Thursday, 5 June 2014

#hackyrclass week 5 - blended learning/mix-it-up!

So this is the first week of the #hackyrclass challenge that I've finally felt vaguely in my element. Blended learning is my modus operandi for the most part, because I truly believe in giving students options as to how they learn, and this includes providing learning opportunities and experiences from all modalities, be they e-tools, hands-on activities and practical experiments, planning collaboratively, writing their own answers on paper, playing games etc etc. I am fortunate that I currently teach in a 1:1 laptop environment, and so this means all students have a degree of e-literacy and there are no excuses about not having access (although a 1:1 environment also raises the dilemma of using technology for technology's sake - something that is a completely backwards way of looking at learning in my opinion... the technology should be there to facilitate and deepen learning, and never be the focus in itself).

I use a wide range of e-tools in my classes, including google docs for collaborative work, google forms for effective feedback, edmodo to facilitate student voice, participation and collaboration, flipping the learning (as described in this earlier post and my youtube channel) and lately I've been playing around with making weebly's to make sites that my students can use to self-direct their learning - taking ownership of their learning path.

The most recent attempt is here: (and this also complements resources available on our Moodle pages) - this is currently the work for 5 lessons/a week.

Evidence for evolution - AS 3.5
But it is not enough to give them content! I have made a 'passport' to go with the website:

(and yes, it folds up into a little booklet, and when students complete each section, they get a little stamp - never underestimate the power of cute things even when dealing with 17yo girls!)

It has a mix of activities to complete, including written answers on paper & activities like making fossils, but I also assess their learning through edmodo quizzes, which means I can get a quick grasp on how they are going. Class time is now 'freed' up for me to check in with & help students individually, they can work at their own pace - including outside of class time, and if they ask me to, I can still do a lecture-type summary to give them confidence they are doing ok. I also set them deadlines - giving them targets in which they need to have completed so many sections.

This is also great at the moment because I have lost half my class to a 2-day field trip, so it means the students away can easily see what they have missed and how to catch up (we also have a google doc running with student key questions for each section of learning), and I won't end up having to teach the same thing twice!

As a last comment - one of the reasons I wanted to set this up was not only for student ownership, but for this topic in particular, google searching "evolution" creates a myriad of issues gathering authentic scientific information without alterior motives ;)

If anyone would like the 'passport' doc or further info, just let me know - happy to share!


  1. I love this!! I don't have 1:1 laptops, but the infiltration of tablets is increasing throughout the year. This is the kind of thing i'd love to see happening in my class.

  2. love your passport idea!
    very visually appealing weebly too :-)