changing the physical set up of their classroom. One teacher requested tables instead of desks in her classroom and has informal sitting areas. She also does not really have a front to her classroom. She is very creative and thinks out of the box. I am not real sure that we have a lot of flexibility in class set up-with furniture unless teachers pay for it out of their pocket (like they do many other things).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's very common at my school to walk down the hall and look into classrooms and see a variety of desk set-ups (high school level). I often have mine switched to pods of 4's or 5's for collaboration. Everyday my mentor class gets their desks into a large circle so we can all face each other. However, as you stated, it's still desks/chairs...
      I haven't gone out and bought my own classroom tables/furniture!

      Delete
    2. You can see a lot of different setups of classrooms at our school also (K-5). Some use rectangular tables, some have round tables, some have wedge tables, and some have desks. They are set up in all kinds of configurations. This summer all beanbags and futons, sofas had to be removed per fire marshall. This has caused issues for some teachers, particularly our reading teachers who had more flexible seating.

      Delete
    3. You don't see that creativity in most rooms- but isn't that the room you'd want to be in if you were the students? I know I love seeing different setups in classrooms- I don't see that very often. We need to almost start new to get out of the traditional school habits and design. Unfortunately, unless it's written in a grant- it comes out of the teacher's pockets. I know Donors Choose is a great resource.

      Delete
  18. I appreciate that this chapter offered practical programs to explore. As I was reading and came upon the list on p. 201, I stopped and researched a few of the programs to see if any offered valuable options for my classroom. Of course, as with anything in education, implementing these comes down to cost. For example, one I researched had a $4.99 per download price tag. Even such a small amount adds up when you are talking hundreds of students. I do like that I am reading this book in the summer without the whirlwind of planning and assessing surrounding me. This gives me time to explore options.

    At our school, we have also mostly done away with textbooks, so teachers are more responsible for creating our own curriculum. Most teachers are using a mixed approach, creating some themselves and searching for others already done online. Of course each of those takes time, so I feel like we are in the "growing pains" part of technology implementation. I believe eventually more will become readily accessible online, so teachers will be able to share more content. That will free up teacher time for what is important. There is no "one size fits all" approach, so teachers must remain flexible and constantly look for new ideas. I have found some success in creating videos on the ExplainEverything app, and I would like to do more this year. Perhaps over time, I can build a library that will be most useful in my classroom.

    I would also like to create more stations in my classroom, but space might be an issue. I doubt my principal would be happy if I showed up in a few weeks with a sledgehammer, ready to expand to the next room.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I placed a huge star by the sentence on page 189, "The rate of technological change in the past several decades has been breathtaking." I agree with this and the following statement that it adds to the challenge of integrating software into schools. What do you chose? What is the best? What will still be relevant 6 years later (the duration of textbook/curriculum adoptions)? I notice that some of the information in Chapter 7 states pros/cons of different systems, but then I also reminded myself that the book was copyrighted in 2015--some of the data from studies in 2011--that's 6 years ago. Have these systems with limitations been improved or changed so that problems are rectified? Have those that weren't compatible now become compatible? Just some questions that I was thinking while I was reading...

    I have to be honest...as I progressed through chapter 7, it got more and more technical on computers and systems and what goes with what... I got lost! It was a bit too much for me. Selecting computer systems is not the committee that I would volunteer to be on (I'd be back in chapter 6 with the mentors:) ) For my classroom, I prefer to find lessons and activities online that supplement my topics. I piece together (build my own so to speak) the technology that I use. I like having this flexibility because I teach a single semester course and every minute is precious. I also like to switch around the order of topics for 2nd semester to try and keep things more interesting after spring break for my seniors (try to increase engagement). It would be hard to stick to a set program that leads students through lesson by lesson without being able to make my own personal adjustments.

    As a side note, I remember a school that I had some observation hours in (in college) that had the "no wall" set-up. It was awful! The rooms were loud and distracting! I noticed the children (middle schoolers) looking at what the other room was doing anytime there was movement or laughter/louder noises. They had these little partial bulletin board type "fake walls" set up mid-way in the room, but they were worthless. I remember thinking that I'd hate teaching in a room like that--that was years ago. Now, I can't imagine keeping kids attention in a set-up like that and smart phones combined! Yikes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was thinking the same thing about the "no wall" setup. I have heard colleagues of mine tell horror stories about this very concept over 30 years ago when they were teaching like this in an old building. I guess the pendulum continues to swing back and forth and it looks like this concept is coming at us again.

      Delete
  20. Great chapter with lots of good ideas! I use flexible spacing in my classroom and the hardest part of it is helping the students learn how to function when they are presented with choices as far as working spaces! Once we get it all figured out, it is great! The kids that find that they learn best alone can sequester themselves into a space and those who find that they learn better collaborating, can find a space to work.
    I keep laptops on tables so that they are "safe" and so that I can see what is happening.
    I like the station concept in my classroom. I also create work plans for students so that they have choice as to what work they do when - and the stations are a part of those choices.
    Technology helps to keep things fresh and engaging.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This chapter dealt with a lot of stuff that is out of my control as a teacher. I have no control over what technology or software we use as a whole school. It seems that designing programs for blended learning would take quite a bit of start-up expense and a lot of time to put together and implement. I became involved in this blog to see what I could do in my classroom and I have gleaned some good ideas. I guess my thinking is starting small scale in my own classroom. I already use Station Rotation but have learned some new ideas to incorporate to make learning more differentiated and to improve on what I'm already doing.

    As far as the four strategies in this chapter for integrating software, I would prefer, at least to begin with, to use one provider. It seems to me that using multiple providers can get confusing. I think again that all these strategies would take lots of time and money.

    I also cannot knock out the walls of my classroom but I can arrange my classroom to be more conducive to blended learning or at least a hybrid of blended learning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with your comment that you feel that as a teacher this stuff is out of our control. The administration and school board has to determine what they can afford involving technology, buildings, etc.

      Delete
    2. I agree also. It points back to a previous chapter where administration has to take the lead and provide the tools (technology) for teachers. This is something that a teacher may request, but the decisions on such things don't come from teachers.

      Delete
  22. The one thing that kept coming to mind as I read this chapter was how much does this all cost. We were one of the last districts to go 1:1 in our area last year with 6-12 students each receiving a laptop. Our district did spend time on what our K-5 students would have as far as technology and I know there were many meetings about what to pick since this year they will be 1:1. After reading this chapter, I can see why they went with Chromebooks for the younger students.

    I loved table 7.2 with the description of the math teacher from Ohio who removed the desks in his room and covered the walls with Plexiglas boards. I really think the custodial staff at my school would look at me crazy if I asked to do this. However, I have spent some time trying to reorganize my room to make it more open and allowing students this year to work in groups. This was harder than I thought with 30 desks in my room along with my desk that has to be in a certain spot and can't be moved. What I would really like to do is move my classroom to the room right next door to my science lab and ask for the wall to be removed so my kids could float between a classroom and lab (I could only wish on this one!)

    I spent some time looking at the programs in figure 7.3 and appendix 7.1. Many come at a price but there were a few that were free. I did recognize IXL math from some of my students RTI's however I feel many programs my district has are at the elementary level. I need to do some research on what programs the middle school has available to them. I still feel that a flipped classroom or rotation model would work best in my building.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Plexiglass stood out to me too. The teacher I replaced painted the top half of the cabinets (a full wall) with chalkboard paint, and that offers a lot of workspace. I've been researching dry-erase vinyl as an option for the bottom half. With a Promethean board mounted in the middle of my non-magnetic dry erase board, I'll take all the options I can find.

      Delete
  23. There was a lot to take in with this chapter. Most of the decisions do not come within my circle of control. I do agree those in power purchase software licenses and web based services before assessing the problem, goal, teams, student , and teacher experiences. What would work best for all (the school district) is not a question I am able to answer. Autonomous blended -learning teams would be better suited to make the decision addressed in this chapter.
    The twelve other considerations (p. 202) when choosing software is very relevant. Price would be an important concern for my school corporation. Most existing inventory is not being used. Each of the twelve considerations should be examined with #3 price being the last.
    Open architecture promotes academic and social interaction. Ridge Middle School is a model I could implement. Students learn from their peers. Working in small groups gives them the opportunity to share ideas and gain motivation. Boards used as scrap paper provides the teacher with a window into their thought process. Most schools have moved away from students showing their work in a group setting. Students gain positive reinforcement when they show what they know.

    ReplyDelete
  24. There was so much in this chapter. The space in our school is very fixed so there is not much to be changed there on a building level. In my class, I am working on some flexible seating and work areas. As far as online content, I am wondering if anyone has a low cost way of DIY instruction. I know that the budget for online programs will be limited and it seems that more and more quality programs, such as IXL, are provided only with a high price tag.
    On the purchasing end, I thought the 12 points were very good and worthy of being shared with administration. A lot of people made comments about price being the first filter but, hopefully, we can use them to compare the options in our price range.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I was very thankful for this chapter and a conference I went to last week. My school has carts of both IPADs and Chromebooks. It's almost like we can't decide so we get some of it all. As an IA I was shown how to open each one but that's about it. I thinks changing the brick and mortar of a school would be difficult in my district simply due to money.

    I appreciate the chart on page 202-203 about what to consider when choosing software. As I said before, we have both IPADS and Chromebooks so our options are enormous and overwhelming. I would rather let elementary teachers have control over which software best meets the needs of their students in their specific classroom any given year. I know some services are free, but for those that don't I'm concerned the teachers will have to lobby for certain software that may only be needed for one year. The Appendix 7.1 is a great place to start in the search for what short list of what is available.

    I can see how using one outside provider for high school classes makes sense for courses that the high school isn't offering.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I helped supervise the credit recovery program for my last school, and having one vendor made it much simpler to keep track of each student's progress. The school had purchased a set of courses that could be used for supplemental or remedial learning.

      There was a noticeable difference between subjects as far as complexity. The Language Arts courses had several options for each target, and the program could be pared down to fit the needs of the student. The Social Studies courses were not as flexible, and the Mathematics courses had almost nothing that you could choose to leave out if the student was to hit every standard. Some of the elective courses were short and bland. Most subjects required simple recall for their assessments, since nearly everything was auto-graded.

      That experience colors my perspective on curriculum choices, but I'm going to keep exploring. I fear the packaging (delivery method, animation, built-in grading, customizable reporting) is so sparkly that those doing the purchasing get distracted from the content and its potential (or lack of) for differentiation.

      Delete
  26. I appreciated that this chapter addressed the complexities involved with cost regarding both hardware and software, as well as the challenges of picking a software system that addresses school-specific needs.

    This past year was the first for 1:1 Chromebooks at the middle school level. I’ve found that a lot subject-specific apps and extensions for Chromebook are geared more toward elementary students rather than upper grades or is focused on remediation. This doesn’t meet the needs of all the students. Another challenge is that despite frequent computer use for social media and games, many students still lack the basic computer skills necessary to use more educational or functional programs.

    So far, I’ve been using Strategy #3 - Combine Multiple Providers (pg 198-199). We use Google Classroom with the Chromebooks. This allows me to easily link multiple different websites within a daily assignment and has allowed for students to keep track of their own work more easily.

