This past week we had the experience to receive feedback from our peers on our online course. Receiving this feedback is so valuable to me and I truly appreciate the time and effort my peers put into looking at my course with a critical eye and providing me with the positive areas of my online course and where I could improve or areas that were unclear. This will help me a great deal as I continue to develop and revise my online course. (Alec, this is a brilliant idea to encourage community, provide room for growth, and help your students be successful. Thanks!)

After reading both Joe’s and Dani’s reflections, I thought I would respond to my feedback in a similar approach by including some direct quotes from my feedback form and responding to them.

It would have never crossed my mind to do an online course for grade 1. 

The idea of targeting the grade-one student population within the school division is a wonderful idea.

I agree and thank you! I was questioning my choice of doing an online course in grade 1 as I knew there would be some challenges as grade 1’s are very reliant on the teacher. I feel like the focus on one major online tool, Seesaw, allows them to master the tool and then they are able to focus on the learning activities related to the outcomes, rather than learning multiple tools.

Research has shown that students often memorize words for a test and then promptly forget them. Assigned spelling lists often require students to study isolated words rather than phonics, the sounds that letters make within the words. Therefore, the goal has been to create a program that does not completely abandon weekly lists, but emphasizes opportunities for students to investigate and understand the patterns in words and build word knowledge that can be applied to both reading and writing. Hopefully this online course will do just that!

The station-rotation model of the blended course gives an opportunity for teacher-student and student-student interaction, as well as independent work where students can experience both face-to-face and online learning.

I feel like the above reviewer understood my online course and how it would work in a grade 1 classroom, but perhaps I need to include some more information on this in my course profile as the following questions were asked in my feedback form:

  • How will students be sorted into different modules? Some sort of screen administered to begin with? FnP assessments?
  • Have you thought about what you would do for students reading at a higher level?
  • You mention that this is intended for Grade 1 students in Regina Catholic Schools and that students can have a “wide range of abilities” but you did not address the demographics and what adaptations to the program could be possible (example-how would you help a Grade 1 student with EAL be successful with this module).
  • What other tools could you use for feedback during the process to both monitor, as well as, encourage student progress?

In Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades, Second Edition, Fountas and Pinnell emphasize that “small-group instruction is more powerful when nested within a variety of instructional contexts with varying levels of support,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). This word study online course allows for a small group of students to work independently on the “we do” portion of their word study practice while the teacher does guided reading with a small group of students. Other students in the classroom would be working on writing, reading to self, or listening to reading. A station-rotation model of blended learning allows for a purposeful and engaging use of technology in a grade one classroom. In addition, this online course can be accessed from home to allow for enrichment with parental support. This small group instruction guided by assessment will allow for differentiation for individual students whether they are EAL, reading above grade level, reading at grade level, or reading below grade level.

At the beginning of the year multiple assessments will be used to determine a student’s current reading level. This will help the teacher to decide where to begin instruction.  Each level of text along the gradient brings new challenges in the form of vocabulary, words to decode, high frequency words, concepts, and syntax.  Supportive teaching enables students to expand their reading strategies by gradually increasing the level of challenge and at the same time assuring that they are successful each day.​ 

Stepping Up

This assessment tool enables teachers to:​
  • Determine students’ independent and instructional r​eading level
  • Group students for reading instruction
  • Monitor ongoing student progress in reading
  • Select texts that will be productive for a student’s instruction
  • Identify students who need intervention and extra help
  • Document student progress across a school year and across grade levels
  • Inform parent conferences
  • Gather information about the reader, including the reader’s accuracy and self-corrections, comprehension, and fluency
  • Link the results of the assessment to their teaching to ensure students’ growth as learners

This benchmarking tool will be the main influencer in grouping students into different groups. However, a spelling inventory will be completed as well to determine a student’s stage of spelling. The Words Their Way Primary Spelling Inventory would be completed during the first couple of weeks of school. This inventory provides the teacher with specific information about each student’s knowledge and application of specific spelling features. For example, in the sample you can tell the student has mastered short vowels and consonant blends, but needs more work on long vowels. This student falls within the “within word pattern” developmental stage of spelling. You can use the information from this assessment to plan strategy groups and also to determine where to begin with your whole class instruction. If you find that most students have already mastered beginning consonants, you can skip those lessons and address beginning consonants in strategy groups with the few students who need more practice.

While the Words Their Way  assessment is great for obtaining knowledge about students’ ability to apply common spelling patterns, it does not provide information about their ability to spell words outside of common spelling patterns and words that they will likely use in their everyday writing.

During the first two weeks of school, teachers would administer high frequency word inventories using the Fountas and Pinnell 500 High Frequency Words.

When you correct students’ tests, highlight only the words that they were able to spell correctly on a recording sheet in their word study folder. Students will use this list throughout the school year to create weekly individualized high frequency word lists containing the words they spelled incorrectly on the assessment.

word study

Please see the powerpoint below that was created by our divisions ELA Consultant that provides more detail on the the Word Study program within our school division. This program is the backbone of this online course. 

https://portal.rcsd.ca/department/EdServices/Resources/ELA/Resources/WordStudy/_layouts/15/WopiFrame.aspx?sourcedoc=%2Fdepartment%2FEdServices%2FResources%2FELA%2FResources%2FWordStudy%2FDocuments%2FWord%20Study%20PowerPoint%2Epptx&action=embedview&wdAr=1.3333333333333333

As part of the formative and summative assessments, incorporating a variety of activities, such as seesaw activities, weekly spelling tests, and observations from small group instruction will give an accurate picture of the students’ academic progress.

As you continue to build this up, the single blog post would get pretty long. Would it be worth exploring making your course into a blog of its own, and being able to divide it into categories, etc ?

I agree. I think I will create an online document, almost like an online teacher module with live links that allow for the teacher using this course to plan and access materials.

If this does pan out into the teacher resource that it looks like to me (a pretty fantastic one at that) then you could use videos of yourself doing some of these activities to supplement as visuals and aids for teachers wanting to implement this. You could use placeholders as doing this may not be feasible in the amount of time we have to build this?

This is a great idea! I will definitely keep this in mind for future development!

I very much appreciate the rationale and driving purpose behind this course. Creating a structure that generates purposeful targeted instruction is exactly what teachers have been/are trying to do. This is a relatively novel way to do it, and I would love to know what happens as you implement!

I am really looking forward to see how this course develops over the next few weeks. I am also extremely excited to share it with other teachers within our school division so that they can have the opportunity to blend within their classrooms and not have to do as much of the “leg work” to get there. I am a huge fan of sharing and collaborating and my hope is that as a team of teachers we could create online word study courses for the grade 1-3 range.

Thanks so much for your feedback! I can clearly see my gaps and this has given me some guidance on how to improve my online course!

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One thought on “How can I improve?

  1. Hi Kristina and great reflection on your feedback. It is apparent that you really thought this out when you first decided what course you wanted to teach and then how you were going to implement it. There is a need for such a course like this and you support your approach with both experience and evidence. I like your quote, “the goal has been to create a program that does not completely abandon weekly lists, but emphasizes opportunities for students to investigate and understand the patterns in words and build word knowledge that can be applied to both reading and writing.” I agree with you that kids memorize more than understand and does true learning occur when they do this? I think you have a great start already and the revisions you make will result in a great course. Good luck.

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