Monday, August 7, 2017

Blended Week Ten: Discover Your Way to Success

It may be hard to imagine being this far into the blended learning process if you haven't started it, so think about the example schools form this chapter and the assumptions that were made. What assumptions about the design do you think are the riskiest? How might you test the assumptions? What other thoughts or questions do you have about this chapter?

Next week is the final week of the book club. Take some time to go back and ensure that you have commented each week. Remember, we have had lots of comments each week and in order to see them all you have to click on "Load more" multiple times at the bottom of the post pages. If you have any questions about your participation, email Meri Carnahan at carnahan@doe.in.gov.

Next week we will read and discuss chapter 11, "Conclusion."

258 comments:

  1. The authors state on page 266, "Even some of the most successful schools or examples of blended learning about which we've written in this book have made significant adjustments to their original plans as they have operated." Two key words in this quote are significant and adjustments. This statement just stresses the need of making changes when necessary. Being flexible to make adjustments is so important as a special educator and/or general educator. It is evident that we all want to see student success in the classroom which may require changes to be made.

    The authors discuss and list the steps of the discovery-driven planning process. The authors also give a helpful chart on page 272 that shows assumptions to consider when brainstorming about what type of blended learning model to use. Again, it is essential for the team in a school and/or teacher in the classroom to look at what blended learning model seems to fit the students' learning needs. In addition, the authors mention that there should definitely be ongoing checkpoints to allow the team and/or teacher to look at what has been learned and what might need to be adjusted.
    As a special educator, I feel that is so valuable to have checkpoints to see how students are doing and then reflect and make the necessary changes in order to meet the students' needs. All teachers want to see their students be successful in the classroom. Being flexible and willing to adjust are key to students' success!

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    1. In education, you must be flexible and ready to adjust your expectations so the children feel successful at all times. In all lessons we want to be successful. For this to occur, flexibility is the key word. I totally agree with your assessment of this book.

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    2. I couldn't have put this better myself Kelly. This is such a great opportunity for all of us to read books and be able to make changes and implement great ideas right before another school year starts!

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    3. Great quotes and insight! As a fellow special educator, flexibility, checkpoints, and adjustments when necessary are key to a successful classroom! :)

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    4. I agree totally. We have to be flexible. We're dealing with so many things on a daily basis. For instance, at one school I served in the Internet was constantly on the fritz. Having a blended classroom there would have been near to impossible. The school I am at now no problems. Love it. I can't wait until we have a Social Studies adoption! That is the last class we don't have access to online. One to one is rolling out slowly, but soon very soon, no more textbooks. Change is inevitable. Still like the feel of a good book to relax with tho.

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    5. I think being flexible and willing to make changes will be so important in this process. Really I think flexibility is important in all aspects of education. It seems like things never go exactly as you planned, and you always need to be willing to figure out something new!

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    6. As a special education teacher, flexibility is always key. On paper, my plan looks like it will work perfectly, but in practice there may be things I need to adjust. My expectations for my students are very high, and I know my students can achieve, but often it is necessary to make adjustments such as---amount of time students can spend on task independently may be an area that I have to work on with students.
      As I have said throughout, I am fortunate that I have other teachers to work through this process with so I can troubleshoot and make needed adjustments.

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    7. I absolutely agree teachers must be flexible. I taught special education for 12 years then last year taught in a general education class setting. This year, I am continuing to teach in a general education class setting. As I have began the 2017-2018 school year, I am quickly remembering how flexible I need to be when I plan lessons and they don't go as well as I had originally planned.

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    8. We definitely need to adjust plans and move forward and not just move on to the next popular trend in education. There are always unexpected bumps in the road and making sure everyone is in this for the long haul and invested is a priority.

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    9. I agree with Noelle Hartman. I too am a special educator and agree 100% that flexibility, checkpoints, and adjustments when necessary are key to a successful classroom. I believe as schools begin to implement the blended learning model they should keep in mind that some students and staff will have a difficult time adjusting. Working with ALL students and staff will also be very important.Be prepared for bumps along the way.

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    10. I completely agree that as an educator we have to be flexible and wiling to make adjustments. It is extremely important in order to be a key player because things don't always go as planned especially in a classroom.

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    11. This format has been a very flexible way to learn. Again, we need to lead by example. I will continue to incorporate better technology into my teaching. Flexibility, failure, adjusting, and a very supportive leader will make this all work.

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  2. The list of assumptions could be quite lengthy. I focused on the Summit example on page 269. The assumed the Station Rotation would be sufficient. They had to make changes on the fly. Several of their assumptions will likely match mine. One-to-one Chromebooks will be the right technology, students can handle the independent, self-pacing, teachers can change their roles to become more facilitative in nature and teachers will take on the proper data mindset to drive instruction.
    All of these are good assumptions that must be examined. That doesn't even include the assumptions regarding procedures and the physical environment.
    Good advice on page 274 in regards to rigor. We have to be accountable to the "test", so their will be concerns over rigor and accountability. Also , on page 276 there is discussion about creating checkpoints to measure if things are going the way you imagined. This chapter is full of sound advice on how to get started. I can see myself referring to Table 10.1 on page 272 again and again. I t really hits all of the areas of concern.

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    1. I too found the table on page 272 to be very informative. But as I read it, I realized it was just a starting point. It even says to "Be Expansive". My special and annoying talent is seeing the worst case scenario. What could possibly go wrong? Where will we need more money? Who is going to need more training? What departments will stage a revolt?

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    2. I am also participating in another book study about establishing a culture of feedback in the classroom and I think that you are right about the adjustments that need to be made to make the students successful at an independent level. I think that the list of assumptions can be very long when considering implementing blended learning, but I think they boil down to a few:
      1) Flexibility is key. This applies to any classroom situation, but specifically when using technology, teachers must be prepared to facilitate lessons in an equally accessible way if technology should fail.
      2) Students need to be familiar with all technology they will be accessing to be successful. Blended learning has its own learning curve.
      3) Use of technology must add to the value of the learning taking place. It shouldn't be filling out an electronic form instead of a worksheet. Those are basically the same thing.
      4) Opportunities for non-consumption should be "big picture" items that will benefit many students. Instituting blended learning should be a part of learning options for everyone, not just students in AC classes or those who need remediation.
      5) I think the assumptions for which model is selected should be need based. I don't think that any model will cover 100% of student needs, but the model(s) selected should aim to meet as many students' needs as possible.

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    3. I agree with the 1-1 Chromebook assumption. From an administration view, it would be easy to assume that students (under care of their parents) would be able to use and care for a chromebook properly. As a 1st grade teacher at a Title I school, I can't assume that. Internet access, property theft, and damage is a real concern.

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  3. This chapter is valuable for the implementation of anything new and different from how students and teachers have previously lived and worked. The discovery phase assumes that all stakeholders are going to be patient. Very often the feedback from parents and community is forcefully negative enough that new ideas are not given a second chance. The suggestions offered by Horn and Staker indicate that the success of any new format begins with communication. This chapter alone might be worth a read by many who have power to make changes but neglect to reveal the desired outcomes. I appreciate Horn and Staker’s explanation, “It turns out that it's hard to know in advance what will and won't work when launching something new. Being flexible by updating your assumptions inherent in the model is key. First, start with the desired outcomes, or projections, up front. If everybody knows what the outcomes must look like for the innovation to be worthwhile, then there is no sense in playing a game of Texas Hold 'Em. Just lay the cards out on the table at the outset.” (p. 268).

    This idea of showing everybody the game plan is crucial to successful implementation, as well as Horn and Staker’s third phase of questioning whether a plan should move forward or be scrapped. Too often a fear of failure before an initiative is launched keeps the implementation from being widely publicized. This can backfire and cause people to be distrustful with future changes in what might have had some merit in the first place.

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    1. I fully agree. The metaphor you quoted is spot-on. Too often we share with our parents and community the "great things" we are doing without explaining the why or the expected outcome. Other times we implement changes without announcing them at all. Keeping some cards hidden until we are assured of their success is not a strategy that works well in a public school corporation with thousands upon thousands of employees and students. Not only will they be discovered, they'll be discussed at length without all the information in the public eye (social media most likely) and usually the most vocal are the ones with the most fear or distrust.

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    2. Why do we not always make it a policy to lay the cards out on the table? When we hide things it makes us look guilty or unsure of ourselves. Are we doing something wrong? If you want parents, students, the community, faculty, and staff to buy in to this we need to be transparent. Hold town meetings and put information in the local paper. Have the superintendent send out an email describing in detail what is going on. Resistance will happen when there is a lack of information.

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    3. In many ways, we make plans and do not include the parents, students, and even the teachers in this stage. It happens in my school which then makes it difficult to get buy in. Without the buy in by everyone, the best laid plans are frequently met with negativity.

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    4. I think you have made some really great points here. I agree that transparency from all stakeholders is important to the success of any endeavor. I also agree with the idea that it is important to know when to change course. I think that many teachers and administrators would benefit by following advice that we give to students almost daily: if you are not successful, try something different. We tell our students to abandon books if they are not "just right" and to think differently about things when they get stumped, so why should that mode of thinking work for us as well?

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    5. I love your comment about assuming the stakeholders are going to be patient. It seems like anytime something new is implemented everyone expects it to immediately have a positive outcome. It seems as though everyone thinks it should the problems should be "fixed" right away.

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  4. I feel this chapter was very informative and helpful. The three conditions discussed on page 265 gave a clear and concise way to indicate if you are ready. The information about testing and changing as needed was also helpful. Summarizing the planning process was clear and a good guideline.

    Overall this chapter had good guidance to insure success but also to assure you that failure was a possibility and that it was okay. The exhibits were useful and a great guideline to follow. Lastly the discussion of funds was mentioned. This is always an obstacle for most schools.

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    1. This is spot on. I would have said the same thing for sure. Many people look over the three conditions and go right into forming processes and plan without this thinking through these steps. What I thought was also beneficial is that these can be learned and/or used for many things so it was very beneficial. I felt that many areas were discussed - financial, planning, staff, facility and those all need to be taken into account.

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    2. I also agree on the 3 conditions! You can't just implement something without understanding those conditions entirely! I also loved the figure 10.1 on p. 272. It gave me many things to think about.

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    3. I found the chart in this chapter very helpful to make sure you had all the stakeholders and were asking the appropriate questions during the assumptions stage very helpful. It is important to make sure we have asked all the questions as we are getting ready to implement.

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    4. Yes! Your post hit the nail on the head! You can't implement something without understanding the three conditions on page 265 in their entirety.

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    5. I agree. You cannot implement something without understanding the three conditions in the chapter and asking appropriate questions during the process is important. Funding is always an obstacle in my school as we are lacking funds for most things.

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  5. The chapter gave great information on how to make blended learning/instruction work. You must have an end goal in mind and be willing to make adjustments as needed if something doesn't work along the way. Many of the assumptions mentioned in the chapter are things that I was already thinking about and how it would best fit in my own classroom. The list could go on and on though. Blended learning will not happen overnight so if it is something that teachers are truly ready for then everyone has to be on board and willing to work together in your building. I definitely couldn't do this alone.
    I would use figure 10.1 as a reference tool when thinking of assumptions and when brainstorming. It has good information to think about when trying to understand the process and how it works.

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    1. I agree with your comment on having an end goal in mind and willing to make adjustments. Sometimes I myself get frustrated with how others are achieving more with blended learning than I am, but I need to step back and reflect that I need to take it at my pace and use those teachers as my resource.

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    2. I completely agree that we must work at our own pace so we don't get overwhelmed with all of the technology. We have to work together in order for blended learning to work at our schools.

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    3. I agree and love how you focused on having an end goal. You can make adjustments along the way to help achieve your end goal and that is very valuable as a classroom teacher to understand.

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  6. I liked the ranking system that would help with how you organize and implement the plan. Communication is always very important as well. When testing creatively, I liked the idea of keeping it simple and cheap too! We would definitely talk to other schools to see what works and what doesn't. We would make sure not to make dramatic changes every week which can be confusing.

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    1. Jill, I was also impressed by the ranking system. It provides a very calculated way to organize plans and trouble shoot before other trouble creeps into the system. I understand why this chapter was not included before many of the models were presented and explanations given, but I have to say that this chapter reveals so much about implementation that makes me feel better about what was offered in the beginning of the book.

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    2. I also agree that the ranking system was neat. Before going 1 to 1, we visited another school corporation that had already implemented 1 to 1. We were able to ask questions to see what worked and what didn't, and learn from their mistakes. There isn't a reason to reinvent the wheel, so keeping it simple works well.

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    3. I liked the ranking system too! I wish we would have done what you did prior to implementing 1:1, Ashley!

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    4. Observing this in action is the best way to make decisions in most all planning phases. When it involves money, corporations balk when all information is not made available. In schools, we must always consider the students as our main interest. Not easy in Indiana when funding is based on a growing (or shrinking in our case) enrollment.

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    5. I liked the ranking system as well. It would be very helpful in implementing anything really.

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  7. Transparency is crucial in the success of blended learning in my opinion. A lack of transparency only inflates the nay-sayers, and those in our community who are still not happy that we went 1:1 in the first place. Educating and communicating with parents is not always easy, but it is necessary. For every parent who complains, I feel my corporation also has many more parents on the side of progress and trying new things. Page 277 reminds us, "Fast failure is a success; the team learned that the idea would not work before wasting a lot of time and money implementing something that wouldn't work. The key is to celebrate each time a decision is made. Rather than have people feel like they have to defend a pet idea, the victory is learning more about an assumption, not proving that someone is right or wrong." Over and over this chapter emphasized testing assumptions and making changes accordingly. Being able to make changes quickly instead of sticking with a failing assumption is so important. I feel sometimes schools stick with ideas that are clearly not productive too long hoping things will turn around. As we move toward more blended learning strategies, being flexible and changing course without feeling discouraged is essential. It would be great to remember a fact from page 267: "Research suggests that even among new companies that are successful, 90 percent succeeded with a strategy that was different from the one that the founder had originally deliberately planned." The concept of changing the original plans in blended learning might be easier keeping this in mind.

