!!!!Major Takeaways!!!!

There were several key takeaways I could talk about in terms of getting the opportunity to create an online prototype course! I would say though that there are three major takeaways that stuck out most for me. Keep reading to learn more about them!

Collaboration!!! Collaboration!!! Collaboration!!! The opportunity to collaborate with fellow teachers and classmates might have been the best experience of this whole process. It is so easy to feel stressed, lost and overwhelmed in our profession.

The important lesson I got here is that working together and collaboration is KEY when creating a new unit, lesson, or even course.  Creating and coming up with a course myself would have been very challenging. Working with both Kyla and Colette allowed me to open my eyes to new ways of doing things at the same time gaining confidence to try new things. There were a couple of apps that I have never used before that we incorporated into our unit. Without my peers teaching me how to use these specific apps, and how to navigate the apps, I may have not considered trying them on my own!

The next key takeaway I took from this is experience is just understanding the process of how to set up an online blended course, or at least in a basic way. I am very early in my career, and with having an inclusive ed certificate, and soon to be masters, I have no idea where my career might take me. Doing this assignment has definitely allowed me to become at least

familiar with the applications and programs available if I were ever to take on the role of an online/blended learning teacher.

Lastly, this is more of a reflective takeaway rather than a skill. Getting the opportunity to critically analyze online applications, sites, and extensions have been a great experience. Technology is changing ALLLL the time, and so even though I may not use the same apps we are using and talking about now in the future, I have the many skills on how to actually analyze and critique the applications, sites, and extensions

I could potentially use in the future.

Overall, I learned many things from this opportunity to make an online course prototype. My goal is to be able to incorporate similar aspects of this course into my own classroom. I am always looking for new ways to engage and motivate students so they can learn to the best of their ability.

Thanks for reading! I hope you got as much as I did out of this opportunity!

 

Final Overview of Your Course Prototype

An overview of your Course Prototype

The focus of our unit is “Bullying”, a novel study with grade 7 and 8 students across 3 different schools. There are a variety of novels which we hope will engage all students at their own reading levels. Throughout this Online/Blended learning experience, we are going to use technology which enables us to connect with the other schools as well as within our own building contexts. Each student has a specific teacher they will working with in regards to their assigned novel. Their connected teacher could be a teacher from a different school, but the classroom teacher is also there to support each student in their classroom environment. Students will report weekly via weekly blog on their section of the novel. They will also complete a creative component pertaining to that section of reading. In addition, there will be a weekly online discussion forum(chat) on each section of the novel. Students will be reporting to the teacher in charge of the novel, to which they have been assigned. This allows for diversity of needs as well as connectivity of students outside of the classroom.

Final Course Complete Overview

Please use the attached link to check out the final course overview.

https://onlineunit.home.blog/category/course-description/

Feedback we Received

We had a fantastic time developing and creating this course as a group. Although we all teach different grade groups, we picked a topic that is very relevant to all of us. We got some amazing feedback from people this semester. We used and reflected on this constructive feedback to make out course even better. Check out the link below for some of the feedback we received.

Amy C, Colette, and Kyla O(1)

Our Course Prototype!

Lastly, feel free to check out our course. Hope you enjoy. Let us know how you likes it!

https://onlineunit.home.blog/

Amy, Kyla O, Colette

Google Suites & More

Credit

My school division does there very best to provide us teachers with as much technology as they can! In my own classroom, I have 5 Ipads, and two computers and a projector. In addition, my school has 4 computer carts in which teachers can sign out through a google doc—-which is funny, because google docs is going to be the main topic of this weeks blog! With technology we do have available to us, I have used google classroom in the past.

I have really really enjoy enjoyed using google classroom for many reasons. I used it mostly when I taught grade 7/8 however did have some of my grade ¾ class use it.  First, students loved going online and doing their work. The idea of going on a laptop instead of doing an assignment on on helped students be more engaged. Even if it was a topic or subject they did not enjoy, they would still put some effort into because it was on the “computer”. Next, I taught in a community school and many of the children I taught had learning difficulties. Many including writing. Google classroom helped them get their ideas down as they were able to type it, rather than struggle with writing it on paper. As well, students who had trouble with reading, there is something called read and write. Read and write will actually read what’s on the page to the students. This element was extremely helpful for those struggling readers.  Third, I was able to easily keep track of students work. Tracking the progress of students work and seeing where students are at was definitely a bonus. I used this information to either give students additional support, or to make something more challenging. In addition, when it came to marking, I could easily locate it and see who has completed the assignment as well who not. Lastly, I use google docs myself. I am a huge fan of it and have used it most of my university career. I liked that I could access my documents and presentation from any device. Overall, I have enjoyed what Google Suites has had to offer to me personally, as well my students!

