January 20 2018

2018 New Year – New Adventure

January 20, 2018- a fresh New start to a New Year!

As I relaxed over the Holidays these past few weeks, I reflected on the current state of student engagement in my classes. The semester was coming to a close and I had seen a tremendous drop in student interest and engagement in many of my classes. And , of course, I wondered what I might do to change it. Then I stumbled across a notice for a 10-week course on Better Blogging with Students from Edublogs. On pure impulse, I signed myself up! I have dabbled a bit with blogging on both the personal and professional level. Even hosted a fairly successful class blog in my previous school district. This fall, when setting up the web pages for my co-curricular club (FBLA) and our Student Store ( The Spartan Market) , I discovered my prior experience to be very helpful. Dashboards and widgets and WordPress! EduBlogs! Been there, done that! Yes, I had done this before!!!! Student blogging just might be the solution that I was looking for. It would all come back to me, right????

Fast Forward to Week One: OMG , what the heck was I thinking!!????

Yeah, I’d kept my Edublogs accounts. Paid that small fee each month without even blinking an eye. After all that hard work, I just did not have the heart to shut it all down.  Class blog, 30+ student blogs, this teacher blog ; all still here, frozen in cyberspace, as if it were still the end of semester 1, 2014. Yup, threw myself right into the deep end of the pool. So before I could make that fresh start, I  had some blog clean-up to do.

  • First I removed most of the student blogs from my class blog and selected a newer  modern theme.  In my stumblings, I discovered a great little edublogs article about how to best do that ( I think I deleted some of those guys which is not recommended- Oops- Learning curve). I did save a few good examples for my future bloggers to view. I then had to reconfigure the menus and widgets to fit the new theme. Progress was stalled as I contemplated what background picture I wanted to represent my class….decisions,decisions; size, pixels,is it mine or someone else’s work? Resurrect Creative commons and proper online publishing etiquette, learning curve, learning curve, learning curve.
  • Once I was (somewhat) content with my class and student blog progress, I decided to take a look at week1 tasks in Better Blogging.
    • What Is A blog?
    • Why Edublogs /CampusPress/ WordPress?
    • What Are The Benefits Of Blogging?
    • Why Do You Want To Blog?
      • 1) Who will your audience be?
      • 2) Who will be writing on your blog?
      • 3) How will blogging be integrated into your classroom program?
      • 4) Will your blog be public or private?
      • 5) What makes a high quality classroom blogging program?
    • Your Task and (let’s not forget)
    • Join the Facebook group

Seriously ,  I am a high school teacher at the end of a semester, with students failing and final exams and grade recovery work and blizzard bag assignments and  prep for next semester’s all new classes . Holy cow, people I do not have time for this!!!!!

But I am determined to forge ahead, let’s go back to the task at hand.

  • Our task for this week was to post an answer to a question or two (from above), connect with fellow classmates, comment to other posts here and there. This I can do, this I like most amongst all other online experiences. I find posting and commenting on other posts a very rewarding experience and where, for me, (during my online post-graduate work) the most learning occurred.
  • It was there in the hundreds of posts and comments ( literally) that I discovered my inspiration.  A classmate, teacher and fellow blogger had posted a comment and shared a link to her blog, where she was sharing the “Better Blogging” experience. Brilliant! That was it. Now I had something to write about. So Simple, why hadn’t I thought of it? After all,  my goals, like many others’ in this course, were to:
    • Revamp and introduce my class blog to a new set of students,
    • Add consistency and purpose, and
    • Be a better blogger.

Just a bit more work to do. Week one continues with a brief revamp of ” Innovative Learning with Mrs. C.

  • Final task of the week, revamp my professional blog site by recategorizing old posts, which entailed reconfiguring menus and categories and some juggling of widgets. This is not complete. I am still considering a new theme but have not made any final decisions. I am content with a Work-In-Progress status for now.
  • Of course to be a better blogger and good teacher, we must “walk the walk”. ( thank you classmate – identity lost in the vast comment stream). There is no better  lesson  to illustrate  blogging  than modeling the experience, presenting an example and setting expectations.
  • SO Lastly, as the sun sets on this semi-warmer Saturday afternoon in January, I have finished writing my first blog post in almost 4 years.

