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October 2020 BLOG

Tweaking for a better Blend

As we move forward in the coming weeks, through the dark cold months of November and December, I very quickly wanted to reflect on the journey we have been on with our blended learning policy at Crookhorn before I pass onto Adam. I am reminded of Vicci Masson during the excellent staff training she did about her course pages where she said how far the History department had come in the last 6 months and how proud she was of what they had achieved together. She also talked about how she as a parent was so impressed with what we offered compared to other institutions she has experienced. This is what I hear often- we are ahead of the curve and for some short term discomfort we will gain a huge amount in the future. Whether we like it or not, teaching is changing and evolving so we must evolve with it and I think our provision of blended learning will help us with this quest.

Over to Adam..

Through recent virtual learning walks, we have seen excellent work from many members of staff.  Their use of the plans within itslearning shows a strong understanding of the sequential planning work that was started during the March training day and continues today.

We have also seen many different styles of working that suit the subject that is being covered.

For this blog, I’d like to look at some little tweaks that will support the College’s Blended Learning protocols. 

The vision for ‘Blended Learning’ is a mix of the critical face to face teacher input in the classroom supported by the organised access to the learning resources used in lessons. It affords the possibility of additional learning resources and activities that encourage students to grow in confidence with knowledge and understanding or to learn in greater depth independently.

I’d like to look at tweaks that will allow those students working at home (or out of lessons for whatever reason) to keep-up and continue their learning, allow staff to check for understanding and offer feedback as required.  Our aim is, and always has been, a seamless blend between work in and out of the classroom.  Learning should be accessible to all students without specifically needing to set work for those who are at home.  All students should be able to look back at work they have previously completed.

This latter point changes the remote learning we were doing in the summer (where we were setting individual lessons) to a planned blended approach.

To enable student easy access of past work, please ensure that all previous plans you’ve taught have suitable dates – please see a copy of the ‘dates’ email sent 23 October at the end of the blog.

With thanks to three members of staff, I have put together a short video that will look at several tweaks we can make to future itslearning plans for the benefit of the students.  We are not asking you to go back and alter the content of previous plans, although thought should be given to this when reviewing topics and plans ready for next year.

Video link


  • Sorting the ‘activities’ with numbers
  • Clarifying PowerPoint slide numbers
  • Embedding a video clip, rather than an external link
  • Tree-linking resources for a more interactive experience
  • Ensuring all resources are available for the lesson (inc. photographs of a textbook)
  • Options for a student that does not have a printer at home


  • Adapting the ‘Big Questions’ for a more engaging hook
  • Separating homework for all and setting as a task
  • Submission for those who are not present in the lesson
  • Timings (if guidance for students is appropriate)


  • Re-word for a student-friendly approach
  • Simple formatting for a more readable look

I thoroughly recommend you looking at your course and your next plan from the student view:

and ask yourself the question – ‘If I were a student outside of your classroom, could I complete the work set for today?’

If you have the opportunity, try pairing up with a member of staff from a different subject and get them to look at your course with ‘student eyes’.

I’m currently reading Doug Lemov’s book, Teaching in the Online Classroom.  Although mainly focused for a full remote lesson, he has key tips which I believe we can take into our work:

  • ‘Simplicity…’


  • ‘Streamlined… with small highlights’

Considering these two points with the quality that we have seen in plans so far from many staff members, then I believe we can provide quality, accessible work for our students.

Copy of email sent on 23rd October:

I’ve had several people in the recent days question me on dates in the Plans of itslearning, with concerns that students can’t see previous plans (which is incorrect).  So can I please try to clarify for you:

  • The dates of a plan should be the dates when you are actually teaching that work – this will ensure that only your current work will appear on the Overview page of the course (where we’ve told students to look)
    • If your plan is a single lesson, then this should span 1 day only.  (I select the default of 8 am on the day and 9 am the next)
    • If your plan is a component spanning several lessons, select the start date as the first lesson and stop date after the last lesson.

    • The plan will ‘activate’ (be visible to the students) when the start date is reached
    • Plans with no dates, or start dates in the future, are not visible to the students (unless you’ve manually activated them)
    • Activated plans are always available to the students, even if the stop date has passed – next July, students will be able to scroll back through all their learning for the whole year.
      • This is done through the Plans tab in your course.
      • Students have the same drop-down options as staff do to view plans; from different weeks, topics, all or today.

These details went out to parents as a parent mail-in video format at the beginning of October.  We have further plans to send these details out again at the start of November and for PSHE teachers to have a session to go through this with their groups.

If you’d like a video refresher of the student view – please revisit the ‘student view’ training video from the September training day: