Online Collaborative Learning

This week we learned about the online collaborative learning. Harasim describes online collaborative learning theory (OCL) as:

a model of learning in which students are encouraged and supported to work together to create knowledge: to invent, to explore ways to innovate, and, by so doing, to seek the conceptual knowledge needed to solve problems rather than recite what they think is the right answer. While OCL theory does encourage the learner to be active and engaged, this is not considered to be sufficient for learning or knowledge construction……In the OCL theory, the teacher plays a key role not as a fellow-learner, but as the link to the knowledge community, or state of the art in that discipline. Learning is defined as conceptual change and is key to building knowledge. Learning activity needs to be informed and guided by the norms of the discipline and a discourse process that emphasises conceptual learning and builds knowledge.

(Harasim, 2012, p. 90)

When teachers are able to create a course that is well organized and encourages active participation and collaboration the OCL model can improve conversational learning, allow opportunities for deep learning, develop academic knowledge, and knowledge construction. Bates reminds us that discussion forums are not an addition to the curriculum, but rather the core component of the teaching. Bates says, “it could be argued that there is no or little difference between online collaborative learning and well-conducted traditional classroom, discussion-based teaching.”

When teachers successfully create an educational community of inquiry in the online environment, students are able to “collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding” (Garrison, Anderson and Archer, 2000).

Community-of-Inquiry-2
Community of Inquiry Image: © Terry Anderson/Marguerite Koole, 2013

With online collaborative learning, the aim is not to replace the teacher, but to use the technology primarily to increase and improve communication between teacher and learners, with a particular approach to the development of learning based on knowledge construction assisted and developed through social discourse.

(Bates, 2015)

… so how am I going use online collaborative learning in my course prototype with Grade 1’s? Hmm… honestly when I first started thinking about this question I was stumped. Creating a community of inquiry is rather challenging in the primary grades to begin with and takes a lot of practice, so to implement this successfully online will be an added challenge. Because of my demographic, we will be focusing on using one app to learn an master to encourage student-to-student, student-to-instructor, and student-to-parent interactions.

Seesaw allows students to share their work, and specifically encourage individual 3cqreflection and peer feedback. This will be modeled by the teacher and practiced as a group to ensure that feedback is meaningful and purposeful. The structure I plan to use to encourage authentic feedback is 3Cs and a Q. In the Seesaw app, teachers have the opportunity to review any comments before they are posted to ensure that feedback is constructive & appropriate.

Seesaw will also be used to collect work and give direct private feedback to students. I plan to push assignments to students for them to complete and turn in via Seesaw, creating a place where students and teachers can interact around their work. The beautiful thing about this app is that while I am busy with other students during guided reading, I can still see what students are working on after they submit their assignments and post to their account.

Lastly, Seesaw will allow me to communicate with families and keep them in the loop on the learning their child is doing at school. Students will add posts to Seesaw that they are proud of in a self directed way, as well as work their teacher has assigned allowing families to provide immediate feedback during the day or ask them about it that evening.

I feel like Seesaw really fits my purpose of my course module and allows me to create a community of learners that support each other and learn from each other in an online environment.

 


References

Bates, A.W., (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age. Tony Bates Associates Ltd.

Garrison, R., Anderson, A. and Archer, W. (2000) Critical Inquiry in a Text-based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education The Internet and Higher Education, Vol. 2, No. 3

Harasim, L. (2012) Learning Theory and Online Technologies New York/London: Routledge

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How can I improve?

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.

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. 

WSPPT
Word Study PowerPoint

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!

Primary Literacy & Coding

This week I decided to take a look at primary literacy and coding. To be honest, this wasn’t even on my radar prior to this course. I have always had a keen interest in primary literacy, which is why I became a Teacher Librarian, and coding was something I dabbled in (if you could even say that) with our Kindergarten classes using Bee-Bot before my maternity leave. However, putting the two together was a completely new concept until Alec suggested I take a look at incorporating some coding into my online course after reading my course profile and my interest grew even more after some “playing around” with coding in class last week. I decided this something I MUST have in my online course. BUT, how could I tie it meaningfully to primary literacy??

To start this learning journey this week I began looking through Kathy Cassidy’s resources on APPS, ‘BOTS AND CODE: THE NEW ABC’S IN THE ELEMENTARY CLASSROOM. For those of you who don’t know Kathy Cassidy, she is a trailblazer in bringing technology into the primary classroom, I highly recommend you visit her website and follow her on Twitter. After hours and hours of exploration, I decided that ScratchJr would be a program I would like to use as it hit many requirements for classroom use and more specifically, primary classroom use:

  1. It is aimed at young children (ages 5-7).
  2. It is free.
  3. In programming interactive stories and games, students will learn to solve problems, design projects, and express themselves creatively on the computer.
scratch1.PNG
Check it out!

 

And upon further exploration, there are teaching resources specifically targeted at primary literacy, which could easily be adapted to fit into my online course. scratch2

Lastly, there are GREAT resources for teachers under the teach tab, with resources, lessons, and videos on how to use ScratchJr in the classroom. It really can’t be any more user friendly or easily accessible. My next step will be creating lessons based on my word study modules for students to code the words we are working on during that unit. I am so excited to continue to explore ScratchJr and make some modules using this app for my online course.

