Category Archives: ECI 834 Weekly Blog

The Final Piece – Coming Full Circle

In collaboration with my colleagues Leona and Brianne we have come to the end of designing our blended online course. The experience of collaboration, peer reflection and self evaluation has been a success. The final goal, a finished product that is usable in our teaching whether it be in a typical face to face classroom, a blended classroom or strictly an online version. Through the use of Google Classroom as our LMS we believe that we have developed a course that is simple to follow for both students and colleagues. Our course focuses on the outcomes and indicators in the Grade 8 Life Science Saskatchewan Curriculum – Cells, Tissues and Organ Systems. If you would like to join our classroom in the previous listed link you can login into google classroom with a gmail account and use this code (hyclltn) to become a student in our course.

Designing the Course – A Team Effort

Leona, Brianne and myself decided to collaborate on this course because as the saying goes “two heads are better than one” – so let’s just make it three. We selected the grade 8 science area because Leona and Brianne are currently teaching this in their classrooms and wanted to work on a project that could be implemented into their learning spaces. When designing a course together we had to be aware of our individual teaching styles, personal strengths and weaknesses and be willing to make accommodations. We believe that together as a team we have done a good job of creating an engaging course for students at Harbour Landing Elementary. Our first step in the whole process was to create the big picture and make the course profile. Next, we looked into the curriculum and divided up the outcomes so that each of our modules contained certain outcomes and indicators. We tried to make sure that our course had good flow within our modules so that students weren’t missing any key learning concepts. Lastly, we choose to keep a consistent theme for our slides so it would be less confusing for our students. However, we did decide that it would be okay to not worry about having identical teaching methods because the variation within our modules would provide engagement for all of our learners’ needs.

During this semester of class we had several informative conversations about creating online communities, the importance of making an online course accessible by all and explaining in our words the purpose of school. All of the conversations provided helpful insight into how we should continue to design our course shell to ensure that it became a valuable learning platform for everyone. At the halfway mark it was time to let others take a peek at our work and complete a peer review. What were they going to say? Would they think we were creating a useful course or would they think we were completely off track? Despite our nerves getting the best of us our reviewers provided us with some useful criticism and plenty of positive feedback.

Course Overview – Google Classroom

Together we developed a google classroom that allows students to be active participants in our course whether they be at home or in the classroom with us. In our google classroom we have set up an easy framework for our students to follow. Within the classwork section there are different categories the students can access. For example we have the general course information category – where they can find our contact information, a you-tube video on how to use google classroom, and a detailed outline of the course. There is also a section for each module that has been developed. Currently this course covers 3 of the 4 outcomes from the Saskatchewan Curriculum, if a teacher was planning to use the course they would likely need to complete a few more modules in order to fully complete the outcomes of the grade 8 science curriculum.

We have designed six modules that have a good flow of content knowledge from one to the next. In the first and second modules we focus on the history of the cell and its structures. In the third and fourth modules we move onto how the cell makes tissue and how tissues make organs. Finally in the fifth and sixth modules we make the connections between organs and organ systems and how they function to make a healthy human body. Throughout our modules we use a variety of different teaching methods, interactive digital tools and provide students with written and viewing learning opportunities. The modules all contain a summative or formative style of assessment where students complete a self reflection activity, a google form test, or an assignment with a provided rubric. We have attempted to find ways to ensure that there are relationship building opportunities between students and with their teacher by using a variety of digital tools and group activities to enhance the classroom community feel. 

In order to create a course that we believe could be accessible to all we designed the following course profile. In our course profile you will find a more comprehensive plan for the specifics of our course. In our course profile we go into greater detail about our target audience, the course LMS and digital tool box, our course communication options, assignments, materials and assessments to be used. Overall we were attempting to create a course that provided an education that is relevant and concurrent with the pace and needs of our digital world. We want to provide students with the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways, by learning through and with technology hopefully we can prepare them to be digitally literate.

A true pleasure to collaborate and work with great like minded professionals. Thanks Leona and Brianne. Until the next time we get to work together!

Cheers,

Bret

Module Feedback!

A Reflection of the Review Process

An experience in the peer review process. This past week Brianne, Leona and I had our course reviewed by our peers in EC&I 834. We all appreciated this experience as it provided us with valuable suggestions on how to improve our course as well as it gave us positive feedback about the work that we had already completed.

Positive Feedback 

Let’s start here. Thank-you to all of our reviewers that noted that our course shell was incredibly organized. The three of us all take pride in our ability to maintain an organized, well thought out classroom whether it be in person or online. We are of a similar belief that if the teacher is well organized then the students will be less confused. We also appreciate the feedback that was noted around the time we put into our work. We as teachers often work very hard behind the scenes to make engaging lessons for our students and don’t necessarily receive the recognition, so thank-you for your honesty. For any of the reviewer’s who stated you would like to have our course we would gladly share, it makes us feel proud that others would want to use our work!


Course Prototype and Course Shell 

In general our reviewers were very pleased with the layout of our course and stated that it was well thought out. They felt that the LMS choice of google classroom was an appropriate choice for the grade 8 grade level. Several good suggestions were made for us and we will certainly use them to improve upon our course. The following are some overall thoughts from our reviewers.

