You Are Here!

You are here!  Like a Google Map – my course prototype is finally complete for this course.  I say it is complete, but is it really ever complete? I know that I am a lifelong learner, and that I am never done learning or changing.  This is true of my course prototype – I designed this to be used in a current class. While I am fully aware that once I have officially submitted this assignment, I will want to change it as I stumble upon a new/better form of technology to introduce within my module, something that will allow for a better learning experience for my students.

Just like Logan posted, there have been a vast amount of emotions that I have gone through while designing this course module.  I have felt empowered and defeated all at once as I have my students providing continuous feedback – this may be unique to some of my classmates whom have not had this opportunity.  But what I have learned is that with the feeling of temporarily defeat I was able to produce a much better product.  Will this product be to the same quality level of someone with the video editing skills of Andres?  No – but that is okay, my course is designed for what my current need is at this time.

While this course has flown by – it feels like we were just introduced to the idea of creating a course module.  One thing is for sure, I AM EXHAUSTED.

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I did not take into account how time consuming creating a blended/online course would be. I am much quicker at creating quality content now than I was in the beginning of the course, maybe because I am comfortable with the platform and the tools that I have used. I have developed a great appreciation for tools such as Screencastify, Smore and  MySimpleShow as they have allowed me (a not so creative person) to add creativity to my course. Although I own a Macbook Air (not a paid endorsement, lol!) – I really have not played that much with iMovie – not because I do not want to, I honestly feel that I do not have the time right now as I feel that once I begin playing around, I will loose track of time! 

I finally understand how my students feel when I come into class saying – “hey I learned something new in class last night and thought we would try it”.  Sometimes it can literally be information overload!  But for now, I feel satisfied with what I have completed (for the time being).

 

Course Profile

Environmental Science 20 Advanced Placement is a course targeted at students in grade 11 that have successfully completed Science 10 AP or Science 10 regular stream with a high mark and above average work ethic.  I have focused this module on the Soils unit, specifically looking at Biogeochemical Cycles and Productivity, focusing on:

Outcome TE1 (Analyze the importance of soils as an integral component terrestrial ecosystems)  

Indicator h (recognize the role and diversity of organisms found within soil environments)  

Indicator i (discuss the role of soil in biogeochemical cycling, including carbon storage and nitrogen fixation, nitrification and denitrification).  

Students refer to this course syllabus to familiarize themselves with the course and the mark breakdown for the course.

NOTE: I have created an entire unit for this my ES20AP class, but am focusing this assignment on slides 37-50 of the unit only.

The format of this course is mainly asynchronous online with a blended connotation – the students are assigned one hour per day in which the students work on their own with their laptops at the back of my classroom- they can ask questions if they need clarification and I will help (I teach regular Environmental Science 20 at the same time as ES20AP during the day, which explains the need for this type of course).  We also have a one hour weekly meeting on Tuesday before school begins (7:45 – 8:45), this meeting is dedicated to those students only in ES20AP and is designed to take place when there are no distractions from anyone or anything – this allows for an intensive face to face meeting.

For this class, we utilize Canvas LMS and have been using all of it’s applications.  Students are expected to complete unit assignments within the unit time frame.  The students utilize the class calendar to inform them of their unit start dates and exam dates.  Exams are written in person during their scheduled class time. Students access modules on Canvas, the modules have been created using Google Slides which have hyperlinks for Google Docs embedded within it as well as the required videos for viewing.  Students are also directed towards EdPuzzle,  this website has allowed me to create questions that compliment the videos that I have chosen to have the students watch.  The students scores are recorded on the program itself and I take their marks as an assignment.  Students are also asked to watch videos that I have created using Screencastify and answer questions to these by creating a MySimpleshow video.  The students are required to access the Google collaborative document (either on the module itself or through the collaboration feature of Canvas) to insert their groups hyperlink to their MySimpleshow.  During our one hour meeting we will watch and discuss these videos.

Students can communicate with me via email within Canvas or they can begin a class discussion (in person or on Canvas).  I do find that since we have a dedicated hour per day in class they will ask each other questions during that time period.  If there is anything else that comes up, they ask their questions during our weekly morning meeting.   Students are required to hand in all assignment via the email option in Canvas.  This option allows me to mark their assignments in Word or Google Docs, return them to the student, and archive the emails for future needs.