In saying that, I would really like to try new types of technology in the classroom. In our own course prototype, we use something called Kidsblog. Kyla give a great description of it in her own blog. She describes it by saying:

Kidblog provides K-12 teachers with tools to safely publish student writing. Teachers can monitor all activity within a community of authors. Posts can even be public, but nothing goes live until a teacher approves it. Kidblog empowers students to write with a meaningful purpose for a real audience. Connect with other classes down the hallway, across your district, or around the world. Students practice digital citizenship within a secure environment. KidBlog is a new resource we have not accessed so we wanted to use something that was safe, free, and easily accessible for our students” (Kyla)

I think this would be an awesome tool to use!! I love blogging myself, so teaching my students how to blog is something I can see myself doing!

Flipgrid is another cool tool that I have used in a couple courses with Alec. One of my favourite parts about this tool in term of online learning is that it’s a great way to put a face to a name, and really get to know someone in an online format. Sapna discusses flip grid in her post this week and she described it really well. “FlipGrid is an easy way to pose a question and have people respond via videos. It can be used within many of the most widely used LMSs, so students do not have to set up a separate account on FlipGrid or navigate to a different place. Finally assigned teachers will give feedback and provide guides by tracing each students’ Flipgrid video” (Sapna).

Overall, I think online blended learning is super important important, as well incorporating some aspects of blended learning into a general style classroom. The benefits definitely outweigh the negatives if the technology is used properly in the class.

Thanks for reading:) I looking forward to reading your post this week.

Evaluation Reflection

Thank you to everyone who had the opportunity to evaluate our online/blended course. We were able to get some great constructive feedback and utilized it to make our blended online course even more engaging, and better than it was! Read below for our reflection:)

The feedback we are reflecting/commenting on included the following:

  • Does it excite students or engage them differently?
  • Does the complexity of what you are doing combined with three classrooms full of “strangers” have a negative impact on student learning?
  • What to do if people are not aware of how to use the programs?
  • Timetable for student due dates
  • Missing vocabulary (word study)
  • Add reference to YoTeach

Differentiated learning is a huge part of twenty-first century teaching. Typically doing Literature Circles in one classroom means that one teacher is in charge of 5 books with different groups in the classrooms. By having one teacher in charge of one book, this can deepen the students learning because it limits the amount of interchanging teachers have to complete. Teachers are not splitting their time up with each novel group, s/he focuses on one novel and the students within that grouping. Splitting the novel up among 3 schools allows for smaller groupings for teachers and students to work with. We could also include our teacher librarians which would allow teachers to have even smaller groups, this would also open up more book choices as well. This way if students need a challenge, teachers can add content, challenge the creative component, ask higher level thinking questions, or if students need some differentiation, there are several options we could implement.  Examples of this include: having audio books, using speech to text, or Google Read and Write(prediction tools, dictionary, etc.)

We do not believe there is a negative impact on student learning by working with strangers. We think this can engage those students who are introverts because it gives them a space where they can engage in conversations about their novel without the restrictions of being face to face. In addition, we feel that it provides students with a goal each week and there are specific apps that can allow us to view the progress of our students. If we see that a student is struggling with their online posts, individual teachers can speak with those students and encourage them along the way. With YoTeach for example, teachers can print out the discussion forum and you can track what students are commenting throughout each week. This can track student engagement and involvement. In addition, because they do now know who they are working with and who they are speaking too, they are more confident in terms of what they are sharing online.

Organization of structure for students could also be added to the course itself. Something like adding Google calendar would really help students stay on track as well to remind them on important due dates. Google calendar is super easy to use and could be accessed on a personal device as well online. It can be shared among all the members in the reading groups and anyone can be given the permissions to add to the calendar itself. As well, depending on the difficulty of the novel, a word study could be added to each module. Reviewing and going over important words that will be used in the chapters will help students comprehend the book deepening their understanding of the questions being asked of them. In addition, getting each leveled group together at the end of the unit would be a great culmination! Just being together and chatting with both the strengths and challenges of the unit can create some great, constructive, and important conversation between the students.

