Like our previous school spotlights, Morton Middle School in Fall River, MA is completing its first year of expanded learning time by adding over 300 hours to their school year. The special thing about each school we’ve highlighted is they all have a different school focus. Morton Middle School is heavily concentrated around the use of technology and blended learning. In only one year, Morton is demonstrating that expanded learning time and blended learning are mutually beneficial; blended learning has helped the school use student and teacher time more effectively, while expanded learning time has allowed the school to effectively implement blended learning.
Blended learning was introduced this year to 6th graders with the plan to phase it into later grades. The initiative has taken off so well that student enthusiasm is driving the administration to consider moving faster to get blended learning into 7th grade classrooms.
“Our biggest blended learning advocates are our students.” –Morton Teacher
Blended learning has enabled small groups for individual teacher instruction, individual hands-on time, and digital components. There is a wide focus on increased digital, collaborative, and individual skills. To build these skills and provide numerous opportunities for learning, Morton lengthened its daily English and math periods from 60 to 90 minutes. Furthermore, expanded learning time has also created additional collaboration opportunities each week, which has proven to be crucial for teachers as they adjust instructional strategies and develop new lessons. “We think it takes about three times longer to plan a blended lesson than a non-blended lesson,” says Sheryl Patterson, the school’s math department chair. “But these lessons are so much better at differentiating for student needs that it’s worth the extra time.” Students in turn are highly motivated to learn and are excited to learn through this new blended learning program. This reinforces teacher excitement and buy-in as they see their students excelling in these new conditions.
As this is the first year of ELT, Morton continues to look for ways of maintaining and growing their digital resources, but see no reason why this should not become fully adapted school-wide with the excitement their students have developed. They have created a fun, creative, learning culture where students thrive.
Do you employ blended learning in your classrooms? Write a blog and tell us how you do it!