Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blended Learning and What Do You Know About the Han Dynasty?


We shared in a previous post how teachers at ACDS continue to expand their use of blended learning to help our students be resourceful and collaborative learners beyond their classroom experience. Working to help students be self-directed with the knowledge and skills of knowing where to get information is a major tenet of our Information and Communications Literacies (ICL) curriculum. Using our Web Resources and library database sites offer our students easy access to information resources in and out of school as part of our inquiry approach to learning. 

Another aspect of blended learning is to have students connect to online tutorials and each other to support their learning. As mentioned in the previous post on blended learning, students can connect to a growing number of online services to help them reinforce their math, reading and other skills. An additional tool that has been in the news is the Khan Academy which has branched out beyond math. As part of our iPad Pilot Program, Ms. Margi Weaver has her 5th graders using the Khan Academy tutorials to support their understanding of skills and concepts in the math curriculum. Ms. Weaver is the "coach" for her students thus giving her access to data on how each student is progressing in the Khan lessons. 

The power of Khan Academy and other tutorial sites is that they provide resources beyond the textbook and in school learning activities so that our independent learners can continue the learning outside of the regular school day. These resources also can open doors to curious students who want to gain knowledge, skills and concepts on topics that our outside the classroom curriculum. Students can seek each other out for support in school and outside the school day via Haiku (our online learning management system) or other communication methods (e.g., phone, text message, e-mail, etc.). This process of knowing which tools (i.e., apps, Web 2.0, software, devices, etc.) and information resources to access for learning leads students to develop their Personal Learning Systems (PLS). The next step is helping our students know who to connect to for learning via blogs, Twitter and other connection systems as they build out their Personal Learning Networks (PLN). 

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So do you know as much as a 5th grader? How about the Han Dynasty? Take a look at the Voicethread project by Naomi, Harper and Michael. 

Image Sources: Khan and Han Dynasty

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