    I thought Point #4 - Student Experience (pg 202-203) - was very well made. Students have short attention spans. No matter how educational a program is, if the presentation of the information is not made in a way students relate to, a lot of money could be wasted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You mentioned the lack of basic computer skills. I am ALWAYS surprised by students who don't know how to use basic features of a computer. I teach 11th grade, and I still have to show students how to use the search bar, save documents on Word, attach docs to e-mails, etc. These are skills that I assumed the "tech-savvy generation" to already know. As we move toward more blended learning, teachers will need to set aside sometime to establish basic skills with the students before they can expect to move on to actual assignments.

      Delete
  27. This chapter was interesting in that it gave great examples of various ways to set up blended learning. For some of the modular architecture discussions, it took me back to my early days of teaching where many of our classrooms were set up so that walls could be opened, closed, removed depending on what was being done in class. During the late 80's and early 90's, those modular walls were replaced by cement walls. Interesting! Our classrooms became less flexible. As far as technology, our school has been using Chromebooks. The methods of using them I would consider a hodge podge. Most teachers hang on to the old style of teaching and simple use bits and pieces of what technology has to offer. The school board is not always on board when it comes to spending money for various programs. We look at them, but we do not seem to purchase. The price is a big issue. We have a small rural school and funding is an issue. In addition, people in our corporation tend to be very conservative. If anything is free, we are encouraged to use it, and the administration will support teachers in new methods. A few teachers have even tried the DIY approach. It was very time consuming. The students did not seem to appreciate it either which made the effort seem even more daunting.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This chapter was pretty straight forward and easy to understand when compared with computer systems. The problem is....technology is always changing and whichever platform you purchase, it's out of date by the time it comes to market and sells millions of units. (just like the phone, laptop, or tablet you just purchased)
    We went 1:1 last year in grades 6-12.
    This year we are going 1:1 in grades K-5.
    I wish we would have bought Chromebooks. They sound like the best option.

    After reading this chapter as well. I think the BEST way for blended to work is how it is working now.
    -We use it for small schools that cannot afford lots of electives.
    -We use it for students who do not or cannot attend school all day long.
    -We use it to get more students graduation certificates.....
    -We use it for school districts to save money.
    -We use it for more technology developers to get money from school districts.
    Do not get me wrong. Blended learning IS the answer for LOTS of situations, but it IS NOT the answer in all educational situations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the summary. You are correct in your list for the best ways for blended learning to work. I do not see how my school corporation would be able to implement total blended learning. As of now we do not have 1:1 across the board yet.

      Delete
  29. Our district sent out a survey ranking our purchased programs to get feedback from our teachers and then has started to look at our data usage for our purchased software programs and show teachers that how they really aren't using them enough to pay for them. Then our teachers had time to use the program if they wanted to "save" that program or the district decided to not renew that program. We really are examining the cost and if we're using it effectively. We've also replaced some for our paid subscriptions with free programs. We had the debate in the younger grades between ipads and chrome books. They both have advantages and disadvantages but now they're seeing how you need the chrome book to teach skills you can't do on the ipad. In our 9-12 we're having them bring their own device or they can rent one. We'll see how that works with the cost. It's a constant cycle since technology continuously changes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You were so lucky to have a survey sent so you could rank the software you used. Then given a chance to "use" the program that wanted to be saved. I know that in our elementary school they were not given that option and one of their favorite programs was taken away, because everyone was not using it. Now if teachers want to continue to use it, they have to pay for it.

      Delete
  30. This was a long chapter. It is very well known to me that blended learning has much more to it than what I know about it so far. The hardest thing from this chapter would be the working together with the technology department. It seems that in my school technology says here is the tech figure it out. If blended learning is to work the technology department would have to totally change the way it functions. I do not see that happening. This would be a very difficult hurdle to overcome the administration would have to change this in order for blended learning to have a chance. I believe blended learning can be great it would be a huge change and process that would have to be district wide. I do however do wish it would be part of where I teach as I think it would be an amazing way to teach. It would also be best for the students of today.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I feel the chapter had a lot of good information. I especially liked the twelve other considerations when choosing software. Successful blended learning depends on making the right choices for integrating technology into schools. I feel our small school started out in the wrong direction. The good news is that we soon realized what we were doing wasn't working and are making strides to change that.

    Probably one of the biggest hurdles is funding. We are not a state school so we rely on fundraising and donations. We can not afford computers for all the students but do have several computer carts that are shared. Not ideal but better than having nothing. The upper grades are one to one. We do use several of the online blended programs.

    Again I have no ability to make decisions on what direction the school takes but I believe that we are striving to be technology savvy. Blended learning is beneficial. I see some steps taken within various classrooms i.e. rearranging of furniture and open physical space. Hopefully we will continue to look at the infrastructure and see what might be possible.

    ReplyDelete
  32. When reading about choosing software it made me think of the Reading Egg program that the first grade uses. The students take a Placement Test. Once they have completed the test, the program places the student in his or her specific level on the map. Each level is working on a specific skill. Once the student can show that they understand that skill, they are assessed, and if they pass, the program opens up the next level on the map for them. Once they have completed all levels on the map, the program opens up more games and activities that they are able to work on.
    When I was reading about classrooms and how they are set-up, I really love openness and flexibility. I have a nice, open classroom with big windows which increases the amount of natural light. Since I work with first grade, I also try to keep the room flexible since a lot of times we are working in small groups or stations. I really liked the new Learning Academy's set-up. I liked what they named their activity modes: Campfire, Watering Hole, Cave, etc. This may be something I use in the future when naming stations.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I appreciate everyone who comments before I get on here. I enjoy reading your responses and I like to be able to reply to them as well. I see so many things that I intended to type in my own response, so I won't restate them all again. As you can see if you scroll through, I find myself replying to several posts as I am reading through those who were here earlier. Thanks for all of the thought and concern that you are all putting into the answers. It helps me with my perspective on the subjects we are discussing.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I think the authors have outlined some very important ideas in this chapter, but I think that maybe the argument over the importance of modular or integrated software systems is a bit more discussed than is actually relevant to the integration of a blended learning program. I think that this idea is much less relevant to teachers considering blended learning in the classroom. I do agree that the understanding of these features of technology is an important consideration when determining what type of devices to buy, but I think that the points the authors made about the actual functionality of the software in regards to data collection and assessment are far more important. I think that teachers need to be able to select programs that are well suited to the needs of their students. I think that selecting programs that have seamless integration into the schools' LMS. I also think that a single sign on function is very important concerning lower level students. Having firsthand experience with Kindergarten and first grade students using chromebooks, I know that signing on is a major hurdle for any kids and if they have more than one password to remember, it can be rather daunting. I know that many online platforms have instant feedback for teachers and students and I find these much more useful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree with what you stated above. It is important to find software that is geared toward data collection and assessment.


      Delete
  35. Our school system is in the middle of a multi-million dollar renovation of all of our elementary buildings and the high school. This coming school year, some of these buildings will be utilized for the first time.The egg-crate architecture is still there as the additions are added to each building and the walls make it difficult to image any of the school designs listed on pages 207-208. However, the teachers and staff are always creative and work together so well that a hybrid of blended learning with students/teachers moving from room to room might be able to actually happen. The classroom are very stark with limited furnishing. This should allow creative teacher minds do the magic they do to create the environment needed.
    The Combine Multiple Providers would give the classroom teachers a flexible solution to providing course and subject materials for students to experience. Allowing the teachers to add to resources provided would be motivating for the teacher and the students so the learner has a variety of opportunities for success.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I tend to lean towards creating my own curriculum. Sources can be out-dated and I like thematic units that I've created over time instead of the cookie-cutter ones that exist. I haven't really been impressed with any of the textbook companies over the years and just feel that if educators aren't exactly strong in building curriculum that they will struggle if they aren't given the "right" tools to do so. Blended brings up several points to consider when choosing any of these strategies. What does your school already have? What could they afford to get? Do you have strong curriculum inventors or will you need to find them?

    ReplyDelete
  37. I found Ch. 7 quite interesting. I agree with the authors on pg. 189 where they state the importance of considering other factors (like problems, goals, teams and student and teacher needs) before just choosing new technology for technology's sake, esp when technology often quickly becomes outdated (pg. 190).

    The most helpful part of Chapter 7 for me was the listing of programs in figure 7.3 that provide ELA content. I am only familiar with one and wanted to look into the others when I have time. It was so helpful to see them broken down by sub-subject! Since the authors mention that technology is changing so quickly, I wonder how many of those are still around. Does anyone know where/if you can find a current listing of free or low cost content providers for English Language Arts? The list in appendix 7.1 had a number of providers listed, but it didn't show subject, grade level or price.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the breakdown into the smaller parts and would be interested in the ELA content providers.

      Delete
    2. I also thought that figure 7.3 was helpful. I am going to take some time to get familiar with the ones I don't know.

      Delete
  38. I'm so glad we finally got to shopping for content. My instinct is to develop my own, but I see the authors' point that using pieces from various places can be more effective and efficient. I wonder how long it will take for content builders to offer a la carte style options. The money is in getting someone to buy the entire package; there seems to be very little incentive to price separately when they can bundle unnecessary or useless materials with the valuable pieces and charge more.

    It will take a lot for me to trust user-built content on open platforms. Curated content that is not updated or replaced without notification would reassure me. I just have visions of Wikipedia, and YouTube videos named after children's shows, with innocuous opening frames, that morph into violent or otherwise inappropriate content. Repeatedly previewing every video daily because new students will reach that point in their playlists each day would make the entire program unfeasible as far as a teacher's time commitment.

    On a sadder note, this book study has helped me to identify my growing cynicism and steadily declining faith in the intentions of textbook companies and curriculum developers to help students rather than make an extra dollar. Maybe if *their* pay was based on student test performance, curriculum packages would be flexible, easy to integrate, and rich in resources.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am with you, Pam, on the curriculum companies. YES! Let's start making the companies operate on a sliding fee scale based on the testing scores of those who use their programs! That cracked me up!

      Delete
    2. What a great idea! Curriculum companies should definitely have some financial accountability built into their fee structure!

      Delete
    3. Sounds like a great idea to me, too!

      Delete
  39. This chapter presented three main points to consider when moving to a blended learning community: software, devices and building design. As I was reading the chapter, I kept thinking how the decisions made for all three of these areas were often out of the teachers' hands...that as many of you already noted, we simply deal with, adapt to and integrate whatever is given to us...much like our students! By the end of the chapter, I was actually somewhat glad that the decisions for these areas are left to the administrators and those have a better knowledge of such areas. It's almost like a crap shoot with the first two areas meaning that will whatever software/devices purchased be effective before they become outdated?

    If it were left more up to the teachers as far as software used, I can see different teachers preferring different types based on their style. Some teachers would embrace the flexibility and control of creating their own content while others would prefer the software on the other spectrum which is to just work with the one software company chosen. I think most educators would prefer a combination of the two, using the basics of one program and personalizing it with their own lectures, assignments and supplementary content.

    Our school went to 1:1 with Apple iPads about 5 years ago. I don't know enough about the pros and cons of various devices but it seems the likeness of these iPads to the students' phones makes it more likely for the students to use the iPads more for personal use (read Snapchat, Instagram and the like) and for entertainment rather than for productivity during school. I've often wondered if using laptops would alleviate this to a degree. Have any of you been in a school system that started with hand-held devices and then moved to laptops (or changed schools with each type of device) and noticed a difference?

