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

6. Get Inspired: Real-Life Examples of Moonshots in Education

  • Blended learning comes in a number of varieties. Woj encourages teachers to draw on their best practices from past experiences and apply them in new ways. She sees four basic blended-learning models. 1. The Rotation Model allows students to rotate between lecture, group work, homework, and online learning on a schedule set by the teacher. The online part can feature videos made and/or found by the teacher and online time can vary as a percentage of total time. 2. The flex model has online learning at the center supplemented by small-group instruction, group projects, and help from the teacher. 3. The a-la-Carte Model allows students to take one or more courses entirely online while they still have daily in-school experiences. 4. The Enriched Virtual Model features students doing most of their work online and only attending school on a limited basis, not every day.
  • Key features of any blended program are students working at their own pace and mastering content before they move on. Students also have expanded choice in the nature of what they study and how they study. The remainder of this chapter features a look at how specific schools around the country use blended-learning. This includes Shanghai, China where students get top scores on international tests after introducing more active learning. A commonality is support for teachers from administrators and peers. Teachers should expect to spend some time outside their comfort zone. Teachers also need to focus on developing rapport with every student. At the same time, students must equip themselves with the necessary knowledge prior to grouping to make the group time more productive.

7.Moonshots in Music Theory with Maya Kitayama

  • Here we meet Michael Najar who teacher choir and AP Music Theory at Palo Alto High School in California. Without help from the district, he put together a blended-learning version of the AP course. Students should have previous experience with music and access to a computer. Four days a week students work with online programs, tests, and video tutorials. The fifth day they meet for a period to discuss and complete homework. Michael notes that administration doesn’t care how his kids do on the AP test.
  • Compared to their other courses students have more independence and access to more tools. They are also empowered to go farther in their learning. Michael relies on online programs like Sonic Fit and Note Flight. He also uses Google Forms, Quizlet, and YouTube and creates his own video tutorials. Putting the course together took a fair amount of experimenting and learning. He finds that he no longer just provides content and students can figure things out for themselves. This allows him to facilitate deeper learning. Since students no longer learn together the social aspect has changed, but he doesn’t see his relationships with students suffering. He uses Facebook groups to connect with students but does not friend them.
  • For most students this was their first blended-learning course. They like doing things on their own time and at their own pace. They can rewatch videos or skip them if they already know the material. It all seems less stressful. They think it only works if the teacher is technologically competent and if the course is self-elected.

8. STEM Success: Programming “Outside the Box” In AP Computer Science

  • Here is the story of Joshua Paley, a computer science teacher in Palo Alto. Woj sees him as a stand out innovator who started blended-learning in 2002. He feels that people learn best when they are working together. Collaboration is viewed as cheating by many administrators, and one of Josh’s supervisors tried to fire him. His website is a one-stop shop for his students with assignments, tests, and expectations. His approach is hands-on and project-based. His three hour-long classes each week feature 15 lectures that are similar to TED Talks. Many of his students have gone on to start their own companies and develop websites. He views the social component as the most important thing as just giving students computers is insufficient.
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