cMOOCs – Welcome Home!

Deeper connections – this is what I have been looking for, although I did not realize it at the beginning of my #edtech journey into #OER (open education resources).  As I participated in the #etmooc chat on January of this year, I began to have a sense that a MOOC was where I wanted to venture in my major project.


I am very interested in open education in the high school science classroom and want to further explore how a MOOC can help our students engage in the curriculum.  Now, I realize that I still need to figure out fully what the word “engage” looks, sounds, and feels like – but this is an area that I intend to explore and expand in depth further into my thesis.  But in order to begin to understand the focus of my thesis, I understood that I first needed to explore MOOCs a bit further.  So far in the course, I have taken an xMOOC out for a “test drive”, and while it is a very good course, it is just that, a university style course, and not what I am personally looking for. It’s just that, a personal choice.

I have been doing deeper research into cMOOCs, honestly, they just click with me. Do you ever have that moment?  The moment when you know that you are on the right path because it just feels right?  I finally have that feeling, and its great! A cMOOC, as I previously researched, is based on connectivism.  Just the word alone, connectivism, a community connected with one another, learning together clicks – this is the basis for my research and an opportunity I want to give to my students.  Think of it as the ultimate peer tutoring if you will.  I really liked the feel of #etmooc, created by Alec Couros (yes, the real Alec Courso), and was fortunate enough to have a brief glimpse of.  Previous to the start of the #etmooc, Peter Rorabaugh had a chance to Twiterview Alec, it really is a very interesting “read” on how a course and a collaboration exists symbiotically. Here is a snippet of one of their meetings, they know each other by name and are genuinely happy to see one another and connect not only pedagogically, but personally.

I think that Julie Balen captured the essence of collaboration and celebrations of #etmooc in her blog, Why Celebrate a Course?

     “it is the only learning experience I’ve had where openness, flexibility, lightheartedness, seriousness, collegiality, collaboration, creation, intellectualism, and generosity co-existed”.

Really, what other course creates something as masterful as this?  Geographically separated, yet not at all.

So, I have started to look for a few cMOOC’s to test drive, to see if I can join a community of learners passionate about the same things that I am and have an open collaboration, one that allows me to improve my own pedagogy.  So far this is what I have found:

#rhizo16 by Dave Cormier will be starting up May 10th?


I have also found MOSOMELT , Mobile Social Media Learning Technologies, which seems to be based out of New Zealand, but the beauty of social media is that geography melts away during connectedness.  This cMOOC begins March 14.  Check out their website and Google+ community.

I have also put out a call on Twitter:

If you happen to know of a cMOOC starting up, please let me know, or better yet join me!

One last thing I will throw note; if you are someone who is new to MOOCs like I am and are unsure of which way to go, there is a “cross-breed” between the xMOOCs and the cMOOCs, the dual layer.dual layer mood

It is something that I will investigate further, because you never know until you try. But for now, and believe me I am very new to this, a cMOOC just feels right.











Science – the “Mother” Subject?

Pre, During, Post reading strategies.  I bet there isn’t one of us in #eci831 that does not know or has not employed these strategies in their classes…. Well, as a science teacher I had used them, but I am quickly learning that I had not been using these strategies properly.  In the second MOOC session of Reading to Learn in Science we are studying these strategies and breaking them down further in regards to employing them within the science classroom.

I am very biased when it comes to “mother subjects” as I would tend to think that we all are.  In my mind, science is the mother subject – the subject that takes other subjects and links them all together into one cohesive unit.  Let me explain further (and keep in mind, I teach high school sciences):

  • in science we use the math skills that students obtained from math class and apply those skills to science.  For example, we use SOA CAH TOA to solve vectors in physics 30 (without the math skills how would a pilot ever fly a plane, or a captain sail a ship, etc.), we use conversion factors for all classes of science, we use quadratic equations for physical science classes, we collect and analyze data quantitatively…. so thank you math teachers.
  • in science we use the physical activity skills learned in phys ed and demonstrate how those skills would not be possible without Health Science understandings… we also use those skills in completing some laboratory activities and demonstrations.
  • in science we rely on historical understandings to propel further research into current or new areas.  We learn from others and build upon their discoveries.  For example, the new Biology 30 curriculum is based around genetics and evolution….need I say more?
  • in science we READ, collecting data qualitatively….thank you ELA teachers 🙂

Now, some may be thinking, but I teach subjects that are not mentioned…well, science is related to those as well.  And many will argue (as you should) that your subject is the one in which all others are linked to…I happen to think that my subject does the best at amalgamating all other subjects into one. But there is one other subject which science may rely on the most in order to make this amalgamation happen; reading!

Major activities of science info graphic

This infographic represents the 5 major activities of science which we call literate modalities:  Doing (designing experiments, assembling apparatuses, collecting and analyzing data), Representing (creating figures, tables, diagrams,charts), Talking (presenting to others and the public), Writing (peer reviewing: theories, research design, findings, implications), and finally Reading (integral to all other major activities within science – without reading there would be NO science).  In order to teach science effectively, teachers must have a clear understanding of the objective that they are teaching.  The objective needs to be:

  1. performance orientated
  2. engaging students in 2 or more literate modalities
  3. must target specific content

In order to successfully achieve the objective:  pre, during, and post reading strategies are used to engage students in the text that they are reading.

Pre reading strategies are used to:

  1. Elicit prior knowledge
  2.  Connect new and old ideas together
  3. Identify misconceptions
  4. Make predictions

Examples of pre reading strategies include picture walks, anticipation guides, and the Frayer model. Anticipation Guide - blank This MOOC session really concentrated on the use of anticipation guides as a pre and post reading strategy.  It is important the the teacher does not copy down the claims word for word from the text as this will activate prior knowledge from the students (allowing the teacher to gather data on the amount of retention that the students have) as well as eliciting inferences about the text.  Another important piece to remember with anticipation guides, is that not all claims are to be true – placing false claims in is beneficial, especially during class discussions.  Once all claims have be completed by the students individually, ask the students to break up into small groups or as a class have a discussion about each claim and what the students initially thought of each.  DO NOT ALLOW THE STUDENTS TO CHANGE THEIR ANSWERS, I have posted an example of an anticipation guide from the session – however, I would change this guide a bit and add another column in to allow students to write down information gathered from class discussions.Anticipation Guide - class discussion column

During reading strategies are used:

  1. Used during the actual reading process
  2. Forces slow, close, reflective reading
  3. Helps students monitor comprehension metacognitivelyDART

The example strategy that was taught during this session was DART (Directed Activity Related to Text) in which students selectively highlighted text used to slow down the reader and to force the reader to think about what they are reading, and to promote reflection and rereading.  Highlighting is done using different colours to categorize content (see screenshot).


Post reading strategies include:

  1. Anticipation guide – ask students to re-read each claim and now answer the columns “What the Text Tells Me” and what “Evidence” is given to support or debunk this claim.
  2. Frayer Model18246392682 is a graphic organizer which helps the students gain a more thorough understanding of a concept and it’s applications.  The Frayer model is good at helping students organize and summarize information, correcting misconceptions that the students may have, and helps the student to incorporation prior knowledge into the objective.




The Pre, During and Post Strategies are helpful to identify student misconceptions, give students practice in citing evidence but they do require careful planning on the teachers behalf.

So, in the end, Science may rely on the students ability to read, but I still believe that it is the one subject amalgamates all other subject into.  After all, if you are going to read, why not read scientifically!