Let the New Adventure begin!

🙂 Mrs. C.

November 16 2014

Nurturing the new…

waterfall“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”  This quote by C. S. Lewis seemed to sum-up my final thoughts on my recent studies. We are not meant to tear down the thick architect of our traditional education systems, but to nurture the desolate and isolated areas in order to grow new systems. New educational systems that meet the needs of the new digital learner.

I have experienced so many great things in the Best Practices Series of professional development classes, that I can’t even begin  to put it all into words. I may not have started with the group I finished-up with, but I never felt out of the loop, and am glad I finally completed the series!  I thank all of you for sharing your ideas and experiences with me and wish you all the best of  luck and great successes in your future online endeavors!

🙂

KLC

November 14 2014

Capstone: Final Reflection & Future Goals

“There is a bigger picture, just step back from the canvas.”

― Ilona Simone

When it comes to online classes – I love the discussion forum. It is where I think we obtain the utmost value from these courses , share ideas and experience other points of view. Being involved in this aspect of online  teaching allows for the self- reflective thought that refines our skills and makes us better teachers.  Needless to say , I could not wait to jump into the fray, field questions, direct & re-direct  the learning in my Mentor’s course. Be the 24-hr teacher! However, in my practicum course, there was a glaring realization that I quickly discovered, Discussions were not the same. They were not the same at all, not the engaging experience that I loved  and had experience as in this PD/graduate class. These students were …High School students. They are just learning to develop the critical thinking skills we have been perfecting since our first college experiences. Discussions were not of the same caliber, and as a result were very frustrating for me. For the first week. No responses, na-da, none, nothing for my very thoughtful, delicately phrased questions, meant to ‘get them to think more deeply about the assignment’, questions. Ok-I got one, late on the last day of the week , after I had already given up and vented to my mentor. What had I done wrong?  Why were they not answering?  And the very calm, wise answer…was… nothing! It wasn’t me.  But I had clearly misunderstood. The assignment expectations and guidelines had been laid out weeks before. This was not the “discussion” forum I was used to. There is no immediate feedback loop, no banter, no pondering a dilemma or critical thinking. Not right away. It was later, spelled out in a new assignment or in a part2 , a week down the road….. The students understood. Once you posted there, you basically didn’t look back, just moved on to the next assignment on the list. Hmmm, I didn’t get it.class

After some good “mentoring” , I did see the light. My mentor was simply using this area with another purpose in mind. It was used for assignment feedback yes, but NOT from the teacher, from other students. My mentor chose to stay out of the discussion. This was a new strategy for me.  And it proved to be a good one. This experience lead me to realize that these forums can be adapted and used for other exercises, group work, simulations that can, and do, add significant value to the overall class. It really is all about identifying the needs of the students and adapting the technology to best meet those needs. When designed and executed properly, student to student interactivity can be accomplished, successfully, in the online classroom.

As I look to the future, my long range goal is fairly straightforward. I would like to develop and teach in an e-learning environment.  I want to engage my students and better prepare them for life in the 21st century. I want to get them to think outside the box, introduce them to everything “new” and to help them realize that there really is a world full of possibilities at their fingertips. I want to be a better education, a better communicator, a better writer.

Lofty goals, yes and not all are in my immediate future. My short-range plans include developing a stronger blended learning environment. One that utilizes all the available technology tools to their greatest advantage, for both the  teacher and self-directed learner. The tools that are available to me right now are encouraging.

