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Teachers, school systems get creative with blended learning

The in-person/virtual hybrid instruction method has its advantages and disadvantages.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — When Chesapeake schools decided to phase in-person instruction back into local schools, they did so with an option for parents: families can choose whether to send students back to school or remain virtual. This has created classrooms full of each, and has spawned a new instruction method known as "blended learning."

"Each day in class I've got about 10 students. I call them my roomies. Then we've got Zoomies here on the computer who join us. All do the same notes," said Chesapeake math teacher Delaney Bon, describing her new normal. 

Bon said all of those students share the same virtual chat, and that many have benefitted from the anonymity that this affords. 

"That's the benefit of blended learning. They like it because they don't have to raise their hand, they can just anonymously post questions and don't have to feel embarrassed," she said, even noting that it may be beneficial for certain students to remain virtual even after COVID has subsided. 

Bon has introduced "first five-minute" sessions for students to express themselves, and daily would you rather questions to retain students attention. She's not alone as she adapts, however, with the City of Chesapeake pitching in. 

"I also have this really cool tracking camera that basically I can stand up and walk around the room like I normally would," said Bon, making sure to note that she has been spooked by the new device once or twice. 

Blended learning isn't scary for everyone, "For some kids, virtual learning has been incredible. Some who have never found success in math until now because they can take it at their own pace, there is the added benefit of more one on one time," she said.