Blended Learning in Accelerated Algebra II
In the midst of reviewing for the final exam, HHS Math teacher Lorelle Govoni paused to remind her students of all they had achieved over the course of the semester: “You know all this stuff. You are amazing. You have basically completed a full year Algebra II course in one semester.”
This is no exaggeration. The Accelerated Algebra II course is one of the most challenging courses at HHS, with a pace and level of rigour that is not for the faint of heart. In essence, the curriculum prepares the 10th graders in the class to take Calculus as Juniors.
To help manage all the material in the course and provide as many support systems as possible to her students, Ms. Govoni relies on a combination of teaching materials and approaches, from working problems out with paper and pencil, to using a course management site called Canvas and and online graphing tool, Desmos. This blended approach to teaching — integrating online resources & tools with in class lessons and assignments — helps to streamline teaching and makes for a more personalized teaching environment. Students move seamlessly between digital resources, paper & pencil, and graphic calculators as they work to understand the material and master skills. One student put it well: “[The course] is a new mixture of technology and journal work/worksheets. I think it is effective.”
Students appreciate what digital tools bring to their math course. Here is some feedback from anonymous student survey:
“I really like Desmos and Canvas the most because Desmos can instantly create any graph with sometimes is hard to visualize and Canvas is really organized and it is a great resource to have.”
“I like that there are a lot of resources on Canvas to study from.”
In this shift to a blended approach to learning one thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of the role the teacher plays in the teaching and learning process. One student put it well:
“Mrs. Govoni really puts in a lot of effort to explain things thoroughly and ensuring that we understand the material before we continue forward. This is especially important in a class such as this one because math builds upon itself and one misunderstood concept can cause problems later on. I also feel that she really cares about her students and treats them fairly.”
Semester 1 of Accelerated Algebra II is over, but the impact of Ms. Govoni and the learning environment she’s designed — with pencil and paper as well as digital technologies — will last long beyond the end of her course.