Ms. Baldi, who taught second grade for the previous four years at P.S. 169 and will teach kindergarten this year, said she had changed how she taught math. In the past, she said she used to present a math topic first before giving exercises for her students to solve. Taking heed of the Common Core’s instruction that “mathematically proficient students start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution,” Ms. Baldi began to give a new problem “cold turkey,” without introduction or explanation, and let groups of students try to figure it out.
“I’m more of a facilitator, and I’m taking more of a step back,” she said.
Only after the students brainstormed their own solutions would she discuss the different ways of solving it. “I thought that they got a better understanding, because they got to tackle the problem on their own and got to hear from the other students,” she said.
Another advantage of blended learning is pacing and attendance. In most blended learning classrooms, there is the ability to study whenever the student chooses to do so. If a student is absent, she/he may view some of the missed materials at the same time that the rest of the class does, even though the student cannot be physically in the classroom. This helps students stay on track and not fall behind, which is especially helpful for students with prolonged sicknesses or injuries that prevent them from attending school. These “self-study modules” also allow learners to review certain content at any time for help in understanding a concept or to work ahead for those students who learn at a faster pace. (Alvarez, 2005)
Because of the ability of students to self-pace, there is a higher completion rate for students in blended learning classrooms than to those in strictly e-learning situations. (Flavin, 2001) This self-pacing allows for the engagement of every learner in the classroom at any given time. Students also see that the learning involved becomes a process, not individual learning events. This revelation allows for an increased application of the learning done in the classroom. (Flavin, 2001)
Apple has sold more than 7.5 million iPads since April, the company reported, but it is not known how many went to schools.
The company has been developing a school market for the iPad by working with textbook publishers on instructional programs and sponsoring iPad workshops for administrators and teachers. It does not, however, appear to have marketed the tablet as aggressively to schools as it did its early desktop computers, some of which were heavily discounted for schools and helped establish a generation of Apple users. School officials say that Apple has been offering only a standard educational discount of about 10 percent on the iPad.
In the meantime, teachers looking for more rapidly updated information can head to the sites of digital textbook providers like Palo Alto–based nonprofit CK-12 Foundation (4) or Curriki (5), based in Washington, DC, to acquire the newest version or even remix a digital textbook of their own. On these open-source sites, materials created and reviewed by educators are shared under a Creative Commons license, which means other teachers may use and adapt the content for free.
On CK-12 (6), after doing a keyword search to find books or chapters on a certain topic, teachers can combine their chosen items into a single document called a FlexBook that can be printed out or saved as a PDF and used in class as teaching material. The site also provides a Microsoft Word-like text editor that allows teachers to customize material.
Curriki (7) hosts a greater variety of resources, including worksheets, games, and lesson plans. Teachers group their favorites as online "collections" that they can invite other teachers to share, discuss, or add to -- much like an iTunes playlist. Materials can also be printed or downloaded, and teachers who want to contribute their own materials can do so by using simple online templates. On sites like these, teachers can peer-review information for accuracy.
Palo Alto-based Rocketship Education has attracted national attention in the past few years for its innovative use of technology and impressive test scores for its largely low-income, Hispanic students.
Now, as other districts and charter schools are starting to emulate the Rocketship model, which relies on computer-guided instruction as a key component, the K-5 charter school organization is considering leaving it behind, like a first-stage booster, and moving toward a different a 21st century classroom. Instead of rotating students into a “learning lab” – a large computer room – for about quarter of the day as it does now, several of Rocketship’s seven San Jose schools are experimenting with turning their learning lab into one large, all-day classroom incorporating both technology and three teachers and non-credentialed teaching assistants. Over the course of the day, between 100 and 120 students move from individual computer-based instruction to small-group lessons to a large-group setting, moving on cue with amoeba-like fluidity from one activity to another – at least when it’s working smoothly.