E10 - The Magic of Blended Learning with Mekel Bromley

Episode Music Credits:  Old Love Instrumental by Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, 100% Clearance through Musicbed 

On this episode of Blending In, I’m chatting with Mekel Bromley, a dynamic 4th grade teacher from Hemet Elementary School.  Mekel, like me, comes from a long line of educators and after exploring careers outside of education, she realized that her calling was in the classroom.  She has taught internationally in South Korea as well as in several schools here in the States.  As the STEAM Coordinator on her school site, Mekel strives to integrate STEAM practices wherever possible. Listen in on our chat today as Mekel shares how she makes the magic of STEAM and blended learning happen in her classroom.

Mekel makes the magic happen by offering students voice and choice, treating her students as a “classroom family” and developing a shared Class Constitution.  When it comes to non-essential tasks, she provides the “must do” requirements, but she allows her students to provide the “may do” opportunities that include technology - coding, games, etc.  She utilizes Google Forms to solicit feedback from her students on how they want to be rewarded and praised. 

Mekel's STEAM bulletin board

A tool that she frequently uses in her classroom to give students a voice and practice fluency is Flip (formerly known as FlipGrid).  The day I visited her classroom, Mekel was using Flip in combination with content from Wonderopolis (with the Immersive Reader accessibility component) which she loves because it engages students by tapping into their own curiosities.  As students are immersed in the content, she was also teaching her students note-taking skills using whiteboard markers and their desks.  They then transferred their notes into a summary of the main ideas of the text which she collected in a Google Form.  Finally, the students utilized Flip and Mekel’s handmade recording studio boxes to record and share their learning with their peers. 

Student listening to an informational text on Wonderopolis

Student utilizing Immersive Reader on Wonderopolis

Mekel's Recording Studio boxes that her students utilize with Flip

Above: Classroom Digital Writing  |  Below: Reading Rope Bulletin Board

Mekel has even gotten her other grade level teachers on board with using Flip with students who are working towards completing a 50 book challenge!  Weekly, Mekel and her team meet to plan and find opportunities to blend in STEAM.  All of the teachers share in the workload and are on board with the technology integrations because they know it increases student engagement and motivation to do the hard work of learning.  Mekel acknowledged that the organized, collaborative planning with her team makes the job easier and provides a more equitable learning experience for all of the students across her grade level. 

When I asked about what tech platforms her students preferred, she reinforced what we already know - they like the gaming platforms like Kahoot, Gimkit, and Blooket - and Mekel stressed that she and other teachers use these platforms to reinforce what has been taught.  Google Classroom is really the “hub” for everything they do, but she mentioned the other tools that are commonly used to promote literacy are PearDeck (in Google Slides), Jamboard, and Kami which reduces the amount of paper copies that need to be generated. She mentioned how the pandemic and the forced use of technology prompted her to use tools like ScreenCastify which she admits she may otherwise never have used.  Mekel now uses a Flipped Classroom model to teach math with the ScreenCastify videos that she made, which is essentially like she has cloned herself.  She said, “It does save me time in the long run!”

Like most teachers, the best part of teaching for Mekel are those light bulb moments when they really get it.  At the end of our conversation, I asked Mekel if I could share the one-pager that she provided the day I visited her classroom with the Riverside County Digital Learning team so here it is: Mekel Bromley’s EdTech Integrations in her 4th Grade Classroom!

If you’d like to get in touch with Mekel to learn more about how she makes the blended learning magic happen in her classroom, you can email her at mbromley@hemetusd.org 

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