Google Classroom as an Online Learning Platform #eci834

Overview: Google Classroom is a free online tool that provides simplicity to create, distribute, and grade assignments. This option can provide a paperless classroom and streamline the learning process to share files between teachers and students.

Production value: Simple and easy to use. You are able to provide immediately feedback in real time. Some students who are introverts, may not be open to talking with a teacher so this can open the door for those students to still get meaningful teacher feedback.

Perceived difficulty of creating this module: At first, while using any new tool it is going to pose some challenges. Last year, they changed the format for Google Classroom which caused some stress for teacher who finally figured out how to use the program, and now they had to learn the new updates. The major concern I see with using Google Classroom is accessibility. Some schools have lower access to technology which limits the ability to access Google Classroom as a paperless classroom resource.

Potential impact on student learning/value: The Tech Edvocate lists 10 benefits of Google Classroom Integration. They are as follows:

  • Accessibility – they can access Google Classroom from school and at home from a computer. Chromebook, or mobile device.

  • Exposure – provides insight into an online learning platform. Many universities are offering online classes so this can help prepare them for future educational endeavors.
  • Paperless – teachers and student don’t have to use paper to have google classroom. Teachers can upload assignments, which limits the excuse for students to say “I lost the assignment sheet”. Also, if students are away they still have access online to see what they missed
  • Time Saver – teachers and students can access thinks and message privately to provide feedback to student assignments. Parents can also see summaries which include due sates and any teacher announcement.
  • Communication – this provides easy access to email between teachers, students and parents. Immediate feedback is provided and you can post marks in real-time which students can access easily

  • Collaborate – Teachers can use the forum to create discussion between teachers and students. Students are also able to work collaboratively on documents

  • Engagement – it offers teachers the ability to differentiate assignments, link videos or webpages, and to create collaborative documents
  • Differentiation – assignments particular lessons to individual students groups of students or whole class is quick and effective to meet the needs of all learners

  • Feedback – provides meaningful real-time feedback for students
  • Data Analysis – Teachers can analyze the data from assessment to ensure students are understanding and grasping the concepts. These are easily available to export to Google Sheets.

In the reading it provides 5 critical questions to ask before implementing  media/technologies. They are as follows:

  • what is my underlying epistemological position about knowledge and teaching?
  • what are the desired learning outcomes from the teaching?
  • what teaching methods will be employed to facilitate the learning outcomes?
  • what are the unique educational characteristics of each medium/technology, and how well do these match the learning and teaching requirements?
  • what resources are available?

They are necessarily in order,but they all have important roles. I think another important part to highlight is the use of videos as an educational resource. It important because it provides you with “the ability to stop, rewind and replay video becomes crucial for skills development, as student activity usually takes place separately from the actual viewing of the video”. We can use videos to support learning by talking about the videos, not just playing a video to fill time. We must use it purposefully!


Course Outline #eci834

Overview/Description: 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.

The unit will begin by having all 3 classrooms meet together on zoom to review the expectations, course outline, weekly assignments, and connect each student to their “lead” teacher in charge of their particular novel. This will be our only synchronous meeting until we have finished our novels. The platform which we are sharing/collaborating on is:

This way, all teachers have collaborated together to share the weekly assignments and it is made readily available for all students to access from school or at home. The link can also be shared with families for quick access to check in on what their children are doing at school. There would be no login required and no need to recall a password to access the website.

We have chosen 13 Reasons Why, The Outsiders, and Wonder as our main focus. We have listed additional resources that could fit well within this unit.

The Novels:

  • 13 Reasons Why – Jay Asher
  • The Outsider – S.E. Hilton
  • Egghead – Caroline Pignat
  • Wonder – R.J. Palaci
  • The Only Game – Mike Lupica
  • Blubber – Judy Bloom

Course Format: For our unit, we have split up our novels into five different weekly sections. The expectation would be that students complete the required readings for the assigned period, whether that be reading on their own, with a partner, or listening to an audiobook. The audiobooks help learners who have lower reading comprehension, keep up with the pace of the weekly reading assignments. As stated earlier, students will be assigned a novel, a teacher, and also a learning partner from a different school. Students are able to connect through Zoom to talk to their learning partner about their weekly tasks that go along with the reading. This promotes collaboration and creativity.

Course Toolset:

  • WordPress Blog
    • This is where all of the student assignments will be posted.
  • KidBlog
    • Each week, students will be required to complete several questions based on reading strategies and they will publish their answers to their blogs.
      • 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.
  • Postermywall 
    • In some weeks, students have a choice on how they want to represent their creative component. They can use postermywall to design a poster related to their novel and assignment. For example, creating a poster that demonstrates why kindness matters.

