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5 Tips for Building Better Relationships with Students in a Blended Learning Classroom

Posted by Marilyn K. Myers - Guest Author

Aug 11, 2015 4:13:58 PM

Blended learning combines direct teaching with computer software programs that enhance what students are learning. The computer aspect—that is, the fact that students each have their own device—allows students to learn at their own pace, depending on their academic level.

Using technology this way is a wonderful concept where students can excel or bridge the gap in certain academic areas, and it can be used from Kindergarten all the way through college level education, and on into continuing adult ed. Obviously, schools need to have access to the technology needed to have a successful blended learning atmosphere, but another crucial element in the success of blended learning for students is the relationship their teachers build with them.

Is it possible to use a blended learning environment and build student relationships at the same time? It is not only possible, but crucial.

The more positive the relationship between a teacher and their students, the more interest students show in the process of learning, especially in an engaging setting like a blended learning classroom. Students who do not feel a connection to their teacher often do not perform as well as their classmates who do have that comfort level.

Teachers should continually try and build relationships with their students, no matter what time of the school year or the subject matter being taught. When teachers try to get to know their students, they can find out what their actual needs are.

Here are five things you can do in a blended learning class to build relationships and trust with your students.

1. Set goals with your students, and hold them to those goals.
Teaching students to set goals for their own achievement is a life skill that not only builds a bond between the teacher and student, but also sparks the realization within a student that they are capable of the task before them. Sometimes students simply need a push in the right direction to get a boost in their self-esteem. Once they begin to progress, some students are able to move at their own pace and reach their own goals.

2. Ask questions and encourage students to share.

When using blended learning in the classroom, teachers can continue to build relationships with their students by allowing students to share what they have learned through using various software programs. As students share, teachers can use leading questions to gain better clarification from the students. This model allows students the opportunity to be the “expert” at that time. It also allows the other students in the classroom opportunity to listen and gain perspective from each other. The opportunity to listen and speak is a wonderful relationship builder, not only with the teacher and student, but among other classmates as well.

3. Images help students connect material with their own lives and feelings.
Being that digital imagery is part of the blended learning atmosphere, students gain the experience of learning detailed ways of describing their experiences. Teachers can use this occasion not only to build rapport with their students, but also to let students experience the growth that comes with processing their thoughts in a detailed manner through speech and/or writing.

4. Find other ways to connect the material directly to students’ lives.

Having students connect what they are learning to their lives not only helps the academic value last longer, but it builds relationships along the way by seeing how they relate to one another. When teachers share their own experiences with similar learning activities, students usually see the teacher as much more approachable and understanding.

If blended learning can be connected to student’s personal interests, there is a genuine spark of excitement and willingness to engage in the activities planned. It is almost like a safety net for some students when they see their teacher taking an active interest in what they are interested in doing or learning. This is one way that teachers can get that “buy in” from the students and build relationships at the same time.

5. Celebrate student successes.
As students excel in their blended learning activities, teachers should celebrate their victories with them by telling them specifically what they did that was accurate, or better yet, have the students verbalize how they achieved their goals.


Ask your students how it made them feel to meet the goal that they set. Truly listen to what your students are telling you. Showing an active interest in students and what they have to say builds a bond that not only builds their self-esteem and critical thinking skills, but can even have life-long positive effects on a child. 

I hope you found this post helpful. I’d love to hear about how you build relationships in a blended learning environment—please let me know in the comments below!

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Topics: Resources, Teaching & Learning, Connected Educators, Educational Technologies

The 7 Most Time-Saving Study Tools for Educators

Posted by Lynn Usrey - Guest Author

Aug 10, 2015 8:30:00 AM


Because teachers have so much to do, time management is a very important factor when it comes teaching. For one to be effective, it's important to be time conscious. As an educator, you need to lead by example.

This means that you need to let your students know the importance of time management by using yourself as an example. Show your students that effective time management will give them an opportunity to balance between their studies and their co-curricular activities and they'll follow suit.

The good thing is that technology has made it possible of us to effectively manage our time by providing us with essential tool to help us along the way.

Here are 7 tools that will help you save time:

1)   Lucidchart 

Lucidchart is specifically designed to make it easier for the user to sketch and share professional diagrams. The best part about this app is that it works well with other programs, including Google Apps. The tool also works perfectly with Microsoft Visio documents. Once you are done with your diagramming, you can then go ahead and export your work to standard file formats, or better yet, publish the same with the online viewers.


