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A 2019 Gallup study that included 128 schools and more than 110,000 students found that student engagement and hope were significantly positively related to student academic achievement progress in math, reading, and all subjects combined.
This is why it’s even more concerning that we continue to see student performance decline, with the National Assessments of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, reporting that students in the U.S. had the largest average reading score decline since 1990, and the first ever score decline in math in 2022.
Knowing that many students are struggling with learning setbacks can feel overwhelming, but we’re hoping we can help you look at these scores as an opportunity to implement new instructional strategies that engage students, and therefore, help mitigate learning loss.
Blended Learning Increases Student Engagement
A learning environment we recommend to increase student engagement is blended learning, which combines a mix of face-to-face and online instruction for students. Gen Z is the first truly internet-dependent generation – getting their entertainment, information, and socialization online, oftentimes from social media. Therefore, to reach these students where they are, we need to evolve our instructional strategies.
This doesn’t mean teachers need to utilize Instagram Reels or TikTok, bur rather use technology strategically to engage students in their learning.
Plus, according to Education and Information Technologies, when compared to traditional learning, 73 percent of educators believe blended learning has improved student engagement. As former teachers that have transitioned into a school leadership role, we hope these four blended learning instructional strategies help you maximize student learning and engage them where they are.
Blended Learning Instructional Strategies
Our instructional model at Florida Virtual School includes evidence-based approaches, professional development for teachers, curriculum specifically designed for the online learning environment, and flexibility for students and families to communicate with teachers to individualize learning and provide support.
With this in mind, we recommend starting by enabling your teachers to connect with students and their families one-on-one to truly understand their needs. By starting with what students need, it will be easier to determine which blended learning instructional strategy will work best for your students.
Once teachers better understand their student’s individual needs then it’s time to find the right mix of in-person and online learning for them. To do this, teachers will need to look at each lesson to determine which instructional approach (in-person versus online), as well as which instructional type (independent versus collaborative) makes the most sense.
It’s important to note, many blended learning instructional strategies may work for students, so teachers do not need to pick just one. In fact, we recommend using a variety of strategies to create the greatest impact with lesson plans.
1. Online Approach with Independent Type
If teachers want a lesson that allows students to go at their own pace, this blended learning instructional strategy is the way to go! Students will learn lessons via virtual class time or independent study, engaging with concepts independently with activities such as assigned reading, interactive videos, comprehension checks, and quizzes or exams. This strategy can help students who may need more time understanding a concept, as well as students who already understand and are ready to move to the next module.
2. Online Approach with Collaborative Type
This strategy allows students and teachers to interact online through synchronous activities such as live lessons, discussion boards, peer assessments, and more – leveraging the technology students know and love, while still enabling them to connect with each other.
3. In-Person Approach with Independent Type
Think about assessments, analyzing, problem-solving, and case studies for this instructional strategy, since it combines an in-person lesson with time after for the student to complete assignments via their own device – allowing them to go deeper in their learning. One reason we love this approach, is that even though students will be working asynchronously, if they have questions, they can raise their hand and a teacher can quickly assist.
4. In-Person Approach with Collaborative Type
With this instructional strategy, students learn concepts in-person while collaborating with other students to develop deeper connections to the concept. This mix creates a great environment for active learning, class discussions, debates, and projects.
The most important thing to remember when implementing new blended learning instructional strategies is that there is no universal way to do it. Whether you’re a school or district leader, an instructional staff member, or part of the support team, we hope that our experience and best practices can help you engage your students and focus on your most important goal: supporting your students to reach their full potential.
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