Overview of our features for schools:

  • Create projects to organize designs created by students.
  • Students are not required to create an account.
  • Students see only student appropriate content.
  • Students’ projects are never made public.
  • No ads.
  • Completely free to teachers. We believe in supporting our schools. You can help keep it free by sharing a link to with your parents. Their purchases help to fund the Classroom Accounts Program.
  • YoTeach 
    • A set time for each week has been designated.  The teacher in charge of each novel will invite students to the group chat to respond to questions in real time.  Students will discuss a series of per-compiled questions and dialogue with other member of their group about their assigned novel.  This gives the students a weekly opportunity to connect on a weekly bases.
      • Yo Teach! lets you create online backchannel spaces to facilitate discussions. To get started on Yo Teach! simply go to the site and name your room. You can get started by just doing those two steps, but I would recommend taking a another minute to scroll down the Yo Teach! site to activate the admin function, the password function, and to select “avoid search.”  The “avoid search” option will hide your room from search results so that people cannot find it without being given its direct URL. The password function lets you set a password that must be entered before students can participate in the chat. The admin features of Yo Teach! let you mute or remove students from a discussion, delete your room, and view statistic about the usage of your room. The admin function that reveals statistics will show the names of participants and how active they have been in your Yo Teach! Room.
  • Adobe Spark  
    • Each week students are required to complete a creative component. An example would be having students use Adobe Spark to create a post with the key quote (or quotes) from your novel. The background must represent you think the setting of your story looks like.
    • Features:
      • Graphics: Pick a photo, add text, and apply design filters to instantly stand out from the crowd.
      • Webpages: Turn words and images into beautiful, magazine-style web stories that will impress readers on any device.
      • Video Stories: easily add photos, video clips, icons, or you own voice. Select from professional-quality soundtracks and cinematic motion.

Course Content/Learning Objectives:

  • CR 7.2 → Select and use appropriate strategies to construct meaning before (e.g., formulating questions), during (e.g., recognizing organizational structure), and after (e.g., making judgements supported by evidence) viewing, listening, and reading.
  • CR 8.2 → Select and use appropriate strategies to construct meaning before (e.g., previewing and anticipating message), during (e.g., making inferences based on text and prior knowledge), and after (e.g., paraphrasing and summarizing) viewing, listening, and reading.
  • CR 7.6 → Read and demonstrate comprehension and interpretation (including thoughtful and critical response to content and craft) of grade-appropriate texts including traditional and contemporary prose fiction, poetry, and plays from First Nations, Métis, and other cultures.
  • CR 8.6Read and demonstrate comprehension and interpretation of grade-appropriate texts including traditional and contemporary prose fiction, poetry, and plays from First Nations, Métis, and other cultures to evaluate the purpose, message, point of view, craft, values, and biases, stereotypes, or prejudices.
  • CC 7.1Create various visual, oral, written, and multimedia (including digital) texts that explore identity (e.g., Exploring Thoughts, Feelings, and Ideas), social responsibility (e.g., Taking Action), and efficacy (e.g., Building a Better World).
  • CC 8.2Create and present a group inquiry project related to a topic, theme, or issue studied in English language arts.
  • CC 7.4 Use pragmatic (e.g., use language that demonstrates respect for others), textual (e.g., use common organizational patterns within texts), syntactical (e.g., ensure agreement of subjects, verbs, and pronouns), semantic/lexical/morphological (e.g., avoid overused and misused words), graphophonic (e.g., enunciate clearly), and other cues (e.g., use appropriate gestures and facial expressions) to construct and to communicate meaning.
  • CC 8.4Use pragmatic (e.g., use appropriate language register), textual (e.g., use artistic devices such as figurative language), syntactical (e.g., combine sentences to form compound and complex sentences for variety, interest, and effect), semantic/lexical/ morphological (e.g., use words to capture a particular aspect of meaning), graphophonic (e.g., correctly pronounce words with proper emphasis), and other cues (e.g, arrange and balance words and visuals as well as fonts) to construct and to communicate meaning.

Assessment Strategies: Each week, throughout our unit, the students will receive immediate feedback based off of a rubric to offer, suggestions, and compliments by the assigned teacher.This will allow students to improve their next post prior to it being submitted.  Each week will serve as a formative assessment, with the final assessment at the end being summative. In addition, the students will complete peer assessments each week with their “blogging partner”. The students are required to use the format:  “3C and a Q” – which means they must compliment the student, comment on the students work/contributions, make a connection (via text to text, text to self or text to world) to that student’s post, and pose a question as well. This will keep the dialogue going and provide students with a set structure.

Considerations for Common Concerns: Overall, our main consideration for common concerns is as follows. For those students who require adaptations for their reading, there is access to Google Read and Write which assists in completing assignments. There is a word prediction tool, spellcheck, voice to text, and many more tools. We will also have access to audiobooks for those students who require them. All books are at different reading levels to accommodate the diverse needs in the classrooms. Fortunately, all schools working on this project have easy access to technology at school. In some cases, students who have homework and limited/no access to technology at home, may have trouble if they cannot keep  up with the academic demands and there would be a need for a teacher intervention to support those students.