    As far as the use of space, the funniest line from the book to me was from page 206, "If Rip Van Winkle were to wake up today, he'd probably still recognize our schools," complete with the front office, the trophy cases and then the egg-carton classrooms. It's difficult to let tradition go, especially if most schools simply don't have the money to redesign or rebuild. I do find it enjoyable to move the layout of my desks based on what we may be learning or just on a whim. I enjoy seeing how other teachers arrange their classrooms to fit their teaching styles too. Perhaps these are baby steps in moving away from the egg-carton, straight rows? Our school is adopting a block schedule this coming school year, with the idea of providing more open spaces for our students and more community time. The library, cafeteria and other spaces are being opened and encouraged for use...but right now, it is more for lunch-time choices. It will be interesting to see how ours and other schools evolve with the growing use and need of technology.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our school has had computer labs, personal computers, and now chrome books. It doesn't matter what we give these students they always put the "social media" things on their computers and try to pull them up and use them during class time.

      I see you are doing block scheduling this year, and it would be interesting to know how that is going to create more open spaces. We have block scheduling too, but not so sure we have the open spaces.

      Delete
  40. This is my corporation's 7th year with 1:1 technology. We absolutely jumped in without a plan - just get the kids using the technology while familiarizing ourselves with the technology. Over the years, we have incorporated interfaces that provided instruction and assessment. The programs were similar to the "outside provider" concept. I did not feel as though my students were completely engaged with this concept. I feel that it is somewhat similar to the textbook company claims to address all instructional needs, yet somehow fell short.

    I find in my classroom that I prefer to use the strategy that combines multiple providers. I have found that my students need variety of interfaces combined with collaboration opportunities in order to stay engaged. It can be a challenge to find quality sources that I feel are appropriate and meet the needs of my students. According to the authors, others feel the same when stating that teachers "persist, however, because they sense that a more modular world for online content will multiply the power of schools to realize the full promise of personalized learning for their students" (p. 199).

    ReplyDelete
  41. I prefer the open layout for the physical space in the classroom. Heading into this school year I took away many of the larger physical structures that were not being used. My massive teacher desk is gone to free up space! I favor larger pathways to travel freely through the classroom space.

    Last school year my principal brought to light the idea of flexible student seating. It is important students feel comfortable where they sit or stand in the classroom. I ordered stools and will consider raising and lowering tables for students that prefer to sit on the ground or stand taller while working. Taking into consideration a blended learning model. Do students have enough room for their chromebooks? Am I going to designate a physical space for individual chromebook time in my rotations? These are all questions to consider for this coming school year.

    Some additional thoughts that popped up while reading chapter 7 were utilizing website and program subscriptions that my district has already paid for. How can I incorporate these options into my flexible blending learning model? I use part of my classroom and PTO money for websites such as Spelling City and NewsELA. There are plenty of other options out there that can work well for elementary, however I really do not have additional funding to purchase third party sites or explore many options.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I appreciated the practical solutions and ideas this chapter offered for blended learning. As more schools move to blended learning, I find myself wondering what my school is going to do. We have a mix of traditional teachers who use little to no technology in the building and then teachers who use a ton of technology. It's interesting to see things unfold. Like the quote from above, I laughed about the comment about Rip Van Winkle. Most schools do not have the ability to redesign or rebuild. Often times, they are barely scraping by.

    ReplyDelete
  43. As we begin to use more and more technology in the classroom and beyond, I totally agree that we cannot lead with technology and we cannot force technology into all classes. One size does not fit all. our school system has gone to Canvas as a platform for technology. The interesting part of this is that several years ago before most of us had ever heard of Canvas we were encouraged to use edmodo. Not being a techy, I latched on to a colleague who was more versed in the use of edmodo and we ventured off into using it in our classroom. It was pretty successful. I became such a convert to using the system that I was asked to lead a professional development in its use. I created several units using edmodo and became comfortable using it. Here is the kicker, after using it successfully for three years, the corporation deleted edmodo and brought canvas on board. So now I am catching up and using canvas. Technology is ever changing and getting better and better. Still, schools should perfecting use of several platforms and give teachers the opportunity to develop units using a variety of resources. I think the wrong thing to do is to force teachers to use the next big thing and move on to the next big idea before we get a good handle on how to perfect what we are doing presently

    ReplyDelete
  44. This was a huge chapter for me, I believe this is one place where my old school went so wrong(I've since changed to a new school system.) The summer before I was hired everyone was so excited about going 1 to 1 with iPads. Teachers got Macbooks and Apple TV's and students would get iPads, it was going to change the whole education system. Less than a semester into the first year with these devices and hardly anyone uses them, kids only play games on them(no one had figured out would to restrict them, I figured it out about a year later, tell me that's a good use of a Counselor's time.) The network struggled to keep up with the addition of 500 plus devices on the network. Printers didn't work because they are so old and didn't support AirPrint. It was an absolute disaster. No PD was offered to any teachers that was productive, everyone was left to fend for themselves.

    Situations like this hinders education greatly, everyone wants to be apart of the next big thing but no one wants to take the time to plan it out so things don't fall flat on their face.

    ReplyDelete
  45. This chapter did not really pertain to me I feel because I am just a teacher and the administration makes the decisions on what type of programs that are going to be purchased. Last year the district purchased Chromebooks which are located on carts. The staff had some training on suggested programs to introduce into our classrooms. The training did continue during the school year and I think there will be some this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, admin makes the decision but hopefully they are asking teachers what they need and what they feel about the changes that are coming. If admin does not ask and just does, they will have a very unhappy rotating staff on their hands.

      Delete
  46. Our school lead with technology about seven years ago, and I am still trying to catch up. When we started using iPads, they were still new (2nd and 3rd generation) We were given some, and I use that lightly, training which was helpful in how the device (iPads) works. There was some training on specific apps also. But the clog in the drain for me was using the technology in productive ways in the classroom-still is a problem for me. I am of the old school and have learned a few things along the way in technology, but i believe there is a lot more out there after reading this book.

    The best help I have is getting together with my colleagues who understand the process and have time to share it with me. I take what they are doing and tweek it to fit my area if possible. The special training was too fast with too many options to be beneficial.

    Some areas lend themselves to using technology while others not so much such as in the fine arts and practical arts. Technology becomes a tool more than for instructional purposes. Hand on is where those areas focus. As the person above says,"One size does not fit all."

    ReplyDelete
  47. I think you have to allow for multiple online-content strategies in order to allow teachers/educators to successfully integrate technology and blended learning into the classroom. Every discipline is different; every teacher is different. Different strategies will work better in different settings at different times. I think we all probably use a variety of online-content strategies. In Canvas, I regularly combined DIY and facilitated network content within a single module.
    In regards to physical setup and device selection, I thought this chapter just scratched the surface of all the considerations that take place during these phrases. A book could be written to cover all the considerations made during the device selection process for our district. One of the biggest considerations for us: does it support current and future classroom needs? Within this simply question there is an A-Z list of sub-considerations to be made. Device selection, physical setup, and support infrastructure are all beast to organize and coordinate. But if done right, it provides the infrastructure that allows teachers to be adventurous and grow in the digital learning environment.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I appreciated the sentiment that introduced this chapter - even in a book about blended learning, where technology would predictably be the "buzzword," this book put goals as well as teacher and student experiences as more important to consider first than technology. I also liked how it focused on what technology will be best for the student rather than how can we provide the latest technology. I really liked that there was some name-dropping of different interfaces and products for a variety of subject areas, I find this really helpful when it pertains to my own subject because it helps me envision ways I could use blended learning tech in my own classroom. Figure 7.3 on page 201 was of special interest to me as a Language Arts teacher.

    I find myself most interested in Strategy #4: Facilitated Network. I like the idea of using self-selected tutorials to learn about a topic and then using an assessment to demonstrate mastery. Students could choose which tutorials appealed to them and experience as many or as few as necessary for their personal learning needs. I also think this could be a more cost-efficient program since the tutorials could be from various free or inexpensive sources as well as teacher-created. The struggle would be putting it all together on one interface that students could easily access and ensuring there was adequate data provided for the teacher and student.

    My students all use chromebooks and I'm posting this comment right now via a chromebook. I do like this technology and think it would be well suited for a facilitated network system.

    ReplyDelete
  49. This was a loaded chapter. The biggest learned concept I took away is that there as so many options out there for schools and teachers. There isn't a definite answer to what's best. I've been in a school that adopted 1:1 with ipads. After a little bit of tinme, many teachers disliked them (especially in the upper grades). My current school is 1:1 where students being their own device. One could have a tablet, in a chromebook, one a Macbook, etc. It sometimes frustrates me, but eventually, I become a better IT person. We generally us a lot of online resources from textbooks online to Khan, BrainPop, NewsELA, etc. It seems to allow us teachers to customize the delivery and topics for what works for us and our studemts. The thing is, what we do has to be prsctical and within our means. We do the best with what we have while tinkering around with some unique a d outside the box thinking and teaching. Little steps are better in that success can be seen and achievable. This was a loaded chaptdr, but I do feel that if I as a teacher always work to craft my profession, good things will happen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought much of this was info for admin. As a school counselor I don't get much say on financial issues.
      I did take away with the idea that no one thing works for every school

      Delete
  50. I found Ch. 7 quite interesting. I agree with the authors on pg. 189 where they state the importance of considering other factors (like problems, goals, teams and student and teacher needs) before just choosing new technology for technology's sake, esp when technology often quickly becomes outdated (pg. 190).

    The most helpful part of Chapter 7 for me was the listing of programs in figure 7.3 that provide ELA content. I am only familiar with one and wanted to look into the others when I have time. It was so helpful to see them broken down by sub-subject! Since the authors mention that technology is changing so quickly, I wonder how many of those are still around. Does anyone know where/if you can find a current listing of free or low cost content providers for English Language Arts? The list in appendix 7.1 had a number of providers listed, but it didn't show subject, grade level or price.

    ReplyDelete
  51. There were several things I found noteworthy in this chapter:
    1) I like that the book waited until chapter 7 to talk about devices. I totally agree that "leading with technology" for technology's sake does not necessarily lead to the desired results. Our district is not yet 1:1, and the powers that be have been planning how to add devices to the district for several years. Last year, we began adding portable devices for students to use, and the great part about it is that we are seeing a mixture of I-pads, chromebooks and laptops. This gives teachers more flexibility about what they can do within their classrooms.
    2) The thought of creating my own curriculum has always been something I am interested in, but the amount of time and effort required is certainly daunting, and this time is something that is not available during a school year. It was interesting to see a price ($300,000) put on the cost of developing a a year-long online course!
    3) I liked the inclusion of the "Twelve Other Considerations When Choosing Software." Again, decision makers should think through all possible considerations well before they commit to one program or another.

    ReplyDelete
  52. The question is what do I think of this chapter - I actually found it very informative. The information on page 2201, 202, and 203 give you 12 considerations when choosing software. We just went through our science adoption and a lot of what we did talk about and looked at is what is on these pages. I feel like we had this information too late and if we had this information it might have made our job a lot easier.

    I also found the information on the design of buildings (and what some schools are doing) to incorporate tech into the curriculum. I was very interested in the idea from Ridge middle school where the teacher covered his walls with Plexiglas so that students could write on it. I know of a teacher that had his students do a paperless day. they used the desk to do their math problems with markers we used on whiteboards. The students loved it.

