The challenge: For some time, I just was not getting the quality of work that I expected out of some of my students. The biggest issue was how well they would provide evidence of their learning when working in each unit. I decided to return to some traditional methods in order to motivate students to improve their work. I built a "learning bar" at the end of my room and at the end of the first unit, I had the students share out their work with each other. As students could see the organizational structures that others were using, they quickly wanted to make modifications to their portfolios.
Knowing that they may share them again has inspired them to take more care in the documentation of their work. I have been slowly weaning them from this process and am providing more autonomy as the course progresses.
When you shift to blended learning with multiple courses in the same room, it becomes very easy to completely abandon traditional pedagogy and become a floater in the room. The one on one connections become very powerful and quite effective. Students soon are at different places in their work and so large group dialogues become more of a challenge. It was like I went from one extreme to another... chalk and talk, to complete student ownership. As a result, some of the more challenged learners were producing very little. I decided to make a conscious effort to pull the small groups together in the first few units and the results have been impressive. Students could see other student's work and make adjustments to their own. The overall quality of work has improved significantly. Students have learned how to document their learning more effectively and are showing greater ability to self regulate when working independently.
Side note: I went to buy one of these tables. I think it was called a media conference table. They wanted $1200. I got two pieces of Plywood, a shop teacher and built the top. Found shelving at home depot and the stools online dirt cheap. A little paint and it was done. I connected the TV to an Apple TV. I use airdisplay to project my desktop onto the TV. Found a cheap bluetooth typing surface and a new bluetooth piano keyboard. I found an ipad app called "Notiion" and use that to teach theory... works like a white board but for music!