The Art of Teamwork to Build Great Blended Learning Experiences
As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. And for the science department at Monroe Middle School in Monroe, Wisconsin, Wendy Dyrhaug believes that adage holds true for her and the rest of her department.
Wendy (second from the right), along with Matt Eastlick, Nadine Whiteman, and Heather Peterson (left to right) in the science department, are now working together, and it has radically changed their teaching methodologies.
Starting Engagement Early
Getting students interested in science can be difficult, but Wendy and her team have made several key changes to give students complete access to information and keep them engaged.
Wendy’s strategy begins with engaging students via Schoology’s updates. Every day, the teachers posts updates on that day’s activities. They make sure to include fun nuggets like “brain food” questions to pique the students’ interest.
This ice breaker serves two important functions: 1) it acts as a precursor to that day’s lesson, and 2) it assesses students’ understanding of the content.
The teachers also use the update feature to “take a quick poll, to post a link to an interesting article, or to just tell students to have a great weekend!”
Almost without the students even realizing, they’re engaging with the new material even before that day’s lesson begins.
Keeping Students Engaged
At Monroe Middle School, all the science quizzes and tests are hosted on Schoology. The instructors are able to build exams collaboratively, get instant results, and provide targeted feedback and tailor course materials to account for disparities.
Wendy and co. also make great use of Schoology’s media capabilities. By embedding diagrams and pictures directly in tests, students have a richer, more multi-faceted experience.
But this strategy works in more ways than one. Wendy applies the same multi-media principles to labs and other assignments by leveraging Schoology’s discussion feature to extend the conversation and get students thinking critically. Students now must explain their understanding of lab results or new concepts and they can post photos of their results and experiences to do it.
“We love this because we get participation from every student,” Wendy explains. This approach also allows students to comment on each other’s work and learn together.
Taking Teamwork Beyond the Department
Stories like this often stop at the classroom door or the department wing, but this one is different. Monroe Middle School is also using Schoology to break down barriers between its departments.
All the staff at Monroe are members of a single Schoology group. This provides them access to all the innovation and content members share on a daily basis. For example, if the math department shares how they are using Mastery Reporting in a new way, all the other departments could benefit from it.
Wendy and her department have also added special education teachers as administrators in their courses. This gives them easy access to all the coursework, including quizzes, tests, and Kahoot games to practice with their students outside of the regular science classes.
It's now business as usual to share assignments, quizzes, and tests for each unit taught, regardless of the subject, and the staff at Monroe is just getting started.
“We <3 Schoology and cannot imagine teaching without it!”
Monroe Middle School
Educator of the Year Finalist
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