That is a wrap! #eci834

I have to agree with the title on Wendy’s blog! Learning always, learning all ways. This is critical as we emerge as online teachers. I have always found myself confident and competent when using technology. I think classes such as Alec’s allow for you to deepen your professional development with technology and it allows you to expand your knowledge which can be passed onto others. When creating online/blended classrooms, there is so many different things to consider. We need to ensure we have a safe comfortable environment for students, even when we may not see them face to face. In addition, I would say was that you need to be organized. We have to be organized and chose a platform that best suits the needs of us as educators as well as our students.

Image result for gif organization

For our course prototype, we used wordpress as the main “hub” for everything. I think if I went through with a paperless classroom or had the opportunity to create an online classroom, I would use Google Classroom as assignments can be turned in easier on there, than through using wordpress. I find it would be easier to track all student assignments, allow for immediate feedback and store everything in one spot. When choosing KidBlog, I think this was a great choice because it is a safe environment where students can blog. When using other sources like Adobe Spark and Postermywall, they are great resources that will allow students to be more creative and using a software to help them, rather than just a Google Doc.

Image result for gif google classroom

I believe Alec’s teaching and organization is a huge proponent of how I would run an online classroom. I love the idea that he has a weekly schedule posted, where it is easily accessible and we can look back for previous classes as a reference. I find this super helpful when looking at creating my summary of learning as well. Overall, as teachers we need to be thoughtful in the ways we implement technology. It must be purposeful and useful for our students. As long as we put student learning first, with a plan in mind, I think technology can help so many students. All in all, I have witnessed many improvements in my own teaching and in my students learning as well as growth in my professional development.

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Summary of Course Prototype #eci834

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: https://onlineunit.home.blog/

To view the entire Course Prototype outline click here!

Online Tools We Are Using in Our Prototype #eci834

For our course prototype we plan to use WordPress Blog to organize class materials, KidBlog for students to be blogging during their reading journey, Postermywall/ Adobe Spark to present some assignments, and YoTeach as an online discussions forum. Below is an overview of the different formats we have chosen. Underneath the description I will describe why we chose these.

WordPress Blog – https://onlineunit.home.blog/

This is where all of the student assignments will be posted. We chose this for simplicity sake. We are all familiar with Google Classroom, therefore we wanted to challenge ourselves to use a different format and this way we could view everything in a linear fashion.

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. 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.

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. We chose postermywall which is an online program, which is free, has appropriate content and it is able to be shared with home easily. Below are more ideas the website provides:

  • 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 PosterMyWall.com with your parents. Their purchases help to fund the PosterMyWall.com 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.

Overall we thought we could challenge ourselves to use new programs we were not familiar with and we enjoyed discovering them along the way!

Evaluation Feedback Post #eci834

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 amongst 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 enclude: having audiobooks, 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 amongst 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.

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.

Kyla, Colette, and Amy

Code.org #eci834

After last weeks discussion on code.org, I decided to do some exploring. Right now, my librarian @AlisonNewman14has been working with students at our school focusing on coding. Just recently they worked on Makey Makey:  An Invention Kit for Everyone. Ever played Mario on Play-Doh or Piano on Bananas? Alligator clip to start inventing the future! I see the kids enjoying themselves so much and it sparks so much creativity. I think coding can be as big or as small as you make it. I think this connects clearly to the future of our students. If we can promote collaboration, creative thinking, and problem solving are foundational skills, our students will be able to adapt to become  a twenty-first century contributor.

From what I understand, code.org they have different courses that they offer. For example: Pre-reader Express – an introduction to computer science for pre-readers: combines the best of our kindergarten and first grade courses. This course is used to learn the basics of computer science and internet safety. At the end of the course, students can create their very own game or story they can share. During the session, students would complete some lessons which have videos which can support all students learning levels as it shows a visual, video, and audio. This is such a critical skill that we can enforce early on which supports inquisitive learners in the primary grades. In addition, Kristina looked at coding in primary as well. She highlights ScratchJr as a program she would like to use! She has shown many screenshots to support how she could  use this program.

Finally, I think it is important to understand why we should teach students to code. In an article, 10 Reasons Kids Should Learn to Code, it highlights the important reasons why. The most important reasons I see are the fact that it can increase academic performance. How?

Math: Coding helps kids visualize abstract concepts, lets them apply math to real-world situations, and makes math fun and creative!

Writing: Kids who code understand the value of concision and planning, which results in better writing skills. Many kids even use Tynker as a medium for storytelling!

Creativity: Kids learn through experimentation and strengthen their brains when they code, allowing them to embrace their creativity.

Confidence: Parents enthusiastically report that they’ve noticed their kids’ confidence building as they learn to problem-solve through coding

Another reason I think it that Coding Paves a Path to the Future!

Empowerment: Kids are empowered to make a difference when they code – we’ve seen Tynkerers use the platform to spread messages of tolerance and kindness!

Life Skills: Coding is a basic literacy in the digital age, and it’s important for kids to understand – and be able to innovate with – the technology around them.

Career Preparation: There’s a high demand for workers in the tech industry; mastering coding at a young age allows kids to excel in any field they choose!

All in all, I believe coding should be a curricular component in the future used to supplement textbooks because it promotes critical thinking, collaboration ad problem solving.

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!