  • Provide more student instruction on how to use google classroom 
  • Provide more student instruction for each module (pre recorded videos of the lecture)
  • Provide contact information of teachers (email, phone, etc.)
  • Provide more opportunities to have student to student interactions
  • Course Rational and Concerns appeared to be missing
  • Keep the titles of the modules consistent

A Personal Look into our Modules

Bret (Module 1 and 2)

Thank you to Chris W and Jacquie V for taking the time to check out my module and provide me with positive feedback as well as some constructive criticism – it is greatly appreciated!  I was nervous to read the feedback, as I wasn’t really sure how much to include or what format to use. I am always a bit nervous when presenting any sort of material to colleagues. Once I was brave enough to dive into the feedback, I was pleasantly surprised with the positive thoughts as well as some very constructive ideas that will help improve the module. Some of the positive feedback that I received for my module 1 was:

  • I was thrilled one of my reviewers noted the difficulty in creating an opening lesson for a unit and how difficult it could be; they later mentioned that this was an outstanding way to start a unit.
  • The YouTube video I selected (The Grand Cell Tour) was very thorough and the purpose of choosing that video was evident. 
  • Utilizing textboxes and a simple “edit” prompt so that students know they have a question to respond to or answer.
  • The flexibility of this module; being able to be easily used as a synchronous or asynchronous lesson. 

Along with the positives came some constructive comments about the module:

  • Provide more instructions for students to complete the cell organelle graphic organizer.  Have students work in partners and use the internet to research each organelle.
  • Accessibility for those with technology or bandwidth issues; paper copies, come to the school earlier, etc.
  • Include an overview video or instruction slide for the students so they are aware of what they are expected to complete.  There was an instruction slide in the module, but perhaps could be formatted differently or placed in a better spot for students to see earlier.

As with any sort of feedback, I am always more interested in constructive feedback (I like the positives too), but the constructive criticism is what is going to make the content better for our students.  The feedback that was given throughout the process is very much appreciated and has already been implemented in the planning of my next module! 

Brianne (Module 3 and 4)

I was very nervous to let my colleagues review my work and receive feedback. This was a new experience for me and I was unsure of how my expectations for myself compared to others. Thank you to Corrin C and Lindsey A for taking the time to review and give feedback that I can put to use.

I was given plenty of positive feedback and some constructive criticism as well. Let’s start with the positive feedback:

  • The amount of content is appropriate and the students will not be overwhelmed
  • The response to nonfiction graphic organizer was a great way to synthesize new information
  •  321 exit slip is revealing for grade 8 and is good tool to help guide teaching
  • There are many engagement pieces such as JamBoard, responding to nonfiction, 321 exit slip, and a self assessment
  • Outcomes and I Can Statements make it clear for the student what we are trying to achieve
  • The module is easy to use at home or at school

I was also given constructive criticism:

  • Consider adding voice instruction for students who have difficulty reading or are not reading at grade level
  • Add the Outcome at the bottom of the self assessment
  • Consider using the rubric function in Google Classroom (why didn’t I think of that!) 
  • Add a tool such Google ReadWrite for students who need support reading and responding

I am grateful for the positive feedback but even more so for the constructive criticism as I can apply this to what I have already created. This is such a simple way to assess and I ignored it. I will definitely use this for my next module as their perspective was different and showed me what I might have overlooked.

Leona (Module 5 and 6)

Thank-you to Leigh T and Dalton D for the positive feedback and constructive criticism that was noted in the reviews of my module 5. I appreciate the positive feedback about my content knowledge and the overall organization of my modules. I was pleased to read that my reviewers thought that my modules were not overwhelming and simple to follow along with. Online learning seems to be confusing at times so my goal is to make it more streamlined for my students, I often think “less is more”. I am so glad that one of the reviewers commented on the note taking sheet. I find that note taking has become something students are not very good at anymore. I like to create note taking sheets to help them develop better skills in that area and then eventually have them create notes of their own. Each reviewer provided me with useful ways in which I could improve my module and I certainly will be adjusting my module 5 and implementing those ideas into my module 6. Some of the suggestions made were as follows:

  • Using the classwork tab over stream tab ( I added a small video in the course section on how to navigate google classroom a bit better, also added a youtube video about using google classroom)
  • Provide more student instructions – In each of my modules I now have two slides – one for teacher instructions if I have a substitute deliver my lesson and a student instruction sheet. In module 6 I have added a short video overview of the lesson)
  • Student to Student Interactions – It was suggested that I had several teacher – student interactions but maybe was missing the student to student interaction. In module six the final project is working with a group to develop a google site about two systems of the body and how they interact to make a healthy person.
  • Private Links – In the beginning I forgot to open all the links up – I have now made sure that they are public – Well I sure hope I have.

Once again thank-you for the feedback. I do believe that peer review is a valuable process. Albeit sometimes difficult to potentially accept, however so often we are incredibly kind towards each other and that is certainly how I felt after this round of reviews.

Student Demographics and Learning Styles

Not all students are the same, everyone has different learning styles, needs and adaptations that allow them to be successful in their own way. As teachers it is certainly a challenging job to ensure that all needs are being met. When designing a course it is difficult to plan for every consideration, however it is likely reasonable to plan for those that we are aware of will occur in our learning spaces. Before embarking on planning a course it is incredibly valuable to know more about the students that will be in your learning space. When you know what you are dealing with it is much easier to be more prepared. As Bates outlines in Chapter 9.2.1, student demographics, learning style and accessibility are crucial pieces of information that teachers need to understand to be able to know exactly who is in their classrooms. 

Accessibility and Equity within our Course

Demographic information is very valuable when designing a class and you as a teacher are trying to decide what type of technology or media to use or not. For example if there are EAL, LRT, Hard of Hearing or Blind students in your class you would work towards making your module fit all needs. In some scenarios you might need to make worksheets that are adjusted reading levels, you might need to ensure that you have access to google read and write, there might be a need to develop slides that are easily read by a reader. It would be best practice to develop the course based on the needs of the students and not use an incredible amount of your time prepping for possible situations that may not occur. Through the use of student demographic sheets teachers should take a comprehensive inventory of any disabilities or learning needs that students might require. This will allow teachers to plan accordingly and support students in the best that they can. 

