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

9. Journalism and Media Studies: Teaching Through Freedom, Relevance, and Respect

  • Wjo teaches this course that allows students to develop newspapers, magazines, radio and television shows, websites, blogs, and videos. All subjects are integrated, which adds to the real-world feel. Employers today want people who can think, collaborate, and communicate effectively. Her program has seven websites that connect to broadcast-televisions classes, several magazines, a newspaper, a video production class, and a yearbook. The main attraction of the program that students are free to write about issues that are relevant to them. Respect is vital between students, teachers, and peers. There is also a focus on Grit.
  • The process starts with brainstorming. It’s necessary that topics of student interest come forward as if they are not interested in producing the piece, no one will be interested in viewing it. In addition to class time, students can work anytime from any computer. Woj provides suggested assignments such as personality profiles, feature articles, reviews, opinion pieces, news, and stories. She lists 16 common core standards that journalism training deals with directly and that traditional teaching methods only touch in a limited fashion. She includes her complete course outline with goals, qualities of a high-performing student, how the production cycle works, class requirements, grading policy, and things that might block success. There are also samples of student work.

10. The Magic of Motivation by Paul Kandell

  • Paul is a media arts teacher at Palo Alto High who works with Woj. He starts by sharing a story about a visiting journalist-in-residence who found the amount of student motivation remarkable. Students come early and stay late. They eat together and develop a tribal loyalty to their publication staffs. They develop and deliver presentations and experiment endlessly. They care about their work in a passionate way.
  • Paul sees the key curricular ingredients as 1) Audience: They are not publishing for their teachers but for their community and the world. 2) Ownership: Thanks to a California law (Ed. Code 48907) student editors control the editorial content. Students are free to accept or discard teacher feedback. If your state doesn’t do this, consider fighting for it. 3) Project-Based Learning: The magic is the mission. Students in teams have truly substantial objectives of their own choosing. Teachers teach the small stuff in the context of the big stuff. 4) Community: There is a sense of belonging. There is a family atmosphere in class, which parents love. (Doug: Why do most schools only allow teamwork after school?) 5) Access to technology: When any new technology or software hits the market Woj and her colleagues rush to get it into the students’ hands. If you want 21st-century skills you need 21st-century tools. While it is easier to implement this vision in journalism classes, other class can at least do some of it.

11. Apps and Tools for Teachers

  • This chapter features descriptions of apps and tools that teachers can use to get going with blended-learning. Woj encourages teachers to try a new tool or two and not to expect everything to be perfect at first. As for hardware, she thinks the tablets like iPads are good for elementary students while laptops like Chromebooks are a good choice for secondary students. (Doug: As of this posting a Chromebook goes for $170 to $460 at Amazon.) When it comes to the software mentioned here, she encourages teachers to let students experiment and choose the tools that work for them, and not to forget that the quality of human interactions is the most important thing.
  • Teachers new to blended learning should consider taking the Khan Academy’s free Blended Learning 101 course. Also see the resources available from Learning Accelerator. Woj believes that the following tools can save time as they make the teacher more organized and productive: Google Apps for Education, Hapara, The answer pad, Exit Ticket, and Mastery Connect. For administrators, there is Project 14. Video resources include We Video, Creaza Education, Stupeflix, Masher, and Animoto. For communication and feedback, you have Edmodo, Class Dojo, and Classbadges. Tablet tools are Google Play for Education, The Apple Store, and Nearpod. Content creation tools are Wver Tabcam, and Zaption. Curricular resources include Educade, Pinterest for Teachers, and Teachers Pay Teachers. Consider Blendspace for curation and presentation. For language arts, it’s Achieve 3000, Headsprout, Mindsnacks, Newsela, Noredink, Shmoop, and Tooetastic. The rest of the chapter includes tools specific to the subjects of math, science, STEM, foreign languages, social sciences, fine arts, and multidisciplinary topics. Finally, there is a list of open educational resources.

12/13. Google Apps for Education and Their Uses

  • In these two chapters Woj discusses all of the features available for free to schools from Google. They include a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation tool, a drawing tool, email, a calendar, storage space, web site creation, and the ability to communicate in several manners. Woj summarizes what each tool can do and six teachers summarize how they use part of this product.

14. Networks That Support Teachers

  • Here we get a look at some of the many online and offline resources that can help teachers learn about innovations in education technology. The edtech community is supportive, collaborative, and creative so be sure to connect and grow your Personal Learning Network (PLN).
  • Blogs and News Sites: The five mentioned here are also my top sites for finding the resources I post daily on my blog Share this:
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