Experiential Learning in a F2F classroom! What type of learning works best for your classroom?



The three types of instruction that can be “observed” in classrooms across the United States are Face to Face/ Traditional instruction, Hybrid instruction and Online instruction. 

Ball, Mosca, and Paul III (2013) define face to face/traditional instruction as, “The traditional method of teaching a course involves the instructor transmitting knowledge and information to the students. The instructors spend a considerable amount of time developing lecture materials in an attempt to enhance the material to maintain student focus and spark interest” (p. 74). Also during face-to-face instruction, the only activities that are done outside of class is homework and technology may or may not be part of the course, depending on the teacher.

One of the techniques that I believe works best in my classroom in regards to face-to-face instruction is through experiential learning. David Kolb’s experiential learning theory states that, “learning is a cognitive process involving constant adaption to, and engagement with, one’s environment. Individuals create knowledge from experience rather than just from received instruction. Conflicts, disagreements, and differences drive the learning process as learrners move between modes of action, reflection, feeling and thinking” (Bergsteiner, Avery, and Neumann, 2010, p. 30). As stated, Kolb’s experiential learning theory is divided into four modes: feeling, watching, thinking, doing. (Academy of Art University, n.d.). Each mode has learner characteristics that define each mode, however, when combined, there are many positive implications for teaching and learning. In my classroom, experiential learning can be seen through labs, whether they are cooking labs or sewing labs. Cooking labs are considered group work and would be classified under “feeling” for Kolb’s theory, however, the learning targets for the lab are so in depth that the students experience all four modes of feeling, watching, thinking doing.

Currently, my 6th and 7th grade students are in their Foods unit and my 8th graders are in their Sewing unit. Both units require the students to take action and be more responsible. Also, when the labs (experiential learning) are going on and are completed, I have noticed that my students have made stronger and more meaningful connections to the content. Overall, experiential learning theories allow students to take ownership of their learning, which as a result, makes them more successful.

Ball et al. (2013) define hybrid instruction as the goal being “provide moderate-to-high degrees of access and flexibility while offering the potential for moderate-to-high dialogue and low-to-moderate structure” (p. 73). Hybrid instruction is also known as “blended learning” because it combines online learning and face-to-face instruction.

One of the techniques that I think is very beneficial to use for hybrid instruction is critical thinking. Brightman (2001) writes, “John Dewey defined critical thinking as ‘reflective thought’- to suspend judgment, maintain a healthy skepticism, and exercise an open mind” (para. 2). Hybrid learning, or blended learning, being that is part face-to-face instruction and part online, I think that critical thinking activities whether it be online or in the classroom, need to be incorporated into the class. I think that critical thinking activities give students a better understanding of the activity that they are doing and allows them to also explore their own ideas and create their own opinions about certain things. Personally, I am not a big advocate for hybrid learning because I was in a very unsuccessful hybrid course during my undergraduate time. We were actually “hybrid learning guinea pigs” and it was a mess. We were more online than anything else and then when we were in the classroom, everything was very unstructured and I found myself many times asking myself, “Was this really worth the drive?”

However, I am going to try to incorporate hybrid learning in my learning activity with my 8th graders when they create their menus online. Students will be required to create their own menu for a  restaurant that they create. Students will have to create a full menu, determine menu prices using their knowledge of unit pricing, and design their menu to be printed. This project builds off the previous knowledge that the students obtained in seventh grade on basic menu creation. Originally, I designed the project to be simply face to face, however, there is a lot of useful information that my students can get from the internet that will benefit them with their project. I know that if I use this technique with my students, the learning experience will be more beneficial for them.

Lastly, Kaymak and Horzum define online learning as, “gaining knowledge and skills through sychronous and asychronous learning applications which are written, communicated, active, supported, and managed with the use of internet technology” (p. 1792). One of the techniques that I think is beneficial for online learning is both critical thinking and discussion. From my experience so far with online learning, I have found discussions to be very beneficial to learning where I find myself thinking about what other people “spoke” about throughout the week. However, the only negative that I see with discussion is that with bigger classes, your discussions are not consistent or sometimes are not even acknowledged. If the discussion is optional, then I believe that the discussion is not as beneficial as it could potentially be, however, when discussions are going on, it brings in the critical thinking portion and really advances the learning for everyone. 

Watch this video for some more information about face to face learning vs online learning—- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ni9Meh_QinQ . What are your thoughts on Face to Face learning vs Online Learning? What do you think will work best for your classroom and why? 


Academy of Art University. (n.d.) David Kolb’s experiential learning. Retrieved from  http://faculty.academyart.edu/resource/kolb.html

Ball, D., Mosca, J., & Paul III, D. (2013). Evaluating the effectiveness of audio in hybrid courses. American Journal of Business Education, 6(1), 73-84.

