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