Rationale: Our rationale is to make connections with other schools, teachers and students alike. We will be spending our time creating a product that will be utilized in our own classrooms! We chose a relevant educational topic that is part of the curriculum for every grade and we hope that all students will be able to create many “takeaways” from the readings provided. We have chosen this forum as it is easily accessible to all of our students and our school all have availability to the apps or websites. Each of the sites provides their to be multiple leaders or teachers which is necessary for a project like this to work.  

Group Chat: The questions listed below will be distributed to the students prior to the weekly chats.  Students will be provided with the opportunity to reflect on the direction of the questions and the answers they would like to give.  This is an adaptation that allows students not to be put on the spot and to feel comfortable with their contribution to the chat.

My experience with online learning

My experience with the use of blended learning/technology integration is through the use of Google Classroom. For example in Health right now we are focusing on mental health, understanding how to support others, while becoming more familiar with general mental health concerns (depression, anxiety, social phobia, and suicide). We used Kids Health to read articles and think about the following questions: What is this topic about? What can you do to help yourself or others going through this? Why is it important to know about this topic? Together we looked at suicide, read the article and answered the questions as a group. Following this I let the students explore any topic under the “Mind” section. Once they chose what they were interested in, they were able to read articles with a partner, listen to the article with headphones or work independently. I thought this was a good opportunity to implement guided instruction, group brainstorming and then gave the students the flexibility to learn on their own. I thought this went over quite well and the students liked the option that they didn’t have to read on their own but rather could work in pairs or listen to the reading too. Thus far, in the school I teach at, there haven’t been any major concerns or issues for me. We have access to tech whenever we need and students all have access to a cell phone with the exception of one student. I find that student engagement frequently increases with the use of technology and the opportunity to research online. The only main challenge that has come up is when the power goes out or the server isn’t working, therefore students cannot connect to the internet and keeping them focused on the task without opening tabs to distract themselves. I feel as though online/blended learning is the wave of our future and if we can support students to know how to use it appropriately, how to cite sources, how to locate a reliable source, and knowing how to time manage while accessing the internet, to become a positive digital citizen.

I found an article that states 5 Reasons Why Online Learning is More Effective.

  • #1 Students learn more than they do in traditional courses.
  • #2 Retention rates are higher with online learning.
  • #3 Online learning requires less of a time investment.
  • #4 More frequent assessments can reduce distractions.
  • #5 eLearning is the greener option.

The one that resonates most with me is #3. Online creates a more convenient learning experience for those who need the flexibility. This allows students to split their time working on content if they online have small windows of time to work on homework/study. This way, students can work at their own pace, chunk their assignments, and learn time management skills. Do you have a strong stance for or against what the article suggests at the 5 reasons why online learning is more effective?

I also wanted to highlight 4 takeaways from the video on Blended Learning.

  • Learn at own pace – they stated that learning at individualized levels will optimize learning
  • Use of Technology – This will help students become comfortable with computers will better prepare them for our technologically advancing world.
  • Differentiation – This allows for more personalize instruction for individual needs in the classroom.
  • Collaboration – This invites the flexibility to move around, collaborate, or work alone.

Online and blended learning! #eci834

My name is Kyla Ortman and I am in my 6th year of teaching. Currently, I teach grade 8 at Henry Braun Elementary School where I coach volleyball, basketball, and track. After this semester I will be done 6/10 classes for my masters, or if you want a reduced fraction… 3/5 of the way done! This is my third class with Alec and some goals I have for this class are as follows:

  • Relevant Tools –> Become more familiar with options for producing an online/blended classroom as I can see the benefits of shifting towards this. Also, as a student in online classes I think it is important for my own professional development to be aware what the learning environment is like in the role of a teacher or facilitator. I like how Michael said, he wants to incorporate online tools for learning into his administrator meetings and professional development which he currently co-leads.

  • Expanding learning options –> I am excited to learn how I can use this in my future teaching. I have watched many teachers use the tool of a “flipped classroom” in order to teach mathematics. They record a video that they would have normally taught face to face. This allows students to preview the video after the lesson is over for more affirmation for the mathematical process or perhaps they were absent and missed the lesson.

brain GIF

  • Evaluating the purpose –>  I am looking forward to exploring why online and blended learning are a positive thing, while learning how to maintain strong teacher student relationships without a face to face interaction.

I look forward to learning alongside all of you!

All about me

My name is Kyla Ortman and I am a grade 8 teacher at Henry Braun Elementary School in Regina, Saskatchewan. I have been teaching for six years and currently am a masters student @ the U of R. Although I am teaching in middle years I am a high school trained Phys Ed and Social Studies teacher. I absolutely love working in an elementary school and I am currently coaching volleyball, basketball, and track.