HTA is widely considered to be a leader in the blended learning model of education - a model that combines face-to-face instruction, virtual instruction, and independent learning. HTA’s blended learning program uses technology to seamlessly connect students to certified teachers, regardless of where the students’ learning spaces may be. Some might wonder how a blended learning model, in which students experience fewer hours of face-to-face time with their teachers each week, can provide the high level of relational teaching and connectedness that parents value in a traditional brick and mortar school. Here at HTA we have seen that one of the many real benefits of a technology driven community has been a marked increase in the human element of education - that personal touch that many parents consider so vital in the overall education of their children. This is where tech meets tradition at HTA, and our families have reaped the benefits!
At HTA, synchronous learning in virtual classrooms, along with adaptive teacher-created curriculum delivered through online platforms for independent learning, complement face-to-face time. This creates a comprehensive education program that combines the best of both traditional and cutting-edge, technological worlds. Our students receive targeted instruction because teachers are able to personalize learning through technology and the flexible scheduling that is inherent in a blended learning model. Suddenly the limited face-to-face time that teachers have with students increases its value, and classes are engaging and purposeful. Virtual classrooms and independent learning allow for the more traditional, direct dissemination of information to also take place outside of the school's four walls. This paves the way for an abundance of collaborative, hands-on learning activities to take precedence in HTA’s face-to-face classes.
By using technology to streamline many of the time consuming processes of the traditional education model, students and parents receive a more personalized education experience. Students who need more support or more enrichment are just a Google Hangout away from personalized teaching and learning. Even our parent Learning Coaches, who have an active role - a partnership - in the education of their children, benefit from the timely interaction and support a technology driven learning community can provide. The traditional desire for effective parent-teacher communication is satisfied even more effectively through technology. No more waiting for those returned phone calls or emails! Parents have the opportunity to interact daily with teachers in the student’s Personalized Learning Profile (PLP), a digital collection of goals, reflections, artifacts, data, and evidence that tells each student’s unique story. This leads to an authentic parent-teacher partnership in which the parents and teachers are working together to support and enhance the student’s overall learning. A blended learning model, where tech meets tradition, is truly the future of learning!
One overarching goal that transcends educational models is that students, throughout the course of their education, would become college and career ready. By the nature of our blended learning program, HTA students develop strong communication and organization skills necessary for success in college and beyond. Although it might seem like technology would create a physical barrier between humans, in many cases the purposeful and meaningful use of technology at HTA actually enhances communication and teacher-student-parent interaction. Students who may struggle in the area of oral communication seem to flourish in the virtual setting! Parents also report that they feel more supported and connected because the use of technology for daily communication is so ingrained in the culture of a blended learning school like HTA.
Children who have been brought up during this age of digital technology - digital natives - thrive in our technology-based program. It is no surprise that many students at HTA have a passion for technology outside of its application to their academic work. Though this emphasis on technology differs, in many ways, from the traditional school setting, a blended learning program maintains the value and appeal of the traditional educational model. Since students work online from home part of the week, they have ample time to also pursue their passions outside of school. The traditional idea of developing well-rounded, multi-dimensional students is only enhanced when tech meets tradition in a school like HTA! In a blended learning model, virtual teaching and independent learning comes with flexibility that allows students additional time to be athletes, artists, and involved in community organizations, instead of being bound to the physical restrictions of a five day per week, brick and mortar school.
Blended learning is truly the future of learning, and we are proud that Hawaii Technology Academy is pioneering this education model here in Hawaii. It’s no wonder that HTA is Hawaii’s largest public charter school, serving over 1,000 students across Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai!
Are you seeking a different kind of school? A place where flexibility and accountability go hand in hand? A place where tech meets tradition? Discover Hawaii Technology Academy - a community embracing the challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow.
When it comes to learning spaces, there is no one size fits all. From cozy apartments to expansive compounds, living spaces come in as many sizes and shapes as the humans who occupy them. While creating a dedicated learning space in a large home certainly allows for many options, it is also quite easy to establish a functional learning zone in even the smallest of spaces by keeping these three essential “S’s” in mind: site, storage, and students.
When a home’s space is limited, the natural inclination is to allow a student to work in his or her bedroom. However, the importance of removing the learning zone from the bedroom cannot be underestimated. Asking a student to remain focused in the same room that houses toys, games, clothes, and any number of entertainment options (not to mention a cozy bed and pillows) is like trying to fit ten pounds of rice into a five pound bag. This is especially true for middle and high school students.
Whether it be the kitchen table, a small desk in the hallway, or a functional closet outfitted with a desk-height shelf, a quiet learning site separate from the distractions of the bedroom will lead to greater concentration and dedication to the task of learning. Take a few moments to look around your home. Is there an empty corner somewhere that could fit a small corner table? Can your living room be rearranged so that a desk can be added behind the sofa? Does your hallway seem just wide enough to add a narrow work table of sorts? Is that linen closet only half full? While the kitchen is always an option, any space can become a learning space with a bit of creativity and a trip to the local thrift store!
