FCS: Why Blend?

, , &

5.1 Blending in FCS Teaching

The first question you should ask yourself before embarking on the journey of blended teaching is “Why blend?” Teachers who are still searching for their answer to this question may end up spending a lot of time and energy implementing changes that do not serve any larger goal or purpose.

Guiding Question: Why Blend?

Teachers must answer the question “Why blend?” It is not sufficient to blend just because it is popular or because others are doing it.

In the two videos below, Megan Wakefield, and Natalie Wilson explain how blended teaching has improved their classrooms. What reasons might you have for blending?

Why I Blend–Megan Wakefield (4:15) 

Watch on YouTube

Why I Blend–Natalie Wilson (0:57) 

Watch on YouTube

5.2 Reasons for Blending

There are three primary reasons why teachers choose blended teaching:

Mary Alice McCarlie explains how blended learning provides both efficiency and personalization in learning.

Why I Blend–Mary Alice McCarlie (1:55) 

Watch on YouTube

Oftentime teachers have multiple reasons for blending, but almost always one of these three reasons is primary in their minds. Table 1 below shows some simple FCS examples and how they might help the teacher to achieve multiple purposes simultaneously.

Table 1

Examples of Multiple Purposes for a Blended FCS Activity

Blended ExampleBlended Purpose
Facilitates student understanding, and feedback during the creation process.Learning Effectiveness: Sharing videos online eliminates the need for students or teachers to write down step by step the creation process. Because feedback is easier to provide, students can receive more detailed feedback.
Access and Flexibility: It is also easier for students to go back and review the concept that was demonstrated.
Increased Efficiency/Cost: It saves the effort and cost to make physical copies of directions for students. Using videos online can also make the collaborative process and providing feedback more efficient.
Creates a space for discussions that involve all class members. Learning Effectiveness: Many students struggle to fully participate in class discussions for a varieity of reasons, and others dominate these conversations. Online discussions give everyone the opportunity to participate (meaning they have time to discover what they think and write about it), creating more robust, reflective, and divergent discussions. 
Access & Flexibility: Online discussions allow all students to voice their ideas.
Increased Efficiency/Cost: Online discussions efficiently give every student a voice. They also free up classroom time for other activities. 
Promotes differentiated instruction in hand-on lab based coursesLearning Effectiveness: Based on student data, students can be assigned learning activities specific to their weaknesses. Students who don’t need to work on sewing a button don’t have to. Students who don’t understand how to apply cooking terms can receive instruction and activities designed to help them learn this concept.
Access & Flexibility: Students have access to instruction specifically targeted to their needs. They have the flexibility to access the content they need and which they have not already mastered. 
Increased Efficiency/Cost: Students don’t waste time where they are already proficient. They don’t have to wait for other students to catch up or worry about being behind.

Think about why you would like to blend your classroom. In your blended teaching workbook, write your thoughts, creating your own purpose. 

Write a brief statement about why you want to blend your classroom. Which purposes and outcomes are you most interested in for your blend? Access your Workbook here. Make sure you save your copy where you can access it as you go through the social studies chapters.

5.3 Common Challenges to Teaching FCS: Problems of Practice

All teachers face challenges. It's part of the nature of sharing a learning journey with a large number of young people. For many teachers like Marianne Beck, below, blended teaching helps them adress and overcome some of those challenges.

Your choice to blend will be more meaningful to you and your students if it helps to address challenges that you and your students face in the traditional non-blended classroom. We refer to these challenges as “problems of practice.”

Why I Blend–Marianne Beck (1:12) 

Definition: Problem of Practice

A problem of practice is a current problem or challenge that you believe could be improved through blended teaching.

Problems of practice can fall under any of the three purposes outlined in section 1.1. However, the most meaningful and powerful problems of practice for teachers deal directly with improving learning outcomes for their students.

Fig. 1

Problems of Practice in Family and Consumer Sciences 

These five pathways are a powerful tool to help you think deeply about problems of practice that are relevant to you. Once you identify specific challenges in your current approach to teaching, you will be able to begin to explore what online approaches may be combined with your in-person approaches to make a better experience for your students and you alike. This process engergizes you and your teaching. Teachers who choose to blend often find that they enjoy teaching in new and fulfilling ways.

Heather Ostler explains how blending allows for better connections with students which in turn makes teaching enjoyable.

Why I Blend–Heather Ostler (4:05) 

Finding Your Problems of Practice

Now that you have reviewed the five pathways to identifying problems of practice, it is your turn to look at your own practice and try to identify a couple of challenges that you can consider as you continue throughout these FCS chapters. What student outcomes and teaching practices would you like to improve? What stands in the way of your teaching having the impact you would like it to have?

Identify 2-3 problems of practice (PoP) that you can use as you consider blended options for your classroom.

Note: You should identify several problems of practice (PoP) because not every PoP has a good blended learning solution.

If you haven't already opened and saved your workbook, you can access it here.

Previous Citation(s)
, , , , & (2021). K-12 Blended Teaching (Vol 2): A Guide to Practice Within the Disciplines, 2. EdTech Books. https://edtechbooks.org/-QNCX

This content is provided to you freely by BYU Open Learning Network.

Access it online or download it at https://open.byu.edu/k12blended_facs/ela_whykUEhpAFe.