    I suppose that we are coming to the point where we will not have schools, and that we will be teaching on-line to students that are in various locations. It will change our job descriptions, and the way we interact with our students. I have taught an on-line class at the college level. It was a different experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Timmy, while I agree that schooling may take a very different form soon in our future, I wonder about small children. How about you? What would this on-line learning look like for families of small children (aka elementary) when these children are still in need of social growth and adult supervision? Thoughts?

      Delete
  53. This chapter shows that there is so much more than just the technology aspect of BLended Learnimg. Grouping students is great and can be taken back to chapter 5 in which could be a motivation factor for some students .
    When it comes to choosing software it often seems as roulette. We utilize Chromebooks and Google can be great especially for PC and Mac components but it has shown its wear.

    ReplyDelete
  54. This was a huge chapter in many ways, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I see many responses that schools are utilizing Chromebooks. Our school is 1:1 and uses an apple MacBook Air for faculty and students. They are dependable and a true workhorse. I have been an apple fan for many years, so I am glad that we use them, but it is interesting to see so many posts regarding the Chromebooks. Our infrastructure at our school is also very good. They really thought through a logical plan before going 1:1 and it makes our jobs so much easier. There were no new math books adopted this past adoption. As a seasoned teacher, I find it exciting to teach without limits, but when I see a new teacher arrive, I worry. I remember how difficult it was to manage everything when I started teaching, I can't imagine the difficulty without a text, but the young teachers are often the most creative. I agree with some earlier posts that some teachers are AMAZING at teaching, but struggle with creating meaningful lessons. With this new blended approach, the curriculum and the goals that we are all trying to reach need to be clear so as to avoid what LOOKS like a good lesson, but no actual learning is happening. There was a group of lessons called "GOLD SEAL LESSONS" that worked at making sure there was a strong Depth of Knowledge and a Quadrant D goal. I'll have to see how these fit into this blended learning.

    ReplyDelete
  55. I made immediate connections to last week’s reading and blog discussion. My post last week discussed a re-examination of the factory model brick and mortar educational structure that needed to occur. “The shift toward modularity in education,” is making claims in reference to this shift. I am pleased to see that these discussions are happening and that the leaders of our profession in the state or wanting us to have these conversations. The previous chapter’s discussion about the end product was also stated in this chapter with a personal twist. “Schools need to do a better job of ensuring that all students master the skills and abilities they need to . . . have an “all-American shot at realizing their dreams.” I like to think of my job as a mentor in the economics of knowledge, and this book seems to be reinforcing those beliefs.

    After reading this chapter, I was curious about the annual statistics for Indiana in reference to the number of students taking an A La Carte online course currently. I specifically annotated a question wondering whether my current employer offers these types of courses to our students (I think that we do for credit recovery), what software packages we utilize currently as a district, and where I would access that active list. Is anyone else currently aware of A La Carte software packages that are being used in their district within the state? How is the data piece from each program utilized and implemented? Have the districts used this data piece not only to drive individualized instruction but to help with data collection for teachers in their personalized goal setting and assessment?

    When reviewing the list of online content in current blended courses from pages 210-12, I recognized a few of the providers listed. I did not however know much about the data collection for each of these software packages. Data that would allow for students to create their own goal setting, provide instant feedback for the teacher, and further individualized instruction was not something discussed or highlighted in my implementation teams. We used Achieve3000 in my last district. It was used merely as a supplement during scheduled computer lab time and became a weekly curriculum lesson. I did not however know how to collect and use the data. I remember that students were awarded virtual stickers for completion of reading assignments along with a series of comprehension questions answered correctly. This would be a prime example of being given technology as a teacher but not offered adequate training. I am disappointed that I was not aware of the data collection piece which ultimately would have helped with individualized student goals.

    Finally, I keep thinking purely about the continual learning aspect of the blended learning platform. There is never a minute of wasted time that occurs in a truly blended classroom. Students are either driven to excel and push themselves in a more rigorous way or they are provided remediation to continue reviewing the skills they have yet to master. I absolutely love the idea of continual learning in my classroom. I already use NoRedInk.com to drive grammar instruction (I like the flexibility and access provided by this program), but I am anxious to use SAT 1500 Word Challenge and potentially one of the fluency/comprehension or great books software packages to further any individualized needs. I already accessed and began some interaction with the Kahn writing labs that are offered in the cloud, but I have yet to know enough to comment. My only concern right now is how to integrate the individualized learning plan into assessments that are reflective of both ability and fairness. Fair cannot be discounted for students that are competing against each other for a class ranking, internship slot, scholarship dollars, and potential job or college placement. I am in hopes that Horn and Staker will discuss this integration before the book ends.









    ReplyDelete
  56. While I found the explanation of software and how tech has become what it is overwhelming, I did enjoy the portion of this charter that was dedicated to structure of school buildings. Creating a classroom where learning can happen on walls, floors, and moving walls and floors brings more of a creative mindset to the workspace for children. There is a group feeling, a sense of collaboration and brain-storming that allows for mistakes and trial and error more so than single desks and, “keep your eyes on your own paper!”
    When we create a safe space for collaboration and helping each other, we can begin to foster new ideas for learning and teaching. I believe physical structure can play a huge factor in this. I would love to take more time to think about how I can creatively mold the space I have to create for more collaboration, shared thinking and student ownership of their ideas/learning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with your comment on physical structure. I always love visiting classrooms, especially at the beginning of a new year, and seeing what configurations teachers are trying. Some of the best ideas are those we take from others that have found success.

      Delete
  57. I appreciate my administration because they do listen to our opinions and then look into the curriculum/programs that we suggest. They have offered a lot of professional development to help us in our journey towards 1:1. ( Starting with the 5th graders and middle schoolers). Our professional development coordinator has been a great encouragement as is our newly assigned director of curriculum and assessment. We truly want to change and adapt to our individual student's needs.

    ReplyDelete
  58. "...money is the main barrier that prevents schools from making changes to align their physical space to the principles and goals of their blended initiatives." (page 206)

    It's amazing how many times I've heard "that's not in the budget" as I sit in on 1:1 meetings and my district plans our technology initiative to be implemented in the fall of 2017. We cannot afford to purchase content. This puts the responsibility for creating online content in the hands of the teachers who simply do not have time to do it. We certainly don't have the money necessary to make changes to our physical space. All of this leaves me questioning how schools are pulling this off and doing it well....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I find myself wondering the same things! And being increasingly frustrated by the expectations that mount with each passing year!! Ugh.

      Delete
  59. The chapter highlights the fact that too often schools districts lead with the technology rather than thinking through potential problems. My corporation, for example, put technology in place first but ran into connectivity issues while using it. I do believe it is very important to think about the physical devices that will be used and how to set them up first. Preventative maintenance and troubleshooting problems ahead of time can be cost saving and time saving.

    My corporation has gravitated towards the use of iPads for the Kindergarten students and Chromebooks for Grades 1-12. They find the Chromebooks to be cost effective and they run on a stable operating system. Internet based computing with the web apps seem to be working well for us. With that said, we still have a traditional desktop computer lab where students can run software programs like Accelerated Reader and BrainPOP.

    The architecture of elementary school buildings could be thought of as less flexible. With that said, I have seen many elementary classrooms where teachers get creative with use of space. Desks can be moved very easily into new configurations, we just have to think outside of the box and not be afraid. If good classroom management is in place, rearranging desks into clusters or pods or even getting a rid of the traditional style student desks could be something worth trying. I always enjoy looking at my coworkers classrooms to see the new configurations they are trying inside their "traditional" classroom spaces.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Our school will be implementing the 1:1 this school year, so the information in this chapter was very helpful/enlightening. Many of the topics and techniques mentioned will be helpful this year!

    ReplyDelete
  61. I think this chapter had some valuable information and a lot of ideas to make us think creatively. Most of us probably teach in a classroom that looks pretty traditional by the book's standards. For me, the hookup for the teacher computer is at the front of the room so that is where my desk goes. I would love to reinvent the desks/no desk arrangement. Teaching without walls sounds a little distracting to me, but if the whole design of school is different, then it could probably work. Definitely a lot to think about as we head into the new school year.

    ReplyDelete
  62. As many have already admitted, I too work for a district that made the catastrophic mistake of leading with the technology. We are still recovering and still sort of wallowing around as individual teachers, trying to figure things our that work best for us in our classrooms. We have IPads and are attempting to be a Google school. It does NOT work very well.

    That begins said, I enjoyed the discussion the use of a facilitated network on pages 199 - 203. There really are LOADS of things to find on line that kids love to use and I don't mind being a curator, of sorts, for the goals I have for my students. My issue is the wireless connectivity required: Our school struggles so mightily with this that it becomes quite discouraging. It is my hope that our administrative promises will come to pass and our wireless network will be able to handle the things so many of us want to do.

    Until then, I continue my efforts to customize my classroom activities and to encourage student ownership and choice. I don't really need a device to do that. :)

    ReplyDelete
  63. This chapter was a little harder for me than some of the other chapters. I get bogged down with all the techy terms in this chapter. I too feel that a lot of times that technology is rolled out and then the after thoughts....well they come after. Example: students must take their final exams on the computers, but then the system in over loaded bc 2,000 students are taking exams, and it crashes. I feel its unfair to the students to add stress to their exams when the tech dept/admin ect knows this is a possibility the system might crash. I often feel like I'm scrambling to keep up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ami totally agree with your frustration about systems not being able to keep up! It's so hard to play mediator and keep it positive when the students feel like their chance to score their best has been taken away by system overload issues!

      Delete
  64. This chapter was good for me as far as seeing all the different parts of technology that go with blended learning. However, we have already decided on a technology platform and I am looking forward to learning all about it! The rest of the chapter was hard at some points because technology terms and talk sometimes overwhelms me. I was happy though to see the options and see what others were using though.

    ReplyDelete
  65. I think that one of the biggest things that stood out to me in the chapter was still the idea of moving away from the factory model and moving more toward a fully integrated model that allows for more customization and choice for the student. I've already shared that my school has zero hour options for students to have some choice in their schedule- but based on this chapter and the one to one we already have in place there is a lot more that can be done. While I found a lot of the tech speak stuff to be interesting, I think this chapter got a bit too technical for my taste. The book mention on page 206 that making changes to the physical space of the school a lot of times depends on money. I would argue that almost all the technology talked about in the chapter depends on money as well. My former school went with Apple for their one to one not because it was the best choice for the student, but that it was the most cost effective option. Changing the physical space of the school was one of the things in the chapter that I did not really follow. All of the examples that were provided on page 207 of schools that have done that sort of thing just sounded like "Open Concept" schools that were used in the 80s. I went to an open concept school for three years and it was not designed to better the learner, it was designed that way because it was cheap to build and maintain. I don't know if anyone else felt the same way about the examples provided? Again, I don't think a lot of these things are for the student, but they come down to money.
    The best part of the chapter for me was the table on page 202. I thought that this was the most useful part of the chapter. I have worked with a lot of different platforms and software in my time as a teacher and some of the things like Data, Flexibility, and Sign On are issues that have hindered the education process for me in the past. I would want students to use my webpage to find content, but because of the way the page was set up or the company that we used not all students could use it from home. I've worked with several different programs to measure students reading ability and there was never an easy way to mine the data. In years past I would have to keep a slip of paper in my desk with all the different passwords I had for all the programs that we were using that year. So I guess if I was to pull something else from the chapter that was helpful, it was the idea of having a Facilitated Network similar to figure 7.3. I like that idea and it also fits with the concept of giving students more choice in their education.

