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 & 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. 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.



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


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.





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



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 6 2014

Capstone: A case study

A Case study of an Entrepreneurial student

As a method to evaluate the effectiveness of my online practicum course Entrepreneurship, I  examined one student’s progress for the first 10 weeks of class. This case study examines the students participation, interaction with both the teacher and other students, level and demonstration of critical thinking skills, familiarity with content , time spent online and level of academic success.

For the purposes of this evaluation, I will refer to the student as Tom.

One of the first characteristics that drew me to this student was his level of participation. It was evident very early on, that Tom was a motivated learner. He began the first weeks of class by actively participating early each week, something that was encouraged by the instructor but only demonstrated by a few students. Tom was often the first to post in discussion threads and always took the leadership role in the group work. His work ethic continued throughout the course as he continued to login early in the week to complete reading assignments, discussion posts, group work, weekly exercises and required journal entries.


Mid-way through the course Tom remained motivated, was visually active in all course areas, and continued to demonstrate  great time management skills. Scores were high in all areas and almost all work was completed on-time. The system login history shows Tom had logged in 43 times in 30 days indicating multiple logins per day in some instances.

On one occasion, work was 1 day late due to inactivity from his partner on a group project. Illustrated in the artifact above. Repeated attempts to obtain answers from Tom’s partner, resulted in a request for help from the instructor. This Illustrated a high degree of ownership for the task that needed to be completed and self-directed learning. The private discussion thread with the instructor explained the situation and requested help early on the last day of class, was updated after 8PM and also contained a follow-up notification from Tom @ 6AM.  I included this artifact above because it clearly illustrates the students commitment to his learning and comfort level in communicating with the instructor.

There appeared to be no problems with the technology needed for the course content and for course navigation. An exercise using MS excel was executed without help from the instructor. Many of Tom’s peers struggled with this assignment which may have been due to a lack of understanding of the software program. Tom completed the work on time using the system drop box.


Reflections & other weekly exercise were completed well in advance of the deadlines. These reflections displayed strong content knowledge as well as a deeper understanding of the concepts, illustrated above in his thoughts on his own business .

Week 7 Tom was very involved in an active discussion , adding valuable information  in his original post as well as helpful feedback to other posts Clearly demonstrating critical thinking skills, interactivity with peers and maturity for this age group.

student grades

student grades


Tom’s commitment to his learning and strong work ethic is demonstrated though his overall quality of work which is also evident in his high grades in the course. I reviewed login data to determine the possibility of a correlation between time online and student grades. There was clearly a correlation of these 2 elements for students with poor grades and significantly less time online. However, there was less of a correlation for those students that excelled in the class. Based on the number of times logged in , higher ranked students ranged from mid 100 to 500 total logins for the course. This data lead me to believe that there is a very strong argument for achievement in an online environment being attributed to the readiness of the learner. The need to master time management skills , overall preparedness and organization, along with the degree to which the students are self-directed learners is critical to their success in an e-learning environment.


November 2 2014

Capstone : Practicum Course Interactivity

OBSERVATIONS & ARTIFACTS  of  Practicum Course Interactivity

teacher-student and student-student 

“Interactivity is not inherent. It must be designed.”

“A course for online delivery involves designing active and collaborative learning activities that take full advantage of digital communication.” (DePaul Teaching Commons. 2014) .

I have learned this to be the case from my practicum, personal teaching experience and completing this PD series on best online teaching practices. It is not as easy as the theory would suggest. It is not a matter of taking your classroom materials and placing them online in a series of PowerPoint presentations , drop box documents and spreadsheet assignments. It is much more than that. Successfully developing  an online class is re-designing course content to  actively engage students, it is providing real-world collaborative projects to extend learning and nurture higher order  thinking. It takes time, and patience and skill.

By design, my practicum Instructor  does not get involved with discussion board topics.  Detailed instruction on what & when  to post are very clear and performance is assessed based on this criteria. Students are solely responsible for completely this portion of the week’s coursework. Students are tasked with  various discussion topics, but the most interaction occurs when  group projects are assigned as part of the week’s learning exercise. Teacher strengths are demonstrated in these areas of interactive activities, group projects, and collaborative game exercises. The activities concentrate on student-student interaction and are student-content focused.  Good Illustrations to enhance content are the lemonade game, product features team and negotiations game. In each case the “game” exercise reinforces concepts from the lesson content through an interactive hands-on activity.

