But We Were Just Beginning….

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk Flickr via Compfight cc

It does not feel possible to be at the end of this course, honestly, I just feel like I was beginning.  Although the course is technically over, I am forever changed as an educator.

Teacher/Learner

This course has had the largest impact on me, personally and professionally, from any of the courses that I have taken from Alec and Katia.  And I am kind of sad that I won’t be taking any more courses from them, as there are too many things that I have come to know as routine.  But while reflecting on what to write in this post, I have realized that even though we will officially be done the course as a group, the things that I relied on will not be over.  I will continue to check out twitter (something I still need to practice and do more of, I just find that I get sucked into the “twitter vortex” once I go on, I am consumed for hours!).  Staying on twitter, getting better at it, will allow me to continue networking with my fellow 834 classmates.  I will continue to follow blogs of teachers that I have come to know.  Logan’s blog is more than just a series of posts for class, I learn from the classes that he teaches (and I secretly feel he is the next Bozeman Science with a Crash Course twist, plus how else would I keep up with how many cats he has?).

Credit to Giphy

We were tasked with what felt like an impossible, yet exciting, task.  Create a course module for a class that you (currently or hypothetically) teach.  I thought that I would begin with a science 10 module, but the began creating my prototype for the Environmental Science 20 advanced placement course that I am currently teaching.  I was already creating an asynchronous course, why not apply the tools that I learn in this class while getting real time feedback from my students?  Over the course of three months my course grew and grew.  I created a course for what I knew my students needed this semester.  My course profile explains in further detail my thought process.

At the start of the EC&I 834, we were asked to list three goals that we had for ourselves….mine changed throughout the course, and that is OKAY because my thoughts about the course evolved.  During the second week, I began to research different LMS platforms that would be user friendly and supported by my administration and school division.

By the end of the third  week, I had decided upon which LMS platform I wanted to use – Canvas.  Although at that point I still thought I would be designing a prototype for Science 10, not APES20 (oops…) 🙂

I have decided to change my focus from a class that I was not teaching towards one that I currently am, I mean, why work harder?  This week I began to play with EdPuzzle and created my first Vlog using Screencastify.  This was a big deal to me as I am very introverted away from the classroom, my confidence is slowly but steadily growing!

I began feeling more comfortable with using multiple media channels in my lessons.  Like a game of Duck, Duck, Goose; I tried to improve upon my strategies each week!

One of the new tools that I discovered in the following week was mysimpleshow – at the time of creating and playing with this new tool it was AMAZING and user friendly (note – you can now now longer use your own voice for your simple show, you must use their robotic voice – this does not work for upper level science classes.  I have since emailed the creators of mysimpleshow and received a response as to why this is)!

I began to get very comfortable with my course prototype, while at the same time feeling like I was going off the rails simply because I was becoming overwhelmed with trying to implement everything that we were learning into my prototype – this I later learned was just not realistic!  And…I was just a bit intimidated by the amazing work that I was reading on my classmates blogs…confidence declining at this point.

We were asked to think about which we preferred, open vs. closed forums. In hindsight, this may have been the most revolutionary blog topic for me, as I self-reflected on the type of learner and participant I was versus the one that I want to be.  The doors to blended learning were blown WIDE OPEN for me and I was able to really connect with what I was creating.

Finally we were at the end, yes, I was EXHAUSTED (maybe learning how to create a course prototype while teaching the course at the same time was not the brightest idea I have had – BUT the most productive at the same time).  In fact, if I had not created a blended learning prototype while teaching the class, I would not have had a realistic idea of how much time and effort needed to be put into creating quality lessons that my students deserved!

Overall, I am very satisfied with my course – and the students taking it seem to be enjoying it and doing very well, but I really won’t know until after May 1st when they write their college exam and I ask for a reflection on the course from them.   I received very valuable feedback from my reviewers – information which I have taken quite a bit of time to reflect upon:

  • In class, I always use a peer/self evaluation form for my students because I feel that it is important for students to self-reflect on their product.  I never complete this form because I have a rubric for the product created that I would use and I should have included this rubric – this was an oversight on my part, one that I will correct before next semester begins.
  • I did not consider the low bandwidth issues as I do have my students working at the back of the classroom – and the community I work in is unlike any other – these students are very fortunate to have tools to allow them to be successful (whatever they need) provided to them by the school as well as their parents.  All of my modules are created using Google Slides – if there were a low bandwidth issue the students could always download the entire unit and keep it on their personal laptops, decreasing the need for bandwidth as it could be exported and saved as a powerpoint.  The only issue that may arise from home is if the students were unable to connect to they hyperlinks – buffering issues may happen. But again, these are advanced placement kids, they would then need to come to school ahead of time or stay later to access the school’s internet access if they ran into these problems – I do have certain expectations for them, and these expectations are above and beyond for my regular stream students. 
  • I also did not consider EAL students – if you are registered in an AP course – you need to know the English language.  This course is not designed for EAL.  This course is designed for above average grade 11 students with a strong work ethic and academic ability.
  • I did include cultural consideration in my course as I do include FNMI teaching within the module.  As far as other cultural considerations, again, this is an AP course and it has been designed for students from all areas of North America to be taught as a cohesive student unit.
  • The mention of not addressing socioeconomic status really made me reflect – I have not asked any of my students to use technology other than a computer or smartphone.  If the students do not have a computer to access at school or their place of learning, this course may not work for them, however I do have students who are more comfortable viewing the course and working on it on their phones, so I do know that a computer is not the only way to access the module.
  • Just to clarify, activities within the modules were designed using EdPuzzle, which I am able to track student progress and success through the website itself.
  • It was mentioned in the feedback that the course profile was written as a “this is what I do” more so than a “this is why I do” – and the reviewer is correct, it is simply because the course is already up and running.  However, including my educational pedagogy within the course profile is a very good thing for me to include and I will look at implementing this for next semester in writing and not verbally as I was able to speak to my students face-to-face (in person or over Zoom).

As this course is running currently – I am hesitant to give out login information over the “web”  as I do have concerns that portions of the course could inadvertently be changed (I will provide an instructor log in for grading purposes) before my students are finished studying for their college exam.

WHEW!!! MADE IT AND AM HAPPY WITH MY GROWTH!

BTW:  My celebration of learning is also complete!  Yay!!!

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