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    1. Transparency and open dialogue/communication are the keys to making blended learning a success. When teachers feel shut out of the process they tend to not support a new initiative.

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    2. You are so right. I feel like if people do not have a clear understanding of why we are doing what we are doing, they will be even more apprehensive about it. We have to make sure they understand what we are doing and what we hope to accomplish

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  8. I think the riskiest thing would be not investing too much time, resources (money). I think that many times administration or someone higher up really wants something to work and sometimes invest a lot to try to make it work when perhaps it wasn't the best avenue to take. We should be sure we are taking the right steps as a school and that we are always working together and sharing to make things better for our students.
    I thought it was also important to make sure that there are checkpoints to evaluate progress of new things and to remember that some thing might have to be scrapped altogether and that it might be better sometimes to do this than to push something that isn't working out or at the least shelve it and revisit it later.

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    1. I agree that not investing too much time or resources would be the riskiest thing. It seems (often in hindsight), that if more thought and planning had occurred before a new implementation, then many of the problems that resulted might have been avoided. People often seem to be in a rush to "get something done," but they often skimp on the planning stages when more upfront work could make the end result easier to achieve and better in the long run.

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    2. This is what I have experienced also. The quick idea of getting to one-to one without the proper pd or experience of the faculty and staff. We have been learning as the administrators learn. They send a small part of the teachers but don't give enough pd time to learn from them. We tend to get a one-time crash course on how it works and what they will do in their classroom--which has yet been from a language arts teacher. The up front work is essential.

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    3. I couldn't agree more, Karen. I feel like our administrators have the best of intentions when an idea comes up, but often they don't think it through fully or ask teacher input. It can sometimes create more of an issue than there was to start off with. Before even developing a program such as this, I think we should treat it as a lesson plan. Have a goal that it is to meet and is measurable. If the plan fails and the goal is not reached then we need to reevaluate and change things!

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    4. I agree that checkpoints and reevaluating is a key to a successful implementation.

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    5. I agree with everything you said. Too often we get excited and throw all of our money and effort into something to get it started. Then it becomes overwhelming and often times fails because we lose focus on other things. I think taking it slowly and a few steps at a time will help. Things will be less stressed and more focused on a few things instead of everything. This also allows for kinks to be worked out.

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  9. I really liked that this chapter discussed the importance of being flexible when working to implement blended learning. It is always easy to get discouraged when our plans do not instantly succeed, but when undertaking a project as extensive and exhaustive as blended learning, we need to remember not everything we do will work and adjustments will need to be made. As the authors stated on page 276, “there should be continuous checkpoints to allow the team to step back and see what it has learned and might want to adjust.” I think this is not only good advice when launching a blended learning program, but in all classrooms. As an 8th grade English department, we constantly look back on our lessons, activities, etc. and make notes about what to change for next year and adjust for upcoming lessons. I also like that the authors cautioned against making dramatic changes too often and too fast. I think most teachers have dealt with frustration and confusion when school leaders too often and too quickly change policies and expectations.

    While the chapter focused a lot on the second step of the discovery-driven planning method, assumptions, I found the first step to be critical too- desired outcomes (SMART goal). The reason I point out the importance of this first step is because too often I have experienced or seen problems when everyone is not on the same page. It seems schools regularly jump on the next big thing in education without communicating to teachers or the community as to why the school sees a need to implement the new program. It needs to be made clear to everyone from the very beginning what specific problem, issue, or concern the school is hoping to address by implementing the new program.

    I think one of the riskiest assumptions made in this chapter is that teachers know how to create good online courses and that is will not take up extra time. While I think most teachers would be interested in learning how to use new software and create engaging online courses, I believe the majority of teachers will need professional development to help them to do so. I think that blended learning can only succeed when the online courses are engaging, interactive, and tailored to the students’ individual needs or students will show little interest in their schoolwork. Therefore, I think that it is crucial that teachers receive adequate training and mentoring when beginning to work in a blended learning environment.

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    1. Totally concur with the flexible factor!

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    2. I agree with so many things in this post. We must all be on the same page in order to make this work. I can see that being a very difficult step. We also need to keep our parents and community informed of changes being made. We need everyone on our team to have the most successful outcome.
      Professional development is needed for all areas that teachers must be held accountable. We all are part of continuing education and we are constantly looking for better ways to accomplish our tasks. The professional development helps us to be better educators.

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    3. Spot on... Flexibility is key in most working environments but especially with a school environment. You have to be able to discuss with others what's working in their classrooms and what's not working. Teachers need to be able to discuss as a team what's working for their grade/ subject. There needs to an end goal and check points that help you reach that end goal (SMART goal). I too agree that the goal should be communicated to the teachers and rolled out to the community. It would be hard to have a successful blending learning program, if the teachers and parents aren't on board with the end goal. Parents need to know why we are moving to this type of learning with our schools.
      There were many assumptions to look at however; a couple stuck out the most to me. One assumption was that students would have the ability and motivation to self- pace their individual learning and another was that teachers would be able to quickly create meaningful online lessons. I feel as though students would have a hard time navigating a self- paced program never having experience with that type of learning. Also, some teachers may be able to quickly create these lessons not ALL teachers would be able to. I feel much training and discussion would need to occur to help this along.

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  10. The riskiest assumption a school can make about any change is that it will work in a short amount of time (e.g., one year). To expect changes in data without long-term commitment to a program is unrealistic. Following that, to label something a failure, specifically a "fast failure," should require multiple sources of evidence of catastrophic failure. If a change does not worsen results, it may just need more time to be developed and tweaked, rather than tossed out because the old way was just as good and less invasive or frightening.

    Setting out a timeline and establishing what indicators will be used to measure progress are key to realistic expectations. If we see more rapid progress in a school using the same program, it is important to consider all the factors involved, rather than thinking "it just won't work for us."

    I think the way this book has been structured, especially the last couple of chapters, helps the reader identify any existing areas of resistance or doubt. Starting small rather than making a sweeping corporation-wide or even school-wide change is where I think my school can find success. As we go 1:1 this year, the assumptions people have already made about the burden it will place on teachers to revamp plans, supervise every child's online activity all the time, and provide alternative activities for students with no access are all going to be put to the test by jumping in headfirst. I think I'll try to wade in more slowly.

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    1. Your response was very well written. I found myself saying "Preach!" My bunny looked at me like I had a demon. Anyway, the timeline is a great way to keep things realistic. I have students lay out their projects using a Gantt Chart so they know if their project is appropriate to being achieved within the given time. We should also hold ourselves to this same philosophy.

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  11. I read several assumptions that made me very nervous. Page 217 had two that really shocked me. First was that teachers would know how to create good online courses. The second that just one mentor would be sufficient in each school to keep students on track. Did these raise a red flag with anyone else?
    I rely on the verbal and visual feedback from my students to gauge understanding and adjust my teaching style so I know they are understanding the content. How many have us read and email and took it the wrong way? The online feedback if only text based is very limiting to us. They seriously need a font called "snarky". I have taken both good and bad online courses developed by teachers/professors. For most, I preferred their face to face courses. I like to ask questions and gain immediate feedback. I like to be corrected as I learn so I do not develop any bad habits or incorrect skills. What can I say? I'm needy.
    Not all teachers can translate what they do to an online forum. Art, industrial arts, baking, etc. These need to be done in person. Not to mention, who is going to help us learn how to make online courses?
    The second assumption is very difficult. Sometimes the only adults students see during the day is their teacher. How could we possibly find someone that we see very briefly once in a great while to be a great motivator. "Hey Timmy, I know you saw me passing through last week, but I'm here to motivate you to learn faster and keep up the good work!" I will not type the student's reply in this scenario.
    I greatly appreciated the discussion on testing the assumptions. This process, however, requires the changes and testing to be done during the school year. Students know when they are part of an experiment. They will try to sway the feedback for various reasons.
    After reading this, I have determined that Blended Learning is forever in the beta testing phase. It is always changing, and that is not a bad thing. Schools should continually evolve their educational model anyway. I also liked the "Keep it cheep, keep it simple". We don't have to spend big bucks on every change or experiment. When going to conferences see if you can get a free sample, text book, trial software package, etc. These companies want us to give them the big bucks so handing out a few free samples makes good business sense.

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    1. I also thought the two assumptions that you mentioned should raise a red flag. I don't think I would be very good at creating an online class...unless I had a lot of free time to do it! I would think that there would need to be more than one mentor to keep students on track. Students need daily contact with their teachers.
      I like the idea of blended learning but I am not sure if I could implement it everyday.

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    2. I know I would be unable to produce an effective on line course. Give me a break. If I could do that, I would have joined the private sector, made a lot more money, and never been so frustrated with my job. I also wouldn't be loving my job, loving my students and making a difference in many lives!!

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    3. I agree... I was shocked by a few of those assumptions as well. The assumption that the teachers would know how to successfully create an online course, and that teaching both the traditional course and online course wouldn't take any extra time (for teachers). If these assumptions weren't tested or investigated, this program would have been a real failure. I like and appreciate all of the steps that are part of this discovery-driven planning. And, having checkpoints along the way to make sure that everyone and everything is still on track (and allowing for adjustments along the way) is critical.
      I agree with a few of the comments above...creating an online course would not be one of my strengths!

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    4. I completely agree! I don't think I would trust just anyone to create a good online course. I think there must be some guidelines given!

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    5. When I read your post I laughed out loud because I also had these assumptions underlined and ha ha written next to them. I'm currently involved in some online professional development that I have found extremely poorly put together. It makes me understand how difficult this can be and how important a good online course is for achieving learning objectives.I found the chart and method of prioritizing the assumptions and risks extremely beneficial.
      One statement that really stuck out to me was on pg 277. "The key is to clebrate each time a decision is made. Rather than have people feel like they have to defend a pet idea, the victory is learning more about an assumption, not proving that someone is right or wrong." This can be very difficult for some.

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  12. # 1 Quote: "...the plan must make as much sense to all members of the organization..." In a school? This is never going to happen!

    # 2 I like the notion of tweaking rather than tossing out the initial trials. I have seen way too many new ideas tossed out the door because they were not immediately successful, or because the trial phase was confusing and the learning-curve (for those implementing the program) proved too stressful or frustrating.

    # 3 It is difficult to predict the outcome when launching something new. More significantly, there will be those who credit the program as a success while others (maybe just across the hall) will say it is a failure!

    I have repeatedly mentioned our school's PBIS program and the use of a daily homeroom class where teachers are with 15 - 20 students in a mentoring situation. I love the program, want to see it through at least a 5 year trial (we are entering the second year), and believe it will give us great results. However, there are several teachers in our building who hate the whole thing. They believe it is too childish in nature, just adds another period to their workload, and is a waste of time. They were ready to toss the program out at the end of the first year. And as in almost always the case, the complainers use the loudest voices.

    # 4 The idea of creating an assumptions checklist is really, really good. We all too often just assume that what we find creative and innovating will strike everyone else that way, too. We assume that students will be willing to try something new, be motivated as we are to make things work, etc. We assume that what we need for success (what must be true for success) will be there without any bobbles. Administrative personnel will be supportive. Funding will be available. Parents will "buy in" to the program. Teachers will all be "on the same page." Brain storming sessions that focus on the "what if..." are necessary.

    # 5 I found chart on page 269 easy to understand and always like the charts provided within this book.

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    1. I agree with your comments about something making sense or seeming like a success to all is unattainable. There are just too many voices, and yes, usually the negative complaints are usually the most easily heard.

      I think that blended learning is a possibility, but it almost seems like you have to start from the ground up in all areas...and most specifically, the creation of the building and the hiring of specific personnel. Perhaps it would work best in a magnet or charter school, where faculty can be hand-picked with the knowledge that this is the type of model the school will follow.

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  13. I think that this chapter gave a good comprehensive list of questions and assumptions that have been asked or made in the past. Some of the assumptions that stuck out to me, that I believe at my school could be happening are:

    "Students can handle self-pacing" I see this happening in our school right now, when students are given projects or work online that they do not know how to divide their time and resources. They wait to do everything at the last minute.
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    "Ten minutes of dedicated mentorship time for each student each Friday will be enough" I think this is hard to make an assumption about because you never know what the students are thinking or feeling beforehand. Also they may start to view it as a chore and not get as much out of the experience as the school wants.
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    "Just one mentor would be sufficient in each school to keep students on track" I think that any teacher the student's have should be vested in their interests and help keep them on track.

    I like that the chapter talked about being expansive about assumptions. You never know what is going to go wrong or happen, but thinking about all the possibilities beforehand and having plans in place do help.

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    1. I also agree that the chapter gave a good list of questions and assumptions to ponder. There are several things in theory sound great and wonderful to do. In reality, those ideas can be time consuming or unrealistic. It is always a good idea to go back and look at the past week, month or year and see what we can change or improve upon. Sometimes it is okay to scrap an idea and start over.

      I also agree with the specific assumption examples that Coriann chose. Students have a very difficult time with time-management. This is a skill that needs to be taught early on to make self-pacing attainable in the higher grades. I have students who don't finish tests because they can't manage their time.
      In our district, we are really try to equip teachers with tools that will help us teach to the 21st century. The problem is we are working with 1960's wiring. These are problems that are being addressed, but it requires funding and time.

      I did like this chapter and its organized approach to planning for blended learning. I am excited to learn more about this teaching and hopefully start implementing parts of it in my classroom.

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    2. This discussion of listing and testing assumptions seems so valuable!! It seems like an excellent way to process a plan before putting it into place. Being willing to adjust the plan appropriately when determining the success or failure of assumptions is so important to ultimate success.

      I agree that self-pacing is such a struggle for many students. Even though that feels like a failed assumption, discussing it this way allows for discussion about modifying the assumption or making plans to accommodate the concern.

      I was concerned about how you would go about testing some of the assumptions, but the example about determining the rigor of a software was helpful in that!

