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Blended… what does it look like in Saline?

December 10, 2017

HubThe term “blended instruction” can mean a lot of different things.  According to Wikipedia, Blended learning is an education program (formal or informal) that combines online digital media with traditional classroom methods. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student and incorporates digital tools or computerized lessons to enhance, or sometimes replace direct teacher instruction. Students do have some control over when and where to attend class, the path of their learning, and the pace at which they progress through the instructional materials.

Blended learning is merely an instructional design.  The reality is, the instructional design process is not a destination – it’s more of a journey.  Staff learn and refine each year and adapt to changes.  The staff member changes, the students change, society’s ask changes.  Frankly, the world changes.  As the instructional design process has evolved in the early part of the 21st century, it has shown new pathways that give students more choice over their learning time, place and pace.

Over the past several years,  Saline High School has offered a course called the Capstone Experience. It is a year-long class offered to seniors and offered in a “blended” format.  In the Capstone Experience,  students meet with the teacher only two or three times each week.  On the other days, students conduct research, collaborate with peers on the design of a service-related project, and participate in community-based projects. The term “blended instruction” can mean a lot of different things; the Capstone Experience is just one format.

The Saline Alternative High school uses a blended learning format to teach several core classes. Personal Finance, an online course, helps students understand global economics and how to make better-informed decisions about their own finances. Lessons are presented online, supplemented with additional content that the teacher provides, and then students work collaboratively to answer project-based questions about the coursework. Another teacher uses a blended learning format to present the Expository Reading and Writing course. Again, this is an online class, yet the teacher guides the instruction and provides opportunities for small group discussion on a wide range of complex texts. Student writing is enhanced through peer editing and multiple review opportunities.

The majority of courses at the Saline Alternative are presented in a “Flex” model of blended instructional learning. Most of the curriculum is provided through an online curriculum. Teachers are available to provide tutorial, re-teaching, and curricular enhancements as indicated.
As we plan for 2018-2019, we intend to explore further and incorporate blended learning at Saline High School and beyond.  Staff are currently learning about the process, and will shortly begin developing the structure.  Ideally, students will be able to choose the way the instructional format of some of their classes next year – face to face, blended, or entirely online.

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