I continued to explore the world wide web to see how everyone else was using primary coding and literacy and I came across a great post by Kelly Hincks on Mixing Reading with Coding in Early Childhood. All I can say is WOW! What a goldmine I found here. She is a teacher librarian just like me and her content is amazing. In her post she says,

As a librarian, my goal is to expose students to all forms of literacy. Coding, to me, is just another form.  Teaching coding allows me to integrate multiple disciplines together. Coding is a process just like the research process. That is why it fits so nicely in the library. Additionally, coding teaches problem solving, cooperation, and how to overcome failure.

With all that being said, I do not believe in just coding for coding sake. I feel it should fit within a bigger picture. Combining coding skills with other literacy skills is always my ultimate goal.

This is so accurate! I want the technology I use to “blend” to be authentic, purposeful, and engaging. It should transform and enhance my end goal and not be used just because it is something “cool” I stumbled across. In her post, she talks about lessons to introduce coding to primary students and lessons to apply coding concepts.

Another site of interest that I explored this week is code.org. They have some spelling lessons and other online courses for primary students that could be used to introduce coding and teach the basics. Although this site probably won’t make an appearance in my online course, it is something I have added to my toolbox for when I get back to school.

In conclusion, I am really glad we had this week to just explore an aspect of blended learning that we are interested in. I was able to find something I could use to enhance and transform my online course and I am excited to see what I can come up with!

 

Course Profile: Grade 1 Word Study

A lot of ideas went through my head when I began thinking about the online course I would design for EC&I 834. I am on maternity leave right now, so I am not tied to a grade or subject and when I am back to work, I am teacher librarian, so this also affords me a lot of flexibility and the ability to collaborate with different grade-levels and subjects. After much contemplation and discussion with our divisions English Language Arts consultant and Information and Library Coordinator, I decided the most beneficial thing not only for me, but also our school division would be creating an online course for grade one students on word study.

 

The importance of creating smaller learning cohorts within the larger classroom environment is critical to a balanced literacy program.By creating smaller learning communities, the teacher is able to customize and personalize instruction for individual students or small groups. A first grade classroom brings a wide range of abilities, especially when it comes to literacy. Using blended learning and specifically the station rotation model, an educator is better able to accommodate and engage the individual learners as you are able to customize the lessons to the individual students. Although creating an online course for grade ones will bring challenges, I am looking forward to see how can be used to enhance and transform learning in the primary grades.

 

Please keep on reading to see my course profile. This is a working document and appreciate all feedback and comments you may have for me as I am sure this will change as I “work-through” the development of my prototype.

 

Target Audience

Students who are in grade 1 in Regina Catholic Schools.

 

Course Timeline

This course would run over the duration of the school year. This primary resource used to develop this course is Words Their Way by Invernizzi, Johnston, Bear, and Templeton. Words Their Way is a developmental spelling, phonics, and vocabulary program that is part of a balanced literacy program.

 

Course Delivery

This course will be a blended course using a station rotation model, which includes online instruction, teacher-lead instruction, and collaborative activities and stations. There will be a set time for face-to-face instruction, followed by online work. Students will be divided into groups based upon their reading level.

 

The course outline, teacher modules, and all other pertinent information will be housed on a google document. The face-to-face lessons will be reviewed through an online module that students will be able to access via a YouTube video. Students will scan a QR code to get to the appropriate module. Following review, students will learn and practice the spelling features by completing activities such as word sorting, word hunts, making words, and other games through Seesaw activities. Students will have the opportunity to work individually, with partners, and in small groups to encourage cooperative learning and individual responsibility. Communication and assessment will be communicated through the Seesaw app.

 

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes

The objectives and outcomes of this course are developed from the Saskatchewan Grade 1 English Language Arts Curriculum. Throughout this course students will:

  • Explore letter and sound relationships (phonics)
  • Examine word parts to denote meaning (morphemic analysis)
  • Develop automaticity for sight words  

 

Course Materials

This course would may be most successful in a connected educator classroom; however, it due to the nature of the station rotation, this course is accessible to other classrooms who have access to a smaller number of devices. Devices such as tablets are best for the station-rotation model as they eliminate the need to log in and provide quick access to materials and lessons.

 

There is no required text for this course, but the following resources will be used:

 

  • Phonics Lessons for Grade 1 by Fountas & Pinnell
  • Words Their Way Level A by Bear, Invernizzi, and Johnston
  • Rebus Chants Volume Two “For Popular Themes” by Kim Deibert
  • Jolly Phonics

 

During the course, a variety of materials will be accessed and/or made available online and accessed through the Google Doc and Seesaw Activities.

 

Special Announcements

As this course follows a station rotation model and allows for individualized instruction, the needs of any students with a disability, injury, or illness who feels they may need academic accommodation will be dealt with as they arise.

 

Attendance and Punctuality

Regular and punctual attendance at school is an essential part of student success. It is especially important as this course is based on participation and experiential learning rather than lecture.

 

Assessment

Students will demonstrate understanding through the Seesaw app and activities. The activities and data submitted will be assessed through this app as well. Students will also complete a weekly pre-test and post-test each week as summative assessment.

 

Assessment Strategies

Students will be assessed in a variety of ways including but not limited to seesaw activities, weekly spelling tests, and observations.

 

Assignments

Assignments will be shared in each individual module/lesson. As individual students require varied methods of instruction, assignments and expectations may vary dependant on student needs. This will be discussed between the teacher and the student’s family prior to the beginning of the course.