Three years ago, Kavita Gupta decided to change her method of instruction. Here, she discusses how a three-pronged approach to student engagement has proved beneficial.
My name is Kavita Gupta and I am a teacher of AP (Advanced Placement) Chemistry at Monta Vista High School, in Cupertino, California, USA.
AP classes provide an opportunity for students to take college-level course work while they're in high school. It is a demanding subject, and students may earn college credit based on their scores.
I have been a teacher for more than 16 years and my two biggest challenges have been a lack of time and how to keep the students engaged. For most of my career, I used the direct instruction method, with less than desired outcomes.
In an attempt to overcome these challenges, three years ago I decided to change my method of instruction to the blended model. Here, you will see how I did it, as well as how my students have benefited.
Strategy: The blended classroom model
In my blended classroom, I used a three-pronged approach to engage the students and to extend the learning beyond the classroom. It involved using a flipped classroom model, creating a comprehensive class website and supporting learning through a Facebook group.
I found that student engagement increased when I utilised the flipped classroom. I created video recordings of my lectures, and students watched these at home. These video lectures allowed students to learn at their own pace and gave them the option of watching a segment multiple times.
I created and maintained a comprehensive website with many useful class resources. The website allowed students to gain valuable time management skills and balanced their homework and short- and long-term projects with afterschool activities.
This was created as a virtual space where students actively participated with one another. Within the group, students turned to their peers to seek clarification and share resources. I could also monitor online discussions to check the accuracy of the information. I currently support approximately 185 students and make about three to five posts per day. Each post is viewed by over two-thirds of the students.
In my experience, the blended model of instruction freed up more class time and allowed authentic problem-solving and deeper thinking. Students were actively engaged in learning both inside and outside of the classroom.
The effectiveness of the model was clear from formal and informal student feedback, and from students’ AP scores, which increased from twos to fives (two is not considered a passing grade and five is the highest score on an AP exam) by 12 per cent. Most importantly, student enrolment increased (140 to 235 students – a 162 per cent increase) as this class model became popularised.
I also surveyed students in order to gain an insight into the effectiveness of the resources. Of the 89 surveyed, 44 per cent said that the podcasts were a great resource, 40 per cent said that they were a good resource to have and 14 per cent stated that they did not use them much.
The same sample was also asked for their thoughts on the class website: 84 per cent indicated that the class website was a great resource, 13 per cent indicated that it was a good resource to have, while one per cent stated that they did not use the class website much.
In conclusion, this three-pronged approach to blended learning empowers students to be in the driver’s seat, rather than being the passive passengers in the traditional model of teaching.
This is a reader contribution. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Teacher and its publisher.
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