There are many different tools being utilized within this online blended course. If students have limited knowledge of these tools, mini lessons should be given prior to the beginning of the unit. This way, students will be confident using the different types of tools and technology being used in the class.  If needed, there are videos below that would support teachers if they were unfamiliar with the platforms provided.

Adobe Spark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2oyYMTjDQg

Yo Teach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6m6BErGnLU

Postermywall: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwrSwNZoWDg

KidBlog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSQ_MXfPisw

Google Read and Write: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwC_hJ7KmAg

YoTeach-  The Classroom teacher goes over questions that will be addressed in the live chat prior to the chat. This gives students the opportunity to see the videos, focus their thinking and then engage in the chat.  Teacher who is leading YoTeach then puts the questions into the YoTeach forum, then students answer them in the live chat.

We have completed more than the required modules for this assignment.  We hope that you can use what we have constructed and to continue to build on to it as we will.  Bullying is a topic that should be taught at all grade levels. We believe this unit, with different novels, could be used from grade  4 and up.

Thanks again,

Amy, Kyla O, Colette

Project-Based Learning…..

Much like John Dewey, William H, Kilpatrick believed in progressive education, or as Kilpatrick referred to it, the project-based approach.

I may sound silly admitting this but I did not realize there was so much research behind project-based learning. As well, the popularity of it all around the world. I guess I did not ever correlate

Dewey’s idea of progressive education to project-based learning. After reflection, I can see how the two are closely connected.  In saying that, Dewey’s (1938) idea of progressive education includes an “emphasize on experiment, experience, purposeful learning, freedom and other well-known concepts of progressive education….(p.3).”

Whereas, Katz and Chard (2013), define project-based learning as “an extended in-depth investigation of a topic, ideally one worthy of the child’s attention, time, and energy” (p.98).  With that, you can see how they can be related. Katz and Chard (2013), also admit

that projects can be done as a class, in a small group, or even individually. Prior to reading this article, it was my belief and understanding that older grades should more so focus on the idea of project-based learning. I had not really thought of or knew the benefits of implementing project-based units in younger grades. Most of my teaching experience includes teaching grades ¾. OF course, I have engaged my students’ very small and very structured projects here and there, but nothing too large, or purely inquiry based. I think my worry has always been that students need, especially at age 3/4, much more guidance and instruction, or as Katz and Chard (2013) refer to is as, systematic instruction. As well, the time it takes to do project-based learning has always been a concern for me. I usually asked myself… What if this takes to long? What if it does not hit the outcome I need it to?

However, after reading the article, I think I need to allow my students to explore more on their own, and let THEM become more of a facilitator when it comes to project time in the classroom. As Katz and Chard(2013) put it, “the teacher’s role is more consultative than instructional. The teacher facilitates the progress of the work by guiding and monitoring the children’s progress” (p.99). As well, I learned about the many benefits of project-based learning that students can experience in terms of academically. Katz and Chard(2013) also talk about the theoretical rationale of project learning.

The four learning goals, knowledge, skill, dispositions, and feelings are all skills we need to work on in the classroom as it is. For example, for feelings, a sense of belonging is HUGE in a classroom. Who wants to be in a classroom where they don’t feel they belong. Project-based learning can help students achieve this goal, whereas one might not realize it can.

I also appreciated how this article describes how to implement a project approach, as well the phases the approach consists of. Most of the steps leading up to the project including selecting the topic solely depending on the child. Katz and Chards (2013) state that “many factors contribute to the appropriateness of a topic. Much depends on the characteristics of the particular group of children, the teacher’s knowledge, and experiences related to the topic of his or her interests, in it, the local resources available, the larger context of the school and community, and the various mixes of all these factors” (p.103). This is my favorite aspect of the project approach. Students are able to be part of the deciding factor of their learning! When reading this I was trying to figure out how this would look in a young elementary classroom. As I continued reading, I realized that there was an example of what the project approach looks like in a kindergarten room. The topic was the experience of buying shoes. The teacher still had to organize everything, however, children were still able to choose one of five groups, all relating to buying and owning a shoe. She even had an opportunity for the parents to come in. What a great idea. I am always looking for new ways to engage parents in

my students learning. After the project was completed, “the children became interested in new kinds of play. They wanted to explore the bus travel that had begun during the shoe project as some customers “came to town” to buy shoes using the local transit system” (p.111). After reading this, I definitely have a more clear picture of how I can use this type of learning in my grade 3 classroom.

