Learning Strategies

Teachers Share Sweet 'Blended' Recipes

By Matt Bowman     Apr 24, 2013

Teachers Share Sweet 'Blended' Recipes

Cookbooks save lives. Seriously. Before codified culinaryknowledge, humans had to experiment by digesting mixtures of random artifacts, discoveringtheir gastro-intestinal effects through trial, error and death. Thankfully,somewhere along the way, homo sapiens started collecting step-by-step recipes toavoid heartburn and poison, eventually yielding straight-up gustatory delightto the point that you can now walk down any city street in America and order aBoston Cream.

I think the cookbook is a great model for what early blendedschools could be doing for teachers as we learn what works and what doesn’t.

This approximates the thinking behind Mission DoloresAcademy and St. Therese Academy’s approach to professional development. These twoblended-learning schools are the first of Seton Education Partners’ PhaedrusInitiative, which is helping inner-city Catholic schools leveragetechnology to boost academics and revamp their finances.

At both schools, we found it was easy to come up with ideas for using technology todifferentiate or motivate, but when we tried to apply these ideas, the clunkiness of the available digital contentprograms posed frustrating obstacles, each one causing our already time-stretched teachers a lot of heartburn.

So my colleague, Jeff Kerscher, and I decided to “pilot” recipes intensely with individualteachers, finding and fixing all the little problems that popped up along theway, until we had a start-to-finish recipe that was easy, quick, and would yieldjust the results we wanted. Once refined, we turned the recipes into videos foruse on our professional development days. They were a big hit with ourteachers, due largely to the fact that fellowteachers were vouching for the processes.

Below are a few of these beginner recipes using some of themore popular digital content providers: Achieve3000 and Compass Learning. Theserecipes explain tried-and-true processes for effective administration ofdigital content providers in an in-class rotational model.

Each video addresses some combination of the three goals we havefor our digital programs:

1.  Personalization (students should hit theirproximal zone of development every time they sit down in front of a screen);

2.  Motivation (good work on computers must berecognized; feedback to students should be frequent and meaningful);

3.  Alignment (how do we take advantage of the factthat resonance between digital instruction and teacher-led instruction can acceleratelearning?)

We believe the difference between great theory and effectivepractice is a refined process. We look forward to feedback that could help usimprove the details of these processes, and hope this may prompt other blendedschools to share the nitty-gritty of their promising processes, so thattogether we can reduce the heart-burn and improve our collective recipes forstudent success.

Assigning and Grading work with Achieve3000 

Megan Nichols and Theresa Morgan achieved impressive resultsin reading gains on the NWEA Winter MAP Assessment. They are heavy users ofAchieve3000, which delivers reading exercises at students’ own reading levels.

Applicable for: grades 3-9, Language Arts, Social Studiesand Science.


Aligning Compass Learning with Direct Instruction

When digital lessons match with direct teacher-ledinstruction, student motivation and learning both improve. Mission DoloresAcademy’s kindergarten teacher, Morgan Gwin presents a time-efficient way tocontrol the lessons students receive, while still allowing the adaptive programto differentiate based on demonstrated proficiency.

Applicable for: grades K-2 Language Arts, Math


Compass Learning Sticker Charts

Students need feedback about how they are doing on thecomputers. They need to know teachers care. Mission Dolores Academy’s firstgrade teacher, Shelley Reid, describes a process she uses to consistentlyrecognize good student work (and discourage students from the strong tendencyto “click through” until they find something fun).

Applicable for: grades K-2 Language Arts, Math



Learning Strategies

Teachers Share Sweet 'Blended' Recipes

By Matt Bowman     Apr 24, 2013

Teachers Share Sweet 'Blended' Recipes

Cookbooks save lives. Seriously. Before codified culinaryknowledge, humans had to experiment by digesting mixtures of random artifacts, discoveringtheir gastro-intestinal effects through trial, error and death. Thankfully,somewhere along the way, homo sapiens started collecting step-by-step recipes toavoid heartburn and poison, eventually yielding straight-up gustatory delightto the point that you can now walk down any city street in America and order aBoston Cream.

I think the cookbook is a great model for what early blendedschools could be doing for teachers as we learn what works and what doesn’t.

This approximates the thinking behind Mission DoloresAcademy and St. Therese Academy’s approach to professional development. These twoblended-learning schools are the first of Seton Education Partners’ PhaedrusInitiative, which is helping inner-city Catholic schools leveragetechnology to boost academics and revamp their finances.

At both schools, we found it was easy to come up with ideas for using technology todifferentiate or motivate, but when we tried to apply these ideas, the clunkiness of the available digital contentprograms posed frustrating obstacles, each one causing our already time-stretched teachers a lot of heartburn.

So my colleague, Jeff Kerscher, and I decided to “pilot” recipes intensely with individualteachers, finding and fixing all the little problems that popped up along theway, until we had a start-to-finish recipe that was easy, quick, and would yieldjust the results we wanted. Once refined, we turned the recipes into videos foruse on our professional development days. They were a big hit with ourteachers, due largely to the fact that fellowteachers were vouching for the processes.

Below are a few of these beginner recipes using some of themore popular digital content providers: Achieve3000 and Compass Learning. Theserecipes explain tried-and-true processes for effective administration ofdigital content providers in an in-class rotational model.

Each video addresses some combination of the three goals we havefor our digital programs:

1.  Personalization (students should hit theirproximal zone of development every time they sit down in front of a screen);

2.  Motivation (good work on computers must berecognized; feedback to students should be frequent and meaningful);

3.  Alignment (how do we take advantage of the factthat resonance between digital instruction and teacher-led instruction can acceleratelearning?)

We believe the difference between great theory and effectivepractice is a refined process. We look forward to feedback that could help usimprove the details of these processes, and hope this may prompt other blendedschools to share the nitty-gritty of their promising processes, so thattogether we can reduce the heart-burn and improve our collective recipes forstudent success.

Assigning and Grading work with Achieve3000 

Megan Nichols and Theresa Morgan achieved impressive resultsin reading gains on the NWEA Winter MAP Assessment. They are heavy users ofAchieve3000, which delivers reading exercises at students’ own reading levels.

Applicable for: grades 3-9, Language Arts, Social Studiesand Science.


Aligning Compass Learning with Direct Instruction

When digital lessons match with direct teacher-ledinstruction, student motivation and learning both improve. Mission DoloresAcademy’s kindergarten teacher, Morgan Gwin presents a time-efficient way tocontrol the lessons students receive, while still allowing the adaptive programto differentiate based on demonstrated proficiency.

Applicable for: grades K-2 Language Arts, Math


Compass Learning Sticker Charts

Students need feedback about how they are doing on thecomputers. They need to know teachers care. Mission Dolores Academy’s firstgrade teacher, Shelley Reid, describes a process she uses to consistentlyrecognize good student work (and discourage students from the strong tendencyto “click through” until they find something fun).

Applicable for: grades K-2 Language Arts, Math



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