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.

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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.