What is a ghost's favorite pair of pants?
This is the riddle I asked my 6th grade math class on a recent 3-part, Google Classroom assignment about dividing mixed numbers. The first part of this assignment was to model dividing fractions using Google Drawings. After that, they began attempting to solve the riddle. However the only way they could figure out the answer to the riddle was to successfully complete a quiz with Google Forms. With every answer, right or wrong, students were given a message. The message was either, "Try again," or a letter of the alphabet. The students were directed to record the letters of the alphabet they got after submitting their answers to each question, and they were directed to show their work and thinking on the problems they solved. Once students successfully answered all eight questions, they then had to open a Google Doc, unscramble the letters they received from the Google Form quiz to answer the riddle, and insert an image of their work and thinking on the problems they solved.
Last year, my first year running a blended learning classroom, it felt very robotic, not to mention very frustrating, nerve-racking, and leaving me filled with doubt. And I am a pretty tech-savy teacher, and I still had difficulties last year trying something new like blended learning. However, I knew I wanted to try something different; something that would make a difference for my students. Unfortunately, I was never close to creating an assignment like the one mentioned above, and I am okay with that, because I am here now. Last year, I used the station-rotation model in conjunction with more canned, online programs. Whereas this year running a blended learning classroom, it feels much more fluid and natural. I am using a teacher-designed blend with teacher-created assignments that I am trying to make as relevant and meaningful as possible. While this requires more thinking and a lot more creativity on my part, it has been worth it; not only for my students, but for me as well. I see my students using the 4C's in their learning daily. And that is where I begin to think about designing each lesson and assignment. I start with the 4C's in mind, and work backwards through my lessons and assignments. It has made all the difference in my blended learning approach.
All educators set out to make a difference in the lives of our students, but do we really know where to begin (believe it or not, student-teaching doesn't give us that answer, nor does exactly following the lessons plans a textbook company tells us to). Is it just natural that we know how to make a difference? Is it easy to do? For some, the answer is probably yes, but for others, the answer is probably no. So, how do we make the difference? Where do we begin? I suggest we start by taking risks, getting out of our comfort zone, finding ways to bring our passion into the classroom, accepting and learning from our failures (and there will be a lot of them; quite possibly 180), and building relationships with those we teach and those in our PLN.
By trying to make a difference, G Suite for Education (formerly known as GAfE), has transformed my classroom into a blended learning classroom that has relevance, meaning, and a way for my students to see themselves in their time in their education. My time in education, as a student, was the sit-and-get time. I want my students to have a different experience. I want them to be able to see relevance with their education. I want to give my students their education at their point and time in school, not mine. I want to make a difference.
And one last thing, Boo Jeans.