Accessibility 

Accessibility is another aspect that teachers must be aware of when they are designing their online course work. This works very closely with student demographics and most often, teachers will be able to identify students’ access to technology, media or bandwidth by understanding their student demographic which makes up their classroom. Bates again outlines in Chapter 9.2.1 two sets of questions that teachers need to answer before finalizing a course. The first set of questions surrounds the teacher’s use of technology for the purpose of teaching.

The second set of questions outlined by Bates, surrounds the expectations if students are to supply their own devices.

Bates goes on to further outline that for both teachers and students to answer these questions, teachers must be clear with why and how they intend to use technology. There is no point in requiring students to provide their own technology if you are uncertain if you will in fact be utilizing it in your class. This requires some more foreplanning by the teacher to ensure that there is not an unwarranted expense to the student families. Teachers must answer the following when making concrete decisions surrounding technology or media in their class.

As we continue to learn and develop our awareness of blended online learning it becomes obvious that it is complicated. There are numerous aspects to consider and there is no real perfect method. One of the key concepts that we continue to think about is that blended online learning requires you to be “Flexible” in order to help students succeed. Although complicated, Bates outlines that teaching and learning online can provide students more opportunities to learn while  at the same time accommodating student differences more easily.  With that said, it becomes apparent that the first step a teacher needs to take with incorporating technology or media is to know their students, the similarities, the differences, what digital skills they possess and what kind of access to technology is available to them.

Cheers,

Bret, Leona & Brianne

Module Update: Classroom Community!

As we continue to plan our Course for Grade 8 – Cells and Systems, Brianne, Leona and myself are looking at ways in which we can implement online tools that will help increase the interactions between those involved in the course (students, teachers, parents, community members), creating and fostering a positive classroom community, albeit online.

There are several different LMS and Online Tools that could be used within our course (Google Classroom, Google Sites, Forums, Edsby). However, we do want to ensure that the use is purposeful, engaging and that we have an authentic means of determining the students’ progress.

The Functional Classroom Community 

In her article The Importance of Classroom Community, Alicia Ivory outlines community as:

  • A group of people who live in the same area (such as a city, town, or neighborhood)
  • A group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc.

With that, one could go further to define a classroom community as a common space shared by a group of students and their teacher(s). However, defining a classroom community is much more complex than just a group of students and teachers sharing a common space. Ivory goes on to outline that the classroom community is a space composed of students who feel a sense of belonging and are connected by the common goal of learning. This sense of belonging is crucial for the success of any classroom community. Those students who do not feel connected or safe will struggle working towards the common goal of the group and may struggle unifying and connecting with their classmates.

Importance of Classroom Community 

Schools and classrooms can be a scary place for students. Especially for those who may feel like they don’t belong or may be struggling with mental health, such as anxiety or depression. Ivory outlines in her article The Importance of Classroom Community, that the most important component to developing a strong classroom community is creating a space where students feel safe. This safe community must meet the needs of the students, whether they are struggling with mental health or just need a place to feel they belong.

 

A strong and supportive classroom community not only improves a students sense of belonging, but has also been shown to increase participation and confidence where students feel confident in their thoughts and abilities, thus making their desire to share their thoughts increase. Finally, Ivory outlines that strong classroom communities help develop a sense of student ownership to their education as well as increased accountability. A well developed classroom community can empower students to take on a greater role in their learning.

Creating Classroom Community

There are many ways that a teacher can create and foster a positive and effective classroom climate. By taking the time and putting in the effort to create these communities, teachers can have a major influence on their students’ learning.  As in any community, relationships remain a constant pillar of success. If students struggle to develop positive and meaningful relationships, they may also find it difficult to connect within their classroom community.  Again, Ivory outlines in her article,  The Importance of Classroom Community, some ways teachers ensure that their classroom community is strong, safe, inclusive and welcoming:

Creating Classroom Community 

  • Help students build bonds with their classmates –  students who feel a sense of belonging and support from their peers may be more empowered to engage and connect with their classmates.  This can be done in a non-formal way utilizing ice breaker activities.  Teachers can use collaborative activities within their classroom to help continue fostering the bonds between classmates.
  • Ensure a positive environment – teachers have the ability to create a positive environment as soon as the students arrive at school.  They should be visible and greeting students as they enter the school or classroom; this will also help establish routine which many students require to be successful.  These routines help build a sense of trust within the classroom as well and in turn will also aid in developing the positive climate.
  • Promote inclusivity – every student needs to feel that they are seen while they are at school.  By ensuring students feel safe sharing their views and opinions is one way to establish and build a positive environment.  When students know that they are seen, they will also feel that they are a valued member of their classroom community.  Students who feel valued will have a much more positive experience at school.
  • Develop relationships –  teachers need to spend the time early and often developing relationships with their students.  Students need to know who their teacher is and a good way to do this is having a “Get to Know Me” presentation with question and answers where students are able to ask questions about their teacher.  This will help instill a sense of trust and respect with their students.  

Many of these aspects discussed above can be completed in the face to face or virtual classrooms.  The setting of the classroom does not matter, but developing a strong sense of community within the classroom is essential, ensuring students feel safe,included, and see themselves as a valued member.  The importance of building positive communities should not be downplayed.  A positive classroom experience will help students succeed beyond the walls of their classroom and outside of their school.  

Selected Community Interactions within the Course 

In order to develop community in our classroom we have decided to implement the following online tools: 

  • Google Sites
  • Mentimeter
  • Padlet
  • Chat while in Google Classroom Meet 
  • Jam Board
  • Edsby

By doing this we feel that we will create a respectful, engaging online classroom where everyone feels connected. When making connections in our classroom we would like to find ways to facilitate connection between students, between students and instructors, as well as between students – teachers and the community. 

