What it is: Blended learning is a method of teaching where active, engaged online learning is combined with traditional classroom teaching.
How it works: Teachers can start by introducing a topic in class with a short educational film. They then divide the class into small groups to discuss the film, which helps the teacher to gain an insight into student understanding. Each group then goes on to present what they have understood to other groups. Alternatively, teachers can assign an activity or quiz to each group to assess the class’s level of understanding.
Why it works: Blended learning changes the way students think and learn by transforming them from passive recipients of knowledge to active generators of knowledge. It can also help to encourage quiet or shy students to interact with each other and with the class as a whole. Similarly, teachers can use blended learning to keep a noisy, difficult class engaged and focused.
2. Flipped classroom
What it is: If you follow our blog regularly, you’ll know that we at Twig World are passionate about integrating the flipped classroom approach. Flipped classroom reverses the way that information is delegated – students watch short films (for example) at home before engaging with comprehension activities in the classroom.
How it works: Teachers use a lesson which they would have traditionally taught in the classroom and give it out as an online homework assignment. This can be in the form of a video, slideshow or some online reading. Teachers then discuss the content with students or assign exercises based on the homework film in class to see how much the students have understood.
Why it works: A flipped classroom is an excellent way to develop students’ reasoning and thinking skills. It encourages students to process information and draw their own inferences. In addition, flipped classrooms can prove very useful in levelling the field for students with learning difficulties, as it allows each student to view, pause and rewind the film as many times as needed in order to understand the topic.
3. Contextual learning
What it is: As the name suggests, contextual learning focuses on providing theoretical learning within real world scenarios.
How it works: Teachers introduce a topic in class, through either a traditional lesson or through a film. The class is then encouraged to try to contextualise the topic with recent happenings. For example, a film on earthquakes can be an introduction for students to start thinking about this natural phenomenon and where they occur: research will soon reveal that they are frequent around the edges of tectonic plates, in locations like Japan, Indonesia and Southern California.
Why it works: Contextual learning opens up the classroom, allowing students to apply the knowledge they learn in class to the real world around them. It helps students understand concepts like cause and effect and the interconnectivity and broader application of science. Contextual learning can also be easily integrated within other pedagogies such as the flipped classroom or 3D learning, during which teachers assign students to find out more information about the real life event and present it in class.
4. Differentiated learning
What it is: Differentiated learning recognises that each student has their own individual style of learning. The National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum defines it as “a process to approach teaching and learning for students of differing abilities in the same class. The intent is to maximise each student's growth and individual success by meeting each student where he or she is… rather than expecting students to modify themselves for the curriculum.”
How it works: Differentiated learning requires teachers to do a fair bit of background research into students’ histories and learning styles. Once teachers have assessed their students’ ways of learning, they need to go through the curriculum and identify topics that can be tailored to differentiated learning. After this, it becomes a question of creatively incorporating these concepts to different teaching styles. For example, you might have a large group of students in class who are creative – these students can be taught the parts of a flower by making paper flowers in class. Equally, children who love sports can be taught laws of motion through ball games.
Why it works: Differentiated learning allows students to learn in the way that suits them best, allowing them to grasp a concept completely. While it’s not always possible to cater to every learning style at the one time, differentiated instruction can be a change for the classroom and extremely rewarding in helping students with learning difficulties learn alongside their other classmates. It also makes for a fun lesson!
5. Class Rotation (whole and group)
What it is: Class rotation involves one of two options: the entire class can switch between online and classroom activities (whole class rotation) or the students can be divided into groups, and each group given a different activity (group rotation). In the second option, the teacher visits each group individually.
How it works: During whole class rotation, the teacher introduces a topic to the entire class via an educational film or online activity before opening up a discussion of the topic for the whole class. This is then followed by the teacher assigning an exercise or quiz to each student. The idea is for the teacher to move through various activities with the class as a whole.
During group rotation, the teacher introduces a topic to the whole class via a film, then divides the class into groups of four or five students. Each group is assigned a different online task. For example, one group may be given an online quiz, while another might be tasked to read an article for discussion. The teacher visits each group in turn to check their progress.
Why it works: Class rotation is a good way to manage a big class and keep students occupied and focused on the task at hand. It breaks monotony, and encourages active learning. Group rotation also helps a teacher give each group one-on-one attention.
Each of these pedagogies involve the teacher acting as a guide, shifting the responsibility of learning to the students. This type of approach not only eases the pressure on teachers, but also helps students to take an active part in learning. They develop important collaborative, problem-solving, rationalising and reasoning skills as a result.