This school year, Wheaton North decided to incorporate blended classes. Blended classrooms are a combination of learning in the classroom as well as online. Students spend about half of their time learning in class and the other half working outside of the classroom on online work. This allows them to have both the traditional style of learning mixed with the freedom of working online at their own pace.
While these classes are new to students, teachers have also had to learn how to teach this new style of learning. Mrs. Schmalz, a blended RTE teacher said, “from a teacher’s perspective, blended classes are a lot more work than a traditional class,” however, she has found that “the students really like it which makes [her] happy.” She is excited to continue teaching blended classes.
One of the benefits of blended learning is that students are in control of how they manage their workload as long as they keep their grades up and meet deadlines set by their teachers. As junior KK says, “I like that you get to do work on your own time.” Students are able to learn time management, while also working on their classwork.
Blended classes are also helpful for students’ futures. Madelyn Strasma, a blended RTE student, explains that these classes “not only parallel college but reinforce skills that can be used later in life.” Many colleges are incorporating blended learning on their campuses or already offer online classes to their students. Principal Biscan says, “you come here to learn how to learn.” The idea of introducing blended classes in high school allows students to become familiar with these learning styles before college.
Thus far, teachers haven’t found many disadvantages to blended classes. Mrs. Schmalz did say that it’s unfortunate that she doesn’t get to see her students every day, and Principal Biscan commented on safety and logistical concerns that can come with not knowing exactly where every student is during the class period.
In the future, North plans to continue to add more blended classes. Assistant Principal Ellett said that geology, modern literature, military history, and two sections of RTE will be offered as blended next semester. They are still deciding which classes to offer next year, but are unfortunately held back by restrictions on space, devices, and supervision. One thing is for sure, blended classes aren’t going anywhere, so get ready to see more offered in years to come.