I am currently in my third year of teaching a blended class. In some ways, my blended class is different from what many teachers think about a typical blended class because I designed all of the blended days by myself. I wanted to highlight a few things that I have realized make a successful blended class. These can be applied to a blended class or an online class.
- Start with the same type of activity each day. As I have two blended days a week, each day at the beginning, students are either completing an EdPuzzle or a journal. I have found that this helps students tackle the challenge of the full blended day by always having the same task. Routines do provide good structure for students.
- However, within these platforms, I am able to vary what my students do. With an EdPuzzle, they may be watching a vlogger video, a part of a telenovela or a commercial for a product. I also find out what my students really love and use more videos like it. Last year, it was Plaza Sesamo! With Seesaw, I give my students three topics to choose from or they can choose their own topic. I will also have them reflect on their writing twice a year and write a poem with a partner twice a year as well.
- My feedback is key to keeping students on task. It can seem overwhelming to grade a lot of this work that students complete on blended days, but if students know that they do not have to complete the task, they will not. While I like to ask a lot of open ended questions, I will also ask multiple choice or fill in the blank questions that give students instant feedback. Therefore, they can tell if they are on the right path. This year, I am prioritizing asking more follow up questions on their journals as this is what I want to model for them when they have interpersonal activities.
- It is important to have group work to break up the individual activities. I will have students interview each other. They also collaborated on an authentic resource article to create questions for another group. My class must rely on asking each other questions on the blended days, so the community aspect is very important.
- I try to house as much of the material in our learning management system/LMS as I can. We use the platform Haiku/PowerSchool. I typically use it for online practices and discussions (in addition to having all of the directions for the online page). Many people like other online sources for discussions like Padlet, but it is nice to have as much of the class in the LMS as I can. This also helps provide consistency for students. I haven’t explored Padlet or Flubaroo as much because I stick to my LMS platform.
- I try to balance what students are able to do in Spanish. I do not want them writing in every assignment for the whole 50 minutes. I make sure that they are reading an authentic resource or listening to a different video. I felt guilty of this when I was first developing my class to focus on output instead of the input that students could get from different sites and information. I make sure that within each week, there is at least one speaking activity and one reading activity on the blended days. This balance can be key to make sure your students do not burn out in the class.
- Getting feedback from students is also crucial. Do they feel that the work is manageable or are they overwhelmed? Do they like the activities that they are doing? Are you asking them to try too many new technologies at once? Can they figure out your instructions? Without my students’ feedback, I would have never developed a successful class. While I have kept many similar parts of the class, I have also really changed from my first year.
What would you add to my list for a blended or online class?