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Blended Learning: A Diamond from COVID Pressure

Monday, May 24, 2021

Blended Learning: A Diamond from COVID Pressure

“Triage teaches us lessons about the import we place on things in ‘normal’ times,” said Betsy Rafferty, the assistant principal at St. Malachy Catholic School (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and a speaker at our recent blended learning conference. “There will be things that we learned out of this pandemic that set us up for how we're serving our kids in the future. What we're trying to do right now as a school is look for the diamonds coming out of this pressure.

4.0 Takeaways from BLiCSS 4.0

Monday, May 10, 2021

Blended Learning in Catholic Schools Symposium 4.0

For the fourth year in a row, our HPL team convened and planned a national gathering of leaders and practitioners in blended and personalized learning. We love learning from the wonderful speakers at this conference (online this year) that we call the Blended Learning in Catholic Schools Symposium (BLiCSS). BLiCSS gave leaders and practitioners in Catholic education the opportunity to gather, share best practices and experiences, and tackle some problems of practice in blended learning. There were too many wonderful nuggets of wisdom to share from all of our incredible speakers, but we thought we’d give you our four major takeaways (in honor of our 4th annual gathering!) from BLiCSS 4.0, Post-Pandemic Pathways: From Surviving to Thriving!


Monday, April 26, 2021

Higher-Powered Learning - Goals

In our last post, we explored how challenges in video games can inform how we design and present challenges in the classroom. Using Carol Dweck’s model of response patterns to challenge, we noted two typical mindsets: “mastery-oriented” and “helpless.” Video games are designed to promote iteration, stepwise progress, and little social cost of failure. Students are therefore more likely to develop a mastery-oriented mindset towards them, but the same cannot be said of all classrooms.

Can video games inform good pedagogy?

Monday, April 12, 2021

Higher-Powered Learning - ACE Blended Learning

If you are a teacher, I’m sure you’ve heard your students talking (at length) about Among Us, Minecraft, or Fortnite. Games have always been a central fascination of childhood, from hopscotch to Halo. Every one of these games is predicated on challenge; repeatedly trying something you may fail at is the fun. Shouldn’t the challenges encountered in the classroom be similarly engrossing? As Higher-Powered Learning director Fr. Nate Wills, CSC, asked in his doctoral dissertation, “Why [is] it not uncommon for kids who can’t pay attention to a math worksheet to be immersed in a good video game for 40-50 hours until they beat it?”

Wireless Connection: Student Engagement in a Hybrid Setting

Monday, March 29, 2021

Higher-Powered Learning Blog Engaging Students in Hybrid Setting

“I’m not in the room with half of my students, how do I make sure they’re getting all they can from class?”

We’re often asked by teachers in the Higher-Powered Learning Program for resources to engage students working online. While our blended learning practitioners felt more prepared to transition to distanced/hybrid learning, these learning situations still pose unique challenges for engagement. Below are several approaches to engagement we’ve found successful; we hope these resources and strategies will increase student engagement both now and after we all return to the classroom.

Surveying the Learning Environment - Part 2: Learning Environments during COVID-19

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Higher-Powered Learning - Surveying the Learning Environment Part 2

In Part 1 of this series we defined four perspectives teachers take to create effective learning environments according to the How People Learn framework. In Part 2, we propose ways of sustaining, bolstering, and deepening these environments considering current COVID-19 guidelines.

Surveying the Learning Environment - Part 1: Qualities of Successful Learning Environments

Monday, March 01, 2021

Higher-Powered Learning - Surveying the Learning Environment

Your class is just… different now. In fact, it’s undergone numerous iterations, reversals, and adjustments of which “different” it is. Room layout changes one week, then distance learning the next, and sometimes your class is moved completely outside. Through all the tumult, you must cultivate a learning environment that serves your students: mind, body, and soul.

Making Pandemic Changes Count: Part 3 - Shape the Path to Change

Monday, December 07, 2020

"Switched" by brendonhatcher is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0"Switched" by brendonhatcher is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Large-scale school change is possible and can come from the leadership of individual teachers. Higher-Powered Learning has contextualized the first two pieces of Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch framework for school change, directing the rational side and motivating the emotional side. In this final post, we will consider how to shape the situational context of change. We hope this series will promote school improvement as an expectation in your school, even beyond  the pandemic. This, of course, requires you to be the leader.

