Six Strategies For Hybrid Learning Success
As teachers across the country begin to plan for the uncertainties of school reopenings in the fall, one thing is certain: we must plan curriculum that is nimble and flexible in delivery if we want to be successful. After an exhausting spring, the prospect of re-designing a curriculum for the fall feels daunting. Yet there are simple tools that we can leverage to build meaningful and flexible learning experiences for our students, no matter what the fall might bring.
- Choice boards are an easy tool for providing students with choice, parameters, and engaging learning experiences. On a choice board, the teacher posts any number of activities that students can complete to demonstrate understanding of concepts and content. For example, a student might measure the area and perimeter of their room, create a video quiz about dimension and measurement, or design a home and calculate its dimensions. Choosing any combination, students can self-differentiate, choosing which tasks they want to complete, and teachers can assess competency on those skills. These choices can be completed in class or at home, depending upon the state of school closures and reopening.
- Independent projects allow students to identify an interest or passion and build their own learning experience around that topic. Typically, these learning experiences are scaffolded and engage the design thinking process. Students brainstorm how they might explore their passion, design their own exploratory learning experience, and design a final project that is shared with an authentic audience. The self-pacing and open resource elements of independent projects allow for flexibility in the time of school closure.
- Station rotations will be particularly helpful in schools who are reopening on a rotating schedule. Teachers design stations that promote student agency, where students consume content via readings, videos, or other media and then practice skills or demonstrate their understanding. For example, a student might read about the physics of bridges and then construct their own bridge out of craft sticks and glue, identifying where stress and pressure are strongest in the structure. Because the teacher acts as a guide or advisor, moving throughout the classroom and answering questions or providing support, students can work independently both in the classroom or at home, accessing teacher support either in person or virtually.
- The flipped classroom model received a lot of attention during the spring 2020 school closures. In a flipped class, a teacher films herself delivering a lecture or lesson and sends the video to her students. The students then watch the video and complete an activity that demonstrates understanding. Often an element that is included in station rotations or on a choice board, flipped classroom videos allow teachers to deliver personalized content to her classes when face-to-face time is low or nonexistent.
- Thematic and cross-curricular learning experiences, while not specifically tools so much as approaches, are instrumental in creating meaningful learning experiences for students at all stages of learning. By connecting concepts and themes across subject areas, students develop a broader understanding of concepts and naturally immerse in deeper learning. The time spent by teachers to de-silo their curricula and collaborate on cross-curricular units will be well-spent as we plan for schools’ reopenings. Students who will likely find their new school experience to be disjointed or unpredictable will benefit from thematic and cross-curricular learning experiences this fall.
- Competency-based assessments and differentiation lend themselves to the above-mentioned strategies because they approach learning as a journey of skill-building, rather than a finite quantity of content. At a time when seat-time is diminished and atypical due to social distancing, time is better spent building connections and personalizing the educational experience than assessing content knowledge. As a result, competency-based assessments can be leveraged to support student learning by encouraging connections, providing regular feedback, and engaging student ownership in the learning experience.
While each classroom and school will look different this fall, there are many methods and tools that teachers can leverage to create meaningful learning experiences of their students. Recognizing education as an ongoing, lifelong process frees students to take ownership of their learning experiences, guided by their teachers and their own passions. With creativity and collaborative spirit, teachers and students can make the 2020–21 school year both successful and meaningful.