Friday, July 6, 2018

Blended Learning Classroom Environments and Supporting Exceptional Learners

Blended Learning Classroom Environments and Supporting Exceptional Learners

Blended Learning and its Models

Blended learning refers to an approach to teaching which blends face-to-face instruction with online computer mediated learning (Ferdig, Cavanaugh, & Friedhoff, 2012). Post-secondary and high schools have been using blended learning models for some time to supplement class time with out-of-class interaction which can be student-to-student or student-to-content. In the elementary panel, blended learning models are now being adopted as teachers test various strategies to engage their learners in more meaningful ways. Blended learning models support teachers in being able to differentiate instruction, cater to individual student needs as well as foster critical thinking, and self motivation (McBain, 2011; Hodges & Webber, 2015). There are a number of variations of the model that fall under the blended learning umbrella. All of these variations are currently available to students, some through the public education system and some through private educational institutions.

(Horn & Staker, 2014)

Rotation Model - students work on a rotation schedule either working face-to-face with teachers or independently online. There are a number of variations to this model as well which can be implemented.

Flex Model - material is primarily delivered online however teachers are present in the room to provide support learning is self-directed.

A-la Carte Model - this model allows students to still attend a traditional school while taking supplementary courses completely online that are offered remotely.

Enriched Virtual Model - students work remotely and learning is self-directed, there is the option for face-to-face check-ins or students can choose to contact their instructors online. (Horn & Staker, 2012)

Blended Learning and Students with Exceptionalities

Blended learning environments support students with learning exceptionalities by promoting the use of technology while learning course content. Blended learning allows students the opportunity to revisit course materials, use various means to access material such as movies, and audio books, and promotes the development of their executive functions. The fact that materials can easily be revisited supports students' working memory (Coyne, Pisha, Dalton, Zeph, & Smith, 2012).
Students with learning exceptionalities show positive growth when in control of when and how much content is presented to them. Blended classrooms make for a much more personalized learning experience which further to specific assistive technologies or learning tools, supports students with exceptionalities. Students can focus on collaboration skills, mitigated by the use of technology which would allow for processing time which may strengthen their ability to communicate effectively with their peers, as well as monitor their comprehension (Boyle, 2011). Integrating blended models into the elementary classroom, especially as students become more and more accustom to using technology provides a personalized learning experience which supports all learners but especially those with exceptionalities.


Boyle, J. (2010). Strategic note-taking for middle-school students with learning disabilities in science classes. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33(2), 93-109. doi:10.2307/25701436

Coyne,P. ,Pisha, B. Dalton, B., Zeph, L. A., & Smith, N. C. (2012). Literacy by design: A universal design for learning approach for students with significant intellectual disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 33, 162–172. doi:10.1177/0741932510381651

Ferdig, R., Cavanaugh, C., & Freidhoff, J. (Eds.). (2012). Lessons learned from blended programs: Experiences and recommendations from the field. Vienna, VA: iNACOL.

Hodges, T. S., & Weber, N. D. (2015). Making heads or tails of classroom flipping. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 51(2), 57-63. doi:10.1080/00228958.2015.1023135

Horn, M & Staker, H. (2012, May 1). Classifying K-12 blended learning. Retrieved from:

Horn, M & Staker, H. (2014) Blended: using disruptive innovation to improve schools. Retrieved from

[LD@School]. (2017, June 16). Blended Learning [Video File]. Retrieved from

McBain, R. (2011). How high can students think? A study of students' cognitive levels using blooms taxonomy in social studies (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ERIC (ED524386)

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