    ReplyDelete
  66. This chapter was a reminder that blended learning is more than just technology. We must consider programs, devices, and classroom setup. I don't think there has been much talk about blended learning in our district yet, so I am interested to see which model they choose in the future. We're going one-to-one with ChromeBooks this year, so it was nice to read that they're very popular in K-12 schools. We will get the devices shortly after school begins, so I am hopeful we have some training beforehand. As for the physical space, I am planning to implement more flexible seating in my room. I've always allowed kids to move around and work in different spaces or on the floor, and I'm hoping to give them more flexible seating options this year. I am not sure where I will have the kiddos store the Chromebooks yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathryn had NACS ever used a program called Moby Max?

      Delete
  67. This chapter came at a perfect time as I also had a workshop today at which 1-1 and technology was discussed at length. We were able to compare how different teachers approach the technology issues at hand and some of the programs they use. One teacher actually uses a Stations type set up, and another teacher relies solely on one online program to lead her curriculum, which sounds like Option #2 in this chapter. Being able to talk to these other teachers, who are fellow science teachers, gave me specific ideas for implementing blending learning into my classroom/community, and it made me more optimistic that this is something I can (and probably SHOULD) do in my classroom in the near future. That being said, the negative to today's workshop was that we will not be getting 1-1 devices at semester like we had thought; it has been delayed until at least next school year. But ... as this book has stated, maybe the delay will be beneficial if it would allow proper time to not only select the best device for our corp, but to also get more teachers on board with blending learning. I recognize the need for it, and I recognize that being more open ended with my students and allowing them the freedom to chose what they learn (or at least what direction they go with a broad topic) will probably motivate them to be engaged in their own learning. Discovery Education was one of the online resources/curriculum recommended to me that is being implemented this school year at two different districts, and it sounded like it had potential to be a stepping stone for blending learning. I picture myself starting the adventure using a program from one provider and then hopefully someday writing my own to cater to my students specifically.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I enjoyed reading your post. This chapter was very difficult for me because the district is so far from this type of learning environment. Writing your own program is a great goal. I agree with you that maybe the delay with the technology would give you more time to prepare. I can also feel your frustration- we are learning this now- it would be nice to start taking the steps to begin.

      Delete
    2. I am glad to see that your admin realized it was not yet quite time, and didn't just jump in and risk a year of chaos. Dealing with a bit of disequilibrium is one thing, but then there is sheer terror. If you just throw computers in front of students without a plan, you might be in for some terror. Sounds like it will work out well instead. Good luck.

      Delete
  68. This chapter was very difficult for me. I felt a little overwhelmed. I think it is because this type of learning seems to be so far off in the district that it is hard for me to visualize what it would even look like in my school.
    I am going to start looking at the vendor options. It would be great if there was a platform that connected all the systems. For example, we use NWEA. I was thinking how great it would be if after an assessment, the students could log in and find resources such as videos to give them additional remediation or enrichment- like having a direct connection to Kahn Academy? There are so many possibilities that it would be nice to have it all in one system.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love the idea of NWEA having review resources! That reminds me of what Acuity used to do, don't know if that test is still around but they had the right idea with review lessons.

      Delete
    2. We use Edmentum's Study Island that connects with the students' NWEA scores to create individual learning paths.
      As soon as technology uploads the scores, the students' pathways and activities are available on their chromebooks.

      Delete
  69. To be honest I was pretty disinterested in this chapter. I understand that these things are important considerations but it was just hard to stay focused for me. I did find the discussion of what software programs to use very interesting! Did anyone find the fact that it costs $300,000 to create a course a little shocking? It shocked me especially when you think that a lot of school systems have teachers creating their own content and courses-I'll take that $300,000! Haha! Some good points were made about modular programs being better adjustable to meet students needs, obviously that's the main goal here. I was also interested in reading about the architectural set ups different schools have made, I would be really interested to actually see what that looks like.

    ReplyDelete
  70. I feel like I continue to say the same thing week after week...while this model will go a long way with older students, I just cannot see how well it will work with the younger children. It seems evident that the authors have distaste for the "factory model" classroom; however, the thought of having no walls with room for 100+ students seems like crazy-talk for anyone who works with students who are 5, 6, or 7. To me there will be a loss from the lack of human connection...many students bond with their teachers over the school year and see them as a secondary parent while away from home. The model that is being promoted seems to take that aspect away.
    On the flip-side, I can see within the schools I've worked at, that many teachers are trying to implement strategies that have moved away from the "factory-model," such as flexible seating, rotations, limited amount of teachers instructing the whole-group and instead focusing on small groups. I think these are the same teachers, regardless of the school corporation they are in, who are also trying to incorporate innovative ways of reaching students at their levels with the tools they have available.

    ReplyDelete
  71. While this chapter was a lot to take in and digest, I love that it reminds us that blended learning is not just about technology. From a special education standpoint at the elementary level, we are usually the last ones to get software and not hand me down devices for my specific program. I am constantly researching new ways to get my students engaged and on task. Flex seating as always been a thing in my classroom with some structure behind it. Our district is going 1:1 with Chromebooks this fall. I feel that with my program, this is going to open up many new avenues for my students but not replace what is already working within our school. I look forward to diving in but wish we had the opportunities to have our Chromebooks before school really started so I could be more prepared.

    ReplyDelete
  72. I noticed, when reading other comments before submitting my own, that many of us were either bored or perhaps struggled with this chapter. I think this is because most of us in this club seem to be teachers, and the concept of architecture is one that is dealt with by "heavyweight teams" (117).

    I have been in a school that uses their media center as an open classroom, and schools that have "fish bowls" (glass-walled, central classrooms, and I see basically the same thing I see in traditional architecture. The kids who are going to work will do so in either environment, an the kiddos who don't want to work will mostly goof off in either environment. One difference is that, when goofing off in an open environment, I feel it would disrupt other students, but I do not think it really does because today's student grew up learning to work amidst distraction.

    Our text indicates that it takes $300,000 , 9 months, and contributions from over 30 employees for Florida Virtual School to develop a year-long course (198). I'm curious about the definition of "course." I can fully understand that doing it right, with all resources and components, data collection, assessment, etc., would involve the need for this level of resources. My frustration is that each teacher is expected to come up with this level of instruction individually if the school is not using a dedicated program such as Florida Virtual School.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Wow I am all over the place with chapter 7. We have been a 1:1 school for four years now and I can't help but remember the quote about schools leading with the technology because that is pretty much what we did. It was an eye-opening experience with lots of growing pains. That being said, I think a blended approach to online learning seems to be the best one for me personally. I like the idea of being able to pick and choose online material to supplement my curriculum so that students are getting an individualized version of what content needs to be addressed. However, I am still struggling with the "how does this work?" and "Where do I find these resources?". I am a full time English teacher with over 150-60 students a year with lots of grading. I am also a busy mom of two teenage boys who are full time student athletes as well as wife and domestic engineer. ;0 Frankly there are not enough hours in the day to research and plan. I've been looking for different programs but haven't found anything that is free that will supplement what I'm doing. Maybe the problem is that I'm not particularly sure how to create the hybrid curriculum or even how I want it to work. We use Canvas as our LMS and I already create modules using it but they are teacher directed not student directed. In other words, kids only unlock docs and activities based on my instruction; I have not yet created an independent study module. Mostly because I'm not sure how it should look or what types of "stuff" to put in it; and how can I possibly compete with something like the Florida Virtual School anyway?

    ReplyDelete
  74. Much of the “tech talk” at the start of the chapter made my brain fuzzy. I get why we need technology and our students need to be prepared for the high paced tech world, but it still can make my eyes gloss over at times. I really liked Table 7.2 that gave examples of what many schools have done, and while those look very interesting and intriguing, I don’t see that becoming what most public schools strive to do for most public school students. Funding is probably the biggest reason why. What it would take to go 1:1, to buy the software, to train the teachers, to change the school environment. There would truly have to be a big societal change for it to happen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you on a couple of counts. The tech talk is definitely hard to follow sometimes! But I definitely agree with you that we need lots more funding and more of a societal change before many of these changes can be implemented. This is my road-block with virtually every chapter I read. Many times, I have visions of parents giving so much negative feedback because we're not teaching their children in a way they're used to/expect.

      Delete
  75. I found this chapter full of information. My school has been 1:1 for four years. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed to find new online resources. I do a lot of searching for new and exciting content. I have found some that work and others that I chalk up as an "at least we tried". Our school is on the older side and it is fixed. We do not have the room to try new configurations in the classroom. I may try to cluster the students this fall.
    We have been using MacBooks, but will be transitioning to the Chromebook after this year. The MacBooks are just too expensive to fix. We have one tech advisor that sets up our computers and keeps the entire building connected. I was excited to see the list of online content being used. Some I have used and others I have never heard of. I'm going to do some exploring after I'm finished with my journal entry. This list can be found in Appendix 7.1 on page 210.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck on trying to configure your classroom and clustering your students. I was sad to see you say you were going to Chromebook and losing your MacBooks. So much more you can do with the MacBooks, but understand the cost.

      Our tech advisor does the same for us, and keeps us up and running. Good luck this year.

      Delete
  76. Online content - for me, that is the crux of the entire issue of blended learning and especially how it relates to personalized learning. How do we find affordable, rigorous, quality content that does not require hours of time to research, set up, and monitor? I was amazed that four or five years ago, our administration said we were not going to buy textbooks. Their assumption was that teachers could find all the needed content online. The problem was, no money was allotted for online curriculum and no time or specific professional development was provided.

    Realizing that many teachers still needed support, over the years it has been decided that we would still adopt a basal reading series for the elementary school and math books at all grade levels. Middle school science teachers felt fortunate because their last adoption was a “consumable” book and they have been allowed to keep ordering their textbook. However, other teachers (agriculture, foreign language, social studies, and health, etc.) ask, “Where are my new books?”

    Since we are 1:1 in most classrooms 6-12, it is time for our school system to create a team to study how we want to proceed. Are we going to provide textbooks? Are we going to implement blended learning? If so, how are we going to prepare our teachers? I think that we finally have a group here at the middle school which is going focus their investigation on implementing blended learning and see the professional development that is needed to help make it successful. We will start small and hopefully motivate other teachers while we share our progress. We are going to quit using the excuses related to online content - not enough time to learn the structure of the program, too expensive, longevity of availability, etc. As a team we are going to move forward in hopes of locating valuable content and sharing the workload.

    Wish us luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand the frustrations that can come from online resources, especially when you do not have training! When we first went to online textbooks, our students signed in through Powerschool to access them. I guess no one thought about it (or no one trained me how to fix the issue) but Powerschool would automatically log out after so much time not in use. The students would click to go on to the next page and get a message that they needed to log in again. This became difficult when kids were upset that their work was lost! Training is key!

      Delete
  77. As I'm seeing from some of the other comments, this was one of the more overwhelming chapters simply because of all of the technical talk. I mean really, we should all be glad I know the difference between hardware and software.

