When we consider the factors that impact learning, we have to think about:
1) the characteristics of the individual child
2) the learning that occurs outside of school
3) the learning that occurs while at school
As educators, we often believe that we really only have control over the learning that happens in school.
No matter how good our lessons are, if children are not in school, they don’t participate in that learning. But they could.
We know that attendance has a significant impact on student achievement, as measured in the school setting. Attendance is a complex issue. In early grades, custodial care of children is part of the equation. As children enter adolescence and high school, they begin to have more control over their own attendance, and disengaged students often choose to stay away.
While certainly we want to work to involve our communities and ensure that we all believe our schools are the best places for our children to learn, we do know that there are some factors that we have little control over.
When medical appointments require long drives and the necessity for entire families to miss school, and when a single school basketball game means a full day absence because it is a 6-hour round trip, we need to think about ways to have a bigger impact on the “learning that occurs outside of school”.
Blended learning – using digital tools to support student learning when they are not physically in the building – demonstrates a willingness on the part of the school to support the lives of young people. Collaborative technologies support synchronous and asynchronous learning for students separated by time and distance. They allow teachers to asynchronously provide assessment for and as learning in multiple modalities, even when the student is away.
Students who are travelling become resources for learning as they share what they see with the class back in the building.
Innovative thinking and simple, free, available tools allow us to provide ongoing learning support and empowerment for our students no matter where they are.
Learning is not confined to a school building. Technology can transform our thinking about what learning looks like, sounds like and feels like for students and teachers in 2016.
#ltelt – Leading Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching. Are you an Ontario educator looking for help with Blended Learning? Contact your board’s TELT Contact, a position in each board, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Education. TELT Contacts engage in regular professional learning to help support TELT in their board.
Featured image shared by Darren Kuropatwa – CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0
School Attendance, RDSB Research