Big ideas and Major Takeaways!

I always love writing these posts at the end of Alec’s courses because it is amazing to see and reflect on the amount of growth that has happened over the course. This course was extremely challenging for me as I am currently on maternity leave (and my 9 month old is a stage 5 clinger… and my almost 3 year old is much better. haha!). At the same time, I am so proud of what I accomplished this course. Creating my online course will not only benefit me, but also all grade 1 teachers within Regina Catholic schools (and really any other teachers using a word study program) because all of my lessons are shareable and editable.

At the beginning of this course we were asked to list our main goals for the course. I have listed them below and have reflected on them and how I progressed this semester.

My number one goal for this course is to get through it without missing a deadline and being able to produce the quality of work I am used to producing! (YES! I did it. I was able to keep my deadlines straight in my head and did not miss an assignment, WOOHOO!). Three other goals I have are:

  1. To develop an understanding of the pedagogical issues (e.g., learning strategies, developing content, delivery/facilitation formats/options, developing presence, cultivating community, etc.) of blended and online learning. As an elementary school teacher, I see very few instances of blended and online learning (although we do have some excellent examples of it happening right within our school division by extraordinary teachers, such as Matthew Bresciani) and I would like to explore how we can help close that gap. (My understanding of what blended learning is has completely shifted over this course. At the beginning of the course, I was merely scratching the surface of what blended learning was and I was limiting it to my preconceived notions and past experiences of  fully online (distance) learning. As we progressed through this course, I gained understanding on the pedagogical issues of blended and online learning and have found creating a course prototype and being a student in a blended course simultaneously has helped me to develop a strong pedagogical understanding of online learning).  
  2. To examine and evaluate blended and online course content, pedagogical practices, and tools for implementation.  To be completely honest, I don’t know what is really out there (other than YouTube and MOOCs) for designing online and blended learning. I would like to explore, evaluate, and examine the various tools used to deliver the course and the pedagogical practices that need to be in place in order for them the be successful. (WOW! There are so many tools out there to create a blended learning environment. My view of blended learning before this course was very distorted and I thought blended learning could only be achieved successfully in the older grades or post-secondary education. This course has opened my eyes to the way we can blend with many different ages and populations. It has been so great following everyone else’s journey to see how they would blend in their courses). 
  3. To create something that is useful and can be used again. This is one of my favourite aspects of Alec’s courses — everything that we do is purposeful and has true meaning and the ability to impact teaching and learning. (Yes! Yes! Yes! Like I said above, Creating my online course will not only benefit me, but also all grade 1 teachers within Regina Catholic schools (and really any other teachers using a word study program) because all of my lessons are shareable and editable). 

I feel like this course went by in the blink of  an eye. Here is a quick timeline of the major takeaways from the course related to designing for online and blended learning.

What is Blended Learning? from The Learning Accelerator on Vimeo.

My mind was blown away with the learning activities we did together in our first class. I have taken other classes with Alec before, but it just seemed like doing group work and connecting with others was SO easy and natural in the course. In our first class we worked in breakout groups to define what is blended learning and online learning. At the same time, Alec polled Twitter to get their definition and within a few minutes we had a collaborative document that was created by 25 individuals and a twitter thread with multiple responses. I was very excited to see what the rest of the course would entail.

I really like this definition of blended learning by Vaughn, Cleveland-Innes, and Garrison:

Blended learning can be defined as the organic integration of thoughtfully selected and complementary face-to-face and online approaches and technologies. A direct result of the transformative innovation of virtual communication and online learning communities, blended learning environments have created new ways for teachers and students to engage, interact, and collaborate.

One of the most crucial readings to my development this course was the Tony Bates Chapter on the continuum of technology-based learning.

Blended learning can include a wide variety of designs. One of the best things about this course was seeing the wide variety of courses designed by my peers and all the different ways ( CMS/LMS/VLE and selected platforms) their online courses would take place.

‘Blended learning’ can mean minimal rethinking or redesign of classroom teaching, such as the use of classroom aids, or complete redesign as in flexibly designed courses, which aim to identify the unique pedagogical characteristics of face-to-face teaching, with online learning providing flexible access for the rest of the learning.

-Tony Bates

One of the most challenging (and rewarding) things done this semester was creating my content modules. I thought this would be fairly easy when I first looked at the assignment, but after many, many hours of work, edits, and design, I found that perhaps creating an online course is more work than teaching F2F. I feel like a lot of the work in in an online course happens at the “design” stage and you really need to think of what you want to accomplish in your course and how you are going to get there. BUT… once you create your online course you can use it again, again, and again. So it is worth it to put in the effort at the beginning.

I really liked having the opportunity for some free exploration this semester to look at creation tools, open content resources, and tools for videos, audio, and presentations! Being on maternity leave basically back to back has left me feeling a bit in the dark and the opportunity to explore these tools will help me a great deal when I get back into the classroom!

One of the BEST experiences in the class was reviewing my peers courses and receiving the feedback on my course. This was so valuable as I was able to see what my peers were doing and also reflect on the changes I needed to make my course better. This feedback was really a game changer in my online course and if you look at my first submission to my final submission, you will notice that A LOT has changed.

The community created in this course was one of the best communities I have had in my graduate studies and it was through an online course. I really appreciated the time to do breakout sessions with my peers where we could discuss and work together to deepen our understanding of blended learning. I enjoyed connecting with everyone on Twitter and working with my PLN to find and share resources on blended learning. And I enjoyed reading everyone’s blogs to see how their journey was going this semester as well.

Here’s to one more week!!

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Final Course Submission

“Innovation is a process, not a product.” –George Couros

Creating my online course did not happen overnight, it has a been a journey over the last few months learning new and innovative technologies, figuring out what I should focus on, and trying to make this online course usable for 6 year-olds.

