3 Effective Instructional Models for a Hybrid Schedule
The Difference Between Strategy and Tactics in the Classroom
The critical difference between strategy and tactics is that a strategy reflects big-picture planning and thinking. In contrast, tactics represent the day-to-day actions and maneuvers that carry out the strategy. Coming up with an effective instructional model for hybrid education involves a marriage of both strategy and tactics.
In hybrid education, there is a combination of big-picture planning, such as how to utilize in-person and remote instruction, structure the schedule, etc. and the tactical aspect of how instruction plays out in each of those scenarios. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the necessary tactics to create an effective instructional model—no matter how the schedule is set.
Model: The Flipped Classroom
Although there is no single model that a flipped classroom environment must follow, the traditional flipped classroom generally consists of new content presented to students via video presentation, usually through a learning management system (LMS). Students spend class time on “guided and independent practice.” You are basically “flipping” traditional at-home and in-school activities. This model's advantages become apparent when it’s used to engage students in a hybrid structure. By front-loading content through the LMS in one form or another, the in-person component of a hybrid schedule becomes all the more valuable.
Teachers don’t have to flip the classroom with just video content. You could create and use a pre-recorded lesson, using Screencastify, Snagit, or another screencasting software, uploaded to your LMS. You can also use text resources, images, websites, and more to present an initial front load of content.
For example, a high school history teacher could create an entire flipped lesson on the Harlem Renaissance based on just a website or two during remote instruction. Students could then select and learn about an aspect of the Harlem Renaissance to prepare for a follow-up jigsaw-type discussion when reporting for in-person instruction. Thus, online and in-person time is being used more effectively, with in-person time reserved for discussion and exciting and meaningful activities for students and not all spent on a lecture.
Model: Modified Classroom Rotation
Rotations are also an effective model of instruction in a hybrid schedule. In a traditional rotation or station-based model, students can complete a full rotation in the classroom during one class period. For example, a 7th-grade math lesson on the use of scientific notation might have one station where the teacher provides direct instruction, another station where students are working independently or collaboratively in a discovery-based activity, and a third station where students work independently with in-classroom technology. In a typical 45- to 55-minute period, it’s possible to hit all of those stations.
In a hybrid environment, you could combine a flipped model for the online instruction and use a station-based approach for in-class activities, or you could go further, extending your rotations to both online and in-person days.
So, let’s go back to our 7th-grade math lesson for a moment. You might put a Khan Academy video and breakout room discussions in your LMS—or even create something like an online escape room activity related to scientific notation—for a remote learning day while saving some of the other rotation stations for the in-class experience. The downside is that this takes two days per lesson instead of one, but the upside is that you have tailored experiences for each learning environment and thus provide a deep dive into the topic at hand.
Keep in mind that rotations aren’t just for elementary, intermediate, or middle school-aged students. Sometimes station-based teaching gets a bad rap at the high school level, but nothing could be further from the truth. Build or use an existing online escape room as a rotation station in your LMS and watch the engagement of your high schoolers go through the roof. If done right, station-based teaching is appropriate at any age and any learning environment—especially hybrid education.
Model: Personalization and Collaboration
John Spencer laid out five models for hybrid education. One big takeaway was the instructional tactic of providing for personalization and collaboration across each of those models. Hybrid education is a different animal. We can’t just take traditional instruction in rows with the teacher at the front of the room and try to paste it on top of the new model. We have to do things differently.
In looking at Spencer’s list, it’s easy to see how we might gravitate toward something like the independent project model because it is so adaptable to both the online and in-person settings for personalization and collaboration. Consider establishing a big-picture question at the beginning of a unit. Students—with the instructor's guidance—drive the process of completing a personally meaningful project or learning module. On remote days, students work independently or via online breakout rooms. Then, on in-person days, they collaborate on their projects as they usually would.
This is where the power of your learning management system really shines. Because you use your LMS as a one-stop-shop for all course materials and, by extension, all project-based learning taking place in the classroom, it doesn’t matter what hybrid day or setting it is—students will have access to materials (and their classmates) no matter what. This level of personalization and collaboration can work with many different hybrid schedule options.
Matching the Tactics to the Strategy
Again, the above models are not exhaustive, and all of them can work in several different strategic settings. So, whether your hybrid education model is four or five days per week, a modified block schedule, or a mix of virtual, in-person, and individualized intervention time, you can adopt any of the above models to the schedule.
While your school or district likely consult and collaborate with the larger community while developing your hybrid schedule, you do have options of instructional models to fit any of those hybrid schedule scenarios. Stay flexible, stay student-centered, and seek out instructional tactics that serve the larger hybrid strategy.