2)   Classroom

Currently available on Google App, Classroom is a new education tool that was developed to help educators create and organize assignments fast. The app also allows teachers to give students feedback and be able to communicate with the classroom effectively. Designed by both teachers and students, Classroom helps to easily connect the class while at the same time tracking the progress of students to allow both parties to achieve more. 


3)   Unplag

Nothing is more frustrating than receiving what you think is a plagiarized essay. Unplag is a plagiarism detection engine that allows you to check your documents for any type of plagiarism. The tool is very quick and efficient, and carries out the test within just 4 seconds. You can use the tool to run a test on a number of files of different sizes concurrently.


4)   Dropbox

Dropbox allows for convenience and easy accessibility of your files. As an online storage tool, it guarantees safety of your documents and ensure that they remain synched, making it easy to share notes and documents. Since documents are stored online, it means that you can take them anywhere you want and access them at any time provided that you have an internet connection and your PC or Smartphone. With just a click you can send your class video files, since Dropbox makes it easier to share large files with anyone.


5)   Quicklyst

Are you looking to take better notes for class planning? If so, then Quicklyst is perfect for your needs. This tool allows you to take beautiful outline-style notes, which will in turn help you to structure your ideas in a logical manner. The best part about this tool is that it is compatible with the majority of the devices including: iPhone, iPad, Kindle and Android devices. Students can use this tool to take notes effectively using outlines and it also allows you to format mathematical equations. Information stored in the app is secure, as it never forgets. You can access your data easily without having to worry about data loss.


6)   RescueTime

As mentioned in the introduction to this post, time management is a very important factor to consider when teaching and modeling good studying habits. With RescueTime, you have a tool that can help you to strike a balance between your school work and work life. Distractions brought about by the digital life are a major contributory factor to time wasting. With this tool, you can easily come to terms with your daily habits, hence giving you an opportunity to focus at what you are doing and thereby increasing your productivity.


7)   Teachers.io

For educators, Teachers.io allows them to plan their schedule, organize classes, and allows them to share whatever they have with their students. With the tool, you can easily know what is coming next in terms of your lessons, assignments and even tests. You can upload links and files for your classes so that you make it easier for your students to access them. Teachers.io is also very effective in helping you create and share your entire syllabus without any struggle.

I hope you found this post helpful. I’d love to hear more about tools and tactics you use to save time—please let me know in the comments below!

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Topics: Resources, Teaching & Learning, Connected Educators, Educational Technologies

9 Best Channels for STEM Learning on YouTube

Posted by Amy Cowen - Guest Author

Aug 5, 2015 8:38:00 AM

Learning is now made more fun and much easier with technology. In addition to using traditional materials like textbooks and blackboards, you can use the internet!

Videos have helped many teachers flip their classrooms, and use a blended learning model where students view a video at home about a topic, and then work in class on their own or in small groups. YouTube is one of the best learning platforms for implementing a flipped model. For STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), going beyond conventional methods and materials can really help make the discussion and the learning experience come alive for your students.

YouTube has a TON of channels devoted to STEM topics. But how do you find the best ones? With this blog post!

Here are the best YouTube channels for teaching and learning about STEM. 

1. Veritasium

Veritasium uploads new Science-related videos every week. What is nice about this video channel is that it simplifies the learning process. Even complicated science terms and processes are made easy to understand as these videos explains the things around us and how things work. The video channel was created in 2011 and it has  already 180 videos uploaded. From simple objects to highly intricate science concepts.

2. NASA eclips

Talk about eye candy! The shots here are just stunning, and will help excite your students about learning. This channel has a lot to offer, including Educator Guide where the videos are organized according to grade level. Apart from videos, they also have accompanying PDF booklets. 

3. Minute Physics

As its title might indicate, this channel shows video clips in two to three minute lengths. What makes this channel effective for STEM learning is that it utilizes the efficacy of visual learning to explain intricate concepts and theories in physics. The creator of the channel, Henry Reich, does a great job showing how visual learning can be used to help students to appreciate even difficult subjects.

4. Numberphile

A lot of students have a math phobia, or think they're just not good t math. Numberphile might be able to help even those students get excited about math. Numberphile showcases interviews of famous mathematicians in the field. The videos are inspirational and interesting, and also include short segments about maths and numbers. Basically, this channel can help your students love and appreciate numbers!

5. Sickscience

One powerful way to show how things work scientifically is through experiments, which SickScience has plenty of! This channel is composed of various science experiments that are simplified for every student to understand. On top of that, the videos give detailed instructions so you can also try and conduct the experiments on your own. 