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  14. I think that making an assumptions list is great - we have to try to troubleshoot as much as possible beforehand! I erroneously thought when I started in our 1:1 program that the students, being "digital natives" would be way ahead of me and most of the learning curve would be me! It is true that I am still learning - everyday, but students don't have it all together either! We have to teach them as well - and model exactly what it is that we want.
    I think that being flexible is very important - tweak and don't give up! Technology will fail sometimes, our lessons will tank, kids won't understand - no matter how clear we are!
    In my class we work pretty independently - however, it always takes several weeks to get to that point. As teachers, I think we need to remember to put in that time!
    The only other point that I would make is that as teachers, we need to be willing to help each other -both how we do things but also how to help our students.
    We can't expect things to work seamlessly at the beginning!

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    1. It is so true that there is still so much for students to learn through and with technology. I had a fear that I would be stuck often and asking my students to help guide me through troubleshooting when in fact I have found that they need more assistance than I imagined. And we really just shouldn't assume anything without contingency plans in place. I think all teachers can agree that changing the game plan is part of who we are and what we do. We wear too many hats to simply say, it HAS to work this way. "Tweak and don't give up!" I agree wholeheartedly.

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  15. I appreciated that this chapter acknowledged the risk associated with switching to a blended learning model, especially on a school-wide scale. I think "discovery-driven planning" is a great model for any new venture in education - not just with blended learning. I have been at schools where it seemed to me as a teacher, that the school district wanted to take big leaps into new territory with not only school layout but also the basic structure of classes, without any pilot testing or teacher training on the new way of doing things. It seemed very reckless to me when dealing with something with the amount of importance and moving parts as public education. I think that the chart for making assumptions would be extremely valuable in this situation. Also the idea of testing out a process or product before jumping in headfirst is crucial.

    One of the assumptions that stuck out to me was from a teacher's perspective - "teachers would know how to create good online courses" and "teachers would not have to spend significant extra time preparing for their online courses." I think those assumptions are very risky especially because most teachers currently in the field have not been trained in these areas. I have been teaching and out of college for four years and when I was in undergrad, I never learned anything about creating online courses or teaching online. As a relatively "new" teacher, I think it is a safe bet that many of my more experienced colleagues also have this gap in their education and training. I also think just the assumption that teachers will be satisfied with significant shifts in their roles is risky. Sometimes the shift may be so different from what drew the educator to teaching in the first place that they will not be invested or satisfied with their new role. However, this is probably less of a concern at a brand new school versus a school that is already established and converting to blended learning.

    Overall, I like the ideas about being flexible and adjusting to what works when making a big change. I also like the charts and other useful features in this chapter. It is helpful to read about the example schools to give an idea of what this change could really look like and what the pitfalls could be.

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    1. I fee like we jump into things too quickly too and like to appear we have the newest, best thing. In reality, we are only surface learning and don't have complete "buy in" from the teachers, let alone the parents. I feel that if something is to work, it has to be clearly thought through, shared, explained, taught, and then implemented. Those of us that have been in teaching more than 20 years have seen so many things come and go. Sometimes the things might have been beneficial but because it was not taught, explained, and made known to parents, it was doomed to failure. It seems absurd that we continue to go down this same path so many times. I too think the author assumes that teachers can create online classes when i was never trained for such a task. I think there are lots of assumptions in education that need to be qualified. Most of us are taught to teach whatever we are given, not come up with online courses.

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    2. Preach! I am newly at a school right now that is changing their LMS. First, teachers had to create lesson plans, then they had to convert them to digital format (which is assumed to take NO time, according to one of the schools in the book who implemented the program). Someone decided they no longer liked that LMS, and teachers and students alike must now convert all that work AGAIN. I understand that some of it may my able to transfer over, but I am too experienced to think that is going to transfer seamlessly. Teachers were receiving training on the new system just 2 days before school started--how can one be prepared or knowledgeable enough to teach efficiently? Already students are complaining. Change is a hard thing--I get that. But unnecessary and constant and complicated change results in the disequilibrium that I feel we are all suffering--to the detriment of our mental health.

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  16. “Discovery Driven Planning” (266) feels like a very good process to use when implementing a new plan in which there exists very little hard data regarding previous attempts. It still rankles me that our students pay the price of the testing process, but at least this plan provides concrete steps to help maximize success/

    The “lean startup method” (266) resonates particularly well with me because it would seem easy to assess whether or not a SMART objective is being met, or if students or teachers are frustrated. Easy in = easy out.

    I did find it daunting to consider specifying a list of up to 100 assumptions (271), but I hope that a large team would be involved in creating that list. I also hope that, once more schools are taking this step, there might be sample lists from which to draw, like a standard G/L chart of accounts that can be used as a guide, yet modified for any individual business. I had never heard anything like the proposed step that these assumptions would then be categorized based on how important they were/what would happen if they were wrong.

    As a side note, because I have consistently balked a bit when I think of the removal of the human touch that takes place as digital technology comes to the forefront in education, so I felt a bit vindicated when I read about one assumption that First Line proved to be false (270). This assumption stated that teachers would complete professional development if offered webinars via a new software program, but this proved ineffective and representatives had to come to the school for in-person teaching. Hmmmm. This does not speak very well to the efficacy of digital learning. I also noted an assumption from Quakertown (271) that indicated teachers would not have to spend extra time creating digital lessons. It feels to me as if the schools in which I have been involved do still consider this to be true. Teachers who do not have a summer to prepare, such as late hires, will be in dire straits without training or assistance.

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    1. I fell into the category of your last paragraph. Two days to plan and have access to anything. I got some online webinars that helped a little and then some on-site instruction, but it was limited to two 50 minute sessions to cover a multitude of things. I also saw some light with the Discovery Driven Planning and share your concern on the testing process for students.

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  17. I think that it is a great idea to make a list of assumptions and make clear the outcomes/goals of the blended learning school environment. I also appreciate that the authors are open to the fact that failure is a possibility, and that "it's OK" (pg 277). A key is to know how to make adjustments and improve where change is needed. Reevaluate and persist!
    Some assumptions that made me stop and crinkle up my face were reading that Quakertown assumes that it's "teachers would know how to create good online courses." and that "Teachers would not have to spend significant extra time preparing for their online courses because they could use the same content from their face-to-face courses." I do not have confidence in my ability to create a good online course, and I have taken some online courses that were basically a waste of my time! I would've benefited much more from a face-to-face classroom experience with an instructor! Also, as for time... as a teacher, I'm constantly searching for new and different things to use in the classroom. I don't want to get bored with what I do (teaching the same subject each semester), so I have to change things up--new examples, new activities, new ...etc! Just because my time isn't going into one thing, doesn't mean I wouldn't put it into another area of my teaching to continue to grow and enhance my classroom/instructional experience. (I kind of took a little bit of offense that the authors implied teachers could "slack off" once your programs were created).

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    1. I had the same response as Robin to the assumption that teachers wouldn't need to spend extra time preparing for their online courses...they'd just use the same content in their face to face classroom. I also was shocked, and slightly offended. It implies that we don't put any effort into what we prepare for the kids in our traditional classroom setting. I still believe there are a lot of advantages to teaching kids in a face to face setting. There are a lot of activities, simulations, and visual examples that I can share with my face to face classroom students, but I can't share with my online students.

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  18. I thought using Discovery-Driven Planning made sense before implementing a blended learning program and agree that for schools to be successful, they will probably have to be flexible and able to adapt their assumptions if the old ones don't prove true.

    In response to the prompt, I looked at the assumptions that Summit Public Schools made. When looking at assumptions about students, I thought one of the riskiest assumptions they made was that students can handle the self-pacing. Many may be able to, but there are always a few students who really need a great deal of structure. How will the school help them stay on track if they can't do it themselves? How will the school monitor student progress to make sure they are on track to graduate or reach their individual goals? Will they receive extra mentoring? The other risky student assumption, in my opinion, was the assumption that ten minutes of mentoring each week would be enough for each student. Again, that is probably right for most students, but what about the students who are going through rough times or need more help? What about students with frequent absences? Will they be allowed extra time for mentoring? Will the mentoring by a teacher replace the traditional role of "counselor" at the school? Maybe Summit already has answers for all these questions, but if not, these are all questions that will surely come up.

    I thought Summit also made several risky assumptions about teachers. The first one is that the professional development offered will be enough to help teachers to shift to their new roles. Many teachers will probably adjust with few problems, but teachers who lack experience with blended learning (or motivation to incorporate blended learning) may need additional training or time to adjust to the new role and expectations. The second risk is that the meeting time allowed for teams (twice a week) would be enough time. It seems like more time would be needed in the beginning--is there a provision for this?

    I wasn't going to look at the other schools, but two risky assumptions from the Quakertown school really stood out. I think that the belief that teachers without experience with blended learning would just automatically know how to create good online courses and that teachers would not have to spend significant extra time preparing for their online courses are (and were) very unrealistic. It makes me wonder if teachers were a part of the planning committee.

    I took away the main points that good planning (i.e. looking at the desired outcome and listing assumptions) and flexibility (as well as a willingness to adjust assumptions) are key to avoiding and solving problems in blended learning.

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  19. I really liked how they acknowledged that "research suggests that even among new companies that are successful, 90 percent succeeded with a strategy that was different from the one that the founder had originally deliberately planned" (267). When applying this philosophy to schools, it is imperative that we keep our student body's needs in mind. Those needs may evolve as we address our assumptions and as the population changes.

    Starting with the outcomes reminded me a lot of "backwards design." As educators, we go through a similar process when planning our curriculum. We have to acknowledge our assumptions about many things too. I felt like Summit Public Schools were bold in their assumption that the students would be able to handle the self-pacing. I hope they built in the time to teach them how to manage that. Quakertown's assumptions were all risky in that it appears they were really trying to get more for their money. While teachers may be capable of doing the things they assumed, many could burn out quickly from the extra demands. Also, I agree with Brenda (above) regarding FirstLine. They made many assumptions about blended learning that just proved to be ineffective.

    It does make me wonder if blended learning is built more on assumptions and less on proven effectiveness. I also wonder what blended learning will look like in twenty years? Will this be an educational whim like we've experienced so many times before, or will we find the appropriate combination of technology and instruction to really meet our students' needs?

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    1. I thought of backwards design immediately as well. As for blended learning, I agree, it will be interesting to see where this is in twenty years. Since I don't see technology going away anytime soon I believe the correct balance of technology and instruction will be found. Since many schools are still in the introductory phase of it all it will take some time for sure.

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  20. As the chapter stated, "it's hard to know in advance what will and won't work when launching something new." Anytime you are piloting or steering a new initiative their will be risk involved. It is important, as Summit did, to follow data closely throughout the process. Being flexible is of course always important in teaching. And chances are the original model won't be what you stay with but it will give you a starting point to build from.

    The chapter suggests starting with the desired outcomes or backwards design. What are the outcomes you are hoping to achieve and then implement a plan to test whether the assumptions are reasonable. For some schools like FirstLine, it was assumed that laptops on rolling carts would suffice but they ran into the laptops getting damaged this way. This assumption had risk to it. Summit assumed that professional development would be sufficient for teachers to shift to new roles. This might work but it is also important to make sure that teachers are all accepting of their new role and implementing new initiates with fidelity.

    The chapter offers up some great suggestions when working with assumptions. Rate the assumptions by risk factor and if something goes wrong, how badly will it derail the success of the initiative. The chapter also suggestions looking at ways to reduce the risk factor such as visiting other schools that are doing something similar, read the research, talk to experts in the field and launch a test pilot in the summer. The chapter also suggests creating "checkpoints" to frequently test and evaluate assumptions. You may need to simply tweak the plan or make bigger adjustments. Worst case scenario the entire plan may need to be shelved so it doesn't prove to be too costly.

    When starting something new and out of the ordinary, risk can be involved but risk can also bring great reward. Think through the risk and try to troubleshoot as much as you can ahead of time. This will prove to be very valuable!

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  21. There are just a couple of assumptions that I thought were extremely risky. The first one is that students will work independently and be able to self pace. I think this is expecting quite a lot from kids. I know that,for myself, 8th graders should be able to self pace, but several of them could not. The other assumption that I thought was risky is that teachers would know how to make good online sources. If teachers are going to be responsible for something like this, there would need to be training involved at some point. I'm not sure what kind of time table that would need either. Will it take a week to learn or six weeks? I think this chapter did a great job of laying out the steps for creating blended learning environments. The rating scales given were great, as well as the discovery based planning method. I feel like sometimes programs are put in place, then when an issue arises it's either ignored or "patched" instead of really getting to the root of it and making changes for the better. This chapter does a good job at letting us know that there is going to be failure, and that's okay. You need to fix it and try again. No matter how many years you have been teaching, there's always going to be failures, it's the learning that comes from that that needs to be paid attention to.

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  22. I unfortunately do not have “a day or two to create a list of assumptions” (Horn and Staker 271) with school starting back up again next week, but I am curious as to whether I am the only teacher looking at the “in theory” ideas presented in this book and the practicality of bringing it to my classroom “island” as a realistic impossibility! My quick look at the questions posted in table 10.1 (Horn and Staker 272) in reference to assumptions would fall mainly under “Team”, “Student Experience”, and “Software.” As a single English teacher in a large public school district, I am driven by staying consistent in reference to the grading practices of my colleagues, textbooks that have been invested in by the district, and an industrial concrete walled classroom that I am linked to on a daily bell schedule. I am less concerned about student pacing, but rather, assessment, rigor, and my use of individualized data feedback from the software that I could utilize (anything that is free from the internet or purchased out of pocket) for my classroom. Many people in the blog have mentioned teaching to the test, and I unfortunately must concur. We are “graded” by our students’ performance on standardized tests, so with the above assumptions being tested in a prototype or through a data driven software package that allows for students to set their own goals (which may lack in rigor), I would argue that implementing blended learning in my classroom may be too risky.