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. This course is 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.

Below you will find my journey as I worked towards the product for my major project for EC&I 834. To see the final product , which is still a work in progress (I will continue to chip away at the remaining modules over the next few months), please download a copy of the online course. Please click the links below to see the process of completing my final project in more detail.

  1. I started this journey to creating my online course after reading the Bates chapter on The continuum of technology-based learning. I was excited to attempt an online course for grade 1’s after reading and reflecting on this chapter because my online course could be a blended course and I could use a station rotation model (the perfect model for balanced literacy).
  2. The next task was to create a course profile, which included an overview and description of the course.
  3. The next task was to check out some online courses. This was crucial to my development of this course as I was able to identify what I needed to include and how I needed to structure my online course for grade 1 students to be successful.
  4. Then it was time to complete my first course module. I am so glad this module was due early on in the course as it took WAY more time than I had imagined. I really struggled through this process and I believe it is evident in what I produced as it wasn’t my best work.
  5. We then received VALUABLE feedback from our peers on our online course. This feedback was really a game changer in my online course and if you look at my first submission to my final submission, you will notice that A LOT has changed. Some of the notable changes are:
    • My YouTube video review lessons were completed reformatted and re-recorded to be more aesthetically pleasing and to better align with the student activities.
    • All of the student activities in seesaw were re-created to create a more uniform feel and be more engaging for the students to complete.
    • Activities were sorted into categories, folders, and identify the skill being learned.
    • The assessment process was better described and thoroughly laid out.
    • The overall feel and look of the online course was changed. An e-book was created in place of the document.
    • The course was more thoroughly described.
  6.  Lastly, the final submission was completed!

Please watch the screencast below for an inside view of my online course.

* You can also find this post on my EC&I 834 Major Project page.

Word work, work in progress…

To download a copy of the course prototype, please click here.

Introduction

Please see my course profile for a scope and sequence of the course.

This is a working document as the course is still in the development stages. This course protype is based off the units created by Regina Catholic School Division. This course may be most successful in a connected educator classroom during balanced literacy/guided reading time; 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.

The format of this blended course uses the gradual release of responsibility.

GRR

Unit 1: Short Vowel Word Families at, an

High Frequency Words: like, my, ran, the

Resources
Magnetic letters

Words Their Way Level A by Bear, Invernizzi, and Johnston

Big Book of Rhymes

Reading A-Z Mentor Series: Short vowel “a”

Reading Rods (Word Families)

Making Words Grade 1

Tablets

Seesaw Activities

 

Traditional Classroom Instruction
Day 1:

·         Introduce Sort 6-TG page 26 (Words Their Way). You may want to use highlighter tape to highlight the –at and –an words.

·         Project short “a” book, Nap and Pap, from Reading A-Z. Follow the lesson plan on Reading A-Z (contact Jillian Laursen – RCSD ELA Consultant – for your log-in information)

·         Sort 6: -at and –an word families TG page 26 (Words Their Way)

o   Introduce Picture/Word Sort TG page 26 (Words Their Way)

o   After modeling this activity, students will complete at the Word Study Station through Seesaw activities. In addition, students could re-sort their cards. Next, students make the words with magnetic letters and then print the words in their word study notebook.

·         Introduce high frequency word(s).

 

Day 2:

  • Reread the short “a” book. Omit the last word of each line, and have students provide the missing word.

·         On the projector, model using the reading rods to make short “a” words.

o   After modeling this activity, students will complete at the Word Study Station on Seesaw activities.

·         Practice the Sort TG page 26 (Words Their Way).

·         Introduce/review high frequency words.

 

Day 3:

·         Apply the Skill TG page 27 (Words Their Way).

·         Show the Making Words Lesson 1 pages 5 and 15 (Making Words for Grade 1)

o   Make: an, at, pat, pal, pan, tan, plan, plant

·         Introduce/review high frequency words.

 

Day 4:

·         Complete the Sort-Paste in Place TG page 27 (Words Their Way).

·         Learning Phonograms: -at, -an page 292-293 (Phonics Lessons for Grade 1).

·         Learning Phonograms: -an page 304-305 (Phonics Lessons for Grade 1).

·         Introduce/review high frequency words.

 

Day 5:

·         Introduce/review high frequency words.

·         Assessment

o   Spelling Test (“-at and -an” words and a couple of high frequency words).

 

Station Rotation Activities
Watch the video: Short Vowel Word Family Lesson Review -at, an

frame (1)

Seesaw App:

For the purpose of this course prototype, please use the following to sign in:

If you’re using Seesaw for the first time:

1.       Go to app.seesaw.me

2.       Choose “I’m a Student”

3.       Type in the code: JDLP XCCT. This code expires on February 19, 2019

 

In the actual course setting, grade 1 students will access seesaw using the following steps:

seesaw.png

 

After you sign up as a student in my Seesaw class, you can access the following activities:

3.      Scratch Jr. Coding

Recognizing and Naming Uppercase and Lowercase Letters:  This project reinforces a student’s knowledge of writing and recognizing uppercase and lowercase letters.

scratchjr

 

 

Unit 2: Short Vowel Word Families ad, ap, ag

High Frequency Words: all, how, be

Unit 3: Short Vowel Word Families op, ot, og

High Frequency Words: if, she, big

Unit 4: Short Vowel Word Families et, eg, en

High Frequency Words: put, run, you

Unit 5: Short Vowel Word Families ug, ut, un

High Frequency Words: as, not, for

Unit 6: Short Vowel Word Families ip, ig, ill

High Frequency Words: am, has, day, cat

To be continued…