Blended Learning in a Primary Classroom – Is it possible?

“…blended learning provides an opportunity for the gradual development of independent learning skills, as long as this is an intentional teaching strategy.” Tony Bates in Teaching in a Digital Age


 Photo Credit: uneitzel Flickr via Compfight cc

I think it is fair to say that we all know and understand that learning is a process. When we are learning about something new, we are starting with very little knowledge. However, I think starting at the beginning and working through the process is the most important part. Although I feel like using the staircase analogy is a little cliché I think it works perfectly to explain the process of learning. Sure we might all be able to skip a stair here or there because we have some background knowledge but I don’t know many people who are able to start at the bottom of a staircase or learning journey and jump right from the bottom to the top. We all have a process and it all takes time.

One of the best things about learning is that we can achieve the same understanding as someone else but we don’t have to get there in the same way, nor do we need to understand or show that understanding in the same way. I do not think that learning is an if this, then that process. It looks different for everyone and Stephen Downes highlights this perfectly in his post!

Our learning begins the day we are born and never stops. As we grow, we begin to figure out what we need as a learner to help us progress forward. I believe that this conversation needs to start as early as possible and needs to involve the learners themselves. When our students understand how they learn best and we allow them opportunities to learn in different ways, we are setting them up for great success! However, we have to guide that process with younger learners in order for them to become independent learners and if we just allow ourselves to be open to that process the possibilities are endless!

The same goes for how we use different tools and systems to support our learning. I feel like The Myth about No Significant Difference should be a must read for all teachers today!

The Web doesn’t just “bring the world to the desktop.” The Web is a medium for participation. Users receive information, but they also comment, collaborate, and create their own content. Anyone can create and publish content on the Web.1 Perhaps we don’t find a significant difference when using technology in student learning because we aren’t looking in the right places or using the correct definition. – The Myth about No Significant Difference.

Why all this talk about learning and the process of learning you might ask?

Well, the course that we are taking right now is challenging us to think about how learning can look when we allow learning to happen in spaces beyond our classroom and allow students to take ownership of the process. As part of this course we have been asked to create a prototype of an Online/Blended Course. At first I felt that this process might be a little daunting as I thought, what do I know about creating an online course? Then I reminded myself that I am in one and have been in two others! I think one of the best places to start is with our own understanding of how learning happens, thus the thoughts on learning above!

Luckily, this class is filled with great educators and I snagged a great partner in Amy Singh! I also can’t wait to see the courses the everyone else creates and love that this is a project teachers will be able to take and use!  Amy and I have set out a frame-work for our course and are working on finding LMS (Learning Management System) to work through the process of what it looks like to design such a course. We have taken on the challenge of a blended learning course in a primary classroom. As Amy highlights in her post What’s in a Learning Management System we will be taking on the Liquids and Solids Unit from Saskatchewan Grade 2 Science Curriculum .Presently we have a google doc up and running to generate and share ideas and are working on figuring out the best platform to deliver our course.

We have many things to consider as we move forward but I feel we are on the right track to ensuring that the student remains the focus. In my search for teachers who are presently using blended learning in their primary classroom I cam across a post, 5 tips for embracing blended learning in elementary classrooms about a teacher named Paula Barr from Lawrence, Kansas who is using blended learning. I am now following her on twitter and hope to use some of her knowledge to help Amy and I build our course. The post shares a video of what that blended learning environment looks like, I really like that it shares both the parent and teacher perspective!


After reading Personal and Personalized Learning as mentioned earlier, I did find it interesting that the title of this video included the term personalized learning. I am curious as to how much these students are owning their own learning and am looking forward to learning more about this particular environment as possible a guide for our project.


  1. I really enjoyed you blog Nicole. Thanks for that ‘stair’s analogy at the beginning – works for me 🙂 I also really enjoyed the video “5 steps for embracing blended learning in elementary classes”. That level of technology in the classroom seems very far away for me, but developing the prototype this semester will be on step (or stair) closer to getting there. I particularly thought the parent night is a good idea – so parents are aware and can get on board with what the teacher is doing in the classroom. Also, I love that she invites parents in one day a week to drop in unannounced – transparency and creation of understanding. I will be checking out Blackboard to see what that is all about. I am going to follow your lead and ‘follow’ Paul Barr to see what kinds of good suggestions she might have for using blended learning in an elementary classroom. Thanks for posting – look forward to seeing your project.

    • One step at a time is the way to go for sure! Also, never be afraid to ask question, this class is filled with very helpful people. I really liked the idea of an open invite as well. Some definite logistic pieces here but is interesting for sure.

      • I’ve had this problem with service people too. Most of them will arrange to have the &##682;engineer&18217; phone you about 30 minutes before they call to your house. The last time the guy did this I was in the hospital with my very ill mother (which I told them I would be) and gave him a time when I’d be home and he facilitated! I would ring the company and tell them your time commitments that day and ask that the engineer takes that into account when organising his route and rings you 30 mins before hand. Sorted! I hope…xx Jazzy

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