Overall, I have a better understanding of the benefits of project-based learning. In the future, I am going to try to be less worried about systematic instruction (within reason), covering curricular outcomes, as well as the time it takes to complete a project. I will more optimistic about all the possibilities and doors that project-based learning can open for our students.

References

Katz, L., & Chard, S. (2013). The project approach: An introduction. In J.L. Roopnarine & J.E. Johnson (Eds.), Approaches to early childhood education. New York: Pearson.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Collier.

 

Strengths and Misconceptions of Blended learning

This class have been great in terms of learning about all the online platforms that can be used for a blended course. I am always looking for new ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. Not only can I use these platforms to be an online teacher, but I can also make use of them in my current classroom. We have also discussed some of the strengths and limitations of online blended learning and the platforms. I stumbled upon a great article that addressed 8  strengths and benefits teaching taking and teaching blended courses. It was a great overview of what we have already learned in the class as well introduced a couple new ideas. The 8 benefits includes creating relevance, building skill levels, making mobile learning tools available, meeting individual student needs, setting goals, making instruction and content clear, creating authentic tasks, as well engaging disengaged students.

My overall favorite strength of blended learning is definitely being able to meet individual needs. Especially with the challenges classroom teachers are faced with today. I have had students in the past in which only could use a google platform for any type of writing an assignment. For other students, I find that technology enriches their learning and helps them become more engaged with the topic learned in class.

As well, another favorite aspect of blended learning of mine is the fact that it can offer much more than what traditional classrooms can. I could not agree more with Dean when he states “that In fact, an online environment could provide many opportunities that a traditional classroom just can’t afford. One such advantage would be the ability to work at one’s own pace.” As well, I appreciated Melinda comment in her blog about the pace and freedom in which students have when in a blended course. She states “the benefit of this online program is that students can study at their own pace completing an assessment at the end of each week. There is also a peer-to-peer system included, where they provide each other with feedback.” Great point Melinda!

Upon my research, I also found an interesting article about 6 misconceptions of online blended learning. One misconception I found interesting is that some people believe that online learning reduces social interactions as well reduces the amount interaction with peers. However, according to Dr. Tammy Stephens, “students in online courses designed this way frequently

report they have more social interactions with their peers than they do in traditional, face-to-face courses.” So therefore, depending how you set up the online blended course, students could actually spend more time interacting with classmates. Another misconception is that blended, hybrid and online learning are less work than traditional, face-to-face instruction. I can relate to this misconception. Prior to taking online classes in university, I always thought that online classes might be a bit easier. However, this being my 4/5th online class, I have realized that they are just as much work, if not more, as any other course I have taken in the past. Check out the article for the rest of the 4 other misconception. It was a good read.

Since we had a bit of freedom for this response, I decided I was also going to interview my friend about online and blended learning. My friend is in her 30th year of teaching and retiring this year.

She has taught all 30 years in the same school division I am working for. I thought it would be interesting to see her stance on technology, how she has used it in the past, and how our school division has supported the use of technology in the classroom.

Have you ever taken an online class?

  • No, but I don’t have enough self discipline to take one.

What do you know about blended learning?

  • Yes, I know what it is.

What are your thoughts about blended learning?

  • I think blended learning is better than strictly online. Because if there is something I can’t figure out what to do, and someone is only teaching me things verbally that is a problem for me.
  • I am a visual learner and I need someone there to show me what to do.

What technology platforms have you used in you classroom?

  • I have used google docs in the past to share information. That is about it

What technology do you use in the classroom?

  • Computers. I have students do research on the computers.
  • I use different websites to support numeracy and literacy in the classroom.
  • I also use Youtube for instruction.
  • Although I have not used computers much this year because last year my students were doing inappropriate things.

What is your favorite thing about using technology?

  • Having information at your fingertips for myself and my students.

How has your school division supported online learning?

  • They provide the computers for the students to work on.
  • They set up google accounts and login information.
  • They sometimes have online web seminars.

I really enjoyed that interview! It was really neat to get a perspective from someone who has taught for many years. I am now wanting to interview and ask more of my colleagues about their experience with technology!!

Thanks you for reading:)