Top 7 Blended Learning Strategies for CTE
Many CTE teachers have heard about blended learning and the benefits that it can provide to students in CTE pathways.
However, it can be overwhelming to implement a new teaching strategy - especially when you don’t know where to begin.
As a CTE curriculum developer, we hear from thousands of teachers like you every year looking for ways to add blended learning in their classrooms.
In this article, you’ll discover 7 of the best blended learning strategies for CTE classes:
- Use multiple types of instructional materials
- Incorporate technology for reinforcement
- Try new teaching techniques
- Keep your traditional methods
- Vary your assessments
- Mix up group work styles
- Try a digital curriculum
On this page, we’ll dive into these different blended learning strategies and how you could use them.
But before getting into the details, it’s important to understand what blended learning is.
What Is Blended Learning?
Blended learning is an education strategy that features multiple teaching methods to help students learn more effectively than one method on its own.
In most cases blended learning combines a mix of traditional classroom instruction and digital learning.
In a blended approach, traditional instruction is used to introduce or reinforce concepts, focus on hands-on skills practice, and provide opportunities for collaborative work.
The digital learning is used to provide additional content when paired with traditional instruction. While digital curriculum is frequently what you see in blended learning, it is not the only method.
Both of these pieces combined into the learning experience is what makes a classroom “blended.”
With that, let’s dive into some blended learning strategies you can implement in your classroom!
1. Use Multiple Types of Instructional Materials
Blended learning requires you to use different types of instructional materials and strategies. While it may be tempting to stick to your main textbook, you’ll need more than that to truly provide a blended experience!
By using several resources, blended learning will come naturally and easily.
Along with your textbook, try supplementing your lessons with free resources from the Internet, online discussion groups, your home-grown teaching resources, and test prep materials.
A typical day in a blended classroom could look like this:
- Class starts with a bell ringer activity you found on the Internet
- You instruct students to read a section of the textbook
- A teacher-led discussion follows
- Students break into groups to complete a related activity you’ve created
- You end the class assigning homework from your textbook or eBook
Each day will be a little bit different as you mix up the use of each resource. Some concepts may be best taught from a textbook, while others are better covered by a digital curriculum.
Finding which materials work for which topics is just the first step!
2. Incorporate Technology for Reinforcement
Since CTE courses have both standard lessons and lab work for learning skills, you have an opportunity to try a few extra things with technology.
Some topics can best be taught by showing a video, such as how blood travels through the body. After that, you could instruct your health class to discuss the video online through social media or a digital teaching tool you have.
However you decide to include technology, keep in mind that it should have an applicable purpose to help increase your students’ understanding and retention of information.
Don’t add technology just to check the box!
3. Try New Teaching Techniques
If you’re new to blended learning, you have a golden opportunity to use different teaching techniques to help your students. You may be surprised to see your students’ reactions to a new technique!
One approach to try is differentiating your lessons. Differentiated instruction is a more specific technique of varying your instruction to meet the needs of your individual students. With differentiation, you could have three versions of a lesson based on students’ performance in the classroom.
Another great teaching technique is flipping the classroom. In essence, flipped learning means students do typical classroom work at home. This leaves class time open for teacher-led discussions, projects, and hands-on skill work.
While trying a new method like flipped learning can be intimidating, many CTE teachers have great success with it! You can too — all you have to do is start!
4. Keep Your Traditional Teaching Methods
While new techniques are an important blended learning strategy, don’t dump your old ones!
Traditional lectures still have a place in a blended classroom. A lecture with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation is a great way to introduce a new concept before you try branching out into your other blended strategies.
Also, a good classroom discussion is an irreplaceable part of an effective classroom. Your students can explore a topic more in-depth with a discussion that you facilitate.
Student-centered techniques are a must, but your role as a facilitator is still just as important even when adding blended learning strategies to your classes.
5. Vary Your Assessments
While it’s not exactly a teaching strategy, varied assessments are crucial to successful blended learning.
If you plan to mix up your instructional materials and teaching style, it’s only natural to mix up how you measure student comprehension.
So how can you add more variety to your assessments?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Keep some traditional, paper-based assessments
- Add digital quizzes throughout the course
- Include essays as end-of-course assignments
- Assign presentations for unit wrap-up
- Use self-assessed or peer-assessed assignments
By varying your formative and summative assessment styles, you’re not only including a new technique for blended instruction.
You’re also providing your students with more opportunities to showcase their knowledge in ways that better fit their strengths, rather than always using traditional paper-based exams.
6. Mix Up Group Work Styles
Another blended learning strategy to explore is mixing up how group work is done in (and out) of the classroom.
If your students are working on a group project, it’s natural to have them do all of the work in class.
However, with blended learning you may consider having students connect digitally outside of class time.
By including online collaboration for group work and discussions, you provide a different way for students to interact with each other.
Plus, online collaboration is an important skill they will need once they are out in the working world.
7. Try Digital Curriculum
A digital curriculum is a great way to implement blended learning in your CTE classroom.
Digital curriculum systems often include a variety of teaching materials, such as digital lessons, hands-on activities, guided notes, teacher presentations, and group projects.
You’ll likely also find different types of formative and summative assessments within a digital curriculum that measure your students' knowledge and understanding in a variety of ways.
Which Blended Learning Strategies are Right for You?
At the end of the day, choosing the right blended learning strategies depends on your needs and the time you have available for implementation.
Choosing the right strategy all depends on what will provide the right amount of balance for you while also helping your students learn better.
However, if you’re struggling to find time to implement even one of these strategies, consider our last suggestion - using digital curriculum.
Digital curriculum is the only item on the list that involves the least amount of work on your end. After all - the materials and flexibility for blended learning are built right into the system!
Thousands of CTE teachers use the AES digital curriculum systems to plan classes, incorporate blended learning in their classes, assess student progress, and get their free time back.
Wondering if a digital curriculum is right for you? Click below to download the Ultimate Guide to Digital Curriculum now: