Submitted by M. Denise Lutz, Principal
Note: The information in this profile represents 2012-13 unless otherwise indicated.
Hannah Ashton Middle School is transforming from a 5th and 6th grade building to a 5th through 8th grade building over the course of two years. This school has been a building rated at the highest level of Excellence within the State of Ohio for the past several years. Hannah Ashton Middle School was selected to be a leader in blended innovation for the school district because of the level of accomplishment among the staff members in utilizing data to drive instructional practices. Additionally, the new administration had a very strong background in educational technology. This year a pilot blended-learning program was developed with the new 7th grade team. These students incorporated a 1-1 device initiative and several digital content providers to drive a personalized plan for each student. The pilot will expand next year across all four grade levels and data analysis will take on new heights as the school begins to analyze the collective impact of school partnerships as well as the results of blended learning.
Blended Learning Program
Program model: Station Rotation
Hannah Ashton Middle School has implemented a 7th-grade pilot Station Rotation model. Students rotate between learning modalities in several classrooms.
How much time do students spend on campus in this blended-learning program? How much of this time do students spend learning online or with educational software?
Students engaged in blending learning spend 100 percent of their time on the school campus. For core content courses, the amount of time students spend learning online ranges from 30 percent to 50 percent depending on the quality of the curriculum in a given subject and the instructional needs of the students.
Briefly describe the offline components of this blended-learning program.
Students rotate from online instruction to engage in direct instruction, small-group learning, and inquiry-based learning. The inquiry-based learning is still in its introductory phase and will be a major emphasis in the design of the curriculum for next school year.
How does this blended-learning program fit into the rest of the students’ school day?
Students are engaged in blended learning for their core content courses. All 7th grade students begin the day by cycling through four core courses. After lunch, some students choose to take elective offerings (such as band, orchestra, newspaper, foreign language, and physical education), while other students gather in a community-like setting where they can continue to progress through digital coursework or be pulled to work in small groups with the core teachers.
What are the teachers’ roles and responsibilities in both the online and offline components of this blended-learning program?
Currently, teachers are in charge of understanding the digital content and reporting features of the content, defining small groups, working with students who need individual assistance, defining and operating the different stations in the rotation, and gathering and analyzing real-time student data. It has been a learning year for the school’s teachers and the school is looking in to hiring a blended-learning instructional coach next year to help streamline data analysis and advise the staff on instructional model matters.
What other adults are involved in this blended-learning program (e.g., paraprofessionals, learning coaches, counselors) and what are their roles and responsibilities?
The school utilizes two paraprofessionals for the blended-learning program. They act in a support role and can move between classrooms assisting students on an as-needed basis or help teachers by supervising small-group learning. One of the district’s IT support staff starts his day at the school to ensure that all the technical aspects of the program run smoothly. The principal and assistant principal are involved in overseeing the program and gathering and analyzing student achievement data.
Briefly describe the set-up of physical space for this blended-learning program.
Each student has an individual laptop, and learning occurs in regular classrooms, all of which come equipped with smart boards and projectors. The students in the blended-learning program also have access to two “project rooms” that are classrooms with large tables designed to facilitate group learning in some form.
How are students grouped within this blended-learning program?
There are approximately 130 students in the blended-learning program. The students are split into four distinct groups based on the students’ state proficiency scores from the year before. The groups are fluid throughout the year based on student performance and achievement.
Do students have some element of control over the pacing of their learning? Are students tied to a semester-based course schedule or can they complete courses at any time? Briefly describe any requirements or benchmarks in place to ensure student progress.
Students do have some control over the pacing of their learning. The school would like to implement more complete student control over the course of the next several years. Currently, students learn at a traditional pace because of the newness of the programming to staff and students. The school is working to develop a great deal of structure to teach students how to learn online independently. There are district-developed common unit assessments across grades 5-8 that provide bench-marking evidence of progress.
Describe the academic results of the program, using quantitative data where possible.
The program is still in its first year of development. Positive results from the school’s after-school program are noted below.
Describe any other distinctive characteristics of this blended-learning program if they have not been captured above.
This year Hannah Ashton Middle School received a federal 21st Century Community Learning grant to begin a school day extension program called Achieve After 3. This is a five-year grant. This program runs from 3-7 pm each day. Students continue to work on digital content from the school day and also participate in club rotations. They are provided with a snack, dinner and transportation home.
Mid-year data provided by the school shows that students who participated in the Achieve After 3 school day extension and utilized the blended curriculum scored up to four percent higher on average on their midyear exams than the rest of the class. Students in the program scored two percent higher in science and two percent higher in math. Special needs students enrolled in the school day extension program scored 53 percent higher in reading, nine percent higher in science, and nine percent higher in math than their peers.
Describe any financial impact this blended-learning program has had on your cost of operations. Use numbers when possible.
The 21st Century Community Learning grant has allowed Hannah Ashton Middle School to offer the Achieve After 3 program. The school spent an estimated $63,000 on digital curriculum and $100,000 for 150 laptops, extra chargers, and laptop carts.
What have been the biggest obstacles in implementing this blended-learning program? What has needed adjustment along the way?
The biggest obstacle for the school has been data management and analysis. Administrators and teachers are trying to optimize the students’ educational experience while using the reporting features built-in to the different tools. The school is finding that the digital content reporting varies greatly in ease of use and accessible data. Administrators have also learned that instructional models are not all appropriate for all types of students. Adjustments had to be made for different groups of learners to meet needs and learning styles.
Have you or are you planning to scale your program model to more/other schools?
Hannah Ashton Middle School currently serves students in grades 5-7. Next year the school will add grade 8. Next year, administrators plan to implement blended learning throughout all grades. All students will have access to digital content providers. Students in grades 7 and 8 will have individual access to hardware.