Horry County students, teachers respond to blended learning method

Horry County students, teachers respond to blended learning method

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) -  Ipads, Dell Venues, Blended learning, these are words we hear as we send our kids off to school, but is this new age of education really working for your kids?

It's not the way you may have been taught in school, but Blended Learning is supposed to revolutionize the way our kids learn.

Right now, it's been making its way through all the middle and high schools in Horry County.

Blended learning gets away from the traditional method of teacher lecturing in front of the classroom.  At Forestbrook Middle School, classes incorporate this method two to three times a week.

The district told WMBF News they started blended learning in January, when they distributed iPads in Middle Schools. This is the first full year, for this method.

At Forestbrook Middle, it takes an average class size, 25-30 kids, and breaks it into groups. 

One group is self guided using digital content, allowing a student to troubleshoot on their own.

The second is project based. It requires collaboration and discussion, teaching students how to work together. 

The third, is teacher guided, like a traditional class only its a much smaller group, so students can get one-on-one time with the teacher.

Splitting into groups allows them to get their questions answered, working alone forces them to be self sufficient. These groups rotate so each student gets a chance in each role.

"Some kids could hide and not be noticed and now there's no way for you to hide, you're in a small group you're either doing something with another group or you're one-to-one with the teacher,” said Forestbrook Middle School 7th Grade Social Studies teacher Grayson Hancock. “I think as a parent being able to see the differentiation is taking place, I really appreciate that.”

For example, JoeyTrail teaches English at Forestbrook Middle. If there's a group of kids in his class struggling with sentence structure, instead of waiting until testing to notice this, he can address it now. Mr. Trail can make them a group of focus, while the rest of the class does group or individualized learning.  This allows him to learn more about each individual students and their needs.

These teachers say this new way of teach still comes with a learning curve, but they're open to grow with it because they're noticing a difference.

The students at Forestbrook Middle told say, they don't need test scores to prove they are more engaged and eager to learn, with blended learning.

“I feel like this is gonna be really helpful because it gives us a chance to work on our own,” said Forestbrook Middle School 8th Grader Dean Marchant. “When we grow up and we get into high school and college and eventually into the workplace we're not gonna have someone there to hold our hand and show us how to do everything, so its really helping us develop our own problem solving skills."

Blended learning is all about preparation for the future. Teachers at Forestbrook Middle say the big part of this readiness is the technology aspect.  
“If a student used to leave school not being able to read and write they would struggle in the workforce,” said Trail. “Now, a student not being able to use all these technological devices, really becomes a hindrance as an adult.”

With growth in technology, its important our students grow, with it. Each device has web based programs which give real time feedback and help move students along the learning process, so if one student advances faster in math than another, they can move to the next level.

Out of all the teachers and students WMBF News spoke with no one had anything negative to say when it came to this kind of learning.

So far, district leaders say they are pleased with this method, but they say its too early to compare results from previous years.

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