Improving the Effectiveness of a Blended Learning Playlist or Pathway

An effective blended learning pathway provides opportunities for goal-setting, reflection, feedback, and student choice
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About This Strategy

Blended learning pathways enable students to work through content at their own pace. When implementing a blended pathway, teachers can deepen learning and increase student ownership by incorporating opportunities for students to reflect on their learning. Goal-setting, self-assessment, and reflection opportunities encourage students to be meta-cognitive about their learning process. Consistent, personal feedback on students' progress and engagement supports them to engage more deeply in self-paced learning pathways.

Implementation Steps

  1. Create or find a pathway aligned to students' needs. You can create your own pathway, or choose from learning pathways that already exist (Gooru, Khan Academy, created by other teachers, etc.). The Hyperdoc Pathways to Mastery strategy in the BetterLesson lab provides guidance on creating or finding an effective pathway.

  2. Define what it means to show mastery on the pathway. Consider multiple ways for students to demonstrate mastery. Ask yourself these questions as you define mastery:

    • What will students need to be able to know, understand, and do by the end of this pathway?

    • How will you assess mastery of the goal?

    • What will students need to know, understand, and do in order to successfully engage in self-paced learning using the pathway?

    • What is the timeframe for developing mastery with this pathway?

  3. Design checks for understanding based on the mastery criteria. Consider your students' strengths as well as their areas of growth. Think about options beyond a traditional exit ticket, such as creating videos or other presentations of learning. 

  4. Incorporate opportunities for goal-setting and reflection throughout the pathway. Students should have frequent reminders of their goals, and opportunities to reflect on their progress. Choose a place for students to keep their goal where they will see it frequently (for example, at the top of their pathway document). The Goal Setting and Reflection strategy in the BetterLesson lab includes multiple goal-setting structures that can be used to set strong personal goals.

  5. Embed opportunities for choice. Think about your students' strengths, needs, and areas of interest to create choices that they will enjoy.

  6. Plan to meet with students to check in on their progress and provide feedback. Create a schedule that will allow you to check in with each student once each week. Explore conferencing strategies like Data Review and Goal-Setting Conferences or Self-Assessment Conferences in the BetterLesson lab for more ideas about how to structure these check-ins.

  7. Share feedback with students on a regular basis, through a Data Dive or similar structure (see the Building a Data Dive Routine strategy included in the BetterLesson lab for more information about doing a classroom Data Dive). Highlight successes (content mastery as well as learning habits) and discuss areas for growth. Use these feedback conversations as an opportunity to gather student feedback about learning pathways as well.

EL Modification

For EL students have limited proficiency in writing, embed opportunities for spoken goal-setting and reflection, such as student-created videos or audio notes using a program like Flipgrid or Seesaw.

Questions to Consider

  • What norms will you set with your class to support self-paced learning?

  • How might you leverage peer groups for feedback and reflection?

  • What feedback do you want to gather about students' experience with pathways?

Coach Tips

Tori Todd
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

Any time students engage in self-paced learning, they need positive reinforcement and accountability checks. This does not mean that you have to check each student's pathway every day! Make a check-in schedule that feels manageable for you. Even if you can't check every student's pathway every day, share aggregate data with the class and engage in feedback conversations as a group. This helps students realize that you are monitoring the work that they do, and are available to support them.

Tech Tools

Gooru

  • Gooru is a search tool for online lessons and learning activities. Teachers can use Gooru to find curated content organized by subject or standard. Teachers can create collections for their students to view in a specific order.

  • Gooru supports this strategy by providing ready-made pathways, with reflection and self-assessment opportunities built in. Gooru offers an emoji self-assessment for each task, which teachers can use to monitor students' engagement and understanding.

HyperDocs

  • A HyperDoc can be used to provide structure and detail for a self-paced activity where students are assessing at different times. A HyperDoc can be designed from templates or created from scratch using a word processing program. Students can type directly into these documents or use them as a guide for learning a concept or skill.

  • HyperDocs allow students to embed their goals and reflections directly into the learning pathway. When using a HyperDoc pathway, students can type their goal at the top, and embed reflections, self-assessments, and questions into the HyperDoc as they go. Teachers can even use HyperDocs to embed feedback for students.

GoogleDocs

  • Google Docs is an online word processor (part of Google Apps) that allows you store, create and edit documents collaboratively in a web browser. 

  • Google Docs can be used to record student goals, share feedback with students, and engage in reflective self-assessment. Google Docs can be used to create hyperdoc pathways

Seesaw

  • Seesaw allows for the documentation of artifacts, audio, video, and writing that can easily be shared with an entire class or with parents as students build their seesaw portfolio. Seesaw can also be used as a class discussion tool via its blog feature.

  • Seesaw supports this strategy as an alternative to written checks for understanding, goals, and reflections. Students can record their goals and reflections or upload images of their work as evidence of mastery.

Flipgrid

  • Flipgrid is a video discussion platform great for generating class discussion around topics, videos, or links posted to the class grid. Students can video record their responses to share with the teacher or class. 

  • Students can use Flipgrid to record themselves speaking their goals and reflections aloud. Teachers can also use Flipgrid to give students feedback about their pathways, or to gather student feedback.

Consulted Resources

  • Bertrand, Romain. "Students in Charge and in Control: Exploring and Designing Student Self-Paced Online Learning." BetterLesson. 

  • "Self-Directed Learning: A Four-Step Process." Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo.