Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blended Algebra

(cross-posted on The Fischbowl)

I need your help again. I'm currently in the brainstorming phase of trying to figure out what a blended learning high school Algebra class might look like in my school. We're defining a "blended" class as one that is designed with both virtual and face-to-face components, with a significant portion of the class taking place in a non-school setting.

(Note: "significant" does not indicate a certain percent, it just means that this is not a "regular" face-to-face class with an online component. A "significant" portion of the content/learning will be delivered/completed/happen outside of  a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom.)

Since this is very much in the beginning of the brainstorming phase, it's pretty wide open in terms of how it might be structured. At this point, the following are the only parameters that we can't change (and I may be assuming too much even with these):
  1. We have to teach our current Algebra curriculum. See the skill list from my current Algebra class for an idea of what we have to "cover." So this is not the time or place to have the discussion of whether we should be teaching Algebra.

  2. We have to assign grades, and those grades have to be kept in our student information system and available on our portal for student/parent access at any time.

  3. The class is time-bound to our school year, so students need to start at the beginning (mid-August) and finish the course by the end of our school year (late May). (And the course might have to be time-bound to our semester schedule, so they have to finish the equivalent of first semester Algebra by mid-December - not sure of this yet.)
Other than those three restrictions, the rest at this point is open. Here's my Google Doc with some notes (not editable, also embedded below) and the brainstorming wiki page (editable, please do edit). You can comment on this post, edit the wiki page, or start/contribute to a topic on the discussion tab of the wiki page.

You can see from my notes that I am making a few assumptions in addition to the three non-negotiables above, with the most significant one being that this will be a "flipped" or "reverse" classroom, with the traditional lecture component delivered via online video outside of face-to-face time. While these assumptions are where I'm leaning, they still are subject to change.

You can also see that one of the huge questions that is still up for grabs is whether this class just teaches the Algebra skills, or whether we try to teach the skills and have the students try to go deeper, exploring the mathematics (perhaps through a project/problem-based approach, perhaps not). While it's probably no surprise that philosophically I prefer the latter option, this pilot course may not be the place to try this.

So, I'd appreciate any feedback/brainstorming you'd like to contribute.