    On a more positive note, I would like to mention that AP College Board sent me an email last week about their partnering with Kahn Academy. In 2019, they will be providing additional only resources that can be blended into a classroom curriculum. AP Teachers will have access to electronic content and data retrieval for enrichment in the AP classroom. I am very excited about this addition! It is exactly what I had asked about several times in our blogging over the summer: a way for the station rotation model and more individualized instruction to occur in my AP Literature classroom. All I can hope for now is that these resources will be provided free to all!

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  23. When you're starting something new, there are going to be risks. You can assume it is going to take longer than planned, you're going to need more PD, some teachers will resist it at first, some hardware issues will arise. There will be setbacks. However, you rethink, revisit and retry. The risk will eventually become the reward. I think the chart on page 272 asks the right questions and included them for each part of the whole picture. There should be continuous checkpoints to allow the team to step back and see what it has learned and might want to adjust. Technology continuously changes and so will your blended learning program.

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    1. I agree that starting something new can involve risks. Planning and trying to cover all possible concerns and situations is necessary but being realistic in our assumptions that we will have to change and review what we are doing is vitality important. Some key things to keep in mind is being flexible and persevering.

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    2. Jill, I couldn't agree more! Starting something new always includes risks. There are always setbacks, but the key is to keep reevaluating and adjusting to meet best practices. I, too, thought the assumptions list was very expansive. There were certainly some assumptions that are key. I especially liked the question "Are we asking teachers to do things for which they are not trained?" This to me is vital. I like your thought about having checkpoints along the way. Just as we have to make adjustments in the classroom, adjustments to any plan are necessary to make sure the SMART goal is still in sight.

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  24. I think it is important that the first step (Exhibit 10.1) is listing the desired outcomes. Many times, we get focused on the technology instead of the skills and needs. I like that you are looking at assumptions being made because many times we do not think of that when planning instruction. We make assumptions about students knowledge and expertise everyday. The assumptions that were the riskiest to me from the Summit Public Schools example was that their students could handle the self-pacing and that ten minutes of dedicated mentoring time for each student each Friday would be enough. I know many of my students would need much more than that so I think these assumptions are not going to be found as true. To test the assumptions, you would need to first try out your plan for a predetermined amount of time, collect data, and then evaluate progress. This chapter reminded me a lot of the DataWise training that I received this summer to help sort and analyze student data. With that process you sort through data to find your learner center problem and then make a plan to address it. I think that is important as you look to set up your own blended classroom. Each classroom and school is different and I do not think there is a “one size fits all” approach when utilizing blended learning.

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    1. I completely agree with you. We are trying to set up blended learning and we are in our second week of the school year. We have the i-ready program and we are trying to get every kid in the school through testing and then we are trying to teach the students how to cycle through a blended learning setting. The assumptions I made at the beginning were thinking that because they were familiar with daily 5 that this would work easily. I was really wrong! I have had to go back and teach each step to them and try to build our stamina in order to focus on blended learning. This is quite the learning curve right now! Thanks for sharing!

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  25. I love the chart on page 272. As I was reading this chapter, I was keeping a list of assumptions for different blended learning/ integration goals. The chart does a nice job of organizing those assumptions. I really like the student and teacher experience groups—I think sometimes we make assumptions about teachers and students ( at the district level) that does not account for their actual experience with blended learning and technology integration. One question I wrote down, “do we have the right team?” When considering the student and teacher experience, I am not always sure that we include students and teachers enough, in a meaningful way, during the planning process.

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  26. I think the charge on page 275 about Testing creatively was a bit unrealistic.
    First of all, the Bold Headline Keep it Simple and Cheap... We all know teachers are not good at keeping it Cheap, we spend gobs of our own money making things in our room look the way we want, have a theme, match, look "pinterest worthy", etc. So keeping it cheap made me chuckle.
    I also found the "good enough" approach to be odd. Teachers spend a lot of time talking to students about doing their best work. I found it odd to think any teacher I know doing something just "good enough". It goes against most teachers' personality types.
    Other testing suggestions like visiting others schools and conducting a focus group just seemed unlikely as far as feasibility and time.

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  27. I think Summit’s first assumption - its students can handle the self-pacing - would be very risky. I’ve assigned a variety of projects over the years, with time frames varying from one week to several months. Each project comes with a timeline and benchmarks for completion. Invariably, some students wait till the last possible moment to start. For these type of students, self-pacing would be a monumental challenge. This assumption may be tested by having a transitional period, where students are slowly introduced to self-pacing for a unit or set of standards for a short period of time, and returning to more traditional methods while the resulting data was evaluated.

    I think Quakertown’s first assumption - teachers would know how to create good online courses - would be risky as well. The adjective “good” is subjective. How in-depth should the course be? Is the course intended as remediation, or is it for proficient or advanced students? Without clear guidelines regarding the content and complexity expected for an online course, there may be huge discrepancies within a building or district regarding how “good” the online courses are. This assumption could be tested by having evaluations of the online courses prior to their implementation with students.

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    1. I agree with what you said about Summit's assumptions. It was one of the risky assumptions I listed too in my comments. Every single person works at their own pace, and sometimes none at all if they are not motivated. Some are too distracted as well. Some need outside motivators to help with their own pace...extrinsic vs intrinsic needs.

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  28. I think the key to this chapter is the part on page 266 that mentions adjustments to original plans must be made. I found this information to be helpful. I was feeling a bit depressed and overwhelmed as I read. It was a dose of reality. I guess I still wonder where the money comes from to implement these changes. I also realize that flexibility is crucial. I still think that in the school where I teach, this learning style has the best chance of success at a classroom level or department level. At this point, I don't think our school system is ready for a large scale adoption. Teacher training would be a must. I did like the part of the chapter that mentioned the training of teachers. Again, where does money come from for the training? I still think the personal aspect of a teacher/student relation is important no matter how much information can be found on technology devices. I think a balance of the two is important for many students.

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  29. I loved looking at the chart on page 272. The parts that stood out to me where team, software and culture. Too many times I don't know if the right people are part of the decision making process or the same people are always on the "team" making decisions. Software..this is where I am struggling at the moment as I work on the implementation of a blended classroom for the fall. Finally, culture...I'm not sure if blended learning is a priority for all team members in my district.

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  30. The chart on page 272 has many of the questions that have come to mind while I have been reading. Even though I feel we have a great team, one question I did not think of is "Are the teachers matched to the right roles where they can fell success?" I think that has the most risk. If teachers do not feel successful, then they can pass that feeling off to their students and put blended learning in jeopardy. How do administrators figure out what the right role is? Will our administrators be able to observe a successful blended school and have their questions answered? Will teachers be able to switch roles. Hopefully the staff will be open for revisions of the original plan.

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  31. I would agree with many of the other posts that the chart on page 272 is helpful in that it had a lot of the questions that were floating around in my own head as I was reading. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the idea that you could come up with a plan and then find out so early in the process that if did not fit the needs of your students. In this day and age with the money that is being spend on technology, it is scary to think that your school could invest so much in programs and hardware and find that it does not fit with the kids and that teachers are having a hard time getting on the train. The best thing for me about this chapter was the idea of running through it all at the conceptual level and making sure you answer all the questions on your list before you get to the point of really investing. Many other people have commented on the fact that you need to make sure you have a team that has members from all over the school...not just folks who always get put on teams to flush out the idea in the conceptual framework before moving on to the next step. I think the examples of how schools adapted after their first plan of action at the end of the chapter was really important. I don't know how many times I have been a part of a new thing in education where the school goes out and buys a program or a resource and we end up adapting after contact with the students.

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  32. I think that the worst/biggest assumptions that I can make as I prepare to lead a blended classroom for the first time is that 1. it will magically come together overnight and 2. the maturity level of my incoming group of students. No offense to my new group of kids, but some years, especially at the third grade level, independent work can be difficult to produce. I do not yet know if the mix of kids will be conducive to a true blended third grade classroom.
    As I make final adjustments to my list of goals and objectives before the kids arrive tomorrow, I repeating one word over and over again: patience. I am focused on putting procedures in place and clearly outlining my expectations. This is a marathon and not a sprint and I need to not be too rushed because I do not believe that I will be successful if I force it too early.
    This will be a year of reflection and trial and error and I am praying that I have a fairly flexible group of students that will allow me to make mistakes and learn from them to establish a blended classroom.

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  33. The idea that you have to be willing to adjust is key. You need leadership who will support the use and who will halo when adjustments need made.

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  34. Leadership is the key. If there is no support, nothing can really happen in the classroom. Money is also important. Any time there is a new idea or concept that needs to be implemented into the classroom, it generally cost money to get the program started.

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    1. You are so right about leadership! You can not accomplish much with any new idea unless you have the support of administration in the case of a school. I know our administration has been very supportive with finding ways to continue to improve our technology and hopefully soon we will be a truly blended school.

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  35. I feel that the authors emphasis on "significant adjustment" is the first assumption we will have to make. Yes we can work with our expansive lists but flexibility and the ability to adjust on the fly is crucial. As teachers I think most of us are used to doing mid flight corrections but when the whole school is involved that may prove to be more of a challenge. I thought the Quakertown assumptions were pretty interesting and typical of schools who perhaps don't create an expansive, exhaustive list. The idea that teachers would already know how to create good online courses, that there would be no significant extra prep time needed, or that those teachers would be able to do both online and face-to-face courses simultaneously is very alarming. I'm guessing NO teachers were involved in creating that list. I think it should be an assumption that teachers really don't know how to create good online courses; most of our staff would struggle with this simply due to lack of knowledge. Training and scaffolding for teachers would be a critical component to this assumption. And testing it should entail maybe taking a few kids and having them run through it looking for glitches etc. A staff member could also "take the course" to check for content, pace, and student directed opportunities. These types of professional development take time however. I would anticipate keeping staff working over a summer maybe 2-3 days a week and pay them to develop and test courses before school started in the fall.

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  36. As we finish our summer reading experience, I would like to share some thoughts about "blended" methods. Actually I support using blended methods. But by this I do not mean only bringing more technology to the classroom. To be truly "blended" we must use a combination of methods based on many factors to bring about the best possible education experience for our kids. Certainly we can not use only lecture in the classroom, but at times a good old fashion lecture might be the best method for the topic of the day. Using only project based learning may cause students to get a little bored over time, but the projects in my class are the best and most exciting thing we do. By the same token, technology is extremely important in today's classroom, but if we are to be totally efficient, we cannot use only technology based instruction. Let's truly blend our methods to the task at hand. Keep our instructional routines fresh. Use a variety of approaches. Make school and learning fun, challenging and exciting for students and teachers.

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  37. As this chapter states,"It turns out that it's hard to know in advance what will and won't work when launching something new."

    Several schools presented in this chapter made some risky assumptions before implementing their blended learning program. Here are some examples that to me where risky assumptions:

    1) Summit Public Schools assuming its students could handle self-pacing. Most adults have a problem with this, let alone the teenage mind that is easily distracted and not always as motivated as we'd like them to be;

    2) Summit Public Schools also assuming that ten minutes of mentorship time once a week would be sufficient. The value and need of face-to-face interaction with a caring and concerned adult was underrated. Since much of their students' time was spent pacing themselves behind a screen, the need for adult interaction and guidance must have been even greater. There is no comparison to the benefits of real humans verses the screen;

    3) Firstline Schools assumption that the amount of time they gave to their kindergarteners to their 8th graders in front of a computer screen wasn't too much (60 and 100 minutes respectively.) They also made a risky assumption that the para-professionals that helped in the lab didn't need to know content. While the chapter didn't state how these problems were solved, too much screen time and not enough content-based help available could easily cause student burn out and frustration;

    4) Quakertown made a risky assumption in thinking that just one mentor would be sufficient in each school day to keep students on track. As I mentioned previously, it's difficult for adults to stay on track...so suffice to say with the teenage mind expecting constant stimulation yet being so easily distracted this could lead to poor results.

    All of these risky assumptions point to the need and value of human, face-to-face interactions that need to combine more fully with purely computer-driven learning. Students need to feel connected, they need guidance, they need inspiration, they need to be motivated and not just plopped in front of a screen and be expected to learn. The risky assumption we can all make at times is that the screen rules over the person...and people (children and teenagers included!) need people.

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  38. I actually liked reading this chapter 10. It took me a few chapters, but I liked reading this one. I think this chapter is where a lot of schools and school districts are finding themselves. Private and Charter schools are already on board with some sort of Blended learning. Public, brick and mortar, established school districts know they need to get on board with some type of blended learning.
    DISCOVERY-DRIVEN PLANNING: Man, I hope we do not do what Summit PS did. You would lose our staff in a heart beat if you switched blended learning programs as often as they did. Changing the times of the school day is tough enough for most of us. I understand the desired outcome in mind is the best way to start. If you jump midship from the choice you made, then more time needs to be invested in discovering what program you will want to start with.
    START WITH THE OUTCOMES: This is a great two paragraphs. I wish that school districts and administrators could be a little more open about the programs with staff and parents. We still live in a model where we throw many things against the wall to see what sticks, and go with it until it fails. Transparency when choosing a program should be out there for everyone to see, not just the admin who are making the decisions.
    CREATE AN ASSUMPTIONS CHECKLIST: Brings me back to the old adage: if you ASSUME.......it makes an A$$ out of U and ME.
    SHOULD WE GO FORWARD, CHANGE, OR SHELVE THE PLAN?: Common sense, here.

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  39. I found this chapter useful and informative. A couple different places I noted in the margins the need to be willing to adapt and adjust. On page 266 the author wrote, "One key to their success has been their ability to test their hypotheses and continue to iterate on their plans as they gain more information." Then, on page 267 they discussed the Carpe Diem school and how it has continued to change physical space and rotational schedules. "Being flexible by updating your assumptions inherent in the model is key." I think many teachers by nature like control and things to be in order. The challenge for me will be to revamp, collect information and adapt and let go of some of the comfort and control of what I know.