  • Edline – our LMS
  • Office 365 with Onedrive, and Onenote ,  & Office 2013 desktop
  • Adobe Creative cloud – CS6 suite
  • Edublogs
  • OpenBroadcaster- screen capture tool
  • Full computer lab with Win8.1, office, adobe, as my classroom
  • Windows Surface3 , WIn8.1 touch screen and all the bells & whistles
  • Online apps like socrative.com & animota, prezi, glogster, padlet, & popplet etc. etc.
  • My youtube channel for video

New apps and their possible uses in the classroom pop up every day. Socrative.com promises to be a very active window on my computer screen. Edublogs-Class blogs for reflective journaling and interactivity is definitely going to remain in my arsenal. We are a Microsoft school, and the possibilities for the classroom with office 365, and some of the new add-ons that are available , are pretty amazing. Some concrete objectives I’d like to tackle this year, aligned with the tools to accomplish them:

  • Use office 365 more often to provide digital feedback on student work more efficiently and effectively.
    • 12 digital research papers waiting to be assessed, √check.
  • Create lesson tutorials, with screen capture and audio ,covering content and rudimentary computer skills that can be posted and accessed online. Used for review, missed class assignments and eventually begin to flip my classroom.
    • Open Broadcaster program installed and ready to go, √check.
    • Adobe Premier for editing ,√check.
      • Learning “how to”, after this class I should have the time. √Check!
  • Begin to use audio recorded feedback for student assignments.
    • Built into almost every device we own, √check.
  • Continue to develop and expand my class blog to enhance student interactivity.
    • Definitely working on it! √
  • Video record myself in front of the classroom. I think this will provide great personal feedback to help improve my teaching style and classroom  presence.
    • Video camera, √check.
    • Video editing tool, √check.
    • Learning “how to”, also working on it!√√

I could go on and on. There really is so much I’d like to do. Time of course, is the major constraint to all my plans.  Finally completing this capstone has shown me that I can get there.

As I mentioned in this Capstone Introduction, my immediate intent for the development of my blended  entrepreneurship classroom is to incorporate significant tech elements and to reinforce content with a hands-on learning experience that will ; reinforce computer skills, build self-confidence and encourage young entrepreneurs.  My plan is to integrate what I have learned in this course in the development of interactive online activities for all of my classes, not just Entrepreneurship. I want to engage my students and build those necessary 21st century skills. I am now confident that I can adapt lessons similar to my mentor’s Negotiations game, Sales Call simulation and Market questionnaire into a blended classroom environment. Potentially using Office 365 One drive …or the discussion forum on our LMS …or possibly class blogs to bring more technology and interactivity into the classroom.

And finally, I would love to share what I have learned with a group of like-minded professionals, that can be sounding boards and mentors and cheerleaders as we continue to learn in a supportive collaborative environment!

And maybe, eventually (if I don’t run out of time)…. I’d like to continue with my post graduate work and obtain my CAGS in curriculum instruction and development.

 

I may not be 100% successful and I may not get it all completed but…

“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely”

Auguste Rodin

November 12 2014

Capstone: On-Line or Face-to-Face?

A Reflection on online pedagogy as it is similar to and different from face-to-face instruction.

Courtesy istock.com

Courtesy istock.com

As we close out our studies on best practices and becoming an online teacher, it only seems fitting to examine both the  online learning environment and the tradition classroom.  Both learning environments have their advantages and disadvantages, similarities and differences.

The two learning environments are  very similar , they are both classrooms. Traditionally you deliver subject content , develop a community, engage the participants, provide feedback and assess student learning. Assessments are varied to accommodate diversified learners, feedback is timely and provides encouragement to improve student progress. This in-turn fuels inquiry ,engaging young minds to learn more. The same learning models exist as well, student-teacher, student-student and student-content interactivity all occur and are essential for a successful learning experience, whether  online or in the face-to-face classroom.

Their differences are more apparent. Online is asynchronous allowing for flexibility and 24/7 access to resources. Online you can think before you “speak” , which leads to deeper thinking and  a more synthesized response. A student -centered environment where the learner can go at their own pace and exist on a level playing field. However, the virtual classroom is often considered distant. Many students develop a sense of isolation and may become disconnected from the learning experience. A synchronous class room is real time with everyone together in a group. A sense of community is inherent, all students are in class and a member of the class; sharing information, space and time, where interaction is immediate and spontaneous.