For Every Closed Door, Another Opens

This is the third class that I have taken from Alec and Katia, therefore I am comfortable with the openness of these classes – now that is!  I wasn’t always comfortable (and at times, while I feel comfortable, I still do not feel that I have the confidence), but have learned to embrace the lack of boundaries and the encouragement to try new things.  I have not taken a closed form class myself, but have seen them as some of the teachers I would with have shown me what they are like. So, without the lack of experience of the closed forums, I do not feel that I can adequately discuss my experiences with them, however my first impressions of the courses were “YUK” as they seemed very assignment driven – used as a homework spot rather than a discussion spot, and from what I have been told – just like we discussed in class last week, everyone responded to everyone else so it looked overwhelming!

In the video below – we see how protective Sheldon is about his “spot” on the couch and explains to Penny just why it is his spot.  I was somewhat like Sheldon with the start of open courses.  I had a spot – and my spot was simply to watch from a distance and offer my opinion in the comment section rather than chiming into Zoom and actually speaking.  My spot was comfortable – I could respond without judgement (still do this), and I did not feel judged  when I “wrote my mind”, often encouraged by Alec and Katia as they made a comment about my thoughts.

As Andrew posted – open forums do provoke a sense of anxiety, you have no control over who will read your post or what they will think about you.  What changed for me moving to an area of comfort in an open space was VALIDITY and AUTHENTICITY – I found that I was doing a lot more research and spending more time looking at other readings than those that were required.  I found that I became more invested in the topic when I was asked to post in an open forum as I felt it allowed me to engage in student centred learning.  Just like Amy wrote in her blog, I was more careful about what I was writing about – meaning, I made sure that I fully understood the topic and that I stood behind my opinion of the topic.  This is especially true as I am in essence, putting myself out there for all to judge and see.

Throughout the major assignment that we have been working on this semester, I have done a lot of trials in regards to opening up my courses.  In some ways, I have surprised myself and in others, my experiences have been a conformation.  I have really enjoyed using the Canvas LMS, and have found that for students in grades 11 and 12, they are able to handle the platform of the course.  My students who are forced to use it have done so willingly, and to my surprise as I try to flip parts of my course with the students whom do not have to use an open forum – there has been no hesitation and they took to it easily, commenting that they liked the trust that I had in them to complete their work on their own.

Well I agree that flipped classes are not open classes – there are aspects to my course that will be open – but it is getting the students comfortable with this concept that has been the challenge.  As I am new to the school that I am teaching in this year, the students tell me that they have never been able to use their devices before in the classroom (had a very closed experience before) and are overwhelmed with the technology.  Clearly, I have some work to do (with the students, not the admin as they are very supportive) – but as the year has gone on, I have seen a level of confidence emerge from the students with the use of technology and openness via blogging.

I am curious about your administration – how do they support you in regards to using technology to create an open environment?  

Do you believe that if you create an open course that you will increase  student centred learning ?

Going off the Rails

This week, I discovered a new tool to use with my course module.  I tweeted about it this weekend:

I decided to give it a try:

 

 

Overall, Mysimpleshow was as easy to use as the website claims it to be, however I felt that it did take longer to edit.  I found that I did not like the text options that it offered, and chose to do my own voice over.  The site does limit you to 300 words per slide, which may be a good thing for our students to have to practice, being concise and getting their point across fast.

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I am feeling that this course module is not that hard of an assignment, and for that reason, I feel that I may be falling off the rails in regards to the assignment.  Just like Kara, I feel that I too may be addicted to change, that or I am not afraid to try change in my classroom and for the most part, my student are willing to go along with me on this ride.  Or maybe it is just that I am creating while teaching the course and using it immediately, that I am becoming very comfortable with teaching a blended course?

 

Have I Been Here Before???

Path

I find that I am a person who struggles with the openness of some assignments – although we were given parameters and guidelines for this week’s blog, I still felt a bit lost with what exactly I wanted to focus on.  I think that sometimes as educators, parents, students, etc.. we have so much on the go that it is hard to focus on one thing at a time.