Make no doubt about it, storage is vital to the home learning space. Having the necessary supplies and manipulatives on hand and easily accessible is essential to independent learning. There is nothing worse than preparing to begin a science experiment with your student and realizing that you have no idea where you’ve placed the magnifying glass that was shipped to you! Storing materials and supplies in a centralized, organized space will go a long way toward ensuring that daily lessons are completed in a timely manner.
In a small space with limited storage, take a few moments to look up - and then look down. Look up. Do you have wall space available? An empty wall with a shelf installed strategically at the Learning Coach’s height is perfect for hands-on manipulatives that are strictly reserved for lesson time. Do you have an entertainment center in your living room? Baskets placed on top become storage areas by subject. Now look down - can you slide a storage container under the couch? If so, label it “science supplies” and never again wonder where you’ve stored the magnet you’ll need two months from now. Is your learning space in the kitchen? That low cabinet that you have to strain your back to access is the perfect storage space for little ones who are independent and eager enough to access their own supplies.
The ideas and options for storage are so extensive that an entire article in the “Plan Your Space” summer series will be devoted to this very topic. When it comes to storage in small spaces, keep it simple but functional. Aim for organization over beauty. The more organized and accessible your manipulatives and supplies, the smoother your independent learning days will be.
Here is the good news - if you are the Learning Coach of a school-aged student, you already have this “S” covered. A ready and willing student is all the better! Did you know that there is a strong correlation between student engagement and student achievement? This correlation remains strong for all grade levels and across all subject areas. Engaging students in the process of planning the learning space can help students take greater ownership of the learning process, experience greater success, and build excitement for the year to come.
Spend time with your student planning the site and storage for the year ahead. Make it an event to look forward to by scheduling a family night to plan your space, complete with special snacks and treats! This time spent preparing for the school year ahead will go a long way toward your student enjoying big learning in small spaces for months to come.
We, at HTA, value our Learning Coaches as vital partners in the education of children. We are committed to providing ongoing support as you plan and create your student’s learning zone. Small, medium, or large - the learning space is vital to a student’s success in a blended learning environment. Thank you for letting HTA partner with you as you continue the important task of of creating a functional learning place in your own unique space.
We would love to see photos of your family’s planning night on social media! Share them by using the hashtag #hta_PlanYourSpace and tag HTA on Instagram (@htacharter), Facebook (@HawaiiTechnologyAcademyHTA), or Twitter (@htacharter).
HTA has a new online place to help you “Plan Your Space!” Follow HTA’s new Home Learning Spaces Pinterest Board for ideas for creating functional learning spaces. Be sure to check back weekly as we update the board to coordinate ideas with our “Plan Your Space” articles. https://www.pinterest.com/htacharter/home-learning-spaces/
1 Dyer, Kathy. "Research Proof Points – Better Student Engagement Improves Student Learning #Edchat". Teach. Learn. Grow.. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 June 2017.
Summer. The word conjures up images of sandy beaches, cookouts, volleyball games, and time spent with friends and family enjoying all that our beautiful Hawaiian islands have to offer. Though May has just disappeared from the top of the calendar, here at HTA we are already thinking of how to make our top-notch program even more amazing for the 2017-2018 school year. This includes finding new ways to help our families thrive in the blended learning model that HTA offers.
We know that our HTA Ohana loves the flexibility that face-to-face, virtual, and independent learning offers. That flexibility comes with additional areas of responsibility for teachers, students, and Learning Coaches alike. One such area for our students and Learning Coaches is the home learning space. The importance of the home learning space to the overall success of a student cannot be underestimated, and though we are only now checking off the early days of June, it’s never too early to begin thinking about your home learning space!
HTA offers a true partnership between teachers and parent Learning Coaches. True to our commitment to this partnership, we are excited about helping our families create home learning spaces that will suit the unique budgets and homes of individual families.
For the next seven weeks, join us on social media and our Honu Heartbeat blog as we provide tips and tricks for creating functional home learning spaces for students. Each week, we will be offering new ideas to inspire you as you begin thinking about the “how,” “what” and “where” of your home learning space. Later this summer, we will offer you the opportunity to share your space (#hta_ShareYourSpace) on our social media platforms, with the opportunity to win HTA swag, like hats and t-shirts.
Follow us on Facebook (@hawaiitechnologyacademyHTA) and Instagram(@htacharter) so you won’t miss out on these helpful posts - and feel free to share your ideas with the entire HTA Ohana, too! This summer, let HTA inspire you to plan your space (#hta_PlanYourSpace) as you prepare for the exciting year of learning ahead.