    I thought it was interesting that this chapter pointed out that even online materials are stuck in the same issues as brick-and-mortar schools. It mentioned that these programs spend hundreds of thousands of dollars developing systems that schools can use, but it's basically the same things that schools are doing anyway. While I had vaguely known that something similar to this had to be happening (because of standards), I thought online schooling was supposed to be more revolutionary than that. But I've never used it or had much experience with it.

    I also thought this chapter made a good point with comparing laptops/netbooks to tablets and iPads. This was a debate that was big in my district as we went 1:1, so I could relate to this. I've seen both sides of this, and I definitely see the pros and cons to the computer companies as well. Anyone who's ever used an Apple product and then switches to a non-Apple product quickly runs into issues with programs and functional differences. Even if I didn't understand it all, I appreciated that this chapter tried to break some of that down.

    ReplyDelete
  78. 1. "The problems, goals, teams, and student and teacher experiences are much more important to tackle first. Too often schools lead with technology rather than with these considerations." - page 189
    As I am going through this book study, I believe that some districts have erred on the side of caution and people feel they have been left behind to play catch up. I believe that other districts jumped with the lure of technology and are now back-paddling to address these issues.

    2. "The rate of technological change in the past several decades has been breathtaking." p. 189
    I feel like as a student and a 20+ year teacher (4 decades worth of me) I have felt the whiplash of this ever changing world of technology. It is exciting, invigorating, and sometimes frightening to see where we have come and where we may be headed. Making decisions to give our students the best education possible sometimes seems like a gamble. I appreciate the different setups provided in this book and chapter. There is not a one-size-fits-all model.

    3. I appreciate the "Twelve Other Considerations when Choosing Software." - page 202-203
    This gives me some questions to ask myself when I am asked to use a program or when I am trying to find something new for my classroom.

    4. Appendix 7.1 - I cannot wait to take this list to school and compare programs that others in my building have used (at our building or in other buildings where they have worked.)

    ReplyDelete
  79. I agree with some of the other posters that Chapter 7 wasn’t the easiest chapter to read because of all the technical talk. When considering which strategy to use concerning the online content, I think Strategy #1: DIY – Build Our Own would be ideal. You would have complete control over the content. Being able to cover your local standards would definitely be a huge advantage for a school system. But there is no denying some pretty big drawbacks. It would take a serious amount of time to develop that online content well, especially if you didn’t have the right “in-house expertise”. It might be better to start out using an outside provider(s) and move towards the DIY method over time.

    ReplyDelete
  80. Our school allowed teacher feedback when we first moved to 1:1. We are on our third device- Chromebooks. Chromebooks so far have been the most useful. Teachers were not always “in the know” on the planning parts of our technology plan but it feels as though our district decided to go 1:1 and made plans for usage afterwards. Most of the usage is left to each teacher’s discretion. It is expected that technology, including Chromebooks are utilized in the classroom. However, the amount of usage and quality of usage differs in each classroom. The thoughts that I keep returning to in this chapter have to do with the physical setup section. While I agree an open concept design offers so much in regards to collaboration, I also feel that they are safety concerns. Unfortunately, students’ and staffs’ safety is a question that everyone working in schools now have to think about. If there was an intruder, how could the students and staff remain safe. While I know this study is mainly about blended learning and setting that up, schools have to take other issues into account too. I also wish that the author spoke longer on the types of software that are available. There is so many programs available that it is difficult to sort through.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like you Tina, teachers in my building are not always in the know on the planning parts of our technology plan. Our building principal has decided to invest in chromebooks in our building without usage plans for classroom teachers. All usage is left to each individual teacher. Like you, we are expected to use technology and chromebooks in the classroom without PD or time to collaborate with other teachers. Page 189 the author states, "The problems, goals, teams, and student and teacher experiences are much more important to tackle first." It seems that our administration is working backwards. I am happy to be a part of this book study. It will help me greatly as our school moves forward with technology. I wish more teachers in our building were taking part in this discussion.

      Delete
  81. In our school, like many others, we don’t really have a say of what devices/programs are handed to us. In my third grade class, I have 6 iPads for all the kids to share and one for myself. A blended concept is very hard when we are not a 1:1 school. Like stated in the chapter, this is going to require me to redo the setup of all the furniture of the room. Our school is an open concept in the sense that all classes have three walls. We are all connected and can constantly hear the other students and teachers. This makes it VERY difficult for those easily distracted kids to find a quiet space. There is a quiet corner in the front of the room that could work that though. I think blended learning goes right along with group-based learning. I have my desks set up in pods so that my kids are always collaborating with each other.

    For any teachers that haven’t used the FREE app Seesaw, I HIGHLY recommend it. It is a learning journal that helps parents, teachers, and students make a triangle of connection. I also utilize Google Docs on a daily basis since I can access my files from anywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  82. This chapter, I felt, had very good explanations of the ideas that the authors were sharing with us. Their table lamp analogy was perfect for explaining architecture vs. interface.

    The difference between interdependent architecture and modular architecture reminded me a little bit of an integrated curriculum vs. subject-centered curriculum. An integrated curriculum has an encompassing idea that all subjects revolve around, and each subject's lessons work with the other subjects. A subject-centered curriculum has separate parts; each subject plans and assesses based solely on their own with no regard for what is being taught in the other subjects. Similarly, interdependent architecture involves all parts working together, even if out of necessity. Modular architecture involves different parts, but none of them are dependent upon each other; they work separately.

    I really liked the discussion that the authors had about integrated vs. modular operating systems also. The three different kinds of devices represent the three devices our school has given the teachers the option of choosing from - an iPad, a convertible laptop, and a Chromebook. Each device has its pros and cons, but (as much as education is already) their use depends upon the needs of the teachers/students in the classroom. Personally, I have the convertible laptop because it works the best with the notes that I need to type up for math class. I can see, though, that a Chromebook would be more beneficial for an English class because of its capability to access a document at any time from anywhere on any device (since it is cloud-based). Just as the education needs to be personalized, the tools used in the classroom need to be personalized also.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also really liked the options for the online content the authors introduced to us. While I would like to create all of my own material to upload and use in my classroom, but that would not be beneficial or useful of my time as a teacher (and a coach). I would not be the best for my students. I would also not like to be tied to one provider, either. I love that the internet has so many resources, but it is hard to fish through them and find ones that are helpful and would be useful in the classroom. The list of resources at the end will be worth the look-through for use in my classroom for algebra review and ISTEP+ practice.

      Delete
  83. Wow this chapter has so much going on! I wonder how much of it would be out of my hands as a classroom teacher... would I be on a committee to choose the software? (or at least would a representative from my school be on a committee?) In chapter 7, my main takeaway is my concern for keeping local control on the curriculum. On the one hand, the idea of having some of the lesson planning burden lifted is liberating, but on the other hand, I would hate to feel that I was stuck in a one size fits all solution.

    I can see my corporation going with strategy #4, the facilitated network. The ability to customize is very appealing to me, and I know the affordability part would especially appeal to the administrators!


    ReplyDelete
  84. I have to agree with everyone else, this chapter is packed full! Education is constantly changing with what we are using to teach, how we teach and over the past decade using technology. I don't see education ever getting away from having some kind of guide as far as curriculum. I think each state will continue having guidelines on what we teach. However, on the other side of this I see a lot more flexibility coming back around. We have been told over and over that each kid learns differently and to adjust your teaching, but what about teachers? We certainly can't all teach the same and we all have different interpretations on what we feel is best for our students. If we all go to blended learning, or full technology in our classroom, will our students be able to recognize their teacher's personal touches that make us unique and good at our job? Now, obviously we do because we are teachers, but my point is that at some point teachers need to be allowed to teach the students in their own way utilizing technology, blended learning, curriculum and more.

    ReplyDelete
  85. QUESTION FOR THE GROUP - off topic:
    Does anyone know much about the PIVOT formative testing program? If anyone has any insights into this program, please let me know!

    ReplyDelete
  86. I have found myself sharing a lot of this chapter with my principal, especially regarding the different hardware/software options and physical layouts. I went to the ISTE conference this year, and one of the vendor booths had a mobile teacher station, and my wheels started turning. I would have loved one of these as a teacher, as it allowed you to be any where in the room and still interact and project for students. Getting rid of my teacher desk would have given me so much more room for my students, and it would have allowed for more flexible seating.

    As we continue to integrate blended learning, a more "Starbucks-like" environment would be ideal. Giving students the option of individual, small group or large group interactions.

    My personal take on the different types of online content is conflicted. I love to design curriculum and find it to be my creative outlet, but I definitely understand that many do not feel this way. Additionally, as an administrator, I worry about DIY being vetted. How do we know that the curriculum is good, as opposed to just pretty and fun. I don't think there is one solution, but there definitely needs to be options for both sides of the spectrum. Those that love to create curriculum should have that outlet and those that don't need a curriculum to follow. Providing both allows our teachers to be their best for our students.

    ReplyDelete
  87. As we entered into this chapter I felt pretty fortunate to be in a school like CHS in which the administration has put a lot of emphasis on types of technology. We have expanded our one-to-one availability but it was based on the choices of the teachers; either Chromobooks, Convertible Laptops or IPADS. Even with the new devices, we still need to share the carts so the challenge will be in scheduling devices on a daily basis. What resonated with me in this chapter was the shift for more choice and flexibility; to customize learning. The idea of linear order to learning though does make sense; building on prior skills is not, in my opinion, outdated. What might be outdated is the pacing! I find it frustrating for myself to find ways to keep all students learning and engaged 100% of the time. The students in the middle, the majority, are the most targeted. It is the students who fall behind that I have a hard time in class assisting 100% of the time and definitely the students who excel get some advanced opportunities but not beyond the material we cover as a whole class. Even more so is the idea stated in the book "there's no one right place to be on the continuum". Based on my teaching philosophy I truly believe this and would love to have an open, multi-activity classroom where I meet in small groups. As I get closer to the beginning of the year, I beginning to worry of the application as I think about course consistency between teachers on pacing and common assessments! What I can control is designing my course with Blended Learning in mind! Strategy 1 of building your own course does help in the control and maintain some of the traditional face to face interactions with teachers that most of my students will be accustom to. Along with this will be the utilization of online videos like Khan Academy, History channel, John Green, ect. and the utilization of the online datebases that our school has that are amazing resources for students. The architecture considerations are not applicable to my situation but I appreciated the way that the chapter compared the change in design of a classroom as opposed to the building in order get a clearer picture. Like Tom Dwyer who moved his room into tables and removed the front the classroom, I need to work more to move away from "cells and bells"!

    ReplyDelete
  88. This chapter has convinced me, more than any other so far, that my department needs to collaborate in more meaningful ways regarding technology. While I was reading about the online-content strategies, I was so easily swayed by all of their arguments. I read about strategy #1 thinking that it was the best, but then I read about strategy #2 and thought it was a good option too. This same pattern happened with all the strategies as I was reading. Right now, I think I like strategy #3 most, but also can relate to the quoted complaints that the authors provided. Also, while I like the idea, it is so abstract to me. Even though the book does a great job explaining different ideas, I wish there were workshops provided around the state with concrete examples of how others are implementing it. Maybe there are and I just don't know about them?

    I also found table 7.2 to be really interesting. I was expecting it to talk about classrooms going from rows to clusters, or something similar to that. I would never have expected schools with glass walls, or no walls at all. This really blows my mind! I would love to hear testimony from students and teachers at schools like these.

