Blended Learning Models Teaching Strategies for 1:1 and Shared Device Districts
Blended learning isn’t one-size-fits-all. While some districts have 1:1 technology, others choose to invest in shared devices. For any device ratio, it’s important to take a step back and visualize how iPads can be effectively utilized in an instructional setting.
Which type of blended learning model are you considering?
Click a model below to explore best practices, teaching strategies, and success stories of each classroom model from districts across the country.
The station rotation—or centers—model is a popular choice for districts with a limited number of devices. A station rotation model enables teachers to deliver a targeted mini-lesson with a small group of students while the rest of the class rotates through a variety of planned centers. Only one of the centers needs to be equipped with iPads, reducing the cost of blended learning to a minimum. Classrooms may only need five or six tablets as students can take turns using the devices for 20-40 minutes per day. When not engaged in the teacher mini-lesson or tablet center, students have the opportunity to rotate through a variety of teacher-created activities. The station rotation model helps older students direct their own learning and provides younger students with the opportunity to cut, paste, draw, and complete other activities that will develop their fine motor skills.
In the suburbs of Detroit, Utica Community Schools uses a rotating centers model with eSpark personalized learning in K-2 general education classrooms. Each classroom is equipped with 6 iPads which students share throughout the day while also receiving targeted teacher instruction, computer instruction, and other instruction in teacher-created centers.
In a split class blended learning model, the teacher can zero in on a topic that half the class may be struggling with while the other half works independently on their tablets. This model works well with a 1:2 ratio of shared devices. In order to be successful, the split classroom model requires that all independent work completed by students is both engaging and rigorous. This is where a program like eSpark can be used to ensure that students are working on a personalized iPad curriculum that will captivate their attention and support them in their greatest areas of need. Advantages of this blended learning model include lowering the student-to-teacher ratio and reducing costs as 1:1 devices are not necessary.
In Long Island, Valley Stream 30 embarked on an iPad initiative to truly personalize the learning experience. With shared, rotating iPad carts, the district implemented a split classroom model in grades 1-3 and 5-6 using eSpark. Teachers use the split class model three times a week, during which half the class receives direct teacher instruction while the other half logs into eSpark to work independently on their personalized learning plans.
“Our [blended learning] program will provide students with additional support to address academic gaps experienced from New York State shifting from state standards to Common Core State Standards.””
Dr. Roxanne France
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Valley Stream 30
Whole Classroom with Targeted Instruction
In a targeted instruction model, teachers pull aside a small group of students to deliver a differentiated mini-lesson while the rest of the class engages independently with 1:1 tablets. An advantage of targeted instruction includes the opportunity for teachers to deliver high-quality, meaningful lessons in a blended learning model that is relatively easy to adopt. While many districts who implement this model have a large number of iPads throughout the district a district-wide 1:1 program is not required. This type of instruction can also be successful with shared, rotating iPad carts so classrooms can take turns utilizing iPads throughout the school day.
By differentiating instruction with eSpark and 1:1 iPads, Franklin-McKinley school district in San Jose, CA challenged and supported ELL students and their peers. After 4 months of differentiated instruction, Franklin-McKinley’s students grew an average of 9 percentile points on the STAR assessment, outpacing their peers nationwide.
“eSpark has allowed us to instruct and support each student at his or her level. It’s rare to find a solution that leads to high levels of growth for both GenEd and ELL students. eSpark does that."
Assistant Superintendent, Franklin-McKinley School District
In a flipped classroom model, students bring tablets home and complete their blended learning plans as homework. This model requires 1:1 devices. The flipped classroom differs the most from other blended learning models and traditional instruction. “Flipping” the classroom extends learning time past traditional school hours and saves the teacher valuable time during the day. Students are able to watch instructional videos or play educational apps at home and prepare to discuss their learning during school hours to further develop skills or clarify content. This model is typically harder to monitor as students are held accountable for progressing through tablet instruction in an environment without teacher guidance. Keep in mind that in order for a flipped classroom model to be successful, students must have access to both a mobile device and wifi connection at home.
Mineola Union Free School District in Long Island, NY was one of the first districts to embrace iPads in the classroom. They implemented a 1:1 initiative with a flipped model in grades 3-7 to build an extension of the classroom. Students bring their devices home with them every night to work on their eSpark personalized learning plans and are ready to dive into topics and verify comprehension during the school day.
Successful blended learning models are not one-size-fits-all. Regardless of student-to-device ratio, most districts can experiment with different instructional models. District leaders must determine what meets the diverse needs of teachers and students and how it fits into the technology budget and desired timeline. While some districts streamline iPad implementations to incorporate one instructional model throughout their schools, others see value in utilizing multiple models to best serve the needs of all students. In mixed model districts, teachers often have a flexible approach to try different instructional methods, learn from other peers, and adapt their classroom to become increasingly more effective.
Using 1:1 iPads and eSpark, Elizabeth Forward School District in Pennsylvania is accelerating student learning, empowering teachers, and achieving tremendous academic gains. Every classroom is different; in some, students complete station work during reading and math time while one station is reserved for engaging with their eSpark personalized learning pathways. In others, the whole class independently works on iPads while a few students receive teacher small-group instruction.