Moonshots In Education: Launching Blended Learning in the Classroom by Esther Wojcicki and Lance Izumi

3. Trick in the Blended Classroom

  • When she first got classroom computers in 1987, Woj realized that she had to have the students help and they were thrilled. This was the beginning of her collaborative teaching model. From the beginning, she knew that electronic devices alone are not going to change classroom culture. She cites five things necessary to set up the necessary culture. 1) Trust: While students aren’t given complete trust, they must trust each other to help in the learning process as the teacher trusts the students. The results of student work are published online and students do some of the teaching on a regular basis. It’s important that the teacher supports students while letting them solve the problems themselves. 2) Respect: It can be difficult to respect students who create problems, but teachers must do just that. With respect comes high expectations.
  • 3) Independence: The traditional model of education involves making students dependent on the teacher as they wait to be told what to do. Giving students the chance to come up with their own projects within defined constraints builds independence. 4) Collaboration: This is important in blended classrooms as it is in the modern workplace. Students learn more when they are partly responsible for other students’ work. Collaboration increases student interest in learning. 5) Kindness: If students feel that the teacher is kind, they want to learn. As William J. H. Boetcher said, “Your greatness is measured by your kindness; your education and intellect by your modesty; your ignorance is betrayed by your suspicions and prejudices, and your real caliber is measured by the consideration and tolerance you have for others.”

4. Beyond the “3 Rs”: 21st-Century Skills in the Classroom

  • While blended learning incorporates the 3 Rs, it can go beyond them to engage 21st Century skills. It’s unfortunate that the current crop of high-stakes test only address 3 R skills. For 21st century skills, we move to the 4 Cs. They are critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. Unlike the 3 Rs, they cut across subject areas and are applicable to non-academic skills. This is where the topic of grit enter the picture. If you aren’t familiar with it see my summary of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth.
  • Now the point is made that students need to constantly review material rather than cram for tests. Rather than forgetting most of what they learn, they will be more able to apply what they learn. Teachers also need to come up with ways to evaluate student learning that don’t seem high-stakes. Students should also spend more time generating information. Another trend is the insertion of non-cognitive factors into the learning. Research shows that social, emotional, and cognitive development are all intricately intertwined.

5. Online Search Skills Mater: Tips on How to Teach Them to Your Students by Daniel M. Russell

  • The most important skills in the 21st Century are the ability to search intelligently, evaluate the credibility of a source, and use multiple sources to answer research questions. Such skills have become essential. There has always been a gap between those who know how to use information resources and those who don’t. Now, this gap is becoming a chasm. Dan noticed that starting in the early 2000s that many of his students were turning in assignments early. In a way, his assignments were outdated as answers became easier to find.
  • There is a difference between knowing something and being able to find it rapidly and being able to pull together multiple sources into a coherent analysis. Great research questions aren’t busy work. They are of interest to the student and lead to unexpected insight. They also include multistep processes. Teachers should also solve questions they plan to use themselves and be prepared to learn something new. Ideally, the answers point towards further research. Check out AGoogleADay.com for some daily examples. At the end of the chapter, Daniel includes other tools that include online videos, articles on teaching research skills, and classes on search.
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