In the CIA of blended learning model, teachers work in tandem with digital curriculum to provide a personalized learning environment for each and every student. Like any good partnership, one needs to test the waters, look for strengths and weaknesses, and find how the two of you complement each other. This is also true when selecting and working with digital curriculum in a blended learning classroom.
When adopting digital curriculum for blended personalized learning, it’s important to consider what the digital curriculum is bringing to the partnership. Don’t get hung up on what it does not bring. When you think of other partnerships in our lives, like your spouse or kids, they are not perfect. You may find that these partners didn’t put the dishes in the dishwasher the way you would have, but the dishes got washed. Or they may not have mowed the yard the way you would have, but it got done. The same is true with digital curriculum. Just because it’s not the way a teacher would have instructed, students are still exposed to the curriculum. By releasing a little bit of control to the digital curriculum, teachers now have more time to guide instruction with an eye on grade level power or essential standards.
Use a curriculum map when planning. Start small. It’s better to eat an apple one bite at a time, rather than shoving the whole thing in your mouth. When partnering with digital curriculum, classroom teachers should work in bite size chunks. For example, look at one unit of study at a time, rather than the whole semester or school year.
The image below is from an i3DigitalPD partner in Alaska working on digital curriculum mapping; aligning textbook traditional instruction with potential digital curriculum assets for a single unit of study.
When partnering with digital curriculum, think through the process of how to best utilize the digital content. One way of doing this is creating a curriculum map that outlines the standards and objectives. Then align the digital curriculum that will help you meet these goals. Keep in mind that most digital curriculum only delivers content at a Depth of Knowledge (DoK) of level one and two (recall, skills, and knowledge). Thus teachers need to identify where the standards require more from students (e.g. DoK 3-4: strategic and extended thinking). Blending student learning with face-to-face instruction and digital curriculum, allows the technology to do what it does best (DoK 1-2) and marrying this with the wisdom of the classroom teacher to stretch and scaffold learning (DoK 1-3). Throw in some student created authentic assessment with project learning (DoK 3-4) and you have the full scope of CIA of blended learning.
Like any partnership, it’s important to know how the digital curriculum acts, and how you behave around it:
- Is the digital curriculum supplemental in nature, or are you just using it in a supplemental fashion?
- How does the digital curriculum deliver the known power or essential standards for your grade level, and how should you extend that learning?
- Where is the digital curriculum weak, so you can pick up? Where is it strong, so you can push forward?
Partnerships are never easy, but they can make our lives better. Remember the true focus here is not the adult in the room – but the student learner. Their world is filled with technology advantages. Our classrooms must model this by providing learners with the best of both worlds: the teacher they love and the ability to drive their own learning with digital curriculum and authentic assessments.