6. Periodic Table of Videos

When you search for videos that can help you with STEM learning, most would focus on Science and Math. Among the best channels is the Periodic Table of Videos. If you are looking for one of the best channel where you can watch many things about chemistry, this is the ultimate Youtube channel to watch. Apart from just memorizing the periodic table, this channel gives you amazing educational videos tackling the different elements in the periodic table. And the host is just amazing—see yourself!

7. STEMbite

 Terms, concepts, and theories in Science can be difficult to understand. STEMbite was created by Andrew Vanden Huevel to help students to understand and appreciate science. If you are looking for an unconventional way to study technology and science, this is a good channel to watch.

8. Smarter Every Day

 This channel is not your usual science Youtube channel where you are presented with intricate information and instructions that are not easy to understand. With this channel, Destin is your tour guide as he shared information and explores the world of science. With his love for the discipline and his creative approach to explaining complicated concepts, online users get to have entertaining and educational videos. 

9. SciShow Kids

Every wonder why dinosaurs are extinct, but the great white shark isn't? Or why people have different color eyes? This science channel aimed at ages 6 to 15 explores questions like this in an engaging and educational format. I highly recommend it for parents and teachers for supplemental learning.

I hope you found this post helpful. I’d love to hear about other YouTube channels you've found useful—please let me know in the comments below!

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Topics: Resources, Teaching & Learning, Connected Educators, Educational Technologies

A Full Day of Learning "Better Together" at the California Teachers Summit 2015

Posted by The LearnBop Team

Jul 31, 2015 8:22:55 AM

The slogan is "Better Together," and that is precisely the vision for educators and other stakeholders as they come from all corners of the state to convene for the California Teachers Summit 2015. Concurrently taking place today at 33 locations throughout California, the summit will allow attendees to choose from a variety of college and university campuses.

This massive event is sponsored by New Teacher Center, the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU), and California State University (CSU), and has received grant support from Loyola Marymount University and CSU Fullerton via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as other sponsors.  

For teachers and others who wish to connect and discuss the Common Core Standards and other topics, or simply share teaching resources and strategies, this year's California Teachers Summit presents a prime opportunity. Teachers will, for a day, become learners with scheduled activities including keynote addresses by nationally renowned speakers, fellow educators, and other thought leaders throughout the field of education. Time will also be allocated for networking and small-group conversations in which educators can share ideas. 

A major advantage of having multiple locations rather than a single, central location is that this will allow attendees to network with colleagues within their own region. Not only that, but a .5 unit continuing education credit for attending and participating in the event will be available to teachers for only $27.50.

Since there are no plans to live-stream or record the summit, teachers will need to attend the event in person in order to get the full benefit of this unique opportunity. However, transcripts of the event can be ordered by visiting http://www.simpsonu.edu and clicking on "Transcript Request" under the "Resources" heading.  

There is little doubt that Common Core will be a primary focus of the summit, so the timing for this event couldn't have been better. As California educators are aware, the state has been testing their new Common Core assessment, the CAASPP, and the California Teachers Summit 2015 will present an ideal opportunity to inquire about the relevant data pertaining to this or any other aspect of the CAASPP.

Since the state assessment has been in a testing period no data has been released for a few years now, which means that educators and students have been left largely in the dark about student preparedness for the new standards. Teachers are eager to learn how far along their students are, and data is sure to be a topic discussed at these events today.

The size and scope of the summit can be gleaned from the fact that over 400 teachers are expected to attend the event at the Fresno State location. At this location, teachers Joe Marquez, Darrell Blanks, and Adam Ebrahim will speak on the topic of California's new education standards and their impact on classroom teaching and learning. Fresno State President Joseph Castro frames the event as "a bold opportunity for teachers to come together to collaborate and create a better future for California students." 


Sharing best practices, meeting and collaborating with like-minded educators, and building a strong educational community throughout California are just some of the things that participants in the California Teachers Summit 2015 can look forward to. For more information on the event, contact Emily Davis at emily@cateacherssummit.com or (415) 742-8336.

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Topics: Resources, State News, Collaboration, Connected Educators

Blended Learning Done Right: How to Use EdTech to Make Students CRAVE Learning

Posted by Dillie Baria - Guest Author

Jul 29, 2015 8:23:00 AM

A lot of perspective on blended learning is derived from educators. The pros and cons. The fears and successes. We think we know how edtech benefits our students within traditional classrooms, amidst the rising concerns of e-safety and student data privacy. But what about what students think? 

This quote from a student sums it up: “It makes me want to be creative”. 

