Distance learning is something all teachers have experience in now due to the 2020 pandemic. I have Zoom™ and Google Meets™ fatigue. This will not deter me from using blended learning in my classroom, though.
Here are five reasons why I will continue to use technology in my classroom to help create a blended learning environment for my students.
Reason #1: Far Less Copier Usage With Blended Learning
When I am planning for the new week of school, I need to print my copies and file them. This can take me between 10 minutes to an hour depending on copier use at my school! Our copier would also jam and error up all the time.
The ease of assigning digital assignments cannot be beat. I had to buy far less paper for the year as well. I will still use paper for some handwriting, writing, and math assignments.
Reason #2: I’ve Never Felt So Organized
In my Google Drive™, I have all my blended learning assignments for the year in folders. They are organized by unit and week. This has made my planning IMMENSLEY easier. I have a folder for my printables for the week and my digital ones to assign.
Now I do not need to go to many different sources. I go to my current unit and week and assign the work. Done.
This takes work to build up at first. When it is done, you’ll be thanking yourself for years to come. Planning will be relaxing when you have everything already done and saved.
Reason #3: Student Engagement On The Rise
When I transitioned to a blended learning classroom, my students’ engagement rose. When thinking about it, it’s nice being able to do different types of activities. Only doing paperwork or digital work can get tiring. Mixing it up and choosing a modality that best fits the need increases student engagement.
An example in my first grade classroom is math fact fluency. Previously I would have students use personal flash cards they made and some printable games. They would get bored of them fast.
I then added digital task cards that had gamification (learn more about gamification here) incorporated into them. This made students intrinsically want to practice and boosted their math fluency.
Each modality has its strength and weakness. Use it to your advantage.
Reason #4: Blended Learning Homework Done Easy
The community I teach in expects homework for our 1st graders and I am happy to provide some. I give the suggestion that they work 20 minutes max after school due to their age.
Using blended learning has made it easier for me to provide extra practice for my students in multiple ways. Some like doing the paper-based word. Others prefer to use digital activities. Giving students choice over how they do their homework has changed forever how I provide it.
For example, when we learn about a new phonics skill, I will send home a double-sided printable worksheet for students to complete. I will also assign a digital activity of the phonics skill in Seesaw™ for those that want to complete it digitally. I have had many parents thank me for providing choice.
If you would like to learn more about the resource Movable Phonics shown above, click here.
Reason #5: Prepared For The Unknowns
The pandemic has taught me that there may be times where students are not able to come to school. Having students trained to use the learning management system, or LMS, you use at your district is useful for many different scenarios that may arise.
I felt extremely fortunate that my students already had experience using Google Classroom™ and Seesaw™ due to our blended learning classroom when we had to close for the pandemic. It made online learning a breeze and seamless.
Having experience with a LMS can also benefit you. Many districts may require you to be familiar with their LMS when applying.
Click here if you want to learn more on why Google Classroom is a great LMS for your classroom.
I hope you will give blended learning a shot in your classroom. Using technology as a tool and taking advantage of its benefits will increase engagement and learning outcomes for your students. Paper still has a place in our classrooms, but it does not have to be all or nothing. The pandemic has made many tired of digital learning, but paper and digital work can be used in tandem to create a positive learning space.