Are you interested in learning more about blended learning and how it might work in your classroom? Science lends itself really well to this type of instruction. Start by checking out my previous blog post about this teaching method. I’ve put together a few blended learning examples in this post. You might find that one of them, or even all of them, becomes a new tool in your teaching bag.
Blended Learning examples for teaching biology
One thing that I really like about blended learning is that you don’t need to have 1:1 technology. All you really need to teach a blended learning lesson is a few laptops or tablets. Students could even use their phones if necessary.
And here’s the thing: you DON’T need to jump in all the way. Just try dabbling your toes in it and go from there!
Let’s take a look at some examples of different ways to implement blended learning using specific lesson ideas.
Teaching “Cells” – 3 Different Ways
I used to dread teaching cells. I had a good Powerpoint with Cloze notes, but it was still the drudgery of “This is the nucleus. It acts as the brain of the cell. This is the mitochondria …” you get the idea. It seemed that it was simply a case of “Here’s the organelle. This is what it does.” I struggled to make this topic more interactive and interesting.
Enter blended learning!
Station rotation model
- One way of teaching cells is to use the Station Rotation model. You might already be familiar with the idea of using stations but think that they won’t work in high school. But they CAN work really well!
I have some specific station ideas for teaching cells in this previous blog post. You might find it helpful to read that one first, then come back to this post.
- Another way of teaching cells using blended learning is called Face-to-Face Driver. This model is the most similar to regular instruction. The teacher is still responsible for delivering most of the instruction. It’s worth considering if your classes contain students of varying abilities since it allows a level of differentiation.
Here’s how this might work for our “cells” topic. Instruction starts out the same as usual, using whatever teaching method you would normally use. In my classroom, this would entail a Powerpoint presentation along with the accompanying Cloze notes. I typically would intersperse lectures with some whole class activities and labs.
Here’s where the blended learning part comes in. At any time during the instruction, the teacher will assign various online tasks. For example, I might assign an Edpuzzle or Amoeba Sisters video along with accompanying paper tasks. This assignment would serve as reinforcement for my on-level students.
For my below-level students, I would use online assignments that serve to remediate the topic of cells. For example, Quizlet is a fantastic way for struggling students to nail down the never-ending biology vocabulary. I have assigned flashcards that I’ve made, as well as sets that I’ve found on their site. I also have changed it up a bit and assigned vocabulary terms to my students to input. With the paid version, you can create classes and invite your students to join. Then you’re able to see what they’re doing and check their work. They also love the Quizlet Live games.
For my above-level students, I would create an assignment where they could collaborate and work online. For example, they could create a podcast about cells. Or let them create their own videos using Screencastify or Flipgrid.
The beauty of this blended learning model is that you can differentiate your assignments to match your students’ abilities.
the “in-class flipped classroom”
This blended learning model uses the basic idea of a flipped classroom and modifies it. Instead of watching videos on their own time, students watch video recordings of lessons. It still leaves a lot of extra time for students to work on other activities, such as labs, projects, or reinforcement. I used the in-class flip with my freshmen and it worked extremely well. Read this post to see how I did it.
I hope these three examples have given you some ideas on how you might add a blended learning lesson or two to your bag of teaching tricks!
If you’d like a template to create your own lessons, along with one of my blended learning lessons on cloning, just complete the form below.
And if you try it, please let me know how it goes!