Submitted by Kristian Lecours, Principal, Robert Randall Elementary School
Note: The information in this profile represents 2013-14 unless otherwise indicated. To view Robert Randall Elementary School’s SY2012-13 profiles, click here.
Robert Randall Elementary School is a public school located within the Milpitas district. The school serves nearly 500 students in grades K-6. The school utilizes a rigorous curriculum to ensure its students are equipped with 21st-Century skills and knowledge.
Blended Learning Program
Program model: Station Rotation, Lab Rotation
Randall Elementary School uses a lab rotation blended-learning models to deliver content and instruction. During math and English language arts instruction for all students, students rotate on a fixed schedule between a learning lab used entirely for online learning and a classroom used for other learning modalities.
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 are required to be on campus for 100 percent of the school day. On average, students spend roughly 33 percent of their time learning online or using educational software.
Briefly describe the offline components of this blended-learning program.
The offline components of the rotation model used at Randall Elementary school consist of some teacher-led, face-to-face instruction; a lot of teacher-led, targeted small group instruction; some projects and project-based learning; and some traditional offline learning activities such as pencil-and-paper assignments, literary circles, and reading discussion.
How are the online and offline components of the program connected to provide an integrated learning experience for students? How do data from different learning modalities inform each other?
Teachers at Randall Elementary School are constantly using real-time student data captured from the online component of the program to inform their teachings in other learning modalities. For example, teachers often use student data to determine who needs targeted small group instruction or remedial assistance. Teachers also use real-time student data to adjust the curriculum on an as-needed basis. Adjusting the curriculum can include slowing down or speeding up the pace, or finding a new way to teach a certain lesson if students aren’t progressing as expected.
How does this blended-learning program fit into the rest of the students’ school day?
The students begin the day with an English Language Development block, which is completely offline. Afterward, they head to math and English language arts blocks, which are each two hours and fifteen minutes.
For math instruction, students in grades 4-6 have a block schedule. On one day, they rotate among small group instruction with the teacher, independent problem practice, and collaborative work with fellow students. On the next day, they spend an hour engaged in offline science instruction and an hour in the learning lab receiving online math instruction from ST Math. Students in grades K-3 do not have a block schedule for math each school day, they spend one hour engaged in face-to-face, teacher-led instruction; a half-hour receiving offline physical education instruction; and a half-hour engaged in online instruction from ST Math.
During English language arts instruction, students in grades K-3 work through a lab rotation that includes 30 minutes of online learning.
What are the teachers’ roles and responsibilities in both the online and offline components of this blended-learning program?
Randall Elementary School employs certified teachers to support students in the learning lab with their online curriculum, so the primary responsibility for the teachers-of-record in the online component of the program is to monitor and analyze student data to help inform their offline teaching. The offline responsibilities for the teachers-of-record include leading targeted small group instruction, assigning practice problems and homework, guiding students’ collaborative projects, and grouping the students for small group instruction based on real-time student data.
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 employs credentialed and certified teachers who are responsible for overseeing the student learning in the learning lab and supporting students in need of assistance. The school also employs two learning specialists in the learning labs who help support students as they progress through the curriculum. One of the learning specialists is a credentialed substitute teacher; the other is a parent volunteer.
Briefly describe the set-up of physical space for this blended-learning program.
The blended-learning classrooms at Randall Elementary School look like traditional classrooms and are furnished with desks, chairs, and tables. The learning lab was intentionally designed to look like the Genius Bar at the Apple Store. The learning labs are furnished with modernized, movable furniture such as couches and bean bag chairs. The idea was to make the space have more open spaces and comfortable furniture rather than rows of desks or cubicles. There are no desktop computers in the learning labs.
How are students grouped within this blended-learning program?
Student groupings are left up to teachers, so students are not grouped in any standard way. Some teachers may group their students based on achievement, but the teachers are constantly re-evaluating and changing groupings, so the groupings are very fluid and flexible.
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 are not tied to a semester-based course schedule and have the freedom to complete courses at any time. The students take initial assessments in their English language arts classes and the content provider then provides a suggested learning path based on how students did on the assessments. In theory, students can complete courses or units however fast or slow they wish, although if students start to fall behind, that is when teachers will put them in targeted small group instruction so they can master the material and catch back up.
Describe the academic results of the program, using quantitative data where possible.
The school only recently adopted the blended-learning model, so while benchmark data seems promising, the efficacy of the blended-learning program cannot be adequately assessed until another year’s worth of data is available.
Describe any other distinctive characteristics about this program if they have not been captured above.
School discipline referrals have decreased significantly in the past school year. Randall Elementary School administrators credit the blended-learning program for this trend because it gives students the opportunity to move to different classrooms and experience different learning modalities throughout the day. The administrators believe the combination of this movement and differentiation keeps students more engaged during the school day. Also, 70 percent of the students at Randall Elementary School are English Language Learners.
Describe any financial impact this blended-learning program has had on your cost of operations. Use numbers when possible.
The school district spent about $20,000 to outfit the two elementary schools, Randall Elementary and Weller Elementary, with Chromebooks that students use in the learning labs.
What have been the biggest obstacles in implementing this blended-learning program? What has needed adjustment along the way?
The biggest obstacle that school administrators faced was the fluidity of the new school model. Administrators created a good plan for how the model would work, and once the school year actually started, the school realized that many things needed to be changed. The other obstacle was that teachers felt they were losing learning time as students moved around the school, so the school tried to make sure the process of moving students between learning modalities was as efficient as possible.
Have you or are you planning to scale your program model to more/other schools?
Not at this time.