I Brought My Students to a Blended Learning Conference and Lived to Tell the Tale

 

Kyle Wilson is a 4th grade teacher at Steere Farm Elementary School in Burrillville and a Fuse Fellow with Highlander Institute. He is an early adopter of blended learning in his district which includes his participation in a software testbed developed by the Institute and #EdTechRI. As Kyle’s work in blended learning continues to evolve, further personalization of his students’ experience is the priority. He holds a BS in Communicative Disorders from URI, an MAT from Roger Williams University, and is a USCG licensed captain. Kyle lives in North Kingstown with his wife and three daughters. Connect with Kyle via Twitter or through his blog.
Earlier this month as part of the 2016 Blended & Personalized Learning Conference, I partnered with Heidi Vazquez and her students from the Compass School to demo a station rotation model. Our goals were twofold: Emphasize the non-tech components of blended learning and showcase our piloted LMS, Agilix Buzz. Participants could see that so much of what they already do is "blended learning ready”. Our hope is that they left with a refreshed perspective and a willingness to give it a try.
 
The 21 eager students who joined us answered countless questions throughout the simulation. The large turnout was both unexpected and a bit overwhelming for the kids and myself. The looks on the their faces as they saw the long line of people waiting to get in was priceless! They took everything in stride and got down to work. As soon as it began, it seemed to be over. I assume that's the feeling you get when things run as they should.
 
Looking back on it, I couldn’t be more proud of the students’ effort and willingness to teach others. Their families also deserve so much of the credit. Saturdays are valuable and we appreciated that they took time out of their busy schedules to help make this event happen.
 
The conference as a whole represented a shift in approach compared to other EdTech conferences I’ve attended where sessions centered around tech tools and know-how. Instead, application and scalability became the theme which included embracing and refining the role of blended learning early adopters. As an early adopter myself, I appreciated the honest discussions with administrators from around the country. No one can deny that authentic blended learning is within reach when stakeholders are embracing the risks involved. It makes us better appreciate the rewards we are seeing in these classrooms.