    Another thought I had as I was reading this is that much of it seems similar to UbD that we have been training on in our corporation. This chapter melds well with the UbD concepts of identifying the outcome and then working backwards to get there.

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  40. The points made regarding communication and transparency were spot-on. Sometimes we think that when implementing a new initiative, just providing the community and families with "need to knows" is all that needs to happen. In order to garner support, we must be clear, share our reasoning, share our hopes for the "project", and gather input. Being transparent opens us up to vulnerability, though, that we sometimes few as a target. It is important to share information, but we must be ready to explain ourselves and prep everyone for shifts along the way. This reminds me of that commercial where the maintenance crew is building the airplane while it is flying in the air. We are also "adjusting mid-flight" in education as the targets continue to move. It is also true with new initiatives. We must be ready to make changes as necessary, even if it means scrapping what has already been put into place.

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  41. This blended learning disruption will only work if:
    *the plan is detailed and well thought out
    *it has to make sense for those involved
    *community reaction has to be stable and no major unexpected occurrences may arise

    Plan has to be flexible. What looks good on paper may not actually work as intended so it has to be a fluid process where you can mold a new plan that works more effectively as time goes on.

    One thought after reading this chapter is that I need to regularly check in with my students to make sure my learning intentions for them are coming to fruition. How can I create a SMART goal to prove my new blended learning strategies are working? My team is really my students and I need to get feedback from them about what is effective, what needs to be thrown out, so I should encourage them to be reflective about the process, and how I could help facilitate or make the process more productive for them?

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    1. You are absolutely correct that it has to make sense and be relative. It will take time for most to buy into the approach that is why your statement about a detailed plan is so very necessary! Agreed!

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    2. I like the start of your comment. How many times have we, as teachers, been given directives that are not well thought out or makes sense for classroom use.

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  42. The four planning points are helpful is gaining success in the blended approach. Allowing input from teachers, students, and parents is a slower but necessary approach to implementing anything new. The process needs them all to succeed.

    Let us not overlook the kids. If they do not buy into the whole process then there is no success to the idea. A huge amount of teamwork is necessary to help the process along and claim ownership of the approach to learning. No assumptions can be tolerated.

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  43. In many ways this chapter is the most important. The end product will only be successful when well planned and members understand the process. On page 266, the authors write “One key to their success has been their ability to test their hypotheses and continue to iterate on their plans as they gain more information.” Words that come to my mind are flexibility, transparency, communication, implementation, and prototype.
    The assumption section was well written. Teachers are great at listing all possibilities whether they are good or problematic. One assumption that jumped out to me was “too much time in front of a computer screen.” (Page 270) Computer time is a huge concern of mine. I want face to face time because students will have to deal with people throughout their life.
    Another potential assumption listed that I can envision is “Teachers would know how to create good online courses.” (Page 271) I hold myself to a high standard in the classroom. I expect more from myself when preparing every day. Creating a good online course takes time and professional development. How will professional development be delivered? Will all teachers be willing to put forth the effort necessary to create good online classes?
    Lots of questions to make blended learning successful.

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    1. I too was going to write that quote from the book about being successful. I happened to see your response and notice that you have listed the same page. I agree that that was so important. Any time we as educators try something we have to be willing to tweak it to make it better. We learn more about our students, the app, the supplies we are using, whatever that is that isn't quite working the way we thought it would and change it. Educators have to be willing to change what they are 'doing' to make what they are teaching better for our students.

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  44. Assuming that the Blended learning is going to work I believe is the riskiest part. There is always going to be a weigh down or negative feedback from the outside community when change is involved. The four planning points are a step in the right direction in the succession of the Blended Learning.
    For it to work it has to be able to fail and the school still be able to work / flow.

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  45. I am very much in favor of the Discovery-Driven Planning model as a guide to introduce any new education program. Many times, we are presented with strategies and programs to implement with no real discussion about the process, just told to make it happen. When the 4 step process is utilized there will be better buy in from the skeptic teachers. Blended learning has many positive components but the assumptions that have been discussed in other chapters could jeopardize progress. I am dealing with elementary aged students and I can see the wheels coming off the bus of this program if buy in, implementation, and monitoring progress are neglected. Figure 10.1 was very helpful and reflective for me to continually ask a multitude of questions about the process and all the pieces that keep the program running successfully.
    I appreciated the fact that some parts of the plan may fail and that is OK. Does that happen initially with so many programs?
    As others have stated, flexibility and continued adjustments to the program are essential to implementing and having success with blended learning.

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  46. I feel that while the assumptions listed are a helpful guide to planning and implementing blended learning into a school, many other bloggers hit the nail on the head with bringing all interested parties into the plan, especially the children. Many of my children just need a loving adult to talk to, joke with, and trust. Leaving most of the teaching to an on line course eliminates that human quality for which so many are crying out. I have taken oneon line course in my education and felt totally lost without people to bounce off my ideas and concerns. I guess I still need to be convinced it is best for ALL children.

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  47. If you have not figured it out yet, this book is a business operations book. The exact same things they are teaching future managers and CEOs in MBA classes, they are using to promote the blended learning strategy. That is not a slight, just an observation. One should not be surprised though, as these are the best practices organizations have been using for decades to try and make themselves successful. Many businesses struggle because they do not know how to fail faster, meaning they hold onto poor products and services too long and start to lose money selling things nobody wants. Failure is OK, as long as you learn from it, move onto what does work and don’t get married to bad ideas.

    I do like the short list (a school will end up with a much larger one if done right) of what assumptions one makes when you implement a new process. Many teachers and districts may not have thought through the myriad of unknowns one should before they try to rewrite their entire job. This is nothing new though, teachers have always been doing this. When a lesson plan goes not as well as it should, teachers tweak or replace them in hopes of improving the next time. It usually is not done as formally as it should for a district-wide roll-out of blended learning, but the principle is the same.

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    1. I agree that this book, and this chapter especially, are a reapplication of best practices in business. As I've been reading I've noticed that some of the statements are so broadly phrased that they may even be reprinted verbatim in a completely different book. Also some things sound very familiar from my time in engineering. SMART goals are something I've definitely seen before I got into education.

      One difference that education benefits from compared to business is the ability to visit other schools. If you are trying to do research for your business by walking into a competing establishment you may get some insights, but I would expect the people working at a school to be more forthcoming with their best practices and innovations.

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  48. I think the assumption that students can handle the self pacing is a risky one. Over the course of my teaching career I have assigned many self paced projects and about half the class will do them and only half of them do it well. I still think this will require an administration that backs the teachers and once the students understand that this is going to happen after some bad grades maybe it would work. This would require an administration at the building level and district level being all in and supportive one hundred percent. I have doubts that in todays would this exists in very many places. That students would do the work is the biggest hurdle that I see in this method. I do wish it would be tried as I still see this as a great way to learn for todays students. However the work would have to be done with no excuses being the policy.

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  49. In my opinion the riskiest assumption is whether or not the curriculum is rigorous enough. It is often the case that the free programs are the least rigorous. Those costlier programs often times can meet the needs of the middle to advanced student. However, how will a school/teacher know that for sure until the purchase of said program has been made?

    I am implementing the blended learning style of station rotation independently in my classroom. Therefore, I’ll only be using free programs. I’ve chosen to use Khan Academy the first semester for my grammar curriculum. We usually end up reviewing and relearning the eight parts of speech. KA has 5 units with over 100 videos on just that topic! I’ll do small group work to supplement some of the videos, providing learning tricks (Maybe Mr. Do Should Have a Will), practice worksheets, quizzes, and tests. On one hand, I love the grammar videos I’ve used in the past from KA. On the other hand, the practice questions provided with the videos are not rigorous AT ALL! Hopefully, if I put all this extra effort into preparing station directions for each grammar unit and practice sheets for each topic, I’ll like it enough to use it again another year.

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    1. Karon, I initially did not think of the rigor vs. cost concept. I think you have a great point. We just went to a full online-based science curriculm. I don't even want to know how much the district paid for it. It's our first year with it and so fsd, it's great! I'm wondering and hoping if this will stay the sa!e after several minths. Naturally, I still I corporate outside resources (both digital and old school methods.).

      There are many great resources out there which are free. I'd paying a really high price for a digital and interactive book worth it? We will see. It's definitely a risk!

      Great point, Karon. I'm glad you brought that to my attention.

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  50. I liked reading about assumptions and learning from others. It can help a teacher avoid some pitfalls. I think the comment about "a plan should make sense to all members of an organization so that everyone will act appropriately and consistently" is well stated. So many times a plan is not explained to all the staff so buy-in isn't there. Then the next thought is, "Do I let my students know what my plan is and are they vested in the process?" Start with outcomes, isn't that the same as begin with the end in mind. Reflecting on this helps educators to stay on track.

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    1. I also liked the "start with outcomes" idea. That was the part that seemed really doable for me. I was overwhelmed with the idea of thinking about all of the assumptions that are made. Luckily,I have a lot of flexibility to change what is happening in my classroom and online if it's not working. I don't have to stick with something for long if my assumptions are incorrect, and it doesn't work.

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  51. My favorite part of this chapter was the following quote, "Rather than have people feel like they have to defend a pet idea, the victory is learning more about an assumption, not proving that someone is right or wrong." I think all too often there is so much invested in trying to save face when we could learn a lot through our failures and improve much by working through them on a small scale to try to make the best possible experience for staff and students in the end.
    As far as the most dangerous assumption, I would say whether the program is rigorous enough and the financial aspects. In most cases the budget is very fixed and cannot be adjusted so if calculations are off or additional programs are needed to meet the needs of all students, the school would be unable to just move money around to cover costs the way a business normally would.

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  52. I think that one of the biggest assumptions that I can make about blended learning is that it will work and be worth the student’s time. If the students are struggling with the normal delivery of mathematics how is having them watch a video over the topic be any different My concern that I have is that students will reject that ideas that are in this book.
    In order to test this assumption, I am using google classroom as a way for students to communicate. If they are unable to communicate their concerns and frustrations, or even successes, how am I to adapt the classroom to better fit them. I think I am prepared for having this blow up in my face and be a disaster. [Do or do not there is no try. ~Yoda]
    I loved that the book used the term “Keep it cheap and Keep it simple.” In order to be the best teacher that I can be in a blended classroom (or in general), I can’t always recreate the wheel. This is one things that I struggle with the most. :) I feel that as a technology committee we hit everything that was Test creatively table on page 275. As my school was prepping for 1:1, we did A LOT of school visits. This was a great way to see and hear from teachers, admin, and students about what works and what has flopped.

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    1. I agree...lots of school visits is important when doing a switch like this! I also love your Yoda quote...so true!

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  53. This chapter was very interesting. It left me thinking about a lot of different things for sure. I loved the 3 conditions it opened with at the beginning of the chapter. Those 3 conditions need to be "satisfied" in order to move on a be successful.
    I also really liked the figure 10.1 on p. 272. I thought this was a great starting place to get you to ask/answer these questions to see if you are ready to implement this way of learning.
    At first I felt that the riskiest assumption would be cost. Getting a school fully ready to make the change into a full blended learning school. The cost of software and hardware...But as I thought further I think the riskiest thing would be to jump in and not have teachers trained and a well prepared team. Going from a traditional school to a blended learning school could be a huge jump if the school isn't ready and the 3 conditions haven't been fully thought out.
    Overall...I really enjoyed this chapter...but like I said earlier it had me doing lots and lots of thinking! :)

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  54. My biggest assumption/dream is that everyone would be on board with trying this, but unfortunately I don't think that is the case. I think we would have to pilot it with a couple teachers and see success before everyone will possibly try it out. I also assume that we would get the tech support we need to pull this off. My biggest concern is getting this to work in my personal classroom before taking it to a full scale school model. I really don't think people will try it if someone hasn't mapped it out with a step by step strategy that has been proven to work. I would also like to assume that it won't be crazy stressful with all of the trial and error of the whole thing. It however doesn't deter me to try it out in my classroom on a personal level. Bring on this year of trial and error blended learning models.

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  55. Chapter 10 Discover Your Way to Success
    I thought reading about discovery-driven planning was interesting. Teachers must start with the desired outcome (SMART goals), determine what assumptions prove true, implement a plan to test the validity of assumptions, then implement the strategy. I think a group of teachers from their school should visit other schools who have blended learning to observe and gather information about blended learning. A pilot program should be established to determine the project's success.

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  56. I thought this chapter gave great info on make blended learning work. I don't think I would know how to make an online course for students that would work for preschool. I also don't think that students would be able to self-pace. I would like to be able to see a class that has blended learning in preschool or kindergarten so I could see what it would look like.

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    1. Janet,
      Hi there! I am curious about this too. For a few reasons that come to mind that I have been pondering: if small children are still learning how to self-regulate and what it looks like to utilize the basics of meta-cognitive skills, what would individualized learning look like? How much parental involvement would be needed because of this? For instance, would be look like a flipped classroom? In that case, how would parents of young children feel about spending their evenings in front of a screen? I ask this because I try to have my kindergarten families spend time reading, playing, and being together. Additionally, I myself have a kindergartner and I could not imagine spending the evening trying to navigate and watch lessons on-line. Nevertheless, these thoughts are hypothetical regarding a flipped, primary classroom. Many elements of my day follow a workshop approach and the children and I are conferring everyday. I believe this DOES involve some self-pacing, but that is in the form of independent work, not lesson consumption. They take what they need from the mini lesson and apply it to their independent work time. In other words, if I were to allow children to receive and self-pace their instruction- I fear things would run a muck. We do utilize station rotations and I have seen children do a fine job with this for books online. This age may need to be when we plant seeds, the foundation of blended learning, so they are growing into a blended learning format. Does this make sense?

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    2. I agree! I teach kindergarten and right now I can't wrap my mind around how to implement on-line courses nor the benefits at this age. Their first year of school for so many involves so much more than technology. Social skills and fine motor skills are serious lacking. This year alone 60 percent of my class can not write their own name, hold pencil correctly, cut, etc.

