November 3 2014

Week 4 – Feedback has an important role

Copurtesy of CanStock

Courtesy of CanStock

Many of the readings this week, have indicated that feedback plays an important role in the learning experience. An alternative article, I discovered @ on the subject identified the following critical components of effective feedback;

  • Feedback must have a element of timeliness,
  • It must be motivational,
  • It is best when individualized  and personalized,
  • It must be manageable,
  • And directly related to the assessment criteria.

When considering our last two questions; What characteristics of feedback affect students’ perception of their learning experience? and Even though feedback is an influential means of learning, why it is often most neglected or poorly given? I found this author’s points in 2 areas most applicable:

  1. “motivational: feedback may have positive or negative effect on student motivation and self-esteem. It affects students’ personal feelings which, in turn affect their engagement in the learning process.”.

When given genuinely , feedback then would have a significant impact on the students’ perception of their learning. Negative feedback runs the risk of easily discouraging the struggling student, and if fact if not delivered delicately, could cause a student to disengage entirely. ” I often hear the excuses “I’m not very good with computers” , “It’s too hard” or ” I can’t do it”. When a student struggles with a concept or idea or skill, it’s seems much easier to them to simply give up. And harsh assessment could tip the scale in that very direction. I will be perfectly honest, I struggle with the “cushy-cozy” delivery concept. I can be harsh – and that’s face-to face! I try to sugar coat it at times, if I think the student ultra-sensitive. But you just never know , they are teenagers after all….. I shudder to think what curt words could do in the online environment.

And specifically in response to  the second question:

  1. “individual/personal: each student has unique strengths and weaknesses. As a result, in order to be effective and enable students to improve their competencies, formative feedback must fit each student’s achievements. It needs to be personalized…”

That last statement is the answer.. personalized. Yes, we try and yes we do accomplish personalized feedback, sometimes.  I think it is critical and directly related to the effectiveness of our efforts and the learning process. But , again, if I am staying perfectly honest , this takes way too much time. Time we do not have. Time we need to perfect the next lesson or grade that next paper. It is not that we intentionally neglect this aspect of assessments. There is just never enough time to give it justice. In an online environment, we can blame the tools, but this is a difficult task to do and do well in any given classroom.


Hatziapostolou, T., & Paraskakis, I. (n.d.). Enhancing the Impact of Formative Feedback on Student Learning Through Online Feedback System. International Faculty of University of Sheffield, 8(2), 122-122. Retrieved November 2, 2014, from

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 31 2014

Week 4 – One more assessment

Courtesy of

Courtesy of


Another formative assessment tool I discovered this year is the online response tool, This free tool allows you to build quick quizzes that students can access with their smart phone. The quiz can be student or teacher directed and results can be displayed immediately. It’s a fun activity, that allows you to quickly assess if material has been absorbed and understood or if more instruction is necessary . My personal favorite is the quick exit question , ” What did you learn today?”. This is a great tool to determine how effective I was and then I can modify my next lesson based on the feedback, if necessary.

October 31 2014

Week 4- Assessments

I am intrigued by the assessment option referred to as the Word Journal.

The word Journal was introduced to me in the article , Technology-Enhanced Classroom Assessment Techniques by Jacqueline Mangien from Faculty Focus. I have used  journaling as a means of student reflection and self-reflection in a number of my classes. This semester, I introduced blogging as an electronic form of reflection and to build student-student interactivity. I have found this form of assessment very effective and especially enlightening for me. Reflection is a great tool to decode and internalize a learning experience. This method of expression allows the student to self -assess and collaborate with peers , along with the instructors assessment of   higher order thinking skills. It also adds a measure of the ‘authentic audience’ which tends to motivate students to do a better job.

A Word Journal defined by  Faculty Focus:

In the Word Journal assessment, students summarize a lesson, concept, or text in a single word, then write a short narrative explaining their word choice. Encouraging students to write blog posts for their word journals provides a relevant and wider audience for their selections and allows classmates to comment on one another’s ideas. The professor might then collect the word journals and create a word cloud such as Wordle to visually display comment themes and elements from the responses.

Looking to engage my own new bloggers I tried a modified version of this lesson.  Please check out my lesson instruction and outcome, on my student blog; Blogging with Mrs. C.  Additional examples can be viewed on any student blog listed on the right, feel free to comment on your favorite. I’m sure my class will get a kick out of it!



October 27 2014

Week 3- The 24-hour teacher

Courtesy of :

Courtesy of :

Has the time commitment required to create a course been a barrier that’s prevented you from agreeing to teach online?

I have been tasked with developing and teaching in a blended classroom for about 3 years now. The initial setup  as well as the ongoing maintenance for my classes has been extremely time consuming, but it has , at the same time, been very rewarding. I was not intimidated by the daunting task of putting all my classes online as many of my colleagues have been in the past. Many are still overwhelmed. I view it as a challenge – yes, but also as an opportunity to develop and improve my skills as a teacher. I have found that once  a course is initially established, it does become easier each time you teach it.  However, my only experience is in a blended learning environment, I have not had an opportunity to teach 100% online class. I know, with the help of this and the other classes in this online series, that there are frustrations and obstacles in an online environment that I have not yet experienced.

I agree with the data presented in “Teaching Online- A Time Comparison” in regard to Course Preparation Time. Because delivery of instructions and content relies primarily on the written word, these instructions must be far more detailed. In the classroom environment you can  explain and answer questions as they arise. For online content and instruction , you must anticipant potential questions and provide solutions up front. Providing this level of detail is very time consuming, significantly more when compared to in-class preparation. Cavanaugh’s study also identified an increase in Time Spent Teaching in an online environment. “This <electronic> communication has been found to be one of the most time consuming parts of teaching an online course.” Although “this time can be reduced by limiting student’s interaction”, by doing so you may jeopardize the quality of the course through misunderstanding of course content and/or expectations. Obviously limiting feedback, hinders our ability to clarify instruction and also prohibits students from learning from their mistakes. Cavanaugh’s study concludes that even for small online classes, time demands are significantly greater than for in-class courses. The question we must ask ourselves is, of course, does the additional time demand necessary to deliver a quality online class outweigh the benefits gained by teaching in this environment? Is it really worth it? I guess time will tell…..