The freedom to capitalise on their own creativity is what motivates children to learn better and have greater chances of succeeding. Creativity does not endorse mistakes; it is about the process, the learning journey. Integrating ICT forms an integral part of this creative process.

I teach primary school (mainly students ages 6 and 7) in London. A few weeks back, we learnt about the significance of glossaries in our Year 2 classroom. We looked at a plethora of books that held them and practiced writing a glossary, in our Literacy books.

The next day, I told the class that they were to work in pairs to write their own non-fiction books, which sported a glossary at the endon a topic of their choosingon an iPad using Book Creator.The lesson lasted over two sessions. 

In fact, it lasted well into their playtime; I ultimately had to gently remove the iPads from their eager hands just to get them outside. The finished works were not only informative, well-written e-books, they were visually appealing creations that successfully embedded collaborative and deep thinking skills you wouldn’t normally expect from 6 and 7 year olds. 

The perhaps rushed expectation was for them to have these books completed within the hour, instead of the two hours it really took. Had this been the expectation for their Literacy books instead, I would not only have had moans and grumps, the quality of work would have been less than extraordinary, with few infusions of pure passion. They couldn’t wait to proudly share their projects with the world that is our school.

Blended learning is a concept that a lot of us struggle with, especially with a full curriculum which threatens to burst through its seams. The challenge really lies in finding the time. But here’s where we get lucky... most children have an innate bond with technology – which means they enjoy spending time exploring, figuring things out – and they do so at a faster pace than the adults. The Book Creator project above was only the second time they had used the app in a few weeks. Yet, I merely facilitated the lesson with minimal suggestions.  

As we approach the end of an academic year and start, dare I say, thinking about new possibilities for the next one, the best time to embed the basics of ICT would be the first few weeks of school. Let students have a play with their devices, apps, and blogs.

Here are three tips and tools to effectively create a blended learning environment in your classroom:

1. Math / Reading Rotations
. I have a timetable set up with ability groups.  While I work with one group, another group could be creating their follow-up from the previous lesson on an app such as ShowMe.  Alternatively, instead of creating and photocopying a multitude of worksheets (oh, the trees!) if your school uses Google Apps for Education, create a worksheet within Google docs, and Smart Copy it to the relevant groups of students who can access and complete these on laptops.

The next step could be to publish the completed work on their blogs.  I ensure that each group has an opportunity to create something using technology within these rotations in a week.  A group of Year 3 students in my class once created and edited a short documentary as part of their reading follow-up.   Also within the rotations, students may be facilitating their own learning through useful websites and apps such as Spelling City. A student who shuddered at the word Maths started excelling when he started on Mathletics. I had regular pleas from him, asking that I set him up with more tasks!  This was a student with no access to technology at home, either.

2. Collaborate and Listen!

An individual, a pair, or a group can showcase their understanding of, say, a mathematical concept using apps such as ShowMe and Educreation.  My students have used these creations to help others within their class and other classes to teach the concept themselves.  By sharing their own learning, or simply having an audience, students feel empowered and begin to take ownership over their learning.

3. Blog It! 

The school I taught at in New Zealand initially published student work on e-portfolios that required parents (only) to input a password. Which begged the question, why do we even bother when these e-portfolios are glanced at only every once in a while? 

Once we fully integrated Google Apps for Education into our teaching and learning pedagogy, Blogger, which resides under the umbrella of GAFE, became a success story. Receiving comments, especially from students and teachers around the world, motivated our students to challenge themselves within their learning, enabling them to climb higher on the assessment ladder. This is once again integrated into their rotations. 

Here is a link to some of the outstanding blog work produced by Elm Park School in Auckland, New Zealand. Check it out!

Overall, the idea is to get students to explore and create, not just rely on playing games on apps, which, in my opinion, encourages students to become somewhat passive as learners—although app games can form an integral part of their learning journey when it comes to mastering concepts such as learning basic facts and matching opposites.

In my experience as a teacher, creating a successful blended learning environment has generally created a positive attitude to learning among my students. Their notions of of e-safety, which is well and truly drilled into their psyches throughout the year, enables them to grow into informed, confident digital citizens. Here is a poster which I had laminated on my wall, and spent the better half of the first term referring to it constantly... the rest of the year was taken over by students themselves, reminding each other.

I hope you found this post helpful. I’d love to hear about the approaches you take to blended learning—please let me know in the comments below!

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Topics: Differentiating Instruction, Resources, Teaching & Learning, Innovation, Connected Educators, Educational Technologies

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