Science: Online Integration & Management
Review foundational knowledge about Online Integration in K-12 Blended Teaching (Volume 1).
6.1 Online Integration and Management in Science Classes
Online integration is at the very heart of blended teaching. It has to do with how you combine your in-person science classroom with online activities (remember the baker mixing dry and wet ingredients from Chapter 1). Because the main component of blended learning is integrating online and in-person activities, online integration is a good place to begin thinking about blending your classroom.
This is where you as a science teacher begin to think about what specific online practices can help you address the problems of practice you identified in Chapter 5. The more examples of blended teaching you have personally seen and the more experience you have with blended teaching, the easier this process will be for you. But even if you are just starting out, you will probably have a few ideas of your own. This chapter will help you explore these ideas and more.
Teachers Talk: What Does Blended Learning Look like in a Science Classroom? (1:29)
Reflection Questions: How does the teacher in this video integrate a combination of in-person activities and online activities into each lesson? What are some techniques that she uses that would work well in your classroom?
Before you start, consider this advice from experienced science blended teachers—start with clear expectations and consider the possibilities blended teaching provides. Making sure you start your planning and teaching by clearly explaining the expectations to your students so that the new online learning techniques and tools are seamlessly integrated into your in-person instruction. Also, while implementing blending learning will take some extra effort at the start, it can lead to greater authentic learning opportunities and is well worth it (see the J-Curve in Section 6.5 of Volume I).
Teachers Talk: Expectations and Opportunities
Focus on making sure the kids know the expectations with the technology . . . . There's some really great stuff out there. It's definitely worth using. It's worth the trouble.
Teachers Talk: Expectations and Opportunities
I have the freedom to answer these random questions and work it back into stuff because I have the freedom of time. All the content they have to learn is already baked into their schedule. So, I have an hour and a half every other day with my students to explore science and to export curiosity.
6.2 Planning for Integration
You can take that first small step to blend your science classroom by doing the following:
- Identify the problem of practice and the learning objective that you are interested in blending.
- Think about activities, both in-person and online, that could support student learning. (A framework for this process is to think about activities that involve students interacting independently with content, activities that involve students interacting primarily with each other, and activities that might involve interaction with an instructor.)
- Consider how the online activities and the in-person activities can connect.
- Choose one of the activities you have considered and create a blended lesson.
See the example below for how your classroom setup might look in your learning management system (LMS). The teacher in this example explores several activities that could be blended in a science classroom.
Teacher Talk: The Procedures of the Blended Science Class (3:55)
Reflection Question: In Mr. Schwalb's class, they use Google Classroom for their LMS. How can you set up your LMS in order to give students some choice in their learning path and pace?
Consider a teacher who has identified her problem of practice: I want my students to be able to analyze experimental data and draw conclusions on their findings. The learning objective states: "Interpret graphs for heating and cooling processes that involve a change of state."
Tables 1, 2, and 3 provide some of the ways she could combine online and in-person activities related to student-content interactions, student-student interactions, and student-instructor interactions respectively.
Planning for Online Integration: Examples of Student-Content Interactions
|Connection: The students will use what they found in the online simulation to create their graph and then analyze their data in person.|
Planning for Online Integration: Examples of Student-Student Interactions
|Connection: The work the students do collaboratively online will allow them to consider how their findings compare to those of the rest of the group before they meet in person. This will allow them to reflect on their own results and streamline their in-person discussions.|
Planning for Online Integration: Examples of Student-Instructor Interactions
|Connection: The teacher will respond online to the individual graphs to help students think about their results more deeply. This will allow the students to consider these comments before meeting with the teacher as a group in person and ask the teacher more meaningful questions about the results from the simulation.
In your workbook, using one of your problems of practice, fill out the Planning for Online Integration table.
If you haven't already opened and saved your workbook, you can access it here.
6.3 Selecting a Blended Teaching Model
Once you have chosen the activity or activities you want to blend, consider which blended teaching model best fits the activity. (For a review of blended teaching models, see Chapter 2: Online Integration in K-12 Blended Teaching: A Guide to Personalized Learning and Online Integration.)
Teachers Talk: A Flipped Science Classroom (4:19)
Reflection Questions: What is the advantage of posting various types and levels of videos and simulations? When might this technique be useful in your science classroom?
Teachers Talk: Connecting In-Person and Online Spaces
Dr. Darren J. Ritson
For me, personally, I incorporated a lot of hands-on activities kind of things. The students were presented with their learning on their own with me supporting them. But I would also go around and have stations set up around the room, or there would be labs around the room. There was some kind of hands-on activity that was connecting it back to what they were learning online to ensure they were learning.
Teachers Talk: Using Playlists to Teach Students in a Science Classroom (4:01)
Reflection Question: What is one topic in your science classroom in which you would like to give your students a more personalized experience through the use of playlists?
6.4 Deciding What To Do In-Person in a Science Class
Blended learning is the strategic combination of online and in-person modalities. But how do teachers decide which activities to do online and which to do in person?