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    3. My thinking also came to the self-regulating and how to have kinders make a goal to meet that goal. I think that may be a bit over their heads. In the reading of this book have switching from teaching 2nd to K. I have thought throughout this book how it looks in primary and believe that what we do with our workshops and conferencing would fit. They are working independently with learning tools (books, cubes, etc) on their own to practice what we have taught.
      Groups in primary would be the differentiation for the students that need to go above and beyond.
      I think it would be great to hear what it truly looks like in a primary or early education classroom!
      We are laying the ground work for the other grades to be able to work with them, such as turning on an ipad (doing this next week) or holding that pencil.
      If we are doing what we need to do, I think we are getting them ready for what blended learning continues to ask of them as they grow?
      Brainstorming here a bit...with the above kinderfolks!

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  57. I found the step on making assumptions very interesting. It's a component that I had not really considered. Previously, when our school or district had considered a new program, we seemed to have used the provided (by that company) preconceived assumptions about the processes and the results that we would see while using the program.

    I've heard the saying “start with the end in mind” before, but honestly I don't know how often or how thoroughly we do this. I know we can identify the weak areas that we want to address and fix, but we want this to hurry up and get started, so we jump in without considering the assumptions portion. I like the discovery-driven planning method. I think this could be incorporated in teacher education programs to show pre-service teachers how to consider programs, curriculum, etc. with a solid, thoughtful method to guide them.

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  58. The title of this chapter, Discover Your Way to Success, is so appropriate. Anytime a new program is launched, it's important to remember that it won't be perfect. Staff will need to be patient and resilient as the wrinkles get ironed out. This is an excellent opportunity to model for students the process of learning from mistakes! However, the authors pose an excellent question to start the chapter: If innovation implies experimentation and uncertainty, at what point is it too risky to pursue?

    Assuming that you have though of "everything" is unrealistic. Planning in a field of uncertainty can be dangerous. Discovery-driven planning seems to be the best fit for schools to reduce the risks of innovation. This requires schools to compile an exhaustive list of assumptions in regards to the student experience, the teacher experience, the software, the hardware, infrastructure, facilities, and culture of the school. Inevitably, something will be overlooked, but this type of planning will help facilitate the implementation of blending learning.

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  59. What assumptions about the design do you think are the riskiest?
    As we have continued to move from New Tech to to Aleks to 1:1 and beyond. I believe that some of the riskiest assumptions that I have witnessed first hand include: Students can handle self-pacing (this cannot happen if there is not appropriate modeling, guiding, and mentoring) and teachers will know how to create good online courses (my son has fallen victim to a year of experimenting with integrating tech with little oversight to the effect of what teachers were trying).
    How might you test the assumptions? The assumptions should be continuously monitored with the outcome in mind. If what we are doing is not moving us closer to the desired end outcome, then we need to see if what we are doing is beneficial.
    What other thoughts or questions do you have about this chapter? Checkpoints are essential. "Rather than have people feel like they have to defend a pet idea, the victory is learning more about an assumption, not proving that something is right or wrong." (p. 277) I think there are individuals that cannot see the outcomes that are or are not being achieved because they have invested and cheerleadered so hard for something, they cannot admit it might need tweaked.

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    1. Agreed. Last year I had too many students that just did not want to learn or do any work, and that was with direction. How will these students pace themselves. I see students falling way behind.

      I taught a college class on-line and that is what happened with a few of the students. They "forget" that they have to complete work. I am sure that there are several participants in the book club that are way behind.

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  60. I am remembering a saying about what happens when you assume. My problem with making assumptions is that I do not believe that I will be involved in the planning process, therefore, I have no idea how my corporation will do this or how they are addressing the problems. Each person has a idea of what could/will go wrong or what needs to be done but being low on the totem pole, I probably will have no input into the design of or program or have too much input into the goals that are going to be attempted.

    I like what I read in the discovery-driven process and its four steps. Having a plan and then looking for the holes is a good idea. Again my problem will be that I do not know what type of planning process will be used. I will only get a directive about how “we” are going to implement blended learning. I feel that is one of the major problems with implementing blended learning. Most of the people involved in the planning process may not be classroom teachers, with the knowledge of classroom processes.

    Another problem or idea that I find is the fourth stage, checking things at predetermined stages in the process to check whether change is needed. Usually the way things work (at least in the corporations I have been in) are that teachers get told what will be happening and then we just have to follow them. Getting any changes is always a problem.

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    1. I feel very much the same way. The assumptions that the authors make in the book don't seem like assumptions that a single teacher can make. Many of them would have to be applied at administration and/or district level.

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  61. I think just like anything new you add to the curriculum there will be adjustments to be made as you go through the process. Currently we have 1-1 ipads for grades 3, 4, and 5. Students are urged to use them even on their own to learn and explore. This is a great first step in blended learning. However, I think that is where our school is at right now. It is very difficult for me to see anything in the lower grades. In kindergarten, I use the SMART board constantly and computers to progress monitor my students. This is just the start of blended learning and I am not even sure it can fully count as being blended learning. This chapter was insightful, because it talked about monitoring and adjusting based on how blended learning is working for your individual school.

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  62. I like how the author brings up how it important it is quality check the new program implantation. I feel that the four step program is a great guide for schools when trying to implement a new program while using blended learning. I like how the author gave concrete examples of how other schools implemented change and their different strategies.

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  63. As I've mentioned in some of my past posts, our school went 1:1 last year. We also switched math textbooks last year. This chapter reminds me of our book adoption process, and makes me see many mistakes that we made! None of the math teachers really had any prior 1:1 experience, and although I can't speak for them all, I know that many of us chose the book we did because we thought it would be best for the students with an online version and a workbook version. I did not have a list of assumptions to check as we went through the process, and now I really wish I did. Exhibit 10.2 on page 275 could have been really helpful. I am not very happy with out final choice and I think if we had known a little more (actually a lot more) about 1:1 that our choice would have been very different.

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  64. I think having just one mentor per school is the riskiest assumption. I personally know my coworkers and feel that one per grade level would be the best. Now finding one per grade level might be a challenge. I think in the technology area the more help available the better off we'd be at successfully implementing it.

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  65. My assumption is that I would not get the money needed to make the blended learning possible in my building. But I liked how the author talks about taking smaller baby steps to get the process up and going. Specifically how the author talks about starting off by not spending a lot of money to find out if the process will be workable for you.
    We would need wifi in the building and all the students would need wifi. Maybe we could start out with a few students on laptops to see if the selected students do well with the blended learning. That way we haven't purchased 30 laptops to find out its not working for us.

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  66. This chapter was so encouraging! The authors seem to have a realistic view on how to implement a blending learning environment through the discovery-driven planning process. Planning is paramount and we are encouraged to take it slow, adjust along the way, and always be on the look out for what's best for students.

    There are many assumptions that must be thought through. Some of the examples listed never crossed my mind. (I guess that's why it's important to have a team working through this process!)

    For example, "Are there enough opportunities for the students to have fun with friends in the course of working?" Although this idea is an important factor to their learning, I didn't give it a thought in the context of planning a blended learning environment.

    Other assumptions, though, were clear to me. "Do we have enough electrical outlets? Is the hardware durable enough? Is the content rigorous enough? Will it provide actionable, easily understood data?"

    Although testing some of these assumptions is risky, such as discovering whether switching between modalities will work for students, others are more simple, such as the availability of electrical outlets. This chapter was a great road map for getting started on the blended learning journey!

    One side note: I'm struck by the fact that all (or nearly all) of the exemplar schools discussed in the book are charter schools. Does this have an impact on their ability to put into practice such innovative approaches to learning?

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  67. Having three days of this year down, I'm trying to make some adjustments to my thinking of what our schedule will look like for our station rotations. It is a help to remember that it's ok to make adjustments. In fact, making little tweaks here and there will enable our rotations to work smoothly. I know that I have mentioned it before, but I am so thankful that our corporation is supportive and making great efforts to help us make this journey toward blended learning.

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  68. A few of the riskiest assumptions that come to mind for me are: "using the technology will increase the progress of our students" and "teacher workload will be reduced due to using the technology". Maybe my second assumption is considered risky right now because I am at the beginning stages of implementing blended learning and it seems rather daunting. I can definitely see how it could make certain aspects of the job easier in the long-run. In reference to the first assumption I stated I can also see how being able to better monitor student progress could lead to increased progress. I agree with what many of you have said about the key to this whole idea is that adjustments will need to be made. But hey, we do that all the time already.

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  69. I think some of the riskiest assumptions are that teachers will be able to create/find quality online course, students will be able to self-pace, and that one mentor will be enough. Personally, I will need a significant amount of help to move to a completely blended learning model and there are 42 math teachers. So 1 mentor just for the math department might stretch the person thin. In my 10 years experience, there are many students who would be able to self-pace and be successful being in control of their own learning. That being said, I have also seen numerous students who might not be successful. Figuring out how to implement blended learning so that they would be could be key. Finally, while switching teaching/learning styles it is important that classes stay rigorous. The amount of time and skill needed to implement blended learning could effect the overall design of the course.

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  70. For me, the biggest concern is that how do you know you're getting it right? Since we all experience so many changes to our classrooms and students on a monthly, weekly, and sometimes daily basis, that would mean that this picture of blended learning is going to be constantly changing and evolving. We've already discussed the fact that for different grades, different content, and different geographical areas, the blended learning will look and should look completely different. So the thing that I have rolling around in my brain is, how do I know that this is occurring in my classroom correctly and that I am following it through accurately?

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  71. I think the riskiest assumption is spending money on software and hardware without having a clear vision of what the outcome will look like. Administrators sometimes purchase the flavor of the day without even knowing if it will benefit the students or the teachers. Many teachers are knowledgeable about navigating applications but all are not.
    Buying one license and testing it out having check points to evaluate its rigor and piloting it during the summer school or after school (p.274)makes sense to me. I like the idea that the finish product does not have to look like the original. Exhibit 10.2 gave helpful ways to test assumptions without wasting time and money.

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    1. I definitely agree that spending money on software and hardware without a clear vision is risky. We assume that we need it because everyone else has it.

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  72. I like the Discovery-Driven Planning Process for any planning. I like how we need to think of the outcome first, then assess and redirect instruction and implementation as needed. I like how the author gives teachers the freedom to use their own knowledge to learn about their students' needs and be able to change design as needed. There are many scripted programs for teachers, which may have some good ideas and will work in some areas. However, there is definitely not a "one-size-fits-all" approach that will be affective for kids. I think the riskiest part of disruptive innovation could be that the expectation is to include technology in daily lesson plans, but little training will be given. When this happens, many teachers are forced to learn how to incorporate technology on top of having to do their own research on how to include it, what programs to use, and learn how to use the programs themselves. It's very overwhelming, precious time gets lost, and teachers give up and go back to doing what they know works for most. Preparing teachers has to be the first step or testing the assumptions won't even happen. Not until teachers feel comfortable enough to understand how to include technology.
    With that being said, teachers have basically been testing assumptions for years. It just hasn't been called that. Most educators want to use their feedback from assessing program outcomes and students' needs, then create curriculum ideas to best meet the needs of individual students.

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  73. I think too often we assume that if each student just had the same device it would make blended learning easier. We also assume teachers can dive right into the facilitator role with ease. Some can, but not all teachers can. I found Figure 10.1 to be beneficial. It puts into question form assumptions we may have. It causes you to stop and think about parts of the blended learning that you may have overlooked. For example: on question asks if there are enough outlets. Do we think about that or do we assume that students will charge their device at home and come with it fully charged.

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  74. I think there are high stakes in implementing anything new in schools. So much pressure is put on schools to create avenues that result in all students achieving high test scores. If the new implementation doesn't work the children will then be behind. In high schools in the book, the assumption that attending college is the only goal worth working toward is an assumption that doesn't apply to a lot of valuable members of our society. I work in an elementary school so my thoughts are geared to those kiddos. I think an assumption that children will buy into technology and have a high desire to use it. Another assumption is that children are self motivated to learn difficult tasks on there own. Assuming that all teachers prefer to be a mentor and less large group instructor may or may not be true. Assuming that paraprofessionals will be content to be a cheerleader and technology supervisor could be something to think about.

    I appreciated the Figure 10.1 as a why to begin the discussion about assumptions. Getting the assumptions out on the table can help bring those not so excited about the idea into part of the team.

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    1. The assumption that children are self-motivated enough to tackle difficult skills via an online program. At the elementary level, I see this being a challenge. If blended learning was executed within the classroom, I can see the teacher closely monitoring students and making adjustments when needed. Some students may use online curriculum programs to support direct instruction, but others may be more capable of more.

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  75. I think the biggest assumption is about the students' ability to self pace. I know that a lot of my students cannot pace themselves at all. Many of them will not get anything done if I do not keep on top of them. They would waste an entire rotation and only write 2 words instead of a story or sentences. Others would rush to get done. Flexibility is another key to this. I already have seen that I will have to change some things that have not been working.

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  76. The quote from this chapter that resonates most with me is this, "Fast failure is a success; the team learned that the idea would not work before wasting a lot of time and money implementing something that wouldn't work. The key is to celebrate each time a decision is made. Rather than have people feel like they have to defend a pet idea, the victory is learning more about an assumption, not proving that someone is right or wrong." I think that quote is sooo important and key to learning.

    In another book I read this summer it discussed how we should let students be curious and not afraid to take risks. Too often in teaching today we don't allow students during their time in our classes to be curious and takes risks. I have a 4 and a 2 year old and their curiosity amazes me, then I look at my middle school students and wonder where that went or what it would look like if these 13 years olds had that same level of curiosity where would it take them? We try to guide them towards learning certain things we feel is what they should know or that our standards (or tests) tell us they need to know. We all know we learn best from our mistakes. Similar to scientists we have to be willing takes risks and quickly decide if the risk was right for the situation or not.

    In terms of this chapter I love how it's telling us to experiment. When was the last time an experiment like this was done in your school? I'd be willing to say never in mine. Schools today are so worried about that TEST that they fear changing anything. Who knows maybe a change like that could make it so that TEST was just something simple that our students could breeze through because we chose to try a different method.

