Classroom Technology Opinion

Next Generation Blends will Teach to One

By Tom Vander Ark — March 31, 2014 2 min read
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“We believe there’s been a lack of transformative innovation in K-12,” according to

Joel Rose, founder of nonprofit New Classrooms. His website proposes, “an alternate credible vision for what’s
possible in schools.” That vision includes a station rotation model driven by talented teachers, comprehensive learner profiles, and a smart recommendation
engine. Rose thinks the new vision must also be more effective, scalable, affordable, and supported by teachers, students, and other stakeholders.

Over the last three years, the New Classrooms team has developed an instructional model that seeks to addresses the inherent limitations in one of the more
common forms of blended learning -- rotational models -- where students transition among two or three learning stations within a class period.

“The problem with rotational models is content alignment,” said Rose. “A kid at the computer station is working on something on his/her level but then goes
to the teacher station and usually works on something different--even if teacher has a dashboard, kids are all over the map.”

“The power of the blended model is that multiple modalities can reinforce the same skill in different ways,” said Rose, “but that requires live and digital
to be singing off the same page.” This lack of alignment between adaptive and engaging online math instruction and a teacher-taught core curriculum have
plagued math blends for a decade.

In a flipped classroom, Rose says, “The live instruction and digital learning are aligned but it is not personalized if every kid is doing the same lesson
regardless of their readiness.”

Rose thinks the “most optimal use of blended models is when live instruction and digital learning are aligned in ways that are personalized--that requires
thoughtful design.” Rose appreciates that next-generation learning combine organizational design and new tools to support individual learning progressions
for students.

Teach to One
Described in this video, Teach to One is the New Classrooms middle grade math blended learning model with four
primary modalities:

  • Teacher-led investigations: 15-20 students work with a teacher to explore a concept

  • Collaborative: small group (3-6 students) problem solving and peer-to-peer support

  • Virtual: coached instruction, virtual reinforcement, and live tutors

  • Independent practice: they even use pencil and paper worksheets!

Informed by an end of session quiz, a recommendation engine suggests a daily schedule for each student based on their prior performance and allowing them
to learn at the right level and in the best possible modality.

Through multiple session tasks (i.e., small projects) students apply skills to real-world applications.

A Teachers College evaluation of seven urban middle schools in
Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. showed that Teach to One students outgained similar students by about 20%.

Rose and his co-founder Chris Rush are laying the groundwork for rapid expansion. They think that will take a solution that is measurably more effective
than traditional approaches, liked by educators, scalable and affordable. It looks like they are on their way.

This is the second in the #SmartBlend series on middle grade math. For more see
Reflections on Khan Blends

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The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.