Pensar Academy’s Blended Learning Rotational Model

Pensar Academy utlizes a Blended Learning Rotational Model comprised of three levels. Each level employs a different method of instruction: Direct Whole Group Instruction, Online Learning, Targeted Small Group Intervention, and Project-Based Learning. Each of these methodologies will be delivered in a blended learning model, using teacher and computer to maximize instructional time and individualize the education for each student. Student data determines movement through the levels with the necessary support provided for students aligned with the Response to Intervention continuum (See A.3.b Illustration 1).

Level One of the Rotational Model is comprised of teacher-led direct instruction to the whole group. Every student begins at this level.

Our Direct Instruction Model will be based on Madeline Hunter’s Model of Mastery Learning which will serve as a framework, not a prescribed recipe for teaching within the classroom. Per Hunter’s findings, there are eight essential elements for mastery learning:

* An anticipatory set/hook to build background.

* A clearly stated objective.

* Input from an external source: teacher, discovery, reading, listening, etc…

* Modeling of the objective by the teacher.

* Checking for student understanding.

* Guided Practice with teacher support.

* Independent Practice without teacher support.

* Cognitively closing the lesson through checking for understanding.

Our Teachers incorporate these elements into each lesson. These elements are the “what” elements to planning, with the latitude for the teaching staff to formulate their “how” as tradecraft. We chose this model for direct instruction not only because it is research backed, but also because it allows for our students to be exposed to different personalities and styles to receive information. Direct instruction will integrate a minimum of one new objective in each core content area (Math, Science, Language Arts, and Social Studies) each school day. Following each lesson, each student will be given an end-of-lesson assessment to determine whether he/she has mastered the objective. At Pensar Academy, student mastery is set at an earned score of 80% or higher. The student score or data drives his/her placement in Level Two of our Rotational Model.

Level Two of the Rotational Model is driven by data, more specifically student mastery of the objective as demonstrated on the end-of-lesson assessment. Students that display mastery will partake in independent online learning for extension and practice. Students that scored 0-79% mastery will move to small group intervention.

Online learning: As educational trends continue to spiral, it is estimated that by the year 2019, 50% of all high school courses will be delivered online in one way or another. Under a blended learning model, our students will utilize the computer to learn online through research backed programs. Students benefit from Online Learning through:

* Immediate feedback on assignments to determine mastery level.

* Individualized rigor constantly challenging and pushing each student to grow.

* Immediate identification of areas of need and remediation in a small group or on a 1:1 basis with an educator.

* Exposure to technology-embedded learning.

* Differentiated content to meet the needs of all learners.

* Maximization of instruction time, as students move to next lesson when finished without waiting for peers.

The sense of urgency to provide our students with exposure to this learning model is high. According to the California Learning Resource Network, 19% of elementary district and charters engage in online learning, whereas 73% of high schools utilize it.

Small Group Intervention: Aligned to the Response to Intervention Model (RTI), our small group intervention groups are focused on providing academic support to our students in a proactive and immediate manner to succeed, not “wait to fail.” In small group intervention, the teacher differentiates through an alternative mini-lesson to present the objective in a new way to a smaller audience. This mini-lesson incorporates concepts from the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) model.

Level Three of the Rotational Model takes the mastered objectives and embeds them into Project Based Learning opportunities. When a student learns an objective, he/she learns how to apply it in a myriad of contexts utilizing Project Based Learning (PBL).

In PBL, students become constructivists of their own learning through student centered projects, succinctly quipped by John Dewey as “learning by doing.” Project based learning provides our students with the opportunity to:

* Address real world issues.

* Collaborate with peers as a co-learner, teammate, and leader.

* Actively engage students.

* Cross-apply of skills from one project to another.

* Prepare students with the essential skills 21st century skills.

* Utilize technological tools to research and present findings.

* Become outcome oriented.