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Roses are red, violets are blue, I love blended learning, and you should, too!

Monday, February 24, 2020 by Francesca Varga

hplloveblendedlearning720

Higher-Powered Learning - ACE Blended Learning

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I am taking some time to think about the reasons why I love blended learning. Of course, blended learning yields an extensive list of academic benefits, but what excites me even more is the social-emotional learning blended learning supports.

When properly executed, blended learning creates a classroom environment where personalized instruction happens for each student. I could write a book sharing stories and reasons why I love blended learning. But our teachers can do a much better job! Today I am honored to share the spotlight with two wonderful teachers in our Higher-Powered Learning Program (HPLP) who will help me share the love!

My Blended-Learning Memory

My favorite part of my job is getting to interact with our teachers, leaders, and precious kids. One of my favorite memories happened during a site visit to a first-grade classroom. There was a student who was new to the country and did not know English. As you can imagine, his confidence was low and he had a hard time connecting with his peers...until the math lesson that day.

Francesca Varga - ACE Higher-Powered LearningThe class was engaged in a station-rotation model with a small group working with their teacher, another small group working on a math software program, and the final small group reading independently. The math software program encouraged critical thinking skills through games and puzzles and intentionally used the English language minimally. Suddenly, without explicit program instructions, all students were struggling slightly and could not figure out how to solve the puzzle. But not this student.

He understood the concept of the puzzle and helped his peers solve it, too. I watched this student come to life as he helped his classmates navigate the puzzle. He used minimal verbal language, but he communicated clearly through numbers and by pointing to his screen. This moment afforded him the opportunity to lead his classmates and bridged the language gap. His achievement significantly boosted his confidence.

From that point on, this student took more chances and connected with his classroom community. Blended learning and his teacher showed him what he could achieve, and suddenly American school wasn’t as overwhelming as before. He found one of his strengths was in math that day and figured out how to connect with his classmates. 

Every child deserves to shine and have a win like this little boy. I was lucky enough to witness him shine.

Rebecca Hartmann - Nativity of Mary Catholic SchoolRebecca Hartmann

Rebecca is one of our innovative BLAST teachers at Nativity of Mary Catholic School in Bloomington, Minnesota. She teaches third grade and has been instrumental in introducing her colleagues to blended learning. When asked what she loves about blended learning, she responded:

What do I love about blended learning? I LOVE IT ALL! ️I love that blended learning helps foster a classroom community that is focused on growth and cheering on each other’s success. My students recognize and honor that we are all created with different strengths and challenges. Through daily conversations about successes and struggles, my students have very quickly become invested in the growth of their peers. They are no longer focused on comparisons or competition, rather they have become each other’s greatest cheerleaders. While they are certainly making significant academic gains, THIS is what I love most about blended learning. How students feel about themselves as learners is just as important as what they learn.

johncapistrantJohn Capistrant

John is one of our incredible BLAST teachers at Community of Saints Regional Catholic School in West St. Paul, Minnesota. He teaches middle school language arts and is constantly adapting his practice to best reach the individual needs of all his students. When asked what he loves about blended learning, he responded:

“One thing I love about blended learning is that it gives me the opportunity to not only meet students where they are academically, but it also allows me to grow in relationship with them through one-on-one and small-group support. I value having positive relationships with my students, and as we grow together academically through blended learning, we are also growing together socially and emotionally.

As a Catholic school teacher, I am called to be like Christ to my students, which reminds me that as He meets us where we are at in life, I, too, need to meet my students right where they are in every aspect as best as I can. Blended learning has allowed me to better know my students' interests, which I then use to help them select reading materials or project topics for my classroom assignments. Overall, blended learning opens the door for success and allows both students and teachers to grow in not only understanding the material, but understanding and trusting one another, which ultimately builds life-long learners and memorable relationships.”

Our two teachers’ responses sum up my love for blended learning and are another reminder of how lucky I am to work with them.

If you could sum up one reason why you love blended learning, what would it be? Let us know, post below!

About the Author

Francesca Varga

Francesca Varga

Francesca Varga is the Associate Program Director of Blended Learning for the Higher Powered Learning team and the Alliance for Catholic Education. 

Francesca came to ACE after teaching for nine years from Penn High School where she served as an English teacher, instructional coach, and team leader. Prior to that, she served as a high school English teacher at Schmucker Middle School and Washington High School in South Bend, Indiana, where she focused her practice serving at-risk and underrepresented populations of students.    

Francesca is originally from New Mexico and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame in English and her teaching license from Saint Mary's College. She earned her Master of Education in Curriculum and Design from Indiana Wesleyan University, and her Administrative license through Ball State University.