Bergsteiner, H., Avery, G., & Neumann, R. (2010). Kolb’s experiential learning model: critique from a modeling perspective. Studies in Continuing Education,32(1), 29-46. doi:10.1080/01580370903534355

Brightman, H. (2001). GSU: Master teacher program on critical thinking. Retrieved from  http://www2.gsu.edu/~dschjb/wwwcrit.html

Kaymak, Z., & Horzum, M. (2013). Relationship between online learning readiness and structure and interaction of online learning students. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 13(3), 1792-1797. doi:10.12738/estp.2013/3/1580


COPs vs PLCs

COPs, also known as “communities of practice” are defined as, “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wenger, n.d., para. 4). 

PLCs, also known as “professional learning communities” are defined as, “a group of teachers who meet regularly, setting goals and committing to a shared educational vision” (Adams, 2009, para. 3, p. 28).

From reading both definitions, it appears that COPs and PLCs are very similar in concept. Both groups support learning in a group environment and allow members of the group to speak freely and have their ideas and opnions heard.

COPs and PLCs also support teaching because depending on the type of group that somebody is in, teachers are allowed the opportunity to enhance their skills by discussing different techniques and situations. One of the positive things about being involved in COPs and PLCs in regards to teaching is that if you are in a group with teachers who are in the same content area or same grade level as you, you are given the ability to discuss different ideas and strategies with one another. 

It is difficult for me as a Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher in my district because I am the only teacher in both of my buildings and the other FACS teachers in the district do not get together for meetings….we do not even have a supervisor. The most exposure I have had to working in a PLC/COP was when I was doing my TEAM program for the state. My mentor was another FACS teacher in the city and we were able to bounce ideas off of one another.

 PLCs and COPs that are established via technology enhance the community and overall experience. When technology is used, it allows people in the PLC/COP to interact with other people throughout the world, making their PLC/COP that much more beneficial. It allows the “learners” to gather even more resources and make even more connections with others.

One of the PLCs that uses technology that I have found very beneficial is Twitter.When I first joined Twitter I was very skeptical of using this system, however the more I searched for different users and hashtags, I found more information that became valuable to me. Also, one of the things that gets me excited and fascinates me about Twitter is the fact that there are so many Family and Consumer Sciences teachers on Twitter. I keep getting notifications that I have a new follower and when I look, I find out that I am being followed by other Family and Consumer Sciences teachers across the United States! This is so exciting to me because I have never really associated/communicated with other FACS teachers because there are not many of us. It is so beneficial to be able to go onto Twitter and see what the other teachers are doing, re-tweet some of their activities, and tweet to them asking them questions, etc. 

COPs and PLCs can also be used in the classroom via blogging. There are various SAFE blogging sites for students that allows them to blog within their own class, connect with other classes in their building, and other classes throughout the state and beyond. 

Overall, COPs and PLCs can be very beneficial to all. In my past experience, I have found cooperative groups to be beneficial ONLY when I am able to control what groups I am in, what I am learning, etc. With the incorporation of technology, I am allowed the opportunity to do so and get better results.

What kind of COPs and/or PLCs are you using and how beneficial are they to you?


Adams, C. (2009). The power of collaboration. Instructor, 119 (1), 28-31.

Wenger, E. (n.d.). Communities of practice: a brief introduction. Retrieved from 


The Words I would Say…

I had a completely “off” day at school today. It could have been due to the fact that there were no kids and we had professional development all day…who knows.

As we sat and did our SLOs and started uploading our evaluation material onto the computer, I just didn’t feel like myself. Looking through everything I had written on paper and reflecting on my students and their behaviors, etc I just asked myself, “Am I REALLY being as effective as I think I am?” I sat there and tried to think of the positives and I had nothing but negative things to say about myself and my teaching.

As I sat at my desk and blankly stared at my papers, my principal walked in my room just to chat. Next thing you know, he walks over to my window and looks out at the street activity and I blurt out, “I am completely overwhelmed right now.” Completely confused, he looked at me and said, “What do you mean? How so?” I tried explaining to him my thoughts and he had nothing but positives to say about me and my teaching.

As much as I should have walked away from that conversation feeling better…..I didn’t. 

The rest of the day I just went through the motions and got my work done and did what I had to do. 

On my way home, I was changing the stations on my Sirius XM radio and came across this song that spoke volumes to me. It was as if I was supposed to hear this song on my ride home. 


Check out the link above to the video with the lyrics. It’s helping me a bit.

For all I know, somebody reading this can be feeling somewhat similar.

Well wishes,