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What is Blended Learning 

Beginning in the 2015-16 school year, Snowy Peaks High School will revise its current framework and begin using a blended learning model for its curriculum delivery and enrichment.  In order to increase students’ growth, achievement, and engagement, the school will “blend” online curriculum delivery with hands-on, engaging, project-based learning opportunities that promote growth in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). 

This transition stemmed from reflecting on two essential questions:

1.      Do all students learn the same way? 

Of course not!  Teaching should be individualized and focused on the specific knowledge and skills of each student. 

2.      What is the best use of teacher and student face-to-face interactions?

Teacher/student interactions should no longer revolve around passive learning, where students spend their time taking in raw content at the pace of the class. Instead, student and teacher interactions are dynamic, where students actively explore real-world problems and deepen knowledge by exploring, investigating, and responding to a complex question, problem, or challenge. 

In their book Blended, authors Michael Horn and Heather Staker define blended learning with the following three components:

Online learning:  Blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns, at least in part, through an online curriculum, with some element of student control.  Students will complete their work in our new, innovative, library-style learning center with direct one-on-one support with their highly qualified teachers.

Supervised Brick-and Mortar Location: Contrary to a virtual school model, students attend school each day and learn in a supervised brick-and-mortar location, where their highly qualified teachers are immediately accessible. This enables them to receive direct support from their teachers as they work towards mastery of content.

Integrated Learning Experience: The different learning modes are interconnected to provide an integrated learning experience.  Face-to-face teacher and student components will shift to authentic assessment and project-based learning opportunities to deepen the understanding gained in the online curriculum.  The teacher moves from the “sage on the stage,” to a project designer, collaborator, mentor, orchestrator, facilitator, and an inspirer, while the student moves through the curriculum at the pace that best fits his/her needs.

Blended classrooms allow teachers more time to teach students 21st century skills, rather than teaching the raw content to the students. Teachers help develop students’ critical thinking skills; differentiate and individualize instruction; remediate in smaller, targeted groups; extend lesson concepts; and develop project-based skills, such as collaboration, communication, creative problem solving. 

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