I began to go fishing for ideas this week.  Megan wrote about having her students create a social justice poster with one option of being SMORE.  That got me thinking…I have done this before, only I had asked my students to use a variety of tools for their student directed study projects. As you can see, this post was from December 2015!  Some of the tools that I have had the most success with students using are VideoScribe,  emaze and Piktochart.  I was not familiar with SMORE so I gave it a try this week and created a flyer that outlines what I would like my students to do with a lab that will take place for the remainder of the semester.

Blenders
Blenders

Blended learning just comes naturally to me that sometimes I don’t even think of it as being “blended”, I just show my students that there are many other tools to use rather than the traditional research papers.  Just like the blenders shown in the photo, there are many types of tools, which all lead to a desired result.  Each tool is just a different route to get to your destination, the route may be fast or it may be slow.

Blended Learning info graphic
Blended Learning info graphic

Just like Andrew – I teach my classes in a way that focuses on some traditional lecturing with online collaboration using Google Docs, web quests like “What Did the T-Rex Taste Like” (most of my students have never experienced a learning module like this before), incorporating educational videos such as Crash Course and Bozeman Biology, and recently have begun using EdPuzzle to check for understanding.

While I love the above mentioned sites and videos, I stumbled upon a video from BrainCraft, which explains what the best way to teach science is.  She found that “Edutainment” may be the best way – combining education and entertainment in one.  The point of this video that I really like is at 2:50!  When I reflect on her journey – I know that I really do not have the time to do stop animation like she does, it is really just not possible right now while I am both a student and a teacher.  However, I do agree with Vanessa

“No matter how old you are, you never too old to experiment”

This is not focused only on teaching science, but life!  Especially now, we are experimenting wit blended learning!

I stumbled upon this graphic:                                  Blended Learning via Pinterest

I found that what I have been designing my module as is more of a Flex model of learning, and I am okay with this given my current situation (teaching 2 separate classes at the same time, thus the need for modules).  Also, in class I feel that we are all at Stage 3 and moving to Stage 4.  I researched Flex models of learning deeper, and really like how Clifford Maxwell described blended learning:

 In general, a Flex model gives students significant control over their pace and    path throughout almost all of a course, which, as VFA points out in its BLU          school profile, can be a difficult transition for students who are used to traditional instruction.

Flex programs benefit from a larger, open learning space instead of traditional classroom walls. The value of an oversized classroom space is that it allows for students to flow among multiple formats and for teachers to roam more easily among the students.

Because of the heavy emphasis on student autonomy, the role of a teacher changes in a Flex model. Instead of delivering instruction to whole groups, teachers spend most of their time providing face-to-face tutoring, guidance, and enrichment to supplement online lessons.

I am wondering how you would classify yourself as a blended educator?  Why type of an environment would you find you are catering or designing your modules to? If you still unsure, I urge you to skim this article by dreambox learning.

Duck, Duck, Goose!

 

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I am a people watcher, an observer if you will.  But more importantly than that, I am a listener.  My students often say to me “how did you hear that”?  To which I reply – “Did you forget, I am a mom”?  But honestly – I think it is very important to listen to the chatter that happens in school, especially before class begins.  It is at this time that I am able to truly find out who my student are and where their interests lie.  It is in these conversations that I am consciously observing (sight and sound) what types of learners I have in my room.  Some are checking their texts or texting someone, some are reading a book in between classes, some are snapchatting and some are just talking to one another!  You see, by observing these individuals, I am able to design meaningful lessons that engage my students in their own learning styles.

Like Logan, I need my class to be kinesthetic, visual and interactive or I get bored…and if I am bored it is guaranteed that my students will be!  My classes are guided by Google Slides but embedded within those slides are varying types of media including “games” (Kahoot, mentimeter) for student interaction.  I am conscious of the people in my room, and I try to tap into their learning styles during the class.

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-10-09-28-pmIn this screenshot of one of my googleslides – I have video embedded within text – this hits on my audio learner as well as my visual learner.

 

I am a science teacher.  Some of the concepts that I am teaching about are either too dangerous to expose my students to, too expensive as a field trip, or just too abstract to explain with text alone (think bonding in chemistry – thank you to bozeman science ,  crash course, Discovery news).