Several different discussion forums were chosen including Mentimeter, Padlet, Chat Option in Google Classroom while on Meet, and Jam Board. Students will be able to engage with each other and the teacher in real time while in Google Meet using the Chat option. Students will be able to process and craft their responses to each other and the teacher when using Jam Board, and Padlet. These options are more reflective and will allow students more time if needed. Menimeter will be used for instant feedback regarding the class as well as an assessment tool.

Justification for Student Interaction Tools Chosen

Google Sites

We have chosen Google Sites for a few different reasons. Firstly, Google Sites is a part of Google Education it connects easily with our chosen LMS of Google Classroom. We believe this makes it easy and streamlined for the students and teachers to communicate with each other without too many hassles. Secondly, students are familiar with many Google Apps already. Many of the functions within Google Sites are similar to that of Google Docs and Google Slides and because of this our students will spend more time working on the quality of their work and less time on the functioning of the program. Lastly, as teachers we have control over whom we can allow to see the students work. If we want other students and or parents to have access to the work we can make that choice. Being able to view each other’s work will allow students to practice editing and providing critique before making a final submission for marking. Also, it allows the teacher to make suggestions along the way for improvement and for the parent to see the final work of their child.  This collaborative approach can be beneficial in developing and maintaining a positive and inclusive classroom community

Discussion Forums

Many tools we have chosen to use in our course may not be traditional type discussion forums; however, we feel that they will provide the opportunity for students to make suggestions and give input into the class without feeling intimidated to speak up. Many of the options listed above are quick access, meaning that responses can be immediate on phones and we do not need to take time to book a laptop cart. For those students without phones participation can still occur with pencil and paper or with a classroom computer. The tools are a great way for students to express thought and share ideas appropriately in a group setting which allows a teacher to determine if they need to review content or if they can move ahead with new content. These options are more reflective and will allow students more time if needed.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a good option to keep the course organized. Posting of material and assignments can easily be done. This allows students that are absent from synchronous lessons to maintain contact with the class.  Also for those students that struggle to keep up with note taking during class time they can always have access to the course material. This also gives parents access, when they accept the invitation to Google Classroom, so they can see what students are learning, and what assignments need to be completed. Students can message each other in the stream about assignments or ask each other questions. The teacher has control over the stream and can delete comments or questions that do not follow the code of conduct set by the teacher and students.

Edsby

We have chosen to use Edsby as a tool because we all work with Regina Public School Division and this is our new LMS that we are trying to learn. This is a great way to communicate with parents about student progress and update them about their child’s learning. Students can also message teachers directly in this LMS. Teachers can easily message parents and students regarding assignments. Teachers are also able to Broadcast messages to the entire class, including parents at one time. Parents or students can then respond privately. 


Joint Classrooms

There are many valuable learning experiences we can encounter by sharing. There could be opportunities to combine classrooms within the school, at another school or with community members as guest speakers. We feel this will help broaden the students’ sense of community. As well as help students learn how to seek out knowledge from a variety of sources. We will use Joint Classrooms to implement programs from our community partners such as the  Science Centre, the University of Regina EYES program,  or guest speakers to reinforce teachings within the course.

Experts in Field

The classroom instructor likely shouldn’t be the limit to our knowledge. Experts in their field are able to provide enrichment and expertise to our content. When we don’t know the answer let’s go looking. By using social networking communities like Twitter we will tap into other sources of knowledge. Our students will be encouraged to find and reach out to Experts in the Field using their own Twitter or social media accounts to speak to the class, interview or guide through demonstrations. Fellow teacher Jason Howse reaches out on Twitter often and is often successful in bringing authors, scientists and other experts into his classroom community.

Assessment of Learning Through Online Tools 

Using Google Sites will provide an opportunity for students to share and express their knowledge gained in a creative way. By using the comment function within the program the teacher has the ability to provide formative feedback or critique as the student works. Once the final product is complete a more summative assessment can be completed with the use of a possible rubric like this.

A variety of Discussion Forums will be utilized for individual brainstorming and whole group discussion. As well the above listed online tools will be used as a check in by the teacher to gauge the students comprehension specifically to the science content covered during class time. Best practices will be used to assess students’ work in the online forums, including graphic organizers, concept maps, checklists/rating scales and rubrics.

Google Classroom will be utilized as space to provide instruction of content, view a video or posting of material, assistance through video chat to small groups of students that require adaptations, and students communicate difficulties with assignments. All the above provide the teacher with ongoing formative assessment throughout the course.

Edsby will be used to record student achievement using Gradebook. As well, Edsby will be used to communicate with families/caregivers about student progress, highlights, items to work on and missing assignments. Students may also post work they are proud of in their Learning Story on Edsby.

Online Guidelines for Effectiveness within the Classroom Community

Students will need to follow online etiquette or netiquette rules while posting on each other’s blogs or discussion forums. The University of Potomac outlines netiquette rules that we expect our students to follow as well.  Protocols for Etiquette in a Google Meet will need to be set in place to establish a respectful classroom community (camera’s on, etiquette on the chat, appropriate backgrounds, dress, volume control, hands up to speak).


When using brainstorming type discussion forums such as mentimeter or padlet students will need to use their first or last name to identify themselves when logging on. Reminders of appropriate language and ideas should be addressed prior to use, we want the experience to be beneficial to our learning. 

As a teacher it would be beneficial to lead by example by posting regularly in the discussion forums and commenting on student blogs. This is a positive way to demonstrate to students how to comment using constructive criticism, asking questions that are relevant to the post and practicing netiquette rules.

Cheers,

Brianne, Leona & Bret

QUIZLET!

