Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Blended Learning Research

I have complete my self study research which I was doing through Otago Uni as part of my MA. I am going to try and condense 5338 words into something more bitesize! :)

The question:  Can a blended learning approach raise reading achievement in Year 9 girls?
Answer: YES

Part 1: More about the Non Web 2.0 component

The results were positive. Engagement does contribute to achievement and the use of web 2.0 tools provides the engagement. A blended learning approach, enables more students to engage in the activities especially if choice is a key component.  Not only has the reading ability of the students improved, but their confidence and willingness to engage with a variety of texts has also improved. A blended approach meant that students who prefer one or the other style of learning knew that they would get a chance to engage with their preference.

This was important to most students for example they would rather select their own book than use a class set. Having said this, there were some who would rather just be told what to read. Those that preferred their own book, talked about not feeling like they were reading the ‘dumb books’. The choice of activities online was good; a typical comment when asked why was ‘Because I didn’t like some of the activities.” Others commented on it being ‘fun’ and that helped them learn. I believe that for a blended learning approach to work students do need choice, choice to use paper or computer. It is about cooperative learning and utilising all tools available.

The Most Successful Non Web 2.0 Activity
The tasks on how to read a book cover and where to find information, was seen as the most useful and one student in-particular had a light bulb moment with this and as a result her reading scores have increased dramatically. When completing their student reflections, 9 students out of 12 said that it was a useful exercise because: “Some people don’t like reading books and knowing what it is about can change their mind.” Another student commented that “Because now I know which to choose”. When going through this task I started with getting the students to locate the different aspects of a book: the cover, spine and back cover. We then discussed the verbal and visual elements and what impact this has on selecting a book. We also looked inside fiction and non-fiction books to compare the differences. This discussion and activity led us to explore how to read graphic novels. I had assumed they would prefer this style as it has more pictures than words, I was wrong. Many of the students did not know how to read a cartoon book or graphic novel, however once explained this opened up a whole new world to them.

Literacy Books
The literacy book is an exercise book that they can take to each class. At the back is a page for vocabulary for each subject that students can add to. In the front there is information and completed worksheets relating to literacy for example: how to read a Science experiment or what to do when you come across a word you don’t know? These literacy books can be added to during form-time or class time.

The literacy books were a positive for all students and they can understand the purpose of them, however they would like the teachers of their other subjects to be more involved and use them more. This book is such a valuable tool that I am going to continue using it this year and will get some more feedback from the students. It is an idea I have also brought up at a meeting for next years’, Year 9 students.

The Use of Web 2.0 Tools 
During this research we used the learning management system (LMS) Moodle. This LMS went live for the students a week or 2 into the study. I had been using a Wikispace which I set up at the start of the year. Students had navigated the Wiki before the study and in hindsight I should have continued with it, as I underestimated the time needed to show the students how to use Moodle. Moodle is where I placed the work and websites for students to access, as well as work sheets. Students could then access the learning activities at home and in class.

Particular site students identified as enjoying
East of the Web
5 Card          
One Word    

Will write a separate post about the use of E-ASTTLE as this post is more like meal than bitesize! :)

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