Best Practices

Blended Learning

Blended learning combines face-to-face classroom interaction with technological tools to enhance learning. This includes putting lectures online, creating online discussions for students to exchange information, and using tools such as pencasts to help students review lessons and share notes. At Ellis, we believe that blended learning creates opportunities to endow students with vastly more personal agency over their learning. It also prepares students for an increasingly online world where, in college and in their careers, students will be required to work collaboratively and online. Through blended learning, students are increasingly able to experience school according to their own "optimized learning playlists" while teachers can utilize learning analytics that influence the classroom experience. You may learn more about the benefits of blended learning in this short video.

The Ellis School leverages the "Flipped Classroom" model where the rotation occurs between the school for face-to-face teacher-guided practice (or projects) and the home or other off-site location for online content and instruction. In addition to creating pencasts, many teachers use Microsoft OneNote to develop lesson materials or create screencasts with a variety of technology tools. Assignments and class materials are shared through the online Haiku learning management system. The Ellis School also leverages the Classroom Salon, a Carnegie Mellon University project, and SWORD Peer Review, a project developed out of the University of Pittsburgh Learning Research Development Center.

Almost 20 Ellis teachers from all three divisions have received training from the Online School for Girls to develop areas within their curriculum where blended learning fits best. A learning cohort of teachers regularly meets to discuss opportunities where blended learning can enhance and re-invent our curricular program. 

Blended learning utilizes the Internet to afford each student a more personalized learning experience, meaning increased student control over the time, place, path, and/or pace of her learning. One common feature of blended learning is that when a course takes place partly online and partly through other modalities such as small-group instruction, tutoring, and so forth, the modalities are connected. Students pick up where they individually left off when they switch from one modality to another. Modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.