Assessment has always been an area of growth that I want to continue with each school year and I want to incorporate different or new types of assessment so that I am not always falling back to things like quizzes, projects, tests, papers, etc.  Although these types of assessment do have a place from time to time, I think students welcome new and improved ways of showing their understanding of particular concepts.  

The problem I seem to have repeatedly with this continual growth and incorporation mindset is that at as the school year progresses, I often find it difficult to keep up assessment methods fresh and fall back to the more traditional ways of assessing.  For this reason, I have chosen to look at a content creation tools that center around assessment, in hopes of creating new avenues to assess my students.

What is Quizlet?

In the most basic form, Quizlet is a digital learning tool for students, teachers, and parents.  These tools  include flashcards, study modes and game modes.  The site was created by a highschool sophomore, Andrew Sutherland, in 2005.  He was driven to create Quizlet in preparation for a French assessment; he aced it, and began sharing the program with his friends.  Quizlet’s motto is “we believe that anyone can learn anything. All it takes is a tenacious spirit, the right guidance, and the tools to see it through.”  According to their website, Quizlet has over 60 million monthly users, 500+ million study sets created, and 2 in 3 US High School students use the website.

Getting Started with Quizlet!

Jill Duffy outlines in her Quizlet Review, that Quizlet is available as a web app, android app, and iOS app for iPhone or iPad.  To get started, users must create an account with an email address, username and password; or by authenticating through Apple, Google or Facebook.  There are other questions such as birthdate, but they are not required and users can include as much info as they feel comfortable doing.  

Once you have your account, you can start creating your own study sets or looking for ones that have already been created.  You are able to add these pre-existing study sets to your files.  To help you organize your study set, users are able to create folders. Users are also able to control which of their created study sets are public.  You are also able to join a class if an educator gives you a link, enabling users to access pre-made course specific study sets created by the creator of the class

How Does Quizlet Work?

Quizlet is an online content creation tool where teachers, students, or parents can input information and create study sets.  Once the information or study sets have been inputted, Quizlet takes this information and converts it into flashcards, quizzes and games so that its users can study information using various forms.  Teachers, students and parents who decide to use Quizlet as a study tool, have a few options in creating content.  Users are able to create their own study set, search for and use study sets that have already been created, save study sets using the folder organizations option and they can share their sets with other users.  Creating and editing quizlets is simple and easy.  However, users are not able to edit other study sets that they did not create.

In the article Pros & Cons of Using Quizlet in Your Classroom, Bri Stauffer outlines that  users have 7 avenues they can engage with content and review study sets of information while using Quizlet: 

(1) Flashcards – interactive/online version of the old paper form of flashcards, which are created based upon the study set that users input into Quizlet or a pre-existing set.

(2) Learn – a study mode based upon how well you know the information of a study set.

(3) Write – fill in the blank study mode.

(4) Spell – a study mode that dictates a term or definition to you, that you must copy down correctly.

(5) Test – study mode to quiz yourself on how well you know the information of the study set that you are working with.

(6) Match – a time based game where users need to match terms and definitions. 

(7) Gravity – this is a level based game study mode where users must answer correctly before being hit and destroyed by an asteroid.

Various Quizlet Modes (missing Live Mode)

Pros and Cons to Quizlet 

As with any program, website, or app, there will be pros and cons.  These will depend entirely on what you are looking for and how you intend to use it.  Quizlet is no different, there are some good things and then there are some not so good things.

Quizlet Pros

Bri Stauffer outlines a few different pros to Quizlet in her article Pros & Cons of Using Quizlet in Your Classroom:

  1. Differentiation – Quizlet can help differentiate for students of various levels and abilities.  As we all know, each student is unique in the way that they retain knowledge and Quizlet provides 7 different modes that students can work through and find what best fits for their styles.
  2. Collaboration –  students are able to use Quizlet with their peers to help create study sets.  These options help promote teamwork and responsibility as they work to create content with others.
  3. Assessment Prep – Quizlet provides students with unique opportunities to prepare for assessments.  Anyone can create an account, so students and parents do not have to rely on teachers or instructors to be able to access the program.  Students are also able to create their own study sets, with their unique spin on concepts which helps them understand what they are learning.  With Quizlet being a digital tool, students can access when they want to, how they want to or wherever they want to; if they have proper devices and access to the internet that is.

Jill Duffy also outlines a few different pros to Quizlet through the Quizlet Review she published in 2021: 

  1. Ease of use – accessing and engaging with content in Quizlet is easy and free. 
  2. Content Options & Mode Variety – Users are able to create their own content, find pre-existing study sets, save and organize and share their study sets.  Quizlet also provides 7 different modes that students can utilize.
  3. Language support – a great tool to help learn new components of a new target language such as vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, etc.

Quizlet Cons

In the same article, Stauffer outlines what she sees as the cons to using Quizlet in your classroom.

  1. Distracted students – while most users will be using the free version, this means that the ads will be popping up frequently.  This could become distracting students and take their attention away from their task.
  2. Incorrect Information – with the ease of content creation with Quizlet and the ability to search for pre-existing study sets, students run the risk of relying on information that may be incorrect.
  3. Cheating – dishonest users may take advantage of these study tools and find ways to cheat on homework and assessments.  These students will push the boundaries and can be very resourceful in finding information online.

Duffy too, goes on to shed some light on what she sees as Quizlet cons.

  1. Plus membership – all initial users have access to the free version, the cost to upgrade to a plus membership has seen increases in price.  
  2. Locked features – some features are locked and only accessible to those with the plus membership.
  3. Memorization – Quizlet is suitable for rote memorization and requires users to problem solve to be able to use it to study and engage with deeper content.

