Unit 5: Designing your own Blended Learning Lesson
You've made it through the four stations of a blended learning lesson following the MATH model! Besides planning an activity for each station, teachers must also consider their students, the groupings, and the timing. These are essential, non-content related criteria that must be thought through prior to implementing blended learning in the classroom.
- Learners will understand the importance of considering the non-content related aspects of planning a blended learning lesson: the students, groupings, and timing.
- Learners will use the checklist and/or template to design their own blended learning lesson following the MATH model.
Teachers must consider the maturity level of their students prior to implementing blended learning in their classes. If you are the only teacher in the room and you are mainly stationed with the students at the "Meet with the Teacher" station, the students at the other three stations are expected to work hard without a teacher present at their station. Some students may not be able to handle this - I had freshmen students last year who would not do any work unless a teacher was hovering over their shoulder. In situations like this, the teacher may choose to move from station to station instead of remaining for the most part at the "Meet with the Teacher" station. Or, if there is another teacher (for example, a curriculum coach, department leader, consultant teacher, teacher's assistant/aide, or another teacher of your subject area) that is able to help during a blended learning lesson, the teachers can work together to manage class behavior and keep students engaged.
There are a few options for how the groupings of students could be made:
- Homogeneous: Based on formative assessment data (which may need to be collected over a few lessons), teachers should be able to generate groups based on students' understanding. There will be some students who almost always understand the content and consistently produce high quality and accurate work. There will be some students who did not understand the content, or perhaps they were absent and missed out on instruction. And there will be students who are somewhere in between these two options. Forming the groups for each station based on student understanding so that each group is made of students around the same ability level is called homogeneous groupings. Teachers may choose to form homogeneous groups to keep each group at the same pace. It may be especially helpful for the "Meet with the Teacher" station so that the pace of the direct instruction is not too fast or too slow for some students.
- Heterogeneous: Again, using results from formative assessment(s), the differing levels of understanding among the students will be made clear to the teacher. Instead of placing students with others that are around the same level of understanding, a teacher may choose to form each group with students of mixed abilities. This option is called heterogeneous groupings. Groupings of mixed abilities may be especially helpful for the "At your Table" station if students are given a collaborative activity to work on. They can use each other as resources while the teacher is occupied at another station.
- Students choose their groups: When given the option to choose their own groups, students will likely work with their friends. It's possible that this will lead to more off-task behavior, but also could increase participation and comfort levels within students who usually aren't active learners. After considering the maturity levels of your students, and you think they are mature enough to handle choosing their own groups for a blended learning lesson, this would be a good option for grouping. If you do not think they are mature enough to handle it and will just be off task with their friends, I would not choose this option.
- Random: Using a random group generator (I recommend using classroomscreen.com, along with its several other amazing features) to create the groups for the stations is another option. If students are always put into the same small groups and you would like to mix up what peers they are working with, making the groups completely random could be a good option. You could also make cards for students to pick from that designate the groups. Students would pick a card and then have to look for peers whose cards match the theme of their card. For example, some cards could have pictures of winter activities, some with spring activities, some with summer activities, and some with fall activities.
At the high school I currently work at, I teach 80-minute blocks. I typically plan for students to spend 15 minutes at each station and 30 seconds to rotate to the next station. This totals to roughly 62 minutes with some time leftover for an introductory or closure activity. If your time blocks for each class are very short, you could consider running a blended learning lesson over a 2-day period. For example, if your time blocks are only 40 minutes long, you could still plan for students to spend around 15 minutes at each station. They would visit their first two stations on day one and the other two stations on day two. You could also have students spend 10 minutes at each station if your activities are smaller.
The most important thing to consider about the timing of a blended learning lesson is that the activities for all the stations should take the students the same amount of time to complete. You do not want students at one station to finish in a short amount of time before the students at the other stations are done with their activity. It is always better to plan more than you think is needed to avoid unstructured free time and the chaos that free time may bring.
Although the MATH model of a blended learning lesson is recommended, it does not have to be followed exactly. For example, if you have two great technology activities and are having trouble finding an activity for the "Hands-on Activity" station, you can modify the stations to match the activities you have selected. If you have a co-teacher and want two stations to be "Meet with the Teacher" stations, go for it. Always do what is best for you and your students given the activities you have created or selected.
Ready to start planning?
Included on the left is a quick checklist and below is a link to a lesson plan template in Word for you to utilize as you think through designing your own blended learning lesson. Use one or both of these to your benefit, and in whatever order works best for you!
- Here is an article discussing homogeneous and heterogeneous groupings: Student Learning Groups
- Here is a list of activities that you might like to use in a blended learning lesson: 20 interactive teaching activities
Return to the course overview page here: Sarah Garber's Mini-Course on Blended Learning
Go back to Unit 4: Hands-on Activity