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).

 

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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?