SAMR Integration & Classroom Potential

The article Online Tools for Teaching & Learning outlines how Quizlet fits into the SAMR model of technology integration in classrooms.  This article also outlines that before we integrate or implement new tech into the classroom, educators use the SAMR model as a way of identifying the feasibility of implementing the new piece of tech.  SAMR stands for: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition.

https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Instructional_design/SAMR_Model/What_is_the_SAMR_Model%3F

Online Tools for Teaching & Learning article goes on  further to identify how Quizlet fits within the SAMR model:

Substitution – students create flashcards through Quizlet instead of on index cards.

Augmentation – students can link images or GIFs to each of their digital flashcards as a memory hook.

Modification – students can add multimedia to all stages of their project, set deadlines, track all activity and work remotely if needed. Teachers can also track all activity that occurs and set deadlines to help reduce time misuse.

Redefinition – both students and teachers can see all activities and see who contributed in what ways and at what times.  Students can critically analyze these logs to see where they could have made improvements.

Classroom Potential

In her paper, eTools: Using Quizlet in the Classroom, Kelly Soczka outlines that the beauty of Quizlet is that it can be used in the Face to Face (F2F) classroom setting or any Online/Remote learning models.  Quizlet can be used in a number of useful ways in our classrooms as a new and exciting way to not only assess students, but a tool that students can use to help prepare themselves for their assessments.  In conjunction with assessment, Quizlet could also be used as an instructional tool in our classrooms as an addition to lessons, projects, etc.  Soczka outlines that she sees Quizlet fitting into classrooms 3 different ways: 

  1. Interactive Learning Activity (Quizlet Live) – teachers are able to use the Quizlet in a live F2F classroom where teachers can review content in real time with their students, preview new material, or use it as a formative assessment tool.    Quizlet Live operates very similarly to Kahoot in the sense that the students join a live game that the teacher has selected or created.
  2. Study Notes/Assessment Preparation/Self Study – users are able to create their own study sets/notes in preparation for assessments.  They are able to use their own study sets, as Quizlet allows for randomization in the order it presents the content, which ensures the student grasps concepts vs memorizing the order.  Users are also able to share their content they create with their peers.  This can also prove to be another excellent avenue for students to prepare for assessments.
  3. Online LMS activity – teachers are now able to upload Quizlets to the LMS for students to access remotely.  Users are able to upload and annotate images for free.  Once the image is uploaded, users are able to use learn, write, match or live modes to navigate through the information that is embedded into the image.

There are other ways that Quizlet could be utilized in our classrooms, but it may require a little bit of creativity in the sense of how you set up your study sets.  Users could create questions on the flashcards and input the answers as the definition.  This could be utilized in multiple subject areas like Science, Math, Social Studies as a way to check content comprehension and deeper understanding or application of concepts. 

Quizlet would also be a useful tool in language classes and EAL classrooms where its users are tasked with learning new vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and other aspects of the new language.  There is also a text to speech function which would aid users in learning proper pronunciation of the target language.  

Conclusion

If you are looking for a tool that you and your students are able to customize to specific content that you are covering in class and help them understand and review specific terms, then Quizlet could be the tool for you.  If you are looking for a tool that helps your students understand concepts to a deeper level of understanding or application, then you may want to look elsewhere.  I think Quizlet is a great tool for study prep, understanding basic concepts and terminology, but lacks the capabilities for users to show their understanding to a much deeper level.  Although you could program your study sets to accomplish this, the original setup really isn’t conducive to that type questioning/assessing.  Quizlet would be a great study prep tool as students can create their own unique study sets and share them with their peers, which would provide numerous opportunities to engage with the same content but from a different perspective. 

Cheers, 

Bret 

Course Profile!

Course Development Profile

Design a blended online learning course was the task given to us this past week in EC&I 834. Select an LMS, collaborate and develop a blended online course with potential synchronous and asynchronous components. In collaboration with Brianne McFetridge and Leona Stephen, we have put together an overview of a grade 8 Science course in Cells and Structure.

A. Course  – Life Science – Cells and Systems

This course will follow the Saskatchewan Curriculum guidelines for the Life Science – Cells, Tissues, Organs and Systems – focusing on outcomes CS8.1, CS8.2, CS8.3 and CS8.4.
https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/cellular-microscopic/cell.htm

B. Course Outcomes and Indicators

The outcomes of this course are prescribed as per the Saskatchewan Curriculum and a variety of indicators will be covered throughout the course: 

CS8.1Analyze the characteristics of cells, and compare structural and functional characteristics of plant and animal cells.
CS8.2Demonstrate proficiency in the use of a compound light microscope to observe plant and animal cells.
CS8.3Distinguish structural and functional relationships among cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems in humans and how this knowledge is important to various careers.
CS8.4Analyze how the interdependence of organ systems contributes to the healthy functioning of the human body.
https://www.userbrain.com/blog/4-big-questions-wary-web-users-want-ask-brand

C. Course Guiding Questions

What makes a cell a living organism?
How does it function?
How are single and multicellular organisms different from each other?
What does it mean to have selectively permeable membranes?
How do diffusion and osmosis transfer liquids and gasses in cells?
How do you use a microscope effectively to observe cells?
How are plant and animal cells different from one another?
Why are cells the basic unit of life?What is cell theory?
How are cells used to create the other portions of the human body?
How do systems function together to make the multicellular human body function?
How do the systems of the human body react to internal or external stimuli and change?

D. Target Audience and Timeline

This course is intended for students that are in a Saskatchewan based school at the middle years level. Specifically students that are in a grade 8 or a 7/8 split classroom. The course will span over a four week period.

