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What You Must Incorporate Into a Hybrid Classroom to Find Success

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Setting up a hybrid learning environment takes a lot of deliberate and thoughtful planning. You need to plan things from the digital infrastructure to more traditional components of teaching such as interactions and assessment.

Plan Interactions

One complaint parents and students often pose to hybrid courses, especially in K-12, is that their child isn't being 'taught'. If you are one of the first teachers in your district to use a hybrid model of instruction, you could be dealing with this complaint quite a bit. So to find the success, you need to deliberately incorporate student interactions so that it is clear you are teaching, and students are learning.

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For each topic, consider how the learner will engage with you, the instructor, during the unit of study. Will you be leading small group instruction on certain key concepts during the unit? For science teachers, there might be whole class labs that are done during the unit as well. These are all opportunities for students to interact with you. These interactions will help assure student success.

Next, plan how students will interact with one another, or learner-learner interaction. What types of group activities will students engage with during the unit of study? Will there be a unit project students will complete? If so, what are the checkpoints that the group will need to complete together along the way? If there isn't a big unit project, what types of collaborative activities will students work on together as they go through the unit? Deliberately planning student engagement helps ensure the success of your hybrid classroom by forcing students to interact with their peers, and the content.

Finally, plan out how your learner will interact with the content. Ideally, you have a mix of independent learning tasks and direct instruction. For example, depending on your content you may have a whole class discussion at various points in a unit. These discussions could be in small groups, or as a whole class, depending on how you organize your classroom. Other times, it may be lecture after students have completed certain independent learning tasks where they worked with the material on their own. It could, on occasion, even be a lecture. It just depends on the subject you teach and how you have structured your hybrid classroom.

Create a Virtual Classroom Presence

As you plunge into a hybrid classroom, for it to be successful there needs to be a student-friendly system for organizing material and assignments for students. As you do this, keep in mind in a hybrid classroom that you will have students working on different points at different times. Students need to be able to easily understand what they need to do when you are not working as a whole class, and you need to be able to track what work they have done. Keeping track of all these different components is why you need to establish a 'virtual classroom' to use for organizing your digital material for students.

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If you don't have any other supplied resources, start with a simple website as the landing page for your virtual classroom. Within the website, you can create a page for each unit. There are websites set up specifically for use as hybrid classrooms. For example, websites such as Versal allow you to set up a 'course' for each unit or topic you are teaching, and can even track where students are in the material for you. Other websites, such as Google Classroom is another option that allows you to setup tasks for students, as well as integrate video, and grade all in one spot.

However you organize your virtual classroom, you need to be consistent. The navigation for each topic should be the same. Depending on where you are in the development of you hybrid classroom, it will look different. For example, if you are just starting out your virtual classroom may only include a list of independent learning tasks. If you are farther along, it may also include project tasks and assessments. Remember, start simple. You can always evolve your virtual classroom as your year goes on with the students. The virtual classroom will keep you and your students organized, and help assure your transition is successful.

Create Assessment Systems

The last will need to create a system for self-assessment for students, and formative and summative assessments for yourself. Self-assessment is an important component to incorporate into a hybrid classroom because students will be working independently more often than they might be used to. As a result, some will be a bit more needy in terms of wanting you to check every piece of work they complete - whether it is graded or not. Therefore, the first aspect of assessment you will need to address in your hybrid classroom is student self-assessment to assure that your hybrid classroom is successful.

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Self-assessment for students can look a variety of different ways. For example, students may have to complete a reflection at the end of each topic based on the material they should have learned before they can proceed to the formal assessment. In other cases, it may be a self-analysis of their written work where they have to provide evidence of each objective as part of a project. The important part of a hybrid classroom working well is that students have a chance to self-check their work before it comes to you.

Formative and summative assessments can often be integrated into a single program. For example, websites such as Socrative offer formative and summative assessment options for teachers that can be used throughout the class. There are gaming websites, such as Kahoot that allow you to conduct whole class quiz show type games, which will give you both a live general breakdown of class performance, and later a report for each student to monitor their progress. Whatever system you choose, you want it to be easy in terms of collecting and being able to analyze the data so that you can plan whole class and small group instruction to address any areas of concern in student learning. Having a clear system for collecting and analyzing assessment data will assure student success.

By Rachel Tustin
January 2017
opinion hybrid classroom

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