Artifacts that illustrate student-student interaction:

Negotiations Game activity: Clear instruction was given:





Negotiations Game- Team A



A total of 10 student-student interactions occurred before agreement was reached for this team in the challenge.



The following week a follow-up discussion thread was used for student reflection on the game activity. This prompted students to evaluate and share what they learned from the experience.

neggame followup








The personal ledger activity is  another illustration of reinforcing course content with a hands on activity. This exercise involved tracking revenue and expenses for a week and again reflecting on how well they did and what they could do to improve. This activity also had a discussion forum followup activity which allowed for student-student interaction in the form of suggestions for fellow classmates.personledg







Artifacts that illustrate Teacher-Student interaction:

Teacher-Student (one-on-one) interactions in both the private discussion threads and Have a Question forum are definitely  where my master teacher shines. Timely, positive and professional  feedback is delivered  routinely. This is where the instructor’s interaction contributes most to student learning and is the primary type of student interaction.discussion





Students also routinely post in a reflective business journal. The business journals are student posts in the blog/wiki each week as part of a final business plan project. Posts are evaluated and assignment feedback is given as part of the weekly grade.




Examining the types of interactivity utilized in my practicum course has provided a variety of new and interesting methods to engage students and enhance learning. The use of the discussion board forum for team activities that reinforce course content is a unique and innovative use of this tool. Interactivity between teacher and student can be personalized in the private discussion thread to ensure each student understands instruction and gains the necessary direction to succeed in the online environment. Intentionally not being involved in discussion boards allows students to direct their own learning and take ownership of the online experience.




“Developing an Online Course – Teaching Commons.” Developing an Online Course – Teaching Commons. DePaul University. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

November 1 2014

Capstone: Personal Reflections and Observations


The focus of my teaching is primarily project-based with strong elements of hands-on, authenticity and application of content. My overall teaching style and curriculum supports  life-career skills and choices, financial literacy ,business and entrepreneurship, media and information literacy. As well as the fundamental learning skills of creativity, critical thinking,collaboration and communication , also referred to as the 4- C’s of 21st century learning.

My District adopted the Learning by Design (LBD) model of curriculum development a number of years ago. Learning by design pedagogy is a design based theory that addresses  the need to connect education theory with learning practice. Lessons are designed with fundamental questions in mind, that relate the topic content to a broader subject. The specific intent is to go beyond the surface and apply learned content to a real world environment.  Critical thinking and problem solving skills are inherent in this process. This method of curriculum development strongly supports my 21st century skills teaching and learning instructional strategies.

Fortunately, this model directly correlates to the online learning environment and in most instances best practices of online teaching  go hand in hand with the development of 21st century skills.  However, care must be taken to transform classroom material to successful online learning. With intentional foresight, lots of organization, attention to detail and  thorough instructional strategies,  a face to face classroom can be transform into an online environment. My “face-to face” classroom is a blended learning environment.  As a computer teacher,  I have always had technology as an integral part of my classroom. That is not to say that my lessons, assignments, or even delivery of content has been solely computer based. It has not.  Over time , as the paradigm of traditional education has shifted to the integration of technology into the classroom, I have seen a natural progression in the use of technology in the public education classroom.

Reflections on my current teaching practice in a face-to-face/blended environment.

There are many aspects of the face-to face classroom that I enjoy. Group projects and student-student interactions are much easier to establish. In my f2f classroom I often employ variety of techniques to facilitate interaction , depending on the class dynamic. Group discussion exercises, as well as leading questions are used for whole class discussions. A class debate on a controversial topic always brings the classroom to life. I do enjoy watching the ‘ah-ha’ moment as it appears on a student’s face, when, after obviously struggling with a concept, they finally get it! The classroom has a natural sense of community and connection. It does have to be nurtured to some degree, but not to the extent of  the  online community. When I teach in the classroom, I typically deliver content via PowerPoint presentation and general discussion. I check for understanding with periodic ‘check point’ questions and have started to use the exit ticket feature in to check for understanding and obtain student feedback. This is a great tool to provide me with immediate feedback, so that I can adjust my lessons specific to the group, either offering more instruction on a particular topic or moving on to the next lesson with confidence that students have absorbed the information. It appears to have also sparked interest and enhanced engagement of students in the couple of instances used. This interaction builds community in the face-to face classroom, along with my use of various content reinforcement exercises such as jeopardy team competitions for test review, or another vocab team competitions, student panel discussion, and a Payday simulation game.