Adaptations and flexibility can be utilized at the teachers discretion based on the needs of the classroom.
https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/digital-literacy-skills/

Course Format 

This course will follow a blended model with face to face and online components.  Students will be able to access this course synchronously from school or asynchronously from home. The synchronous components will be school based with hands-on science components (labs) and potential group work. The asynchronous component will have prepared videos lessons by teacher or the use of you-tube supported material.  
https://edu.google.com/products/classroom/

Course LMS and Toolset

Throughout this course, Google Classroom will be utilized along with a variety of online tools to deliver content, practice skills, provide a variety of learning opportunities to engage all types of learners.

Several different online tools will be used to guide the students’ learning. The following are examples of possible student tools:

Google Workplace for Education
Mentimeter
Kahoot
Quizlet
WeVideo
YouTube

Course Communications

The classroom teacher can decide which method of communication will be most suitable for the students and parents to be connected with the course. Suggested options for quick communication between teacher/student and teacher/parent could be as follows:

EDBSY – for messaging daily or weekly short announcements about due dates and reminders to students about resources to bring to school for the course.

School Board based teacher email for larger concerns about student behaviors or help needed by teacher

Google Calendar for due dates of course assignments and the suggested learnings of the week.

A Google Meet or Zoom to have synchronous online teaching and class discussion. 

Course Assignments

Students can access all assignments, assessments and due dates using Edsby and Google Calendar.

If students will be absent for long periods of time, students will access course material through Google Classroom and can complete all assignments independently.

Students can submit all assignments and assessments using the Turn In tab once they are completed.

Assignments and expectations will vary for each module. As well, assignments will vary depending on students’ needs.

Course Materials

The course will utilize a variety of materials in order to reach the variety of diverse learners in the room. It is advised that students have access to the following materials both at school and at home.

Pearson Science 8 – Saskatchewan Resource is available online through school division access and in classroom provide by school division library services.

Access to devices both in the classroom and at home that are able to connect internet service.

Access to Headphones for in classroom work with videos.

Access to lab equipment while in class learning

Course Assessment

Course assessment will be both formative and summative;  These assessments will be provided both virtually as well as hard copy for those students without regular access to technology and internet outside of the classroom.

Students will demonstrate understanding through a multitude of formative and summative avenues throughout the course. They will work through summative assessments such as labs – both in person and online, research and express understanding through blog type activities in addition to a culminating course Summary of Learning.  

Students will also work through various types of formative assessments like Menti, Kahoot, Google Forums, and Entrance/Exit Slips.  

Course Attendance

As per government law attendance in school is mandatory whether in person or online via Zoom or Google Meet. Flexibility can occur when students aren’t able to attend for various different reasons that are approved by teacher, administration and parent.

Course Concerns

Internet and Technology Access can be assured during synchronous learning, however uncertainty lies with asynchronous learning at home.

EAL Learners will be encouraged to use Google Translate for words and phrases they do not understand. 

EAL learning will be asked to record a glossary of terms in English and their native language.

Student awareness of LMS use and Technology Skills to complete this course will be pre-taught to ensure student success.

Lack of engagement from the students – desire to interact on camera during class discussions.

Maintaining structure and flow of lessons if students are sometimes face to face and other times online.
https://stock.adobe.com/mt/search/images?k=rationale

Rationale For Design

This course was designed to effectively engage and meet the needs of all learners. As we continue to evolve in education we recognize that there can be adjustments made in our teaching methods and strategies. Students deserve an education that is relevant and concurrent with the pace and needs of our digital world. By providing students with the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways, by learning through and with technology hopefully we can prepare them to be digitally literate.
https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/digital-literacy-skills/

What the Heck is HyFlex Learning!?

https://nearpod.com/blog/what-are-hyflex-and-hybrid-classrooms/

To begin I need to admit that I have never heard of the term HyFlex learning prior to last week.  This is where I began my research this week.  I needed to figure out exactly what this type of learning was and what it ecompasses.

What is HyFlex?

Leigh shared a great article titled Educause’s article titled, “7 Things You Should Know About The HyFlex Course Model” which outlines HyFlex Learning model. First off, this type of learning model has many moving parts that need to be aligned and functioning well to be an effective mode to deliver online education. This can make it difficult to do well. 

Simply stated, HyFlex learning is a type of learning environment which combines face to face (F2F) and online learning together.  A more in depth and detailed outline describes HyFlex learning as a format which offers the student the choice of engaging their learning in-person, synchronously online and asynchronously;  the student has the flexibility in how they will participate daily.  

https://ofdblog.wordpress.ncsu.edu/2020/08/20/the-hyflex-course-an-alternative-for-teaching-in-difficult-times/

Within the article from Educause Learning Initiative, was another article that sheds some light on what Hyflex Learning is.  Brian Beatty outlines in Hybrid Flexible Course Design  that the result of HyFlex learning is a “student-directed, multimodal learning experience.”  This approach provides students with autonomy, flexibility and seamless engagement no matter where, how, or when they engage with the course.

https://www.uwindsor.ca/ctl/HyFlex-Classes

What Goes Into HyFlex Learning!?

Now that I have a somewhat decent grasp on this HyFlex Learning concept, it is now time to dive into how the heck it is implemented! HyFlex Learning requires educators to adapt to an environment that they may or may not be accustomed to.  It requires them to rethink the entire learning experience and how students are going to be interacting with their peers, instructors, and course material.  The teacher must organize and develop the course content, tools, and channels in a way that will reflect the structure of the HyFlex framework. All of these components must jive together to ensure a smooth course implementation.

A few major components that go into making the HyFlex framework tick are: all students must have access to the learning resources, the instructor and their peers regardless of how they choose to engage with the content.  All educational resources must be online and students will typically take part in some sort of online chat or forum.  With that said, students also need to have unlimited internet access so they are able to take part in all the aspects of their HyFlex course offering.  A different component to HyFlex learning that may not be seen in other online learning modules is its ability to provide students the opportunity to complete classwork asynchronously or away from the designated in person or synchronous classes.