Online teaching requires strong written communication skills, organization, hours of pre-planning and the technical ability to master the LMS. The instructor is now a mentor and coach, providing guidance, support and encouragement to an unseen audience.  Online learning requires a self-disciplined student with a high level of time management skills, self -motivation and organization. Students now take on the responsibility of becoming a life-long learner.

Traditional face-to-face teaching has the advantage of visual contact, a somewhat teacher-centered approach using body language and tone of voice to facilitate communication. When moving to an online model , teachers must learn to master written communication skills and students must learn to read with greater attention to detail.

The online experience encourages the teacher to collaborate with students in the creation of a more dynamic learning experience. Access through technology allows for a more personalized teacher-student relationship. Discussion forums, written feedback and private message threads allow for personalized instruction and in-depth reflection. 

Personalized feedback from the instructor, builds mutual respect and provides students with encouragement

online1

and motivation to excel at future assignments.

Typical feedback from my practicum instructor is illustrated in the artifact to the right.

Student-student interaction demonstrates genuine collaboration, trust and content appreciation, illustrated  below.

online2

 

 

 

Detailed , specific instruction is essential in the online environment. The level of detail of written instruction is illustrated  below.

 

online3

A hands-on element and real-world connection has always been an important component of my teaching philosophy. At first glance this would appear difficult in an online classroom. Recent experience in my practicum course has provided me with new insights into how even the most difficult projects can be accomplished in the virtual classroom. Extensive use and  examples of online collaborative group projects were plentiful in my practicum course, Entrepreneurship. My mentor’s curriculum does a great job in bringing real-work examples into the classroom. Creating a personal ledger in MS excel for a week’s income and expenses, developing, generating and executing a sales call to family and friends as potential customers, negotiating and agreeing on a price for a sales item with a classmate, creating a customer survey , giving it to potential customers, collecting and analyzing the data; are all authentic situations every entrepreneur must face when starting a business. These projects engage the learner in real-world examples, challenge students to think beyond the general content and apply that knowledge to future real-world experiences. These students are young entrepreneurs with the 21-century skills they need to be successful!

November 12 2014

Web 2.0 video Reflection

While gathering artifacts to include in my final project for the capstone course of  the Best Practices series for online teaching, I realized that I had neglected to post  my completed final project from  my web2.0 class. It was that class that truely started my exploration of lots of awesome technology tools.  I have since been able to incorporate many of these techy tools into various blended classrooms @ my curernt high school.

As to why I hadn’t shared the video -?>?-  I’d venture to say that I simply ran out of time, told myself I’d get back to it  OR attempted the post it and mercilessly failed! I have decide to add it today, as a friendly reminder of all my hard work back in March 2013 😛  And to allow my fellow capstone coursemates an opportunity to view it. Also every once in a while, I like to remind myself how far I’ve come!

ENJOY!

November 11 2014

Week 5 – Communication

compic

 

 

 

 

 

In Effective communication in an online environment, Dr Bruce Johnson simply states, “Effectively communicating with students in an online classroom requires new techniques.” This is ,of course, easier said than done. It is the level of clarity  in which we deliver the message that predetermines its effectiveness. Johnson points out that “all of the details within a message become important, including the tone of the message, the word choices used, and the mechanics of the message. ” The classroom teacher traditionally  relies heavily upon  face-to face delivery. Think  of the last lesson plans you provided for the substitute, that were not followed because the sub &/or the students did not fully understand the directions. It seems clear when we read it, but the simplest piece left undefined can lead to misinterpretation. Which in turn leads to more questions and more time on the lesson than originally planned. In the online environment, both student and instructor rely “upon written communication as a primary means of delivering feedback and addressing the <students> developmental needs.” When this feedback and communication is personalized and completed in a timely manner it can build a strong communication channel. Close attention to content detail and specific word choice can make the difference between a positive or negative experience. As the classroom teacher moves into the online environment, we must focus on perfecting our written communication skills just as we have with oral communication in our face-to-face classroom.

KLC