Summary of Learning

Last week I took a look at the big ideas and major takeaways of EC&I 834. It has been great to connect with all of you. You have helped me create an online course for the grade one students in our school division and I look forward to continuing to develop and use blended learning with our youngest learners.

I have really enjoyed reading your blogs, following your tweets, and our breakout sessions in zoom. I look forward to crossing paths with many of you again sometime soon!

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!!

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.

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!

 

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…

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.

 

Anxious, yet Eager.

It is really hard to believe that this is my fifth course with Dr. Alec Couros. It all started over 13 years ago in ECMP 355 (Intro to Computers in Class), in the Fall of 2006. Around 20 of us huddled in the computer lab working on desktops building websites using code and exploring this fairly new site called YouTube. Fast forward three years to the Winter of 2009 and I was back again with Dr. Couros in ECMP 455 (Classroom Computers Advanced). A LOT had changed in those three years. Twitter was a new and emerging tool and people were beginning to grow their Personal Learning Network (PLN). The concept of 21st century learning and bringing learning outside the 4 walls of the classroom was also beginning to get some traction. ECMP 455 was truly a game changer for me and has helped me become the educator that I am today. To be honest, Dr. Couros is the reason I decided to pursue a masters in education. His commitment to innovative approaches that promote student-centered teaching and learning is something I aspire to.

I began my Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in the Winter of 2015. This is class 7 out of 10! I have taken EC&I 832 (Emerging Media Literacies) and EC&I 831 (Social Media and Open Education) with Alec, but this is my first class on a maternity leave and I am really hoping I can keep things straight! I have two beautiful girls. Isla is 2.5 years old and Scarlett is 7 months old. Needless to say, they keep me busy and there is never a dull moment.

2 4x6

I am really excited to be taking this course, but I am also feeling rather anxious. As a mother of two (both who aren’t the best sleepers), I am struggling with keeping things straight in my head. It is my hope that I don’t miss anything!

coffee smartphone twitter application
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

I appreciate you all helping to keep my focused and on task through Twitter and our online course community. When I am not full-time ‘momming’, I am a Teacher-Librarian with Regina Catholic Schools. I love this position as it allows me to combine a few of my passions in teaching: literacy, technology, and innovative teaching and learning.

In Regina Catholic Schools, the school library and the teacher-librarian are integral in strengthening student learning.

​Our school libraries are home to dynamic instructional programs that connect with the educational programs of the schools.  Through collaborative partnerships, teacher-librarians and classroom teachers design and implement inquiry-based learning opportunities that support curriculum learning outcomes.

Literacy development is the cornerstone of our school libraries.  They promote the enjoyment of reading, viewing, and listening. ​Our libraries prepare students for the future by developing the abilities and skills necessary to become information literate.​

Taken from RCSD Information and Library Services

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! 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.
  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.
  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.

… but in all honesty my number one goal is to not miss anything!

Summary of Learning…Channel 831 News!

Upon entering this course, I knew I would learn about Social Media and Open Education, as that was the name of the course. Through our modules, we  learned about how Web 2.0 tools and free & open source software have changed the way we teach and learn, the changing views of knowledge, emerging literacies, and the development of personal learning networks.

BUT, we didn’t stop there!

We didn’t just look at how social media and open education can enhance and transform education, we also explored much deeper societal, ethical, political, cultural and administrative issues that are associated with technology and media in education and society. Take a look at the EC&I 831 News (co-created with Genna Rodriguez) to see a summary of what we learned this term!

Is it more than good-bad, clean-dirty, acceptable-taboo?

After the course readings and videos this week, I was left disappointed and upset with our social culture. I began this post writing about why trolls were the whole problem, why white-middle-aged men were causing this, and how we should just ignore people who revel in creating emotional distress by turning of comments or not responding. However, I think this issue is beyond complicated, it is not only about trolls and white-middle-aged men, and how if we ignore these issues, they will go away. These issues of trolling, online harassment, and scammers are complex issues that deal with more than just a problem our society is facing on the internet, it is impacting our social culture and society as whole.


Why is harassment, especially targeted at women, in the online space so common? Why is sexist, racist, and hateful language seen as a norm? Why are we encouraged to not feed the trolls and simply ignore them, allowing this issue to continue? How do we make change?

Trolling, online harassment, and scammers are complex issues that need to be compared to real life crime. In some cases it is more than harassment and online abuse, the terms online harassment and online abuse are too easy to disregard and not see as complex issues, often telling people to ignore it or get off the internet if you don’t like it. Is this how we would treat people with offline issues of the same complexity? No. As John Oliver compares online issues to real life, it would be like saying, if you don’t want to get burgled, then don’t live in a house.

There’s no quick technological fix to end hate speech online, for it’s a deeply rooted societal ill which needs greater tackling offline – not a one-day Twitter boycott or a report abuse button” —Marta Cooper via The Telegraph

What can we do as a society to end hate speech, stop sexism, end racism, work towards social justice, and tackle complex issues online? To begin we should start the conversation and continue to speak out about controversial issues. Technology is not the problem here, it is a bigger societal issue.