Different media (text, video, picture) all contain a unique experience to the learner.  The learner needs to combine the mental integration of the written information along with the type of media that is presented (video, picture) to help enforce the content learned thus creating or building upon a deeper level understanding of the subject knowledge being conveyed.  This is especially true when conveying abstract knowledge vs concrete knowledge.  Media can relay concrete knowledge in a variety of forms while abstract knowledge is generally relayed through content.  But in science, there are very good computer simulations that can help students understand abstract knowledge or knowledge of microscopic processes (bonding of a chemical).  The learning of such concepts needs to be structured in such a way that allows for the students to learn and understand the content – depending on the types of learners you have in your classroom, this could be very tightly or loosely arranged.

The power of video helps put a visual to the abstract.  The above youtube channels are so well done, why wouldn’t I use them?  And honestly, sometimes a good movie trailer is the best hook that I can have to get my students attention. This is how I introduced Environmental Science 20 this semester.  They are totally hooked now!

As Bates points out one of the strengths of video is that it is able to “link concrete events and phenomena to abstract principles and vice versa” as well as “demonstrate ways in which abstract principles or concepts developed elsewhere in the course have been applied to real-world problems”.  

I completely agree with Andrew, giving students choice in the type of medium the students choose to learn, is giving power in learning to the student.  Students have choice in the way they use the media presented to them, they can choose to listen to the screencast (if they learn better being taught in a traditional lecture style) or they can use the notes given and supplemental videos provided.

Not to ignore text, as Ashley points out, audio may be best to learn a language.  But as a science teacher, I personally find that video works best for my preferred method of learning. It’s not that I don’t listen to audio, it’s just that some concepts are difficult for me to picture without a visual for reinforcement.  BUT, I do have my student listen to snippets of StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson (honestly, how could we not, our class guinea pig is named Tyson, and not after Mike).tyson

As Bates speaks about in his framework for analyzing pedagogical characteristics, I am definitely a connectionist teacher as I try to give as much power to my learners as possible.  I also like to have power in how I learn! Therefore, as I reflect on my preferred medium of learning would be video and text as my top two and that is reflective in my own style of teaching.  But as Amy notes in her vlog, I really am enjoying having a PLN in an online space via this course and an opportunity to learn from each other.

So to bring this back to my title, don’t be afraid to be a goose in a flock of ducks – do what is best for you and your students.  Do you agree?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puzzles! Puzzles! Who Love’s Puzzles????

Well, this week I thought I would try my first ever vlog!  I used screencastify to review EDpuzzle.  Actually, I really did learn a lot this week as I had to learn how to use screencastify, EDpuzzle AND upload from Google Photos to Youtube!  I know that I am no Casey Neistat, but I can’t wait to polish up my vlogging skills and add some of these into my modules.

Now to rate both screencastify and EDpuzzle:

Strengths:  

  • I love the fact that I can use a video already made with Edpuzzle – why re-invent the wheel?
  • Screencastify was super easy to use!  I also liked that there is a box where you can see the person giving the lesson at the bottom, I feel that it makes the lesson a bit more personal.
  • It is very easy to add to your own youtube channel – just make sure in google photo setting that you have the sharing set “on”.

Weaknesses:  

  • I am unsure if I would use EDpuzzle to make audio notes or voice over when using a video that does have a lot of speaking on it already.  I did note that the voice movement and sound were a little off – so if you are easily distracted by the two not matching up, this may bother you.
  • The only weakness that I have found so far with screencastify is that when you move your cursor over an area, the focus “circle” gets in the way.  Does anyone know if you can shut that off?

Potential:

  • Easy peasy to use and make quick videos for your students – think of the potential for snow days! Lol!  Honestly, this is something that I will definitely be using in my classes.

Update – I had a goal last week to have all of my students using Canvas to be comfortable with it within 5 days.  Woohoo!  Surpassed that quickly.  By the end of the first period they were navigating around the site very easily, using the discussion and collaboration components of the LSM and have been sending me documents to mark – all within this platform.  So far, so good.  Also – I have only received email contact from Canvas and no phone calls.  I did respond to the email once and have not heard anything since.  🙂 

 

Update:  I have also been directed towards another site called PlayPostit which allows you to insert questions directly into videos such as Crash Course, TedEd, Ted, etc…  This is a nice site because you can use pre-made “bulbs” (videos already created) or you can make your own.  The only things that I could not find on this site were how to upload to my own “bulb” to my YouTube channel and the search function would not allow you to really narrow your search down.  I think I like EdPuzzle better than this site, but it is nice to have options.  Check out the link below:

PlayPostit