    Now as teachers, administrators, and parents we must make sure we don't ruin the school financially in doing these types of experiments, but maybe their is gold at the end of that rainbow. My curiosity about all of this is with how slow movements are in education. Is there anyway we can speed up the process? Can schools realistically implement this fully (though always changing to make better) within a 3 year window? or does this type of change move slow and take longer? Let's hurry up!!

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    1. "Fast failure is a success: ... " I like that quote too. It does align with having a growth mindset and accepting our failures as opportunities to advance. The Discovery-Driven Planning process laid out in this chapter is a useable tool. It stretches our thinking. It makes a daunting change seem doable.

      Realistically, I don't see the full disruptive type of blended learning transforming public schools. Oh wait, that sounds like a fixed mindset.

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    2. I agree with you, and I have had many conversations about this very thing recently. The question that keeps coming back to me when I suggest we take a few risks is "What if fail? The students are the ones that lose." While I definitely agree and understand the concern, I keep reiterating that we will get no where if we don't try. It might fail, but it also might really succeed. It is a personal struggle because I do not want to fail my students, but I also want to be relevant and future ready for them.

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  77. In my district I think the three riskiest assumptions are:
    1. That students can properly take care of the 1:1 devices and that we will not need to increase the budget to pay for the repairs.
    2. That All students can handle the self-pacing as discussed on page 269 with Summit Public Schools.
    3. That teachers are trained or can be easily, quickly, and cheaply trained to properly implement this new way of teaching/learning. This was discussed in figure 10.1 as well as, the example from First Line on pages 270-271.

    I think that if we do not have the proper funding and teacher(staff) training the entire program could be an expensive failure. I work in a larger district with several high poverty schools. It seems to me that having a test school would be the best way to plan and tweak the process before expanding it to the entire district.

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  78. I found this chapter a little harder to grasp than the others simply because I feel like the school I am connected to is so far from this point—I don’t think implementing a blended learning model has even been discussed in great detail. One part of this chapter that I did find interesting were the assumptions that Quakertown made. The last assumption, “Teachers would not have to spend significant extra time preparing for their online courses because they could use the same content from their face to face courses” (pg. 271) was something that has interested me about the implementation of blended learning. I feel in several of the blended learning models, especially Flipped Classroom, teachers would spend A LOT of extra time creating/prepping/recording classroom lectures that they do currently. A teacher would likely need to record a lecture for students to view online after school hours in addition to prepping lab and small group activities for the students to do during class time. Seems like this model of blended learning would significantly increase the workload for the individual teacher. Do schools pay for that extra time? Is this part of the financial plan? I would be interested to hear from others who have used the Flipped Classroom model and how it affected individual teacher workload.

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  79. Assuming anything can be dangerous. An assumption is personal and based on experiences. However, as I read the chapter, it is necessary to make the assumptions in order to move forward and to implement a blended learning program, with the assumption that there will be failures and adjustments will need to happen. The Discovery Driven Planning Process is a definite guideline to implementing and planning a blended learning environment.

    However, I am struggling with where to start with many questions. Does a district demand that every teacher begin a blended learning program? Or does it begin with a few and expand? The school examples in the book have an abundant amount of flexibility and understanding. If there are too many failures and not enough data to prove the effectiveness of the program, will we revert to our traditional teaching?

    So in conclusion, this book has me believing in the positive aspects of blended learning and where to start incorporating it into our classrooms. My goal is to not become overwhelmed by the process, but look to the end result...the students becoming independent learners.

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  80. I felt that this chapter was important. Several times as I have been reading this book I have asked myself questions: "What if this process doesn't work?" "What if students fall behind?" The authors admitted on pg. 267 that "it turns out that it's hard to know in advance what will and won't work when launching something new. Being flexible by updating your assumptions inherent in the model is key."

    I think one of the riskier assumptions would be that teachers could create good online courses. If little or no training is provided, this would be a challenging task. Perhaps a few concepts could be created online as a trial before entire courses would be put online. As a math teacher, I liked the idea of being able to test the rigor of the math program before implementing it directly. It would be difficult to "catch students up" if they would fall behind.

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    1. Kim, I completely agree with your post. Earlier in the book they spoke on how blended learning would allow teachers to specialize in various areas of the process. Creating rigorous online curriculum would definitely be an area of specialization. I do not believe everyone has the ability or desire to create an online course. It is also unnecessary to have all teachers creating their own personal course. By allowing one teacher to specialize in creating online courses, it would free up the other teachers to complete the other necessary tasks involved in blended learning.
      I also like the idea of testing out software with a small group before implementing it with an entire school. As an adult educator, we use a program called ITTS that covers the topics for the core subject areas. Our teachers have mentioned that they would like to find software that is more rigorous for our students to use. I have been looking at the various websites mentioned in the book. Some have looked quite promising, but of course money will be a large factor in whether or not we can use the product. I have been taking to our director and we shall see what we can purchase with our budget.

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  81. I was glad this chapter was included, because I find myself worrying and being very doubtful that the integration of tech will be successful in my building, not mention my own personal concern that I as the teacher will not be able to develop a year's worth of valuable online lessons. I also echo the concern that many others have shared concerning the students; I fear that not all my students will be able to stay on task or pace themselves appropriately. And the role of the teacher is to facilitate student pacing ... which leads to more concerns of my own ... how will I have time to develop all new lessons, hold high school kiddos' hands at all times, and keep up with the daily regime of teaching?
    My school is also undergoing a very challenging time right now with new staffing, test score concerns, evaluation concerns, and lots of change, which has dampened the morale. So to throw in 1:1 next year on top of everything else going on could be a great challenge. While I think blended learning is an alternative with great potential, and while I would love to see a group of my colleagues embrace it and develop it further in my building, I must admit I am pessimistic.

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  82. In my opinion assumptions related to Teacher Experience and Student Experience are the most risky. Since we have an “older faculty” who relies heavily on the factory/teacher on the stage model, we must move forward carefully. For blended learning to be implemented at a school wide level, we would have to make assumptions that teachers will not only accept blended learning but will embrace it, and will be able to handle the change in teaching styles will have to be made. Additionally, we would have to make assumptions regarding our students’ ability to succeed with a model that requires them to play an active role in their own learning - a model with which they are not familiar since we rely on a traditional teaching model..

    We know we cannot make those needed assumptions related to teachers and students here at our middle school just yet; therefore, we will need to smart small. By creating a team of teachers and administrators who are willing to work together to begin the process, we can use “discovery-driving planning” on a smaller scale to create a plan that tests some of the assumptions we will need to make. I am proud to say that we have such a team starting to work collaboratively to do just that. This chapter has given outlined a workable plan so that we can move forward with more confidence allowing our core team to serve as models. If our team can address and eliminate some of the roadblocks we will face, then we can move forward into expanding blended learning in our school.

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  83. I like on page 267 where it says "research suggests that even among new companies that are successful 90% succeeded with a strategy that was different from the one that the founder had originally deliberately planned." This just goes to show how important flexibility is. As classroom teachers I feel like flexibility is our middle name, so trial and error with new techniques may be what it takes to make this work for newbies. If we, like the summit school assume that one model is the definite way to go then we will get disappointed and maybe discouraged if it doesn't work. I think because of this, that makes this assumption the riskiest. I think practice is the best way to test these assumptions. Implementing them in the classroom and figuring out which is the best fit will be the most beneficial.

    - Micha Schneider

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  84. I really liked this chapter, and it reminded me a lot of the Design Thinking Process. I appreciated the making an assumptions list - sometimes doing a "brain dump" and getting it all out puts things in perspective.

    I also really appreciated the "fast failure is a success" quote because it gave permission to fail. Sometimes we learn so much more from our failures and with tweaks they become our biggest successes.

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    1. I agree. This chapter is a lot like the Design thinking process. I also agree that we learn a lot from our mistakes and failures. The big lesson is to learn from those failures and move ahead and not throw in the towel.

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  85. Question:
    What assumptions about the design do you think are the riskiest? How might you test the assumptions? What other thoughts or questions do you have about this chapter?

    After much thought, I had a very difficult time deciding which assumption would be the riskiest. As soon as I thought one category would be riskier than another, I countered that thought thinking that another category would be the riskier one. To be quite honest, I feel that all categories are just as important as the other, and it is EXTREMELY important to make sure all assumptions are thought through and addressed before success can happen. A well thought out plan will still have bumps in the road; therefore, it is important to go into a blended learning plan covering all of the basis while realizing that the initial plan will need to be tweaked along the way. As stated on page 265, "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry." We learn from our mistakes, and we move on from there. Success doesn't happen overnight. It takes time, initiative, and support from all those involved. If everyone involved in the learning process "buys in" to the plan, success is sure to follow. The key is to get everyone involved, and I feel that making sure all assumptions are viewed as equally important will help this happen.

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    1. I agree that all the categories are all equally important. Your are absolutely right that the key is getting everyone on board. This is probably the most difficult to do, especially when everyone comes to the table with different agendas.

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  86. The assumptions about the design that I think are the riskiest is in my opinion the culture of the building. The culture and climate of the building can make or break this process. Some may appear to be on board, but completely unwilling to make changes. The assumptions might be tested by having volunteers pilot the design.

    I liked how this chapter talked about how the schools have all changed from their original plans. I think that it is important to give the ok to make changes when something isn't working. Too often we stick to protocols that are not working which effects the success of students.

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    1. I agree that the culture and climate of a building can greatly effect the outcome of a blended learning environment. I do belive schools have changed their original plans. I am very blessed to be at a school that thinks outside the box and changes protocol when need be to make sure the success and well being of the child is a priority.

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  87. I admit, I had to chuckle when I read the Quakertown's "assumptions about the skills of its teachers" (page 271). The list left me with the impression that either A) Quakertown was new to the 1:1 universe and was seeing it through rose-colored glasses, or 2) the list was created by their administrators. I think it's fair to assume that their plan underwent many changes.

    And that was something I like about this chapter. While we must "fail to succeed," we also must "tweak to proceed." It drives me nuts to work hard at putting new practices into place, only to have someone come along one year later and say, "Well, that's not working, so we're tossing it." Was I asked for input? Does the entire practice need to be scrapped, or does it just need to be adjusted? I agree that there are some plans that simply don't stand a snowball's chance, but if we've spent the time and money to implement a plan, if we've worked with everyone -- administrators, teachers, community, etc. -- to put something of value in place, it seems reasonable that we would make changes as needed instead of tossing it altogether.

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  88. The assumption about the student experience is pretty risky because whatever is done for them must be effective. They cannot just be guinea pigs for new ideas if those ideas are not the best ways for those students to learn. I did appreciate how this chapter laid out very specific procedures to test the assumptions before plans are implemented. That would allow models to be tested before full implementation. Therefore, necessary tweaks could be made before a mass number of students are affected by the new model.
    I also feel concern about the assumption that students will take control of their own learning when allowed to work at their own pace. I would love to visit a school where this is really happening, where even the most struggling students are truly embracing learning. It is such a glorious idea, but the assumption that teachers can keep the students all on task seems risky.

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  89. Chapter 10 was full of things to consider and use and I felt these key points were, Exhibit 10.1 is the Discovery-Driven planning which gives us a place to start. I like the text showing that this planning is key when there is a desired outcome in mind. The schools that have been successful in implementing blended learning because they have had the ability to test their hypothesis and outcomes to iteration their plans as they gain more information. I thought each successful school example was good to look at and take ideas to our schools. The other point I liked was Figure 10.2 about assumptions was important to see. We want to be sure to cover as much as possible and by ranking the assumptions you can deal with each assumption in a timely manner.

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  90. I think it is truly important to make assumptions for the purpose of planning and anticipation of what may or may not work with Blended Learning in the various environments we all have. This allows for us to begin with being realistic about how we might apply the program and not just jump in when we look at a video of a school using the ideas and think we can duplicate their experience. Based on the environment I have now, I can focus on a few assumptions. First I definitely will be one of the only classrooms, just based on percentage of people who did the books study or use the idea, to implement Blended Learning so as a result, my students will experience Flipped Learning, Station Rotation and even Lab Rotation. With these assumptions, I have already anticipated that the availability to technology will be an issue and therefore, I will also need to use whole group discussion and activities such as project based learning/research. Definitely an issue I am working on now as I plan for next year is the issue of student pacing and engagement. My assumption is that students will have some difficulty with self pacing but I am anticipating that if I create norms from the beginning and accountability that I will be able to measure the success in the classroom after the first month or so. The biggest thing I gain from the chapter is to just try it. The assumptions allow for "planned" risks and our job is to take them and then change and adjust as we go! In addition, with my planning now, I am just trying a few things but not jumping in too fast to avoid failure. Excited for the new year!

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  91. I think the riskiest thing would be changing the physical layout of the school. In most cases, that would be very expensive and you'd have to be pretty confident that it was going to work. That's where figure 10.2 would come in handy to rank the assumptions. I really liked the idea of the checkpoints. It would hold the faculty accountable in making sure that what they are doing really is working. They would be able to fix things as they go.

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  92. I think the riskiest assumption is that teachers are trained and ready to implement the plan as well as assuming the companies are giving enough meaningful instruction software.

    The students will adapt very quickly to the technology; I'm sure teaching me a thing or two. It's hard to imagine changing my planning where I have manipulatives and projects and somehow thinking screentime can replace that.

    One thing I was not too sure about is when it said the online will not cause the teacher 'significant extra time.' If I'm putting up each day what we covered and assignments; that will definitely add more than what was needed before. Hopefully as we get used to this groups will form to share resources so we do not need to reinvent the wheel.

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  93. I think team, teacher experience and culture are the riskiest in terms of assumptions about the design. Having the right people and having enough support in place will make help make sure that the entire process has what is needed. Another risk is teachers. I see the importance of having the right teachers in places where they can feel successful and are on board. Thirdly, if a school does not have the culture in place both from the administration, teachers, and parents I can see it being a flop.

