My BLENDed Learning Journey

Today’s Contributor: Olivia Barrow
My name is Olivia Barrow. I am a dual language 5th grade teacher at Volma Overton Early College Prep. This is my first year as a CIC, but my 15th year with Austin ISD. I love to innovate, and you may see some fun activities on Twitter, @ohbarrow.

Over the last two years, I have been in the Transformative Technology Leadership Pathway, and it has definitely been a transformative experience for both my students and myself. I have also been able to share with my colleagues what we are implementing in class, and they have witnessed it firsthand during four days of #Observe Me visits this semester.

Two years ago, my students had their AR (reading comprehension) tests, Istation assignments, and BrainPop videos to learn from, but that was about it.

I began researching for a digital math supplement to incorporate in my math blocks, as Think Through Math was no longer available. There were some programs available for free, like Prodigy (too game-based for my students’ needs), then I found Front Row, now Freckle. It was a helpful choice because my students benefited from their online lessons.

Once I engaged in book studies, which suggested excellent recommendations, I started choosing and learning more about appropriate resources for them to use, like Kahoot!, Padlet, and more BLEND tools.

This year, my students had more voice and choice opportunities, and utilized SeeSaw to create videos explaining math concepts to others. They also used Sown to Grow to reflect on their assessments and set goals. Lastly, my students were able to pilot Dreambox, which my students loved to use, completing as many lessons as they could and competing with their peers, which is now available for the next five years, per district contract.

It is unbelievable how receptive my students were with the BLENDed learning environment in our class. My students could use their skills in other classes when creating projects. One of my colleagues shared with me that our students could open up Google Docs and begin their research assignments quickly and without needing much support.

The power skills (communication, collaboration, connections, critical thinking, creativity, and  cultural proficiency), which my students have used throughout the last two years have prepared them well for middle school.

As I finalize my leadership pathway, I am amazed at the wonderful work my students are creating, such as digital books using the Book Creator app, or even making Green Screen videos to show off their products.

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