“The ‘State’ was substituted for humanity; cosmopolitan gave way to nationalism.
To form the citizen, not the “man,” became the aim of education.”

John DeweyThe Democratic Concept in Education

What is a blended learning environment? 

Blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace. Blended Learning (Staker / Horn – May 2012). While still attending a “brick-and-mortar” school structure, face-to-face classroom methods are combined with computer-mediated activities.  (Wikipedia)

An excellent description of blended learning environments. 


“The peculiarity of truly human life is that man has to create himself by his own voluntary efforts; he has to make himself a truly moral, rational, and free being. This creative effort is carried on by the educational activities of slow generations. Its acceleration depends upon men consciously striving to educate their successors not for the existing state of affairs but so as to make possible a future better humanity. But there is the great difficulty. Each generation is inclined to educate its young so as to get along in the present world instead of with a view to the proper end of education: the promotion of the best possible realization of humanity as humanity. Parents educate their children so that they may get on; princes educate their subjects as instruments of their own purposes.

John DeweyThe Democratic Concept in Education

Elements of the Blended Learning model in History courses at ISB

Most of the sub-courses you will take during your IB History career at ISB, can best be understood when parceled into three basic phases. (These phases will overlap and undulate at ISB.)

Phase One: Collective Introduction

During the first phase, we will work collectively in order to learn basic definitions and explore the impact of current theme. We will accomplish this through a variety of communal activities. We will also test our knowledge of previous units, explore how they are related to the new theme and learn how our cumulatively enhanced knowledge of history will inform the parameters of the unit’s end-project in media activism (Year One) or  global diplomacy & international law (Year Two). This phase will last approximately one to two weeks. (In most units, this section lasts 2 weeks).


Phase Two: Research and Development

The second phase will be reserved for acquiring the knowledge required to demonstrate acquisition of the requires skill and knowledge individually and collectively. During this phase students will democratically determine deadlines and methods for effectively completing the course project, successfully composing analytical essays on the course questions and themes, completing their manuscripts, engaging in coaching and discussion sessions involving the instructor(s) and for completing the course research. This phase will last approximately 4-5 weeks.

You will have almost total control over your workflow during this phase. This is thrilling to some, and terrifying to others. Together, however, we will develop the necessary workflow and group and self management skills necessary to plan a research and writing project of quality and scale.

Example Assessment and Activities During Phase Two

    1. Daily Activities
      1. The large part of your time during phase two will be spent either in small team sessions with your teacher (under a coaching model) or in “individualized instruction.” You will learn about the varieties of activities you will engage in with our teacher as you proceed through the course, while you are individualized instruction, you are free to work alone, with partners or in small groups. You may use the full scope of the room’s resources and space while you do so. Considering the amount of self-designed time and space you are given in the class, very few excuses for failing to submit work when it is due or failing to be prepared for assessments will be accepted. Students must also remember that they are responsible for reading and reviewing all of the History and Meaning and introductory pages of the unit website in addition to their more traditional research assignments.
    2. Manuscript Development
      1. Responses to assigned prompts in preparation for unit assessments and in development for the student’s historical manuscript (submit electronically via Turnitin/Managebac)
        1. You will receive instructions describing the nature of each unit’s manuscript entries.
        2. Authors of the the best work will be invited to submit to our unit website or other venues. Mr. T will sponsor and referee superior work for submission to online journals like the Huffington Post, Social Education and among other media outlets.
        3. The World History Association’s student essay prize will be directly targeted by our classes.
    3. Deliberation: Each unit will involve a historically based simulation/debate/deliberation. These will take the form of town hall meetings and activist gatherings in Year One and the form of Historical Security Councils and Mock Trials in Year Two.
    4. Note-taking: Students will be required to take notes and/or annotate their readings in the way that suits them best as long as the student passes all of her exit assessments and her average remains above 80%. A drop below 80% will result in a conference and the student may be required to utilize a prescribed method of note-taking.
    5. Study Guide: A revision template will be distributed in the last two weeks before any major exam.
    6. Pop Quizzes: Pop quizzes will be sprung on students randomly.
      1. 5-10 questions
      2. No points–but entered into Pinnacle w/comments. Consistent poor performance will result in parental contact.
      3. Successful pop quiz results are a key path toward earning extra privileges as a class
    7. Exit Quest 
      1. Mastery quest taken at any time during Phase 2 when the student feels ready–must achieve 75% to graduate from unit and move into Phase 3.
      2. 40 minutes-ish
      3. Multiple choice.
      4. Once each student passes the Mastery Quest and submitted all work, they are on “Study Leave” and become to free to study for their Phase 3 assessments/work on their Manuscripts according to their own personal tastes.


Phase Three: Publication, Assessment & Reflection

During the final phase of the unit students and teams will:

  1. Perhaps enjoy periods of “study leave”
  2. Publish their edited Manuscripts
  3. Write their analytical essays on the unit topics (dates will be set for full-class examinations)
    1. 2 full essays per exam
  4. Reflect on the subject individually, in groups and as a class.
    1. Including (whenever possible) an Exit Viva Voce: A final 1-1 discussion with the teacher on the unit topic. 15+ minutes.

This phase will last approximately 2 weeks.