Monday, September 16, 2013

View from the Field: Janet Wills

The 2013-2014 school year is Janet’s 19th year of teaching. This year she is teaching 7th and 8th grade social studies, 7th and 8th grade computer applications and Western Civilization at Southeast Webster Grand Community School District in Burnside, Iowa.

Janet integrates technology into all of her courses. When planning her instruction, online or offline, she keeps the learning goal(s) at the center. She carefully considers which format will work the best in helping students meeting the learning goals.

Online instruction in her room consists of a variety of components. With the myriad of online resources available there is greater room for differentiation. Lower level readers might watch a YouTube video while higher level readers might read something from the Library of Congress. Games, especially for U.S. history, are increasing in quality and quantity.  She specifically likes websites that take the students on different paths. Students don't all have to be on the same page/site in order to meet the learning goal.

Some of Janet’s favorite resources include:

Edsitement (Lesson plans)

PBS (Videos, games, audio clips, photos, lesson plans, and more!)

iCivics (Government and civic games that are accompanied by lesson plans)

Mission US (Games that put students into historical situations)

Janet sees many advantages to blended instruction. Students are more engaged and interactive features complements the learning styles of kids who have been connected online since they were born. Students have stated:

"Online resources make learning more interesting."
"You can't lose your homework as easily when it's on Google Docs."
"Computers are faster and more efficient than books."

Janet recommends that if you are thinking of introducing blended learning in your classroom remember that you don't have to do everything at once. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the resources available. Take it one lesson at a time.

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