Advantages to HyFlex

There are a number of advantages to implementing and utilizing the HyFlex Learning model. One of the major advantages is its ability to continue learning through different adverse times, while also maintaining the health and safety of all involved.  We are seeing this currently play out as we are navigating the current health crisis of COVID-19.  This model will provide opportunities for learning to continue even when it is not safe to congregate and collaborate in person.  A global health crisis is not the only situation where this learning model can be effective.  There are situations such as natural disasters or disability which can create a situation where classes or students individually are unable to attend F2F classes, but would be able to continue learning with the utilization of the HyFlex model. 

Brian Beatty outlines in is chapter on Costs and Benefits to Hybrid Flexible Course and Programs some of the  advantages to HyFlex:

 Advantages for Students: 

  • Increase access to courses – when attending class in person is problematic, and when desired classes are scheduled at the same time
  • Schedule control – more control over day to day schedules associated with attending class.
  • More learning resourcesmultiple modes of participation often require more robust instructional materials, enabling richer instruction and providing additional opportunities for learning 

Advantages for Educators:

  • Able to serve more students with the same resources (time, instructional materials, distance, travel)
  • Develop skills and experience in teaching online without giving up classroom instruction
  • Provide a built-in alternative when classroom instruction isn’t possible due to scheduling conflicts

Disadvantages to HyFlex

Brian Beatty also outlines in is chapter on Costs and Benefits to Hybrid Flexible Course and Programs some of the  disadvantages to HyFlex:

Disadvantages for Students:

  • Requires personal management related to learning path: decision-making (which way to participate?) and when online is chosen, requires substantial time management skills.
  • Personal and technical resources are required to participate in the online version of the course: (most commonly) hardware, network, ability to engage in online learning platforms, and the ability to learn through mediated experiences.
  • Digital Divide – not all students have the same access to technology and as a result may impact their ability to take engage in the online portions of this model wheter it is synchronous or asynchronous.

Disadvantages for Educators:

  • Design and develop a course that supports multiple and simultaneous modes of student participation, essentially creating both fully face to face and online formats.
  • Manage the technical complexity of multi-modal instruction, especially when synchronous participation is supported.
  • Administrate the participation of students in varied formats: tracking attendance and participation, practice and assessment activities, and providing interaction and feedback.
  • Managing the moving parts to effectively excute this type of learning model. The technology and curriculum must align and the technology must work consistently for all those involved. Finally, the learnig must be equivalent no matter the learning path chosen by the student.

HyFlex Feasibility

With the continuation of the technology boom and the current global COVID 19 pandemic, I think the HyFlex Learning model is gaining more and more momentum as the education world is forced to pivot over and over in hopes of providing opportunities for learning to continue.  The pandemic has shown us that it is indeed possible to provide good learning opportunities without having an in-person component.  We will continue to see more students engaging if this is a model that is offered on a continual basis due to the flexible nature of this model alone. 

I feel that HyFlex has a major draw towards the Graduate level courses or to an audience who may find it difficult to attend in person classes or to continue their education due to time constraints and other responsibilities.  Like most things that require change, there are going to be those who are not in favor of this model and will continue to operate in their previous ways, which I see as a good thing and another opportunity provided! 

Cheers, 

Bret

Here We Go Again!

Hey EC&I 834,

Here we go again with another masters course!  I am excited to learn more about online and blended teaching and learning, as it is currently super relevant and applicable!  This will be my 7th masters course and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Who Is This Guy?!

My name is Bret McMann and I grew up in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan – best place in the world to live!   I completed all my K-12 education there and then went on the University of Saskatchewan where I attained my Kinesiology and Education degrees, while also playing 3 years of CIS football for the Huskies on the defensive line.  Since finishing playing football, I have become very active in coaching.  I have spent time coaching minor football, high school, provincial teams and most recently coaching for the Regina Thunder of the CJFL!  My wife and I have called Regina home since 2016.

https://foamlake.com/ 

I currently work for Regina Public Schools.  I am in my 7th year of teaching and I teach grade ⅞ at Harbour Landing School in the south end of Regina.  Grade ⅞ is a new grade placement for me this year.  The majority of my career has been spent teaching in the grade 4/5/6 areas previous to this school year.

Over the Christmas break, my wife and I  recently became parents!  We welcomed 0ur son Jenyr, was born on December 18, 2021 at 6:29pm at Regina General Hospital.  He was 6lbs 11 oz and was 51cm long.  It is crazy that he is already a month old (today) and is growing like a weed!

Last semester, EC&I 831 (Social Media Education) required us to undertake a major digital project and I chose to focus on learning more about parenting and pregnancy so I was able to connect with my wife and understand what she was going through, understand what was happening to our baby as he grew and developed over the nine months and to help with some initial parenting tips and tricks!

Goals for EC&I 834

  • Online course design.  Now that I am teaching grade ⅞ I feel these students are much more capable of self-directed study online.  I have tried (and failed) to implement some sort of online course in previous years, but that was hindered due to grade level as well as my uncertainty on how to design and implement an online course or a component of an in person class effectively.
  • Become accustom with Blended Learning and what it ecompasses.  I really have no idea what a blended learning/classroom looks like.  As the pandemic continues, this may be an area that would be beneficial to have in my teacher toolbox.  
  • Apps/Online resources.  As the technology boom continues and more apps/resources become available to education, I would like to become more accustomed to implementing and using these in my online or blended classroom.  I would also like to become more aware of the privacy/confidentiality that goes along with using these apps/resources as this remains to be one of the biggest hurdles keeping me from using these in my classroom.

Cheers, 

Bret