Six Teacher Resources for the Blended Classroom

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“There’s No App for Good Teaching” by Laura Moorhead

Educators are often so focused on getting technology into the classroom that once it’s there, they’re not sure what to do with it. This TED article by Laura Moorhead offers eight ways that teachers can think about using technology in the classroom to make it more effective as a tool for learning.

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Digizen

Digizen is a website completely dedicated to raising awareness and understanding about digital citizenship. Digizen offers everything from articles and videos to classroom activities and games that teachers can use to learn about and teach digital citizenship.

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Cybersecurity Lab Guide for Educators

Teaching students how to be safe in cyberspace is a crucial aspect of digital citizenship. NOVA Labs’ Cybersecurity Lab Guide is designed to teach students how to protect their information, identify cyber scams, and protect themselves from cyber attacks.

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Cyberbullying Toolkit

Common Sense Education’s Cyberbullying Toolkit includes turn-key instruction for teaching students about respectful online behavior as well as workshops to encourage parent involvement. The kit offers two lessons each for elementary school, middle school, and high school educators.

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Mimi Ito on Learning in Social Media Spaces from Edutopia’s Big Thinkers Series

In this insightful video, Mimi Ito, a cultural anthropologist specializing in youth and technology, discusses the different ways in which young people use social and digital media spaces. She explains the value of these interactions and identifies areas where educators can use new media to promote learning.

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Facebook for Educators & Community Leaders

Facebook is one of the most widely used social media networks and it plays a huge role in how many young people communicate and interact. Their guide for educators provides basic information about teens and social media, Facebook’s community standards, reporting abuse, bullying prevention, privacy, digital citizenship, and much more.

iNACOL and Ed Tech from a Wanderer’s Perspective

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This year my company sent me to iNACOL for one main purpose: to experience iNACOL. Although I helped setup and maintain our booth on the exhibitor floor and represented my company through social media, I was there to see what all the buzz was about. Last year I got to be a part of designing our booth and seeing it come to life, and I led our marketing meetings regarding all things iNACOL, but attending was an entirely different experience. I wasn’t there to talk to customers or potential customers, and I also wasn’t there as a school representative. So I just soaked it all in, from the sunshine in Palm Springs, California, to all of the conversations happening around me. I was a breakout session attendee and a people watcher. Here are a few things I learned from my experience:

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Three Things to Know About NCAA and Online Learning

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Thinking of implementing online courses with student athletes? It’s important to know the NCAA’s guidelines and policies, to ensure that students who take online courses won’t face obstacles getting those courses approved for eligibility once they get to college.

Although the first step is identifying an appropriately rigorous, college preparatory curriculum like Edgenuity, having your online courses approved by the NCAA is as much about how you implement the courseware as it is about the courseware itself. Read More

Closing the ELL/ESL Achievement Gap through Online Blended Learning

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How to close the achievement gap between English language learners (ELL) or English as a second language (ESL) learners and native English speakers has been the subject of a growing national debate. And with these students now making up one of the fastest growing student populations, finding the right solution has become more crucial than ever.

Many schools and districts are at a loss for how to deal with the issue, but could online and blended learning models hold the key? Many educators believe it can and for good reason. Online components for most blended learning programs offer innovative features that fall in line with best practice guidelines for teaching ELL/ESL students.

Online programs also make lessons more accessible by providing a wide variety of non-verbal cues and visual aids that can help ELL/ESL students gain a better understanding [...]

For instance, modeling new tasks or concepts is one of the best strategies for instructing students in general, but it is especially effective when teaching ELL/ESL students. Many blended learning programs provide on-screen instruction where teachers demonstrate new concepts and work through examples. This allows ELL/ESL students to learn by observing and helps them build confidence in their ability to complete the task themselves.

In addition to modeling new tasks, it’s also important for teachers to speak slowly and clearly and to repeat themselves when necessary. With online audio and video, students can rewind and listen to material as many times as they need to. This allows ELL/ESL students the opportunity to work at their own pace and helps develop their listening comprehension skills.

Online programs also make lessons more accessible by providing a wide variety of non-verbal cues and visual aids that can help ELL/ESL students gain a better understanding of course materials without needing to have a perfect comprehension of verbal or written English.

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However, one of the most valuable tools provided by online and blended learning programs is their continual checks for understanding, which provide educators with real-time actionable data. This helps teachers gauge whether their ELL/ESL students are keeping up with the rest of the class or whether they need more assistance. Educators can then spend more time working with individual students in areas where they are struggling and prevent problems from snowballing.

But technology can’t solve all of the problems associated with the growing achievement gap between ELL/ESL students and native English speakers. Many educators have reported a lack of funding or personal development geared toward addressing the needs of ELL/ESL learners. Technology can, however, be leveraged to personalize the learning experience for these students.

Because the human element of the student-teacher relationship is still a vital classroom component, especially for ELL/ESL students, a blended learning classroom offers an ideal way to cultivate that relationship. Building on that, it may also be the answer to creating a more effective learning environment that lowers the language barrier for educators and increases academic achievement for ELL/ESL students.

Teacher Commitment to Education Technology is Necessary

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Introducing technology into the classroom requires accommodating changes to a school’s curriculum.  When technology is implemented it represents a shift away from traditional methods of teaching; we must realize that not all teachers have the facility to commit, engage, and leverage technology effectively.

This may be due to a lack of belief in education technology, or it may be as simple as a lack of opportunity to develop the necessary skills and conceptualize its benefits. Teachers are not always comfortable with technology in the classroom, but there needs to be an affective commitment in order for technology to be effective in their classroom. According to “Acquiring Teacher Commitment to 1:1 Initiatives: The Role of the Technology Facilitator,” in the Journal of Research on Technology in Education, affective commitment in terms of technology integration is evident in three ways: Read More