Summary of Learning

The Summary of Learning was an excellent reflection process. I realized how far I have come during this semester regarding Blended Learning. I am so pleased with the new skills gained, knowing that this was new territory for me. My confidence is growing.

I hope you enjoy our Summary of Learning, created by Bret, Leona and myself.

The Final Piece  – Coming Full Circle

In collaboration with my colleagues Bret and Leona 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 g-mail account and use this code (hyclltn) to become a student in our course.

Designing the Course – A Team Effort

Bret, 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 Bret 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.

I feel very fortunate to be able to collaborate with wonderful professionals who have similar values and teaching methods. Until we meet again Bret and Leona…

A Reflection of the Review Process

An experience in the peer review process. This past week Leona, Bret 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.

Accessibility and Equity within our Course


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. 

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. 


The Halfway point…

We have reached the halfway point of this semester and now is the time to present our course shell and first module. Bret, Leona and I have focused on Science for our course and have varying degrees of experience teaching this subject. I have found that the more I dive into this subject, the more I enjoy it. I hope this will be reflected in my teaching for my students. I am really looking forward to receiving feedback!

Course Shell – Cells, Tissues, Organs and Systems

This course has a focus on a grade 8 life science topic. The learning modules are created around concepts of Cells, Tissues, Organs and Organ Systems from the four outcomes from the Saskatchewan Curriculum. A variety of teaching strategies will be used to engage our students in a synchronous or asynchronous manner if needed. This course will be delivered through Google Classroom. A link has been provided to join our Google Classroom. Use the code hyclltn to join. https://classroom.google.com/c/NDU0MjgyMDAxNDIx?cjc=hyclltn

Module 1 – Synchronous Session (Bret)

Outcome – CS8.1 – Characteristics and Functions of Plant and Animal Cells

Indicators

  1. Cells are the building blocks of life – living systems – cell theory
  2. Observe and identify cell structures

Outline – March 2 

  1. Use the prepared Google Slides to teach about plant and animal cells.
    1. Each student will be given a copy of the Google Slides through Google Classroom to complete the activities.
      1. Slide 4 – Teacher will discuss the Cell Theory and the significant scientists roles
      2. Slide 5 – Teacher discuss major players in the Cell development world
      3. Slide 6 – Students are to watch the video The Grand Tour of the Cell
      4. Slide 7 – students will compare and contrast Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic cells with the information from the Grand Cell Tour video.  Students can type directly into the slides but clicking on the “EDIT” inside the text box.  There is also a linked video to a refresher on how to compare and contrast linked.
      5. Slide 8 – students will work to complete a linked Cell Organelle graphic organizer to familiarize themselves with the membrane bound organelles found in cells.
      6. Slide 9 & 10 – students will work to complete the questions that are centered around plant & animal cells.  Information to answer these questions will be provided from the video on slide 5.

Module 2 – Asynchronous Session (Bret)

Outcome CS8.1 – Characteristics and Functions of Plant and Animal Cells

Indicators

  1. Diffusion and Osmosis
  2. Cell Division

Outline – Completed by March 30 

Module Update – Building Community!

Module Update: Classroom Community!

As we continue to plan our Course for Grade 8 – Cells and Systems, Leona, Bret 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.  Ivory outlines in her article,  The Importance of Classroom Community, some ways teachers ensure that their classroom community is strong, safe, inclusive and welcoming:

  • 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 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.

Thanks for reading.

Brianne, Leona, Bret

Padlet… What will I do with this?

I am jumping into a new online tool this week called Padlet. I have heard other teachers talk about Padlet and all the cool things they are doing with their students using this online tool. Despite all the hype, I have not touched this or sought out Padlet. I am often overwhelmed with the amount of ‘stuff’ thrown at me that I can use with my students. So I just ignore it. This is not the right attitude, rather it is my coping mechanism! 

But here is what I found out about Padlet:

  • Padlet is very user friendly. I simply created an account using my email address and was able to link it to my G-mail account. I could start exploring Padlet or creating Padlets immediately. I checked out the Gallery for examples of different uses and creative ideas. 
  • I then tried out my own Padlet.

Made with Padlet

In the upper right hand corner is the toggle where all the options are under. This is the place to begin a Padlet by creating the title, picking font and wallpaper. This is also where the options are for comments and moderating comments. One of my favorite options is to replace profanity with Emojis!

  • The uses for Padlet appear nearly limitless. There are maps and timeline options for Social Studies, and Language Arts. Or to use for family history projects; to plot where all of your students are from; where all of your students have traveled and when. https://padlet.com/gallery/grammy_songs_of_the_year
  • One of my favorite suggestions in the gallery was to use Padlet as a discussion board. Often in F2F discussions, one voice dominates the discussion while others are too timid to let their opinions be heard. This provides a wonderful opportunity for students to develop their opinion, share and read others. They may also respond to each other if they choose. https://padlet.com/gallery/persepolis 
  • Several other suggestions for uses in the Gallery are a digital library organized by genre; test or quiz preparations/study guides; blogs; creative writing; creative writing prompt organizer.

I was very drawn to Padlet for the variety of uses it offered as well as the ease of use. However there are a couple drawbacks. 