    In order to test the assumptions I would start with a team of administration, teachers and parents and have them meet as part of the planning process. This is not a change that can happen overnight but it time must be taken to look at all the needs and to make sure that the right people are in place in order to be able to test. I see much wisdom in following the design laid out in the book and starting with the desired outcomes.

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  94. I believe the riskiest assumption, in general, is that the students will be better off and more prepared for their futures with the implementation of a school-wide blended learning program. I do believe that in certain situations or with certain curricula, a blended learning program is more adaptable and useful than with others. I was interested to see in this chapter that one school decided that the ELA curriculum should not utilize a blended learning style. I think that the students are resilient and will do better than what I am assuming, but I do think the community support is a really big piece of this puzzle, and I'm not yet ready to believe that the parents/guardian groups as a whole are ready to accept this as completely feasible. I think that the "sustaining" component is much more feasible than the "innovative" programming, where pieces of blended learning are sewn in to the current model and will serve to sustain what we've been doing. I have noticed that a great portion of the schools that are used as examples in this book are charters and private schools, where the parents/guardians were aware of the blended learning programs ahead of time and still chose those schools anyway for their students' schooling. I believe that initiating a school-wide blended learning program in a more traditional public school is a different animal altogether.

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  95. I think there would be a lengthy list of assumptions made that may risk the whole program. First of all choosing the right plan of action--whether to use one type of blended learning or hybrid or more than one. Another assumption would be that "all those responsible for the implementation ...understand each important detail." In other words, making sure that your whole staff is on board for changes. Also, the assumption that everyone "will act appropriately and consistently." It only takes a small few to disrupt the plan. And finally, what is the reaction of students and the community toward blended learning? These were a few of the assumptions that came to mind.

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  96. Loved the Discovery-Driven Planning process creates a map for any significant change in many facets of workplace, even life!. Start with desired outcome--list all assumptions that must prove true--test assumptions--implement strategy. Begin with SMART goal. Would folks bet one year's salary on the assumption. Change is tough--the tough assumption--stakeholders are ready for change involving children!

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  97. I appreciate the book outlining the planning process by 1st figuring out the desired outcome but also what must be in place before the outcome can be accomplished. I think it is risky to assume that I can make the digital curriculum by myself. In order to overcome this I realized that I cannot do this alone, and I must instead ensure I have colleagues to hold me accountable and an audience to use as a trial and error group before I put out online materials for students. I also think projecting the plan assuming that my colleagues and community will be totally receptive is naïve. I must have an in depth and well thought through plan in place before I consider communicating the plan of blended learning to my colleagues and community. I do think that it is also unwise to assume that the online platform development will not take much time, as I have never done this before and must be willing to put in a large amount of time to ensure success for my students.

    In general this chapter helped me to realize I am not going to implement blended learning this year, but rather I will develop a plan throughout the year during planning and weekends and work with a team to ensure the plan is well considered, easy to access, rigorous, aligned to my standards, and individualized for student needs and interests. By working with others, I can make a better model for the upcoming year. By working throughout the year, I can use my next summer to fine tune and existing model and troubleshoot.

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  98. I feel the biggest assumption that can be the riskiest would be that all those involved would just know how to implement the blended learning without any PD. I feel as though some schools will assume teachers can achieve any expectation without the proper training or any clear expectations. This school year I am going to collaborate with my grade level teachers and introduce to the students more 1:1 technology use than I did last year. I would feel better utilizing the technology slower and becoming more fluent. I can make changes where needed and correct any problems as the school year progresses.
    This chapter helped me to realize that the plan I already was going to implement isn't superficial and wrong, but instead in a better direction than what I have done in the past.

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  99. I found the Discovery-Driven Planning Process to be the most interesting and perhaps most valuable process that is the most flexible even outside of blended learning. I feel this is a process that should be introduced and used in the various committees in our school and corporation.

    I feel the riskiest aspect is creating assumptions, but not thinking broadly enough to come close to being a reality. I feel at times that beneficial movements are introduced, yet getting the momentum to truly move is like turning a freighter around on a dime - it takes time and patience and you have to believe it can happen. Processing and acknowledging the assumptions is critical in the process of change. I found it helpful to see that the schools having success now with blended learning had developed assumptions, but then they had to recognize that there were assumptions that had not been considered. The programs adapted, revised, and kept on moving. Now they are having success. I was intimidated by these successes at the beginning of the book because I did not know how they got to this point of success. It is helpful to know that the road to success is filled with teachable-moment failures.

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  100. I liked the author's suggestion of the discovery-driven planning process. I felt the steps were well defined. As a special education teacher I know daily that I must be flexible in teaching my lessons. I give pre-test, do checks for understanding, bell ringers and post tests to see if my students are getting the material. I teach, re-teach and assess to help my students be successful. Assumptions are easy to make and often are proven false because of of not thinking through the situation or testing the hypotheses. I like the author's point about if your assumptions are true then you can keep moving forward. If not either tweak the plan or change it entirely. Regardless the important
    thing to remembers is your desired outcome and how you are going to achieve it.

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  101. I think one of the riskiest assumptions is that teachers know how to create meaningful blended learning lessons with little professional training. One mentor per school, no matter how large the building is, just doesn't seem like a good enough resource. Another assumption that seemed questionable was the one that teachers would be spending less time prepping and creating courses. This doesn't seem reasonable in the beginning stages of blended learning.

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    1. I agree Kathryn! It seems like teachers would be spending more time prepping since they would essentially be developing a course from scratch.

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  102. I think Quakertown made several risky assumptions which included the fact that teachers who were used to classroom teaching could create good online courses. That is risky because I see the 2 situations totally different and requiring different things from the teachers. The other one that stood out to me as risky was that they would not have to spend extra time preparing. I would think online courses would require a lot more preparing in the beginning since the whole presentation style would be drastically different. Let's face it some teachers can walk into a classroom without lesson plans and wing it. Online courses would require typed material, videos, and assignments that would go with integrating technology. I think that a way to test out this whole approach is to have a pilot teacher or two try some of this out.

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  103. When I read the various lists of assumptions, it is interesting how drastically far apart different schools are in terms of reality. Many teachers today possess multiple skills that could transfer to an online environment, but it would be naive to assume that every teacher or even most could create an engaging online environment without training. I completed a Master's of Arts in Teaching with an Emphasis in Secondary Social Studies and Technology Integration. I never had instruction on how to create an online learning environment, especially with Mastery Paths. I had to seek out PD and college courses for that myself and I still would barely claim to be a Novice at best. Technology is progressing so fast with Social Media and entertainment, that education cannot afford to create another traditional environment in an online format. If we are going to go virtual, we have to be prepared to train our teachers differently and PAY THEM for their expertise. Anybody ever asked why it's so hard to find IT staff in a high school or a computer science teacher? Same as Science! Public education does not pay them what they are worth! So now we are going to ask our teachers to become even more diverse in their skills, highly technical and advanced skills, and do it for the same underpay that is already in place. For Blended Learning to really take root on a large scale, the leaders of this field should be lobbying for a complete overhaul in our educational system! You can Amen it or Boo it, but there it is!

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  104. I thought the assumptions that the schools made about new expectations for teachers were risky. Many of the assumptions didn’t seem to devote enough time to training or enough money to paying teachers. I was especially surprised by two things Quakertown did. First they expected teachers to create their own courses and in conjunction, they expected that their teachers would know how to create good online courses. Another error Quakertown made was that they thought teachers could teach online classes and face-to-face classes at the same time. All of those issues were compounded by the fact that Quakertown did not think they would need to pay teachers any extra for these things. I can only imagine how teachers in my district would feel about this. I’m sure there would be an uproar!

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  105. I don't know if I am cynical, but I would say assume nothing. Even the easiest assumptions could go wrong... like "assume the technology will work", or " assume that all teachers are on board an know what they are doing" doesn't seem to work. I almost think a "pilot program" where teachers who are super into the idea, try it out, figure it out, and show the community that it works. At my school, we seem to jump in head first and then abandon or forget about the idea a few years later.

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    1. I completely agree. I think a pilot program would work best. It would allow for a smaller group of teachers to trouble shoot any problems that might occur with blended learning. If the whole school tries to take on this task it could end up being ineffective.

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  106. I thought the 3 conditions at the beginning of the chapter were so important, the verbiage used in those were almost funny to me. "High degree of confidence" and "make as much sense to all members of the organization as they view the world from their own context as it does to the person making the plan..." So true! Nearly impossible to reach these conditions, therefore assumptions must be looked over and dissected. The assumption that kept coming back to me was one from Quakertown. Assuming that teachers would not have to spend extra time prepping for online, leading them to financial burdens. Wow, definitely something districts would want to know before implementation.

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  107. The assumption about the design I consider the riskiest would be to assume that students would self-propel. Most middle school students still need guidance and direction.

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  108. Using the discovery planning process is a thoughtful way to begin any large change in an organization. I was surprised by many of the assumptions made by other schools. In particular I was surprised by the assumption that students are self led learners and that teachers will easily create their own content for their school LMS. In order to test these assumptions it would be important to see if students are capable of self pacing. Perhaps have students complete small scale versions of the desired blended model. As students work through the chosen blended model, teachers should model for students what the learning process looks like in a blended environment. In order to find more about teachers' comfort level with creating content, the blended learning team could put out an anonymous survey. The survey should include teachers' candid comfort levels as well as what teachers would need in order to feel more comfortable with blended learning.

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  109. What assumptions about the design do you think are the riskiest? How might you test the assumptions? What other thoughts or questions do you have about this chapter?

    I think if anything I've confirmed how important it is to have a plan before implementing anything new. Too often schools want to gravitate towards the newest program without stopping to think about why they want the program, and how it will change things for the better. It's very risky to jump into something without thinking about all of the different things that could happen while implementing the plan. I like this quote on p. 266 that says ,"One key to their success has been their ability to test their hypotheses and continue to iterate on their plans as they gain more information." I think any good plan has to allow for flexibility. It's going to take time for something such as blended learning to truly be effective for students. I feel like I can relate it to teaching. I didn't feel like a decent teacher until I taught for five years at least. It took me awhile to figure out what works best, as well as what doesn't. After awhile, you finally start feeling more comfortable. I think the important part as far as testing the assumptions is that every staff member is on board, and they know what the end goal is for implementing the plan.

    I also thought it was interesting on page 269 how the book talks about setting the outcomes first and then working backwards. If the staff can determine the outcome first, then they can back track and talk about how they will get to that desired outcome. I had to read a book in college about this called Backwards Design. It was a very helpful way to plan.

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    1. I agree with you on the planning. We are very close to implementing 1:1 in our corporation, but there has been no teacher training. Teachers haven't been given a reason why 1:1 is better, so some of the older teachers are hesitant to buy in. The idea of backwards design is great because it is proactive with problems, not reactive.

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  110. Our school has definitely fallen into the "buy all the technology!!!!!" category. Very few teachers are actually using the technology we have to its fullest potential. I'd like to see things change by taking a step back from the devices and hardware and getting a solid plan as to how to implement them properly before we spend any more money. I think consistency is vital for our students, we have many teachers who are fully paper and pencil and even are using worksheets from 20 years ago (copied on carbon paper), while others are doing fully online courses that are way closer to a blended model. Students switching from a technology based classroom to a chisel and stone tablet classroom within 2 hours are finding it hard to adapt. They want teachers to meet in the middle. I think with admin support and clear expectations set from the beginning, things can meet in the middle (with lots of support and maybe a little advil provided for the bumps along the way)

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  111. I believe the assumption that students can handle the self-pace is the riskiest. Sometimes as teachers, it is extremely hard for us to let go and give students the freedom to play/navigate the learning without our continuous guidance. I know it was hard, myself, to give my students the free reign on their independent learning. However, it has been phenomenal! They students literally are an overflowing fountain of knowledge. They have magnificent ideas that are forever growing and changing. I am know so thrilled to title myself a facilitator of learning versus a teacher. My role in the classroom is to facilitate. I have done the background work, but the students are the ones who are growing it forward and expanding on every piece of knowledge they posses. Having a blended learning classroom has changed my outlook on my teaching philosophy and career. :)

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  112. There were a few things in this chapter that surprised me. On example that stuck in my head throughout the chapter was Quakertown and their expectation of their teachers. I would not feel prepared or qualified to create my own online course. Following that I feel that many of the assumptions didn’t seem to devote enough time to training or enough money to paying teachers.

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  113. Fast failure is a success;the team learned tat the idea would not work before wasting a lot of time and money implementing something that wouldn't work. (p277) This quote really stuck with me. I love that they acknowledge that things don't always work out and that is okay. I love the permission that is given to try something uncomfortable and to not be afraid. "Fast failure is a success. We just need to know when to abandon or change directions.

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  114. Discovery and change is a journey; the path can be riddled with failures or it can be paved with successes. This means that everyone involved in the change has GOT to be patient with one another and keep an open mind. As long as everyone involved keeps an open mind and is willing to persevere through the "failures" that will inevitably happen, success becomes inevitable. I tell my athletes they have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable - it is only when they are pushed out of their comfort zone do they learn and improve their skills. I think that the same goes for trying new things in a classroom!

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  115. As I think about risky assumptions, one that stands out as risky to me would be whether the teachers are adequately prepared. I see my corporation as still being pretty far removed from a blended model. When that time comes, I see the need for substantial professional development. Another assumption would be that the internet structure itself is prepared to handle blended learning. How many times have students been timed out of their ISTEP sessions under my watch? They were so frustrated and wanted to give up! Lastly, the other risky assumption in my opinion is the student motivation in general to self-pace. I have only ever taught middle school. I see how self pacing would differentiate instruction beautifully and work well for so many of my past students. However, I wonder about the less motivated ones and how they would do in a less structured learning environment.

    There is so much potential value in implementing a blended model. I would be totally on board to start thinking through the assumptions in order to get the ball rolling toward blending.

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