Have you ever had a complete and TOTAL “aha” moment that hit you so hard, you had the strong desire to do 4 weeks of work in one night?? That’s just about where I am with Blendspace. I have been thinking and experimenting with a number of different tools and ideas for over a year, trying to find what would work the best for my students as I try to move my classrooms to a more blended environment. I’ve tried a lot of really cool things, but nothing ever really seemed like Goldilock’s “just right” web tool… until NOW!! I love love love Blendspace, and my mind is reeling with everything I want to do before school starts. I have created PowerPoints for nearly all of my lessons, but it’s just not enough anymore. Blendspace allows me to include practice handouts, videos, games, interactive practice…even links to the textbook. The Blendspace presentation I created for this “thing” has already been posted on my Weebly site, and it will be our first lesson in Algebra this fall. I can’t WAIT to create even more!
During that first review week of school, I always find it necessary to revisit the order of operations with students as well as the properties of real numbers, and that is exactly what this presentation does. I intend to get students hooked up with gmail accounts and access to this first Blendspace lesson as soon as possible. We have an iPad cart that I can use, or I’ll be signing up first thing to get into the computer lab. Students will go through each page of the presentation, learning and practicing the reviewed skills. I plan to facilitate this web experience by speaking with individual students or small groups to answer guiding or specific questions as the students are working on the lesson. This particular lesson addresses each point of the SAMR model. For substitution and augmentation sections, students will be going through the content pieces (such as the PowerPoint or the graphics that have been presented) and writing down their own notes, interpreting and explaining in their own words, constructing their own methods for understanding the order of operations and properties of real numbers. For modification, students will have an opportunity to critique, offer suggestions, and give their opinions in the forum as classmates post responses to where the properties of real numbers can occur in real world situations. Finally, the redefinition comes in as students develop and create a presentation of their own version of the PEMDAS acronym. There are also a number of “best practice” components built into this presentation, most importantly setting objectives and providing feedback. Students will be fully aware of what they are learning, and as I am able to be available to individuals and small groups, the feedback on how well they are understanding the material will be very fast. The built-in quizzes and provided answer keys will also immediately provide that critical feedback students thrive on.
This is a resource that I have been aware of, but I’m not quite sure why I haven’t used it more. I think the way I will handle each of these lessons is through a multimedia rubric. Students will be able to earn points based on the handouts they turn in, the tasks they must complete, and the online assessments. This puts the power of learning into the hands of my students, where it should be… and I can spend more time moving individuals forward, no matter where they are on the learning continuum.
1 Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity – With something as flexible and user-friendly as Blendspace lessons, students will be able to move forward in their math content knowledge through videos, interactive sites, practice, online quizzes,…something above and beyond where they’ve been with their education.
2 Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments – There is such a wide variety of digital age learning resources, and through the use of Blendspace, I am able to design and develop lessons for students that will take them beyond the walls of the classroom.
3 Model digital age work and learning – By bringing in an iPad cart and/or taking students to the computer lab on a regular basis for math class, students will be exposed to a different type of math classroom. The Blendspace lessons that I create for my classes will show students how well the digital age tools can be used for work and learning.
4b Address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources – Students with special needs can certainly access the Blendspace lessons that I create. Students with specific learning disabilities can complete certain portions of the lesson. The videos and additional PowerPoint presentations can be accessed an unlimited number of times, and rather than copying down notes, special needs students can print out the necessary content. Those with hearing impairments can certainly use the closed-captioned feature on the videos.
5c Evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning – The Blendspace lessons can easily be adapted to the newest and best researched digital tools as they become available. As I read through the updated materials, I can make changes to my Blendspace lessons.
CITW – Best Practices
1 Setting objectives and providing feedback – As mentioned above, this is the most prominent best practice of the Blendspace lessons simply because the objectives can be plainly stated at the beginning of the lesson for the entire class to see, and then there are multiple opportunities throughout the lesson for both teacher and interactive feedback for students.
2 Non-linguistic representations – The video and image feature make the Blendspace presentations the perfect opportunity for students to access this best practice. Students could be asked to make their own Blendspace presentation to teach a particular standard using any of the non-linguistic tools available to them, such as world clouds, images, videos, and so on.
3 Summarizing and note-taking – As I provide the content to students in the form of PowerPoints and videos, students will have the option to take notes and summarize what they have learned. There will no longer be the need to copy down every single word they see on the board because it will be there for them throughout the year. They need to use this best practice to really learn the material.
4 Cooperative learning – Students could collaborate and work on a Blendspace presentation of their own, sharing the lesson with other students, and perhaps even presenting the information to classmates.
I’ve used PowerPoints and Prezi, and even Google Presentations, but I sincerely believe this Blendspace idea is the beginning of something fantastic for my students! Thanks for bringing this “thing” to our attention!