Monday, March 2, 2015

A Day in the Life of Spring Valley High School's Kloo Hansen

Even on a two-hour inclement weather delay, Spring Valley High School teacher Kloo Hansen's classroom operates like a well-oiled machine. As students begin to arrive, her intern University of South Carolina student Josh Joseph writes the students names on desks using a dry erase marker. Seats in her blended learning classroom are assigned with an eye to creating a mix of learners at each four-desk group.

World geography classes in first and second period began a unit on human population. Students came in and immediately started their "bell work," five questions, including the exact world population on their birthday. The questions were posted on Google Class and included links to helpful resources, the  U.S. and World Population Clock and, which displays seven billion people on a single page and claims to be the largest web page in the world. The students then took a short survey about their interest in the topic. After a quick informative National Geographic video about the world's population, they began drafting questions they wanted to answer or have answered about the topic.

As they worked, Ms. Hansen circulated around the room encouraging students to refine questions, "Instead you might want to ask, 'What's happening to allow this to exist?'" and noting ones she looked forward to learning more about. "The more information you have, the more interesting facts you find, the more you're going to enjoy this unit. You're steering the ship." she told the class.

Simultaneously, she recorded class participation on her Chromebook using class management software Class Dojo. Sounds indicating that she was awarding or subtracting Dojo points reminded students to stay on task. Next, students discussed their questions with their group and selected four to post to Padlet, a web-based collaboration tool. Ms. Hansen will use the questions to help drive the unit.

Toward the end of first period, a group of teachers from Blythewood High School, lead by Technology Integration Specialist Chuck Holland, stopped by to observe. As the lead teacher for the district's Blended Learning Project, Ms. Hansen is accustomed to regular visitors in her classroom. Blended Learning classrooms like Ms. Hansen's (there are 20 at Spring Valley High) are flexible, technology-infused, collaborative and student-centered. She often paused to ask, “Does this make sense?”

She took a few moments to share with the visitors how she used a variety of formative assessment tools like Class Dojo, Padlet and Geddit to keep a "pulse" of students' understanding of the content. Students can access the information anywhere and any time.

"I give them choice. I give them buy-in. I've seen gains every year that I have added blended learning tools," she said.

During lunch, Ms. Hansen and Mr. Joseph prepare for fifth period's AP psychology class which began studying human development. On a dry erase board, she posted pictures of herself and encouraged students to guess her age in the photos. Later, she showed the class examples of an upcoming mini-group project about human developmental stages, in which they will include their own lifespan pictures.

Ms. Hansen's seventh period AP human geography class prepped for a March Madness style map activity. First step: define a state: a  sovereign territory with specific boundaries, has an established government that is able to make alliances and treaties. The groups then tried to name all the states of the world they could in 10 minutes, writing the names on their desktops with dry erase markers. After the challenge, students discussed the ease or difficulty of the activity.

Ms. Hansen is passionate about blended learning and the difference it can make in her student's lives. "It lets me get right to good stuff where they are applying the concepts and really understanding the content."

The school day ends, but instead of packing up Ms. Hansen headed to a meeting aimed at helping a student struggling in one of her classes. It's all in a Day in the Life!

Below is Ms. Hansen's day in photos. Visit our A Day in the Life album on Flickr to see more of Ms. Hansen's day.

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