    Perhaps the least revolutionary idea in table 7.2 is the setup at Ridge Middle School, but it also the most doable for me right now. It made me remember seeing a special on PBS about 360 math (I think it was called that) a few years ago. Unfortunately I have never seen a follow up and would really like to know if it succeeded, and if it did, have they made other changes/improvements.

    ReplyDelete
  89. As a new technology coach for my district, I found this chapter very interesting. I agree with the authors listing of “Twelve Other Considerations When Choosing Software” as he brings up many great points (especially student experience, adaptability, and data). I think that Facilitated Networks are a great choice for teachers/districts that might have smaller budgets and allows for content to be continuously updated. I have used Khan Academy in my own elementary classroom as a review/remediation with me pausing and discussing/having students discuss or lead regarding the topic. Our district is going 1:1 with Chromebooks 2-9, 10th-laptops, and 11-12 bring your own device; while K-2 is almost 1:1 with iPads. In regards to the physical building setting and blended learning, flexible seating not only relates to blending learning to also to the growth mindset mentality (which I feel interconnects with blended learning).

    ReplyDelete
  90. As I near the end of this book and also near the beginning of school (Aug. 9), I am becoming ever more excited about incorporating some (maybe many) of the methods I’m learning. As well as the excitement, a twinge of apprehension is also creeping its way into my mind. After attending the workshops at the Blended elearning conference today, I’ve realized jumping in with both feet may not be such a great idea. So many questions arise: How will I stay on track with my ELA cohorts? How will I “grade” each student’s progress if they are working at different paces? How will I summatively assess their learning? How will I keep track of who is doing what? What programs will I use? How will I schedule my classroom for a 90 minute block each day? Will all parts of my ELA be blended: literature, writing, vocabulary, grammar? I’m glad I attended this conference. While it has caused many questions to arise, it has also built my excitement!

    ReplyDelete
  91. We have come a long way in the past 7 years of being 1:1. We certainly put the cart before the horse our first year with teachers walking into the school year being told "all of your students will have laptops this year! Use them!" That was for our middle school and high school teachers and students. It is difficult to keep up with the constant evolution of technology and finding the time to train teacher appropriately. I have been fortunate to be able to provide summer trainings and pull teachers out of the classroom during the year (not my preference) for trainings. Our contract allows me to provide a small stipend to teachers who participate in PD outside of "school hours" which has helped. My staff is awesome and filled with unselfish learners who devote countless hours to their craft (as most teachers do) and willingly either help provide the PD or come as a learner. We have learned the importance of a strong infrastructure and have devoted time and dollars to ensure that the technology we have in the classroom actually can work because of all of the "behind the scenes tech" that is necessary to have a successful technology environment. Our tech director and staff and incredible and have provided so much to our district. We also have wonderful teacher leaders who help coach up and troubleshoot with their colleagues in their buildings. I am proud of our staff and how we have been able to get more alignment between our technology and instruction.

    ReplyDelete
  92. As I thought about this chapter, and especially the part about where schools are on a continuum (that the authors claimed to have 4 parts) from interdependent to modular software integration, I noticed that my school is further down the continuum than what I expected. We have lots of teachers who include online content into their classrooms, in fact, I can't really think of a teacher of ours that does not. I'm glad that our district has not pigeon-holed the staff into certain programs or apps that everyone has to use. Just in our math department, I know that we have teachers using ALEKS, Sumdog, iExcel, and at least one other that I have seen in observations. Depending on the topic, they choose which program is best to integrate into their content. We have a teacher in that department that has flipped their classroom, and they often choose to upload their own content, or use a free, online source that has been viewed and approved. For credit recovery, we often use APEX. During summer school, however, students can take courses from IOA, as well as APEX, to free up room in their upcoming school schedules for additional courses. There are some courses that we have no textbooks for, and the teacher was told to find an online curriculum, or piece one together themselves, that was free. That sounded harsh to that teacher at the time, but in the end, it has worked out for the teacher to have that freedom and not be tied to a textbook's scope and sequence. Our social studies teachers have used timeline software and apps, interior design has used free resources to design rooms and homes, band/choir has used apps to write and record their own music, ELA has used No Red Ink to try to improve grammar, and the list goes on. I'm glad our teachers have had the freedom to try different things, see what works and what doesn't, and design many of their classes in a way that they feel will best benefit the students. It goes with one of our district mottos: Try, Fail, Learn, Try Again.

    ReplyDelete
  93. This was a long chapter for me as well. With as quickly as things in the classroom change, I cannot really see it being beneficial for a school/district to create all of their own online content. I can see my district choosing to combine multiple providers if we were to ever incorporate truly blended learning.
    I thought it was interesting to read about schools and their different choices of devices. We are going 1:1 this fall, and there was debate about whether our primary students should get iPads or Chromebooks. They will be receiving Chromebooks, which I was happy about so that keyboard access is readily available. I also believe it will benefit students as they get older (they get laptops from school later). I also think we can better utilize Chromebooks in the classroom. At least that is my hope!
    As far as the architecture discussion, I think that would be SO hard for SO many schools to change to adapt to blended learning; nearly impossible for many. For my own classroom (kindergarten), I already have my room broken into different areas. I think I would simply make one area for computer use. Or, I could just have students work on their devices at their tables, as we are usually in our different areas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too struggle with how we would architecturally adapt to blended learning. My school corporation has been looking at new furniture. They are insistent upon getting furniture for a 21st century classroom, but haven't developed any plans for helping teachers change the way they teach. Instead they plan to purchase the furniture and in turn they hope that will be a catalyst for change. The main problem from my standpoint is that all of the prototype furniture we looked at is too big! I can have 31 desks in my classroom as well as lots of additional hard and soft work spaces if I have my old lift top desks with storage. However when I had prototype furniture in my classroom (complete with wheels on both chairs and desks), there was hardly any room to move around and hardly any room for additional tables or seating. When you don't have room to move, you definitely don't have room to rearrange furniture or to roll from one desk to the other. It would've been nice if the footprint of our classrooms had been considered before we made the decision that these types of furniture were the only way to go.

      Delete
  94. I am truly blessed working in my district to be able to have the flexibility of one-to-one technology for all students. All students have their individual chromebooks. We also have a online system that all students are connected to. As a teacher this has given me the flexibility to allow my students practically work from any area of the classroom or school. My stations are set up that all students report to a designated area to get the instructions/ask questions. All the task cards are also available online if students are absent or need text to speech accommodations. The kiddos then have the option to work from anywhere inside the classroom or in the hall, as long as they are successfully working towards their academic goals. My classroom has group tables instead of desks, it has carpets/pillows to get comfy while working, and some students get yoga balls to help them focus. It definitely takes instructing the students on how to appropriately utilize a flexible seating type classroom. However, I have found that it is quite rewarding when students use it to reach their goal.

    ReplyDelete
  95. My take away from this chapter begins with the quote on page 190 – “. . . Successful blended learning depends on making the right bets on integrating technology into schools.” If I have a say in choosing technology and software that would be news to me. As for room arrangements again very little say in what I can and cannot do. Last year I taught in a room with carpet and paint from the 1970’s. My students laughed about going back in time. I did find Appendix 7.1 to be very interesting. I have used several of the programs. Edmodo was great, but that program is no longer available for us to use. The corporation is moving totally towards Google. I’m not sure I learned much except for the challenges to the physical set up for blended learning.

    ReplyDelete
  96. Like many people, I found the technology terminology overwhelming and even had to talk it out with my husband a couple of times (he works in the IT industry). I am glad the book waited until chapter 7 to discuss technology. We so often put the cart before the horse; it was nice to see things developed before actually talking devices. This past year, at CHS, each teacher was given the choice of an IPAD, a chromebook, or a convertible laptop. I chose the laptop because of its ability to work with the different "math type" programs that can write equations and symbols that we need on tests, worksheets, etc. Unfortunately, I feel that I am at an extreme disadvantage because I have been on maternity since the beginning of December.

    It is my educational philosophy that ALL students can learn given the right pacing, teaching style, etc. I have often found it difficult to achieve this goal when we are "limited" by our pacing guides, standards, testing, etc. The idea of customizing the learning the each student is appealing, but I can see the difficulty of actually achieving this. I think combining our own created content along with something pre-made would be most beneficial to our students while still being cost effective.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am also,struggling with the idea of customization. As the tech coach, I am wanting to approach teachers about trying the blended model and working toward personalization. But, as a former classroom teacher, I also know how focused, and at times, overwhelmed teachers are as they are constantly working within specific parameters they need to attain. So, my focus needs to be trying to bring the blended aspect in small doses as I collaborate with a teacher and a classroom project.

      Delete
  97. In this chapter the integrated versus modular operating system was heavy yet new information to me. Our students use Chromebooks and it's been a pleasant experience. I'm beginning to utilize Google G Suite more myself because of convenient it is save on Google drive and access it from anywhere. Students have one password to login to the Chromebook and teachers share assignments to individual student's Google drives. It's all new to me but I'm learning!

    I found the section Twelve Considerations When Choosing Software beneficial. When our school adopts new textbooks a committee is formed. Most recently, we adopted i Ready Math which has an online component, so this information could be useful. I did see i Ready and many other programs our school has subscriptions to listed in Appendix 7.1. Utilizing the programs our school has is a starting point to adapting individualized learning paths. I found the section about Khan Academy very interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  98. I liked the stroll down memory lane concerning the history of education operations. The initial education companies tried to control the entire electronic architecture and integrate all their suites into one platform. That seemed like a very expensive and risky proposition for a school or district to take on. Then open source software and YouTube appeared and everything is going modular. In retrospect that seems like the only possible path for how schools would organize their framework. Why? Because there are thousands of different teachers and administrators who want different things out of it. Nobody has the exact same apps on their phone, nobody lives in the exact same kind of house. People, and especially kids, like choice. That said too much choice can be detrimental. With too many options you end up with paralysis by analysis. Our district has a platform that we can customize for our individual classroom and curriculum needs. It is not perfect, but at least a step in the right direction.

    That desire for flexibility also happens within the classroom. Space has a lot to do with that. If you are sharing rooms with another teacher, or teaching several very different classes, that very much limits how much you can customize your learning space. I still have a projector and screen and white/blackboard at the front of my room. However, science it is a science room it also has things like counters and lab benches. There are still walls holding up my old-school classroom, but that extra space allows for different kinds of activities that are more one-on-one tutoring and group-based.

    ReplyDelete
  99. As we are only 1 year into our 1:1 initiative while reading this chapter, I kept realizing how far we have to go, but also how far our corporation has come in just a year.
    Positives: All students have a Chromebook. Students were engaged in their learning. A huge increase in the bandwidth. Teachers did not have to sign up for "lab" time for testing. Teachers had tech PD opportunities.
    Negatives: Our architecture of the school is not conducive to easy collaboration for the students. Nor is it easy for the teachers to get around and observe. The "ideal" of bringing down the walls is not an option right now. Student breakage of devices was at 15%.
    All in all, the culture of the school is seeing change, but we need to keep moving forward. Our focus needs to be blended learning, as we combine our traditional teaching with the technology to support each individual student.

