Blended learning in the classroom

When talking about blended learning I used to think of learning in the classroom combined with learning at home. But I was terrible wrong. Of course the definition of blended learning still is:

A formal education program in which students learn:

(1) at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace;

(2) at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home;

(3) and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience

But that doesn’t mean the online part must be followed at home. Some great examples of blended learning are shown in the MOOC Blended Learning: Personalize Education for Students. In this MOOC the possibilities of Blended Learning broadened my horizon.

The first model they discussed was the Rotation Model.

Imaging a class of 40 students (normal nowadays). A course build with the rotation model in mind is a course in which the students rotate on a fixed schedule or at the teacher’s discretion between learning modalities, At least one of which is online learning. The students learn mostly on the brick and mortar campus. There are a few possible ways to use the Rotation Model

  • station rotation, a model in which students experience the rotation model within a contained classroom or group of classrooms. The Station Rotation model differs front the Individual Rotation model because students rotate through all of the stations, not only those on their custom schedules.
  • Individual rotation, a course in which each student has an individualized playlist and does not necessarily rotate to each available station or modality. An algorithm sets individual student schedules.
  • Lab rotation; a course in which students rotate to computer lab for the online-learning station
  • Flipped classroom; a course in which students participate in online learning off-site in place of traditional homework and then attend the brick-and-mortar school for face-to-face guided practice or projects.

The other models were the Flex Model, the A La Carte Model and the Enrich Virtual Model. In another blogpost I’ll write about these models.

– See more at:

Proficiency Based Learning

This week I was introduced to the concept of Proficiency -based learning. And I must say I was charmed by this concept. Proficiency-based learning refers to systems of instruction, assessment, grading, and academic reporting that are based on students demonstrating that they have learned the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn as they progress through their education.

Defining proficiency-based learning is complicated by the fact that educators not only use a wide variety of terms for the general approach, but the terms may or may not be used synonymously from place to place. A few of the more common synonyms include competency-based, mastery-based, outcome-based, performance-based, and standards-based education, instruction, and learning, among others.

Proficiency-based teaching and learning builds upon and enhances standards-based education with the following common features:

Student centered instruction: The individual student is at the center of the learning process; the teacher acts on the expectation that all students will achieve at a proficient level given the necessary supports. Teachers adjust instruction to allow students to learn at their own rates and provide supports to all students.

Standards-based: Explicit learning outcomes or targets are derived from well-defined standards that clearly articulate what students must know and be able to do.

Student engagement: Once students understand the learning targets and proficiency levels to be attained, they take responsibility and ownership for their learning with appropriate teacher support. Students are active, intentional partners in the learning process

Students are evaluated on performance: Students demonstrate that they have become proficient at each learning outcome/target. Students are allowed multiple opportunities to demonstrate learning. Grading and credits are based on demonstrated proficiency only.

Formative assessment: On-going formative assessments are used throughout the instructional cycle to monitor student progress, provide feedback on learning goals, adjust instruction and provide additional supports.

Collaboration among educators: Teachers work collaboratively with colleagues to improve instruction based on student outcomes. Professional learning communities are focused and targeted on instructional effectiveness.

Instructional leadership: The principal and district office create the necessary conditions in the school to support teachers’ proficiency-based practice.

Learning vs. time based: Students move at their own pace. Seat time is not the measure of learning.

If students fail to meet expected learning standards, they typically receive additional instruction, practice time, and academic support to help them achieve proficiency or meet the expected standards. In practice, proficiency-based learning can take a wide variety of forms from state to state or school to school—there is no single model or universally used approach.

While schools often create their own proficiency-based systems, they may also use systems, strategies, or models created by state education agencies or outside educational organization.

Proficiency-based learning is generally seen as an alternative to more traditional educational approaches in which students may or may not acquire proficiency in a given course or academic subject before they earn course credit, get promoted to the next grade level, or graduate. While the goal of proficiency-based learning is to ensure that more students learn what they are expected to learn, the approach can also provide educators with more detailed or fine-grained information about student learning progress, which can help them more precisely identify academic strengths and weakness, as well as the specific concepts and skills students have not yet mastered.

When schools transition to a proficiency-based system, it can entail significant changes in how a school operates and teaches students, affecting everything from the school’s educational philosophy and culture to its methods of instruction, testing, grading, reporting, promotion, and graduation. Schools may also use different methods of instruction and assessment to determine whether students have achieved proficiency, including strategies such as demonstrations of learning, learning pathways, personal learning plans, portfolios, rubrics, and capstone projects, to name just a few.

Proponents of proficiency-based learning may argue that the approach greatly improves the chances that students will learn the most critically important knowledge, concepts, and skills they will need throughout their lives, and that proficiency-based learning can help to eliminate persistent learning gaps, achievement gaps, and opportunity gaps.

Critics of proficiency-based learning may argue that the transition will require already overburdened teachers to spend large amounts of time—and possibly uncompensated time—on extra planning, preparation, and training, and that proficiency-based learning can be prohibitively difficult to implement, particularly at a statewide level.