Making Pandemic Changes Count: Part 2 - Motivate the Emotional Side

Monday, November 30, 2020

"File:Macbook Pro Power Button - Macro (5477920228).jpg" by vincentq from Melbourne, Australia is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0"File:Macbook Pro Power Button - Macro (5477920228).jpg" by vincentq from Melbourne, Australia is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Every day we see schools changing in response to the pandemic: new procedures, hybrid classes, increased engagement with technology. You can ensure these changes are not made haphazardly. You can ensure these changes count. 

Think of this time of imposed change as an opportunity to lead your school toward positive student outcomes and lasting school improvements. In Part 1 of this series, inspired by Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch, we presented tactics to lead fellow teachers by engaging the rational side of change-making. This week we will discuss motivating the emotional side.

Making Pandemic Changes Count: Part 1 - Direct the Rational Side

Monday, November 23, 2020

"Old Light Switches" by Orange Steeler is licensed under CC BY 2.0"Old Light Switches" by Orange Steeler is licensed under CC BY 2.0

School change can be intimidating, arduous, and bumpy–like riding a mountain bike down a curvy path. With the added complication of pandemic accommodations, changing your school’s trajectory may seem ill-advised or impossible. We argue that now is precisely the moment to take a close look at your school’s path, particularly with regard to technology. We are already in a period of school change; you and your fellow teachers are already making decisions about the new identity of your classes. How will you ensure the changes you make are meaningful, positive, and lasting? How will you leverage this difficulty into an opportunity?

Adapting Lesson Plans for COVID-19 Guidelines

Monday, November 09, 2020

Higher-Powered Learning - ACE Blended Learning

Your class undoubtedly looks different than it did one year ago. Still, you must teach the same information with the same quality you did one year ago. How?

Whether you are distance learning, in-person, or hybrid, safety guidelines necessitate alterations to your lesson planning. Recreating lessons from top to bottom may be unfeasible right now, and understandably so. (Frankly, this may feel unfeasible during the best of times). Adapting past lesson plans using current guidelines helps maintain rigorous learning goals and precludes abandoning hard work from previous years. Below are some suggestions for adapting lessons to COVID-19 guidelines as you:

Where Two or Three Gather: Christocentric Distance Learning

Monday, October 26, 2020

Higher-Powered Learning - ACE Blended Learning

“[St. Francis called] for a love that transcends the barriers of geography and distance, and declares blessed all those who love their brother ‘as much when he is far away from him as when he is with him.’”

The opening paragraph to Pope Francis’s new encyclical Fratelli tutti reminds Catholic schools of their extraordinary task, fostering an environment of genuine care towards and among our students. Our schools look very different than they have in past years. The call remains: to acknowledge, include, and love each person.

How do we promote true fraternal love among distanced students? How do we deepen our schools’ Christocentric actions? We will look into three aspects of a Christocentric environment—community, tradition, and witness—and some approaches to promoting them through distance learning.

Music To My Ears: Technology in the Performing Arts Classroom

Monday, October 12, 2020

Music to My Ears - ACE Higher-Powered Learning

When conceptualizing blended learning, we often think of subjects like math, science, and reading comprehension. Performing arts may seem like it’s on the opposite side of the learning spectrum from technology — “calculation” vs. “inspiration.” Can computers ever enhance performing arts instruction? Brian Scully, the newest member of the HPL Team, writes about his experience teaching music through blended learning and the gift of personalization that technology brought to his classroom.

New Blog, Who Dis?

Monday, September 14, 2020 by Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay

Higher-Powered Learning Blog

The meme “new phone, who dis?” became popular when people began upgrading their smartphones and realized that they didn’t know all of their contacts’ information by heart. When an unsaved contact called or texted, the new phone owner could claim, “new phone, who dis?”

Being an Ally as a Blended Learning Teacher

Tuesday, June 16, 2020 by Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay

Higher-Powered Learning - How to Be an Ally

The Higher-Powered Learning team strives to empower teachers with digital tools to personalize their instruction. While our personalized learning approach hinges on the use of technology, we understand that student data comes from other places, too.

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