    ReplyDelete
  100. After reading this chapter the one thing that stuck out or I should say "hit me" was the concept of no walls. Wow! Maybe I read this wrong but for lower elementary this seems frightening. As far as what type of technology our building receives we don't have much say. What shows up in our rooms we try and learn how to best utilize for our students. Last week I went out to my classroom and had new iPads. I had no idea I would be receiving them... I was beyond excited!

    ReplyDelete
  101. I love the discussion of deliberately saving the talk about devices until after goals and other processing. I've yet to encounter a school that walked through the process this way, but I see lots of value. This book is a good choice for the summer because I'm thinking about things I want to implement and it's required me to think through things in order rather than jumping to try something new as I encounter it.

    Since we've got Chromebooks already, I don't need to dwell much on the decision to be interdependent or modular; modular it is! I have already done away with desks in favor of a variety of floor, seated, and standing options. Teaching primarily sixth grade, I'm curious to see how well they'll stay focused on their task if it's different from those around them. I've had success in the past with grouping students physically when they're on the same topic; they've got additional resources around them then which helped.

    Since I'm looking at setting things up to have my sixth graders do a Language Arts Lab period in which they can move more independently through skill work. I appreciated the graphic on page 201 that identifies some sample ELA resources. Does anybody have experience with any of these? I've worked with SpellingCity and No Red Ink, but I'm at the point now of figuring out how to arrange a schedule for my students (they are sixth graders after all and I fear total autonomy will be overwhelming) and which resources will best meet our needs for growing.

    ReplyDelete
  102. In reading many of the other posts, I see similarities among our schools. My school district went 1:1 several years ago, using Apple products (MacBooks and iPads). These computers do allow us to utilize programs that have content on- and off-line, which is helpful because we still have many students who do not have the Internet at home. Much of the work [in middle school] is done digitally and we do use programs like Newsela, Noredink, SpellingCity, Renaissance Learning, BrainPOP, and Khan Academy, to name a few, to provide supplemental instruction for our students. It’s reassuring to read that we are on the right track and that if we want to change or tweak strategies, we wouldn't need to start all over.

    As I have read this book, it has raised some important questions that I feel I need to find the answers to, such as what is our plan with tech and these tools? I know that as we have integrated technology, we have nearly eliminated textbooks and have cut way back on paper usage (for many grade levels), but are we looking at online platforms or programs? Will we be able to customize and individualize student learning? It makes me curious to find out where we are headed. It also makes me wonder “who” has been on the team to make decisions- I am not new, but I haven't been informed as to how decisions were made-are they listening to teachers to see what we think our students need? I'm glad to have that previous chapter on the different kinds of teams-we may need to visit that aspect to make sure everyone is represented so that we are moving in the right direction.

    ReplyDelete
  103. As many of you have already posted, technology is chosen for the teachers in my corporation. However, I am blessed by my assistant principal who was a former counselor and before that a special education teacher. Her experiences and vast knowledge is helpful to all of our staff but particularly our special and alternative teachers. She extensively researched various programs we could use and then interviewed schools currently using them. She then had one on one discussions with each teacher who would potentially participate in the blended learning experience. Finally, she provided in-service training sessions for our top two choices and led a discussion about the pros and cons for each. That is how we decided on the program we would use. Additionally, I am blessed to be in a new state of the art building that lends itself to the type of physical space I would want to provide. Again, we were allowed to provide input to the design of our classrooms and give specific requests for special programs such as mine....the alternative classroom. The design of my room will allow me to set up several stations and provide alternative seating arrangements. All of this was done to ensure more effective teaching, not necessarily for a blended learning environment. However, it will be perfect for those efforts!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  104. This chapter really hit home for me. We have not spent much time talking about blended learning in my district; however, we have spent a lot of time discussing what devices we should choose to purchase and what new furniture would be appropriate in a 21st century classroom. I know that the list that the author’s include on page 202 and 203 is meant to be a list of considerations for software, but I wish we would’ve been more explicit about some of these same issues when we were choosing devices and furniture. Too often I think we jump into things because it sounds great of looks good on the surface. However, if we had dug deeper, we could’ve realized the drawbacks and prevented ourselves from making a mistake.

    ReplyDelete
  105. In chapter seven, I found it helpful to read the pros and cons for the different online content strategies (beginning on page 196). As I’ve been making my way through this book, I have often felt the authors are in favor of schools purchasing online content. However, I don’t see this as an option for many schools due to financial restrictions. I think most schools and teachers will be forced to create their own online content. Just as the book stated, my concern with teachers creating their own online content is that it will ultimately be little more than videos for students to watch, discussion forums for students to reply to, or online textbooks for students to reference. There’s nothing wrong with these activities at all, but in my mind blended learning could be so much more. Also, in previous chapters, the authors stated that blended learning could free teachers from the day to day planning and open new roles for them within the school, but if teachers are creating the online content it seems to be adding to the work load instead.

    The section about the physical environment of schools was interesting. I would love to tour the buildings and observe a day at some of the schools that were described. I would love to have a classroom that offered more flexibility in the physical layout. It’s difficult to arrange traditional desks in a circle for a Socratic Seminar and then rearrange everything for group work the next class period and then for individual work the next day. I don’t see my district (or most schools) knocking walls down yet and completely redesigning the physical layout of their schools. It’s an interesting idea with potential, but I just don’t think enough parents or teachers have bought into the idea yet.

    ReplyDelete
  106. When first presented with technology it can be very overwhelming. When looking at the online-content strategies that the DIY strategy would be too overwhelming for a school that is newly 1:1 and new to blended learning. I would rather prefer something that is already designed with alot of structure.
    I found list of 12 considerations helpful. Price is key when choosing software, and I recently experienced that as a Read 180 teacher when the program was cut due to cost.

    ReplyDelete
  107. Every thing about this type of learning environment sounds great. I do have a concern about the technology aspect. I work in a corporation that doesn't have the infrastructure for all students to participate or even to have a teacher depend on. Often I find that the WiFi kicks the majority of students off. According to the department, we just don't have the IP address for all the students at our corporation. How can I implement a program like this when I am unsure from day to day if the "internet" will be working in our building. This is actually the main reason why at this last book adoption we didn't go to strictly internet based learning. We still spent the money on good old fashioned textbooks because of this issue. So as education, I am a little apprehensive to try this type of program right now.

    ReplyDelete
  108. Chapter 7, while full of good information, was difficult for me to read. I found myself easily confusing terms and software names, for example. I felt a growing pit in my stomach as the start of the school year approaches, thinking that I might be in over my head. I decided to walk away and marinate on the information a little bit and I started to feel better.
    I am very fortunate to be in a corporation that truly values the input of its teachers and provides excellent professional development and support. Last year our corporation added the position of professional development coordinator and she has been wonderful. She has developed some very meaningful online study modules for teachers, she has come to our buildings to show us new software and programs that we may find useful, she has met with us individually to survey our needs and she is willing to teach or co-teach a lesson to integrate technology in our classrooms. She is a big part of the reason that, while I am feeling overwhelmed now, I know it will be okay. I am confident that the support I need will be there to scaffold me as I grow into blended learning and begin implementing new strategies.
    I also really like the list of online content on page 210. I plan on keeping it close this year!

    ReplyDelete
  109. One other thing-I found the discussion of a more open-concept space in schools. I worked in a school that was built at the peak of the open-concept craze and over the years its biggest challenge has been figuring out how to close off the classrooms. While open-concept may be a dream for the blended learning environment, it is a security nightmare. Given the tragic events in recent years, it is unfortunately something that must be considered.

    ReplyDelete
  110. It was tough reading for me this week because I felt like the ideal settings were brought up many times and then when I glance at my school and options, it was far and away from what those are. Money is not there to make changes, assistance is not there to get us into - or out of ! - the tough learning situations that I need to be a facilitator in a blended learning world. It simply is not a dependable area in my school system to cling to.

    We rush into things and do not look at the long term- just the catch up to others that many of the writers on this forum have mentioned. Unfortunately this is one group where I wish I didn’t have any company because this means that our students are getting sub- standard help in the very areas that they are to be progressing in. Not due to any lack of enthusiasm, but of instruction.

    Two areas that would definitely have to change for us to proceed to advanced blended concepts is physical structure. Perhaps not of the classroom, but the building's capability to handle all of the computers. There are not the outlets we need, the consistency of the equipment that we do have, and even if these were both solved, the issue of maintaining the programs that we are working on is bound to change. More than once have we been asked to ‘buy into’ a program and sink our heart, soul, and time into, only to find that the next year it was unavailable and all the work was lost. How very frustrating this is. There are many issues that would need to be solved and the time and money factor to do this is simply overwhelming.

    ReplyDelete
  111. This chapter touched on the most challenging part of blended learning for me. Our program has jumped around frequently regarding the software that we use. One comprehensive, integrated learning platform has stayed the same, but it's probably the least effective in terms of the content it delivers. We then rely on other websites to compliment learning. There are so many choices I find it mind boggling to decide what is best for the students. Our space is also changing right now. All of these factors make it difficult to envision a consistent physical space and learning platform that will work.

    ReplyDelete
  112. As a former English teacher, I remember looking through textbooks as adoption cycles started up. I liked only a few certain aspects of each book, but, for the most part, I was always disappointed with the options we had available. I have the same feelings toward the online content that I have seen--There are some good qualities, but these software developers don't know the kids like the teachers do. I would much prefer to see teachers design their own content. School corporations should consider the amount of money they would spend on the purchase of software for students and contract with teachers to design it themselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When we were able to adopt textbooks there were usually two or three that "looked" good. I see your point that when teachers design their own content, they are able to gear it towards their students. Designing our own curriculum takes SO much time. I do no not see that any school district would pay their teachers to create their own content. I always appreciated having a textbook to guide me and if I thought that I needed to add anything...I did. I still feel overwhelmed with all the material that is already created for teaching Spanish but I can't afford to purchase everything nor is there enough time in a day, month, year to create everything for three levels on my own. I am lucky to have an online book but due to the price, I doubt that we will be able to afford to renew when our subscription expires.

      Delete
  113. My name is Juliette Lucas.

    My school does not practice blended learning currently. However we, as all schools are interested in the most current technology. I think that our school does do a good job at evaluating what is most useful in our setting and buying technical supplies that we do utilize and don't just sit on a shelf . I think it is easy to get excited about the newest and latest technology or gadget and not look forward to see how and if it would really be used. Or is that software is the best fit for your school and how you function. Just because its the latest and greatest, doesn't necessarily mean it fits for how your school functions, possibly never being utilized. Then the latest and greatest just collects dust.

    ReplyDelete
  114. Wow! What a long chapter! So many things came to my mind while reading this chapter, but teaching without walls just blows my mind. I think I would HATE it if this were to happen at our school. But we have new challenges each year, and we always adapt.

    This will only be our second year to be 1:1 in fourth grade. Our entire school is not 1:1 yet. We do not have a lot of control with our technology. Even the free apps that we want must be approved, and we are still waiting on approval from some that we wanted last year.

    I did like the idea of grouping the kiddos for math to work/ discuss math problems. I'm excited to try this in my classroom this year.

    ReplyDelete
  115. I can't begin to imagine buying an online curriculum. There are so many apps and website available that are amazing. So while it wouldn't be totally teacher created, it isn't a cookie cutter curriculum. I love the idea of having more advanced activities for those who need it and more remedial for others. Making sure that every single child is challenged is what concerns me the most.

    ReplyDelete