It is the incorporation of Web2.0 tools into my blended classroom that has brought my learning environment to a whole new level. Student-content and student-student interaction has been greatly enhanced. Sharing of projects not only for peer-review but also for classroom presentations are  illustrated in my use of padlet, wikis, and prezi.  I created a netvibes channel to facilitate  content specific  current event discussions and have conducted the actual discussion both in class and online.  All class notes and assignments are also available on our Edline class page for easy at home access. Video screen capture is used to deliver class content instruction for review or in the event of student absences.  Additional explanation and my initial motivation for many of these projects is attributed to the Web2.0 tools class in this Best Practices series. My Final presentation for that class as well as further explanations can be found in some of the first posts on this blog.  Innovative learning with Mrs. C.

Also In the web2.0 class of this series, I envisioned  the integration of technology for a fundamental project in my Computer Literacy class. This fall, I was able to implement the beginnings of that model with the inclusion of digital mind mapping. Details of the plan can be found here and are illustrated in part below. More information is available in the corresponding post on this blog Innovative learning with Mrs. C.

The original plan included utilizing a mind mapping tool for the initial brainstorming session in order to engage students and build collaboration through the use of technology. The  plan was altered only slightly with the use of popplet as the mind mapping tool, substituted for its ease of use and accessibility. Popplets were shared on our class blog, Blogging with Mrs. C, which I also implemented just this fall to enhance student-student interaction in a class that traditionally had been lacking in this area. This too was part of my original plan and I am pleasantly surprised at the level in which some students have embraced the project, illustrated here and here.

In the past, I utilized a wiki to build a collaborative e-project on E-Commerce in a CP Business Class, which I believe was a tremendous success. I have also used online discussion boards to engage students , but these efforts until now, have met with limited success. I have obtained some great ideas from my practicum course on how I can utilize this online forum more effectively.

With the additional of technology tools like office 365 or Google drive, collaborations and feedback become much more dynamic and students stay connected outside the 4 walls of the school building. These tools also encourage immediate teacher or peer feedback for written works, allowing student to apply what is learned more quickly and incorporate suggestions into the final work, boosting the overall quality of the assessment. The illustration below is an example of  a student in my computer literacy class who shared her research paper with me and I electronically communicated feedback on her writing and formatting in the form of comments.

Without personalized feedback , facilitated by technology, the quality of her final paper would have been significantly lower. This process is much more time consuming , less efficient (and messy) when done without the technology tool.

Incorporating student-teacher communication through the use of technology, specifically for me via email, has in many instances heightened the connection between myself and my students. Many Students are less shy and gain confidence when the web is a buffer. Email, for some, is a much easier way to open a conversation and the comfort level the digital native feels with texting is replicated through the email channel to their teacher. This is a plus for the 100% online classroom where Email and private discussion forums are encouraged and in fact relied upon for all communication. I have found the use of this medium to greatly enhance teach-student relationships and as a bonus, also opens a channel to parents as well.


“Framework for 21st Century Learning – The Partnership for 21st Century Skills.” Framework for 21st Century Learning – The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Web. 2 Nov. 2014.

“Learning Theories, Learning Models, Learning Theory Summaries – in Plain English!” Learning Theories. Web. 2 Nov. 2014.

“Pedagogy  |  Learning by Design  |  New Learning.” New Learning , Transformational Designs for Pedagogy and Assessment. Web. 2 Nov. 2014.

October 24 2014

Capstone E-Portfolio Desciption2


Entrepreneurship is a subject that I have taught for many years, however, It has always been presented as a series of units inside a broader Business class. This year, for the first time, I have segmented the material and will present it as a standalone semester length course. I have not examined it for potential online elements, and if truth be told, have not even formalized the lesson sequence or finalized the syllabus.  The only concrete language that exists today is the course description from our program of studies:

“Entrepreneurship takes business basics to the next level as students work through starting their own “virtual” business. Students are introduced to fundamentals of business ownership and marketing while developing a detailed business plan.  Students improve their knowledge of the business environment through textbook study and individual projects. Students explore the roles of the business owner, business manager and business leader as well as expand their fundamental computer skills through the extensive use of MS office and the Adobe CS6 Suite.”

My hope is to make the transition as seamless(for me) and as transparent (for my students) as possible, while adding substantial rigor to the existing content.  Project-based learning is essential to the development of necessary 21st Century Skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. My plan is to  incorporate significant tech elements into the new course through an integrated business plan project. The intent is to reinforce content with a hands-on learning experience that will ; reinforce computer skills, build self-confidence and encourage young entrepreneurs.