One way to begin answering the question of what can be done most effectively in person is to look at your strengths as a teacher, the needs of your students, and the types of activities that lend themselves to the best use of the in-person space.
For example, students may be working (collaboratively or alone) on a science concept, like Punnett Squares, that has proved difficult for students to understand in the past. You want to do this in person because you know they will have many individual questions. Answering those questions at the moment they occur can keep students from getting stalled in the process and keep motivation and engagement high. It also helps assure that students don’t have to back up and redo work.
Similarly, you may want to begin scientific research in person. You want students to get excited about the topic and begin thinking about the possibilities of the project. Once they’ve had this beginning, they may be more ready to participate in online research and organization of their findings virtually.
Perhaps you are good at explaining calculations in Chemistry, and your students enjoy working through these problems as a class. You might want to introduce a new calculation in person, modeling problems and discussing them.
Know yourself, your students, and your subject matter well enough to determine what you want to reserve the in-person space for.
Once you know how you can best use the in-person space, you can begin to explore ways to use the online space to support in-person activities. You might also consider the affordances of the online space, such as providing quick data, and plan your blended activities around those affordances. The key to successful blended teaching is to make meaningful connections between the two modalities. Answers to the following questions may help you decide how to strategically combine the online and in-person modalities.
- Can I put some instruction online so I have more class time to work with students individually or in small groups?
- Can putting an activity online increase student participation?
- Can I use the online space to allow my students to personalize the goals, time, place, pace, and/or path of their learning?
- How can I use the online space to target individual learning needs?
- Can I use the online space to help students increase ownership of their learning?
- Can I use the online space to give my students access to materials they wouldn’t otherwise be able to have?
- Can I use the online space to teach the same concept in different ways, so learners will have more than one option in their learning?
- Can I use the online space to allow for greater learner-learner interaction and collaboration?
- Can I use the online space to adapt or differentiate materials to different students’ needs?
- Are there new ways I can use the in-person space when I put some instruction and activities online?
6.5 Evaluating Blended Activities
Blended learning is not just about using technology in the classroom. It is about strategically combining technology with in-person activities to improve pedagogy and student outcomes.
The PIC-RAT and 4E frameworks provide a means of evaluating your use of technology to see if it is adding value to your classroom. It helps you evaluate students’ relationship to technology as well as the way using technology relates to traditional practices.
For a more thorough explanation of the PIC-RAT framework, see sections 2.3.1 "The RAT Framework," 2.3.2 "Blended Activities that Engage (The PIC Framework)," and 2.3.3 "An Evaluative Framework for Blended Teaching" in Chapter 2 "Online Integration" of K-12 Blended Teaching: A Guide to Personalized Learning and Online Integration. For a description of the 4E framework, refer to Chapter 3 of this book.
6.6 Planning Blended Routines and Behaviors
Establishing routines in a blended classroom is crucial. Helping students understand when and how to move around the classroom, how to access an LMS or other online programs, how to log in and out, where and how to store hardware, how to communicate civilly and respectfully, and how to turn in assignments is essential to creating a usable blend. In addition, making plans for how to manage off-task behavior can prepare you for situations that are sure to arise.
In general, it can help to complete the following as you start to blend:
- Decide specifically the kinds of behavior and routines you want to put in place.
- Spend the first two or three weeks drilling and practicing those routines.
- Set clear expectations.
- Decide what you will do to help students who have a difficult time meeting the expectations. How will you respond to them?
- Evaluate your plan and make adjustments as needed.
Teachers talk: Set up a Blended Science Class (2:59)
Reflection Question: What are some blended techniques that Dr. Ritson used that allowed for personalization of his lessons? Think about how students may have been able to have some flexibility in their place, pace, and path of the learning activities.
Teachers Talk: Routines for Blended Learning
I have a little video that they watched explaining how the class is going to work and everything is online, so I don't lecture at all. Basically, they come in, they sit down. I usually have the agenda on the board, so they can see what they're going to do. And then they get work at their own pace, and I just walk in circles around the room, helping the kids that need it.
Table 4 presents some tips for creating blended learning routines.
Blended Learning Routines
|Blended Learning Routines—Teacher Tips|
Science teachers say they typically spend four to six weeks at the beginning of the year establishing routines and expectations and teaching students how to successfully and appropriately use technology and equipment. But, they say it pays off in the long run with a smooth-running class and increased opportunities for interaction and personalization—all of which they see as positives in their blended classroom.
Teachers Talk: Engaging Students (3:05)
Reflection Questions: How does Mr. Harris help his students understand what they will do each day? What do you find to be the ideal amount of time for activities in your classroom?
Suggested CitationKeaton, W., Guo, Q., & Short, C. R. (2022). Science: Online integration and management. In C. R. Graham, J. Borup, M. Jensen, K. T. Arnesen, & C. R. Short (Eds.). K–12 blended teaching (Vol 2): A guide to practice within the disciplines: Science edition. EdTech Books. https://edtechbooks.org/k12blended_science/science_olim
CC BY: This work is released under a CC BY license, which means that you are free to do with it as you please as long as you properly attribute it.
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