This project aimed to develop lessons for the SNC 2D1 course that integrated technology, both hardware and software, in a way that shifted learning from a teacher-centred model to a student-centred one. The overall objective was to provide teachers with lessons and resources that can be implemented throughout the course, leading to a more blended learning environment in which students will have more control over the time, place, path and pace of their learning, and benefit from a combination of online instruction and collaboration, and face-to-face interaction with the teacher and other students. A variety of devices (i.e., Smart Board, document camera, tablets) and digital tools (i.e., learning management systems, simulations, apps) were explored to evaluate their effectiveness as means of instruction.
Durham District School Board
Durham District School Board
Durham District School Board
Professional Learning Goals
- acquire a clear understanding of what a blended learning environment is and be able to describe examples of activities that would take place within it
- identify a list of instruments/devices and digital tools that can be used to effectively deliver the SNC 2D1 curriculum
- develop a collection of lessons that integrates technology in the instruction and supports a blended learning environment
- deliver the lessons and evaluate their effectiveness and success using observation and reflection, as well as student feedback, and modify the lessons as required
Activities and Resources
- viewed print and online literature (www.edudemic.com, www.edutopia.org), as well as videos (Blended Learning and Technology Integration by Jen Jonson), on technology and education
- explored the use of various devices (SMART Board, laptops, tablets, smartphones) and digital tools (D2L vs. Moodle, SMART Notebook, Nearpod, Padlet, PowToon, Kahoot!) in connection with the SNC 2D1 course
- developed lessons that attempted at a blended learning approach:
- “flipped” lessons on ionic and molecular compounds that involved recorded videos, in-class practice and homework task with online component
- “stations” lesson on the cell cycle, mitosis and cancer that incorporated web-based simulations with in-class, hands-on activities
- several lessons delivered using Nearpod as an interactive presentation tool
- invited students to share their thoughts on the pilot lessons and discussed with them what did and didn’t work
There were two major challenges:
- The first challenge was the availability and reliability of technology. The availability and condition of school laptops, the specific apps and software requirements on tablets and smartphones, as well as the strength of the school’s Wi-Fi signal were often limited, which hindered the delivery of specific lessons and the overall learning experience.
- Another challenge was time – time to research and learn different tools/platform that we can use, and time to develop a thorough lesson plan that would be suitable to our students’ needs. Also, the integration of technology actually required more time in some of our lessons. For example, extra time was required for students to physically sign out and log onto laptops/tablets, wait for Wi-Fi signal, and connect to online program. In addition, due to the shift from teacher-led lessons to student-led activities, it often took more time within a class to complete various tasks. However, much of the time challenges were probably attributed to the fact that this approach to teaching/learning was new to both teacher and students. As everyone gets used to the routines and environment of blended learning, use of time would likely become more efficient.
Enhancing Student Learning and Development
The 21st-century student requires skills such as digital fluency and collaborative communication in order to succeed as they enter the post-secondary and work arenas. By moving toward a blended learning environment in which students use a variety of technological tools to learn, have more control over that learning, and are encouraged to interact and collaborate with peers face-to-face as well as online, we provide opportunities for students to develop their technological and digital media skills, their self-regulation and time management skills, and their collaborative and communication skills. A blended learning environment also enables the teacher to deliver curriculum in ways that the students may be more familiar and comfortable with, thereby enhancing student engagement and learning. Teachers may also find that this learning model offers more one-on-one or small-group interaction with students, thus providing further opportunities for differentiated instruction.
Sharing was ongoing in our science department throughout the semester. As our team discovered and tested different digital tools, other teachers (not just science) were invited to try them out as well. We had ongoing discussions within our department regarding the use of technology (i.e., pros and cons, what everyone has tried, what worked/didn’t work, etc.). Lesson plans were shared in our school’s common network drives as well as using our board’s Moodle. We also met with our board’s technology facilitators to share with them what we were doing and learn from their expertise. As we continue to try out more lesson plans and further integrate technology into our teaching, we hope to host a PD session to share what we have learned and exchange ideas with other teachers.
We do feel that we were able to achieve our professional learning goals:
- We are now able to explain what blended learning is and describe a sample lesson plan that incorporates elements of blended learning.
- We now have a running list of digital tools (including OneNote Classroom, Padlet, Nearpod, Moodle, Kahoot!, QR code, and a variety of websites) that we felt were effectively used to deliver curriculum.
- We have developed several lessons that incorporated the elements of blended learning and test ran them in our classes. Observations were made and student feedback collected, and we modifed our lessons accordingly.
A great seven-minute video by Jen Jonson describing blended learning.
A good source of articles about technology and education.
These resources will open in your browser in a new tab, or be downloaded to your computer.
Student Worksheet – The Cell Cycle (Web-based)
Student worksheet on a lesson on the cell cycle, mitosis and cancer. Includes web-based as well as in-class hands-on activities.