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Voices from the Middle, Vol. 22, No. 2, December 2014

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Blended Learning

  • Editors' Message: Blended Learning as a Third Space [FREE ACCESS]

    Diane Lapp, Douglas Fisher, and Nancy Frey

  • Blended Learning Resources for Middle Grade Teachers

    Barbara Moss

    Abstract: In this article, the author defines blended learning and recommends a variety of resources for restructuring the classroom using this model. The resources include suggestions for online video libraries, software programs and apps for effectively incorporating assessment, and apps designed to facilitate student learning through note-taking, inquiry learning, and the creation of digital books. Resources designed specifically for creating blended learning experiences for students with disabilities and struggling readers are also provided. 

    Keywords: Middle School, blended learning, e-learning, teacher resources

  • Beyond the Sticky Note and Venn Diagram: Comprehension Strategies for 21st-Century Schools

    Mary E. Styslinger, Nicole L. Walker, and Tamela K. Lenker

    Abstract: This article shares the findings of a collaborative action research project focused on integrating 21st-century technological tools in developing the cognitive-reading strategies of students. Questioning, summarizing, and visualization skills are highlighted as important metacognitive strategies utilized by good readers that can be transformed through technological means. The article introduces, illustrates and considers a variety of free or inexpensive online resources that can be used to deepen student comprehension of literature through these strategies and examines the ways in which students interacted with these resources. It includes additional resources that the practitioner may want to consider as alternatives and provides helpful tips for the classroom. The authors conclude that to successfully meet the needs of our 21st-century technology natives, we must embrace these new tools as a means of instruction rather than an additional activity. 

    Keywords: Literature, 21st-century literacies, teacher resources, classroom technology, reading comprehension

  • Equalizing the Teacher-to-Student Ratio through Technology: A New Perspective on the Role of Blended Learning

    William J. Fassbender and Julia A. Lucier

    Abstract: As the popularity of technology exponentially increases every year and online classrooms gain traction in education, traditional face-to-face teachers are met with a new conundrum: how to adapt existing educational philosophy and instruction to meet the needs of 21st-century learners amid a current climate of budget restrictions and lack of available resources. This article evaluates arguments for technology in the classroom, particularly in the area of blended learning, and takes an in-depth look at how one teacher was able to create a blended classroom based on the model of the North Carolina Virtual Public School. The article also explores the following questions: What elements of a blended learning environment make this form of online learning successful? How can technology be used to reach students on a one-on-one basis as class sizes increase? What are the advantages of a blended course versus a traditional face-to-face classroom? What effects do blended learning approaches have on the role of the traditional classroom teacher? What new gaps in achievement arise as the switch is made from traditional to blended classrooms? The field study examined how technology was implemented within one on-level 8th grade classroom of 23 students and qualitatively analyzed the successes and pitfalls of a blended classroom over a three-month period.

    Keywords: blended learning, e-learning, classroom technology, face-to-face

  • The Classroom Blog: Enhancing Critical Thinking, Substantive Discussion, and Appropriate Online Interaction [FREE ACCESS]

    Shannon Baldino

    Abstract: In this rapidly evolving digital world, students need to learn not what to write, but how to write using technology and social media. Our students immerse themselves in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., and it has to be asked: Who is teaching our students to appropriately and respectfully write in the digital world? A class blog can be used to teach students the following: As teachers, we must evolve with the times and not only teach with technology, but use it to teach our students to be professional, respectful contributors to our digital society.

    Keywords: Writing, Writing Instruction, Blogging, differentiation, Social Media, e-learning

  • Strategies to Get Started with Blended Learning

    Alex Gonzalez

    Abstract: What is blended learning, and perhaps more important—what does it look like and how do you get started? The rise in access to digital resources has prompted educators across content and grade levels to look for ways to harness these resources through relevant practices, providing educators and their students ways to engage critical skills through the purposeful integration of technologies. In “Strategies to Get Started with Blended Learning,” we take a look at how teachers are using tools to prompt students, collect and provide feedback that inform their instruction, pedagogical and technological considerations, as well as tips to get started. Take blended learning beyond just a trending buzzword in education. Learn about the tools and practices teachers are currently using to blend their instruction.

    Keywords: Technology, Critical Literacy, blended learning, e-learning, teacher resources

  • Teaching the Common Core: Exit Tweets and Wiki Blue Books

    William Kist

    Abstract: As schools across the country are struggling to implement some kind of planned formative, interim, and summative assessments in response to the Common Core State Standards and a new generation of standardized tests, teachers are increasingly integrating various technology applications into their collection of assessments. This article describes existing examples of screen-based assessments that make use of mobile and multimodal formats to aid in all steps of the so-called “data-driven” cycle—collecting, analyzing, and acting upon what assessments tell us about our students. In addition, some creative applications of “new literacies” are suggested for each phase, suggesting that technology may allow classroom teachers substantial power that could be central, not peripheral, to the teaching and learning that goes on in their classrooms.

    Keywords: Assessment, Technology, Common Core, 21st-century literacy

  • CODA: Teacher as Trickster

    Jeff Wilhelm

    Abstract: This commentary argues that the most effective teacher is a “trickster,” a boundary crosser putting existing content, tools, and strategies into new combinations. This combining creates Third Spaces of possibility that can lead not only to deep understanding, but to personal and social transformation. Reading can be a Third Space when it is pursued as an exploration of what could be. Blended learning environments are not so much about using technology, as about using technology, the arts, and other learning tools in new combinations and ways, to inquire and to design usable knowledge artifacts. Technology must be a research resource and design tool to work towards understanding, application and transformation. This process teaches students to become problem solvers and will help them to meet the next generation standards and assessments.

    Keywords: Technology, Reading, blended learning, 21st-century literacy, problem-solving, Third Space

* Journal articles are provided in PDF format and can be opened using the free Adobe® Reader® program or a comparable viewer. Click here to download and install the most recent version of Adobe Reader.

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