Throughout the video series, “Blended Learning with Catlin Tucker,” author and teacher, Catlin Tucker, shares her tips for successfully implementing blended instruction in her secondary ELA classroom, and the impact it has had in her classroom. Watch the series now.
With education models and strategies ever-evolving, we asked Catlin how she stays current on blended learning and where she sees it going in the future.
How do you keep up-to-date on emerging ideas in blended learning?
Catlin: I’m always experimenting. I use my classroom as a playground for new ideas and approaches to see what students enjoy and respond to. I regularly check in with my students to make sure the strategies and technology tools I’m using are working for them. I draw so much inspiration from my work with my students. They are as much my teachers as I am theirs.
Most teachers familiar with blended learning know about the various models, but they are just a starting point. For example, the more I use the Station Rotation Model, the more I realize and appreciate how flexible it is. Instead of always approaching a Station Rotation lesson in the same way, I enjoy playing with the model to make sure it make sense given the goals of the lesson.
I stumbled onto a variation that I call Free Form Station Rotation. Students began in one of three stations. When they were done with the task in one station, they were welcome to move on to the next station. I decided on this “free form” approach because I knew some students would not need as long as others to complete a given task. Instead, I wanted them to have the flexibility to work at their own pace and move when they were ready.
I’ve also experimented with what I call a One Stop Differentiated Station Rotation. In this lesson, students only visit one of the 3 or 4 stations, which have been set up with their ability level in mind. The task at each station is geared towards the students in that particular station and there are support materials available to aid students at different levels of mastery.
Right before finals this year, I designed Inspiration Stations. Instead of designing academic tasks to be completed at each station, I designed creative tasks with very loose guidelines. Students were able to select the station or stations they wanted to visit. Some students stayed at a single station while others hit two stations. It was a fun way to approach stations that prioritized student choice and creativity.
Experimenting with the models has been so much fun for me and adds some variety for the students. It’s important for teachers to not view the models as an endpoint but rather a beginning with limitless opportunities.
How do you think blended learning will evolve over the next 3-5 years?
Catlin: I believe all learning will eventually be “blended learning.” It has to. Technology is increasingly woven into every aspect of our students’ lives. It must also be woven into their educational experience to help personalize learning.
Want to hear more from Catlin Tucker? Watch a previous webinar hosted by Catlin called “Leverage Technology to Teach Common Core Literacy Standards” with more tips on using technology in a secondary ELA classroom.