Book Reviews

Book Review: The Complete Guide to Blended Learning: Activating Agency, Differentiation, Community and Inquiry for Students

Author: April Burton (Francis Howell School District)

  • Book Review: The Complete Guide to Blended Learning: Activating Agency, Differentiation, Community and Inquiry for Students

    Book Reviews

    Book Review: The Complete Guide to Blended Learning: Activating Agency, Differentiation, Community and Inquiry for Students

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Abstract

In The Complete Guide to Blended Learning: Activating Agency, Differentiation, Community and Inquiry for Students, Catlin Tucker continues to support teacher wellness and student accountability. Unlike her previous books on blended learning, this book focuses on designing and developing a learning community that positively impacts both students and teachers. Recognizing that technology has become a mainstay in classrooms, Tucker provides recommendations that support educators in the selective use of digital tools to empower students to take an active role in their learning at all levels.

Keywords: blended learning, student agency, pedagogy

How to Cite:

Burton, A., (2024) “Book Review: The Complete Guide to Blended Learning: Activating Agency, Differentiation, Community and Inquiry for Students”, Issues and Trends in Learning Technologies 11(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/itlt.5398

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Book Review: The Complete Guide to Blended Learning: Activating Agency, Differentiation, Community and Inquiry for Students

The Complete Guide to Blended Learning: Activating Agency, Differentiation, Community and Inquiry for Students. Catlin Tucker (2022). Bloomington, Indiana, 2022. $40.95 Paperback. ISBN 978-1954631335

In her latest work The Complete Guide to Blended Learning: Activating Agency, Differentiation, Community and Inquiry for Students,author Catlin Tucker empowers teachers at all experience levels with blended learning. She dives into common blended learning strategies that combine the benefits of using technology for asynchronous learning with active, collaborative synchronous learning. Through the use of models and examples, Tucker shares the benefits of adopting various blended learning structures in classrooms of all levels. The reader is invited to use reflective questioning as a guide to adopt structures and tools to shift to student-centered learning.

Tucker encourages teachers to let go of the need to control all aspects of the learning process. She suggests that teachers partner with students to empower them to become key players in the learning environment. Throughout The Complete Guide to Blended Learning, Tucker provides example activities that engage students in developing metacognitive skills and support students in building their own self-regulation. Teachers can easily adopt these strategies in their own classrooms to create a learning environment where students and teachers share in the responsibility of working towards learning goals.

Throughout this book, readers are invited to connect blended learning and social-emotional learning. Based on the premise that students in blended learning environments take more responsibility for their learning, Tucker emphasizes the need for teachers to make time for creating a safe and supportive learning environment. Tucker includes multiple activities that teachers can incorporate into their blended learning classes in order to support the social-emotional needs of learners while also building a strong sense of community.

Developing the idea that inquiry paves the way for engaged learning, Tucker connects the process of creating cognitive presence through active engagement in blended learning. Throughout this book, she takes a unique approach to the use of the 5E instructional framework and its application to blended learning. Originally adopted in science instruction, the 5E framework is a student-centered teaching strategy that includes five phases of understanding: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. Through anecdotes and sample activities, Tucker breaks down each stage of the 5E instructional model to provide teachers with instructional strategies to use asynchronous digital tools along with synchronous face-to-face activities to develop inquiry among learners for rich, authentic learning.

While readers of Tucker’s other works will see some repetition of anecdotes and resources, this book provides new connections to blended learning and current educational trends. Readers come away with an understanding of how to address social-emotional and inquiry learning in a blended environment. Tucker has provided ready-to-go activities, some of which have been shared in her other works, to aid teachers in meeting students’ needs in these areas.

Tucker did not follow her traditional writing style of incorporating anecdotes and examples from teachers and students to support the themes in this book. Quote, ideas, and short case studies are absent from The Ultimate Guide to Blended Learning, which makes this book feel more theoretical than practical, compared to Tucker’s other books focused on blended learning.

The Ultimate Guide to Blended Learning incorporates Tucker’s expertise and passion for using blended learning to develop learning environments where teachers have the time and capacity to strengthen their learners. Citing research from educational giants such as John Dewey’s work with constructivism, Carol Dweck’s work with Growth Mindset, and John Hattie’s study of the effect size of learning environments, Tucker supports her claims that creating a student-centered learning environment results in a positive learning experience for teachers and students. Whether new to blended learning or experienced, this book offers teachers from PreK to Higher Ed strategies that they can use with students immediately.