  • While there is a Free account, you can only create three Padlets per year. I know that once teachers find something that works for their students, they will not stop using it due to a fee. Padlet is a bit expensive as the next levels are $69.99 for 20 Padlets/year or $96 for unlimited Padlets/year. The drawback to an expensive fee is that many might not bother trying a great product.
  • While I have not made many posts in my Padlet yet, it appears that there is a word limit. Once the word limit is reached, you cannot save your post; therefore you must be under the word limit. Longer posts would have to be made into several posts or condensed into a shorter piece. 

Padlet is a tool I would love to recommend to teachers. The ease of this tool as well as the variety of options make this worth the money.

Course Development 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 Bret McMann 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.

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. 
CS8.1 Analyze the characteristics of cells, and compare structural and functional characteristics of plant and animal cells.
CS8.2 Demonstrate proficiency in the use of a compound light microscope to observe plant and animal cells.
CS8.3 Distinguish structural and functional relationships among cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems in humans and how this knowledge is important to various careers.
CS8.4 Analyze how the interdependence of organ systems contributes to the healthy functioning of the human body.

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 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.

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.  

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 Suites – Education
Mentimeter
Kahoot
Quizlet
WordPress(Blogs)
WeVideo
You-Tube Videos

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; 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 meets. 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.

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.

My Experiences using Tech in the Classroom

As a new teacher, I thought I knew everything about technology in the classroom. My students proved me wrong within 30 seconds! The computers I was expecting to use at my school were different, the projector failed and I had no idea how to troubleshoot for my students. Luckily, I was humble enough to simply ask one of my grade 5 students and they knew exactly how to fix these issues. 

In the last 14 years I have tried to incorporate technology in many different ways. One of my favorites was student blogs on a platform that no longer exists. Students would sometimes be given a topic to blog about; would be given the option to free write; they could post their writing on their blog. They could also comment on each other’s blogs. As the teacher, I was the moderator and approved all the posts. I also loved that students’ parents or guardians could see these blogs. This was a very positive environment and community for students to share their writing.

The challenge of student blogs was computer availability. At this time, we had very few school computers (20 total) and two classroom computers. There was never an opportunity to have the entire class blogging at one time. Rather, students were assigned blocks of time on the classroom computers and would miss out on work time in another class. While they loved to use their blogging time effectively, it is not great for students to have to catch up in another class.

Presently, I am using Google Workspace. This has been in my toolbox for sometime; however, it has been in the last four years that I have been using it daily. Google Drive and Google Classroom are what I use every single day. Google Drive is excellent for organizing all of my units, lessons and professional work. I love that I can easily share documents and folders between my colleagues. Students may also share their work with me by simply clicking Share. The drawback to Drive is that I need to constantly weed out what has been shared with me by students. I actually have years worth of shared work that needs to be deleted!

A clip of my Google Drive, organized by subjects, extra curricular, professional. Each folder contains more folders.

Google Classroom is really where I spend most of my time online. Here I can organize my students’ work by subject, assign it ahead of time and schedule it, assign a marking scheme or rubric, as well as create all content in Google Classroom using Slides, Docs, Forms, Spreadsheets, or Drawings. I can also embed links for students to use. I also love that families can see what we are doing in class. This is very user friendly; however, I know that I am not using this platform it’s full capability! I have been experimenting with Google Classroom and feel like I have barely skimmed the surface of what I could do with this platform. 

A clip of my Google Classroom. On the left is how my Google Classroom is organized by subject. Each subject contains teaching material and assignments.

I consistently use technology in the classroom by trying to incorporate several different platforms or use it in different ways. Many attempts have failed but I have found a few things that are working too. The tricky part is how fast everything is evolving!

Who Am I?

My name is Brianne McFetridge. I have been a teacher with Regina Public Schools for 14 years. During this time I have taught grades 5 through 8; however, I have a soft spot for grade 8. Some think that grade 8 are wild and defiant but I think kids this age are really sweet, idealistic and are learning their limits. I can remember testing my boundaries and making mistakes at that age too. Also, they usually laugh at my jokes.

In 2017, I started a new adventure when three P3 schools opened in Regina. I applied and was transferred to Ecole Harbour Landing School, now Harbour Landing School. This was very exciting, as we experienced opening the school, and created a culture and vision for our school. The community of Harbour Landing is very welcoming, diverse and multicultural. We have students from all over the world that speak hundreds of different languages. Our English as Another Language program is very strong. Harbour Landing School was also designed open concept with the intention of teachers collaborating and teaching together. I have the privilege of teaching with my co-teacher everyday in a studio classroom with 54 students. While this might seem strange or difficult, is is fun and exciting!

My grade 8 classroom at Harbour Landing School, 2021-2022.

I began thinking about doing my Masters degree when I realized how comfortable I was in my role as an educator. I got REALLY serious when other teachers in my school where discussing online platforms they were using when schools closed during the pandemic and I had no idea what they were talking about. I realized they were able to easily create and deliver content on multiple platforms while I was using one, and not very well. As an educators, we are usually pretty keen and up to date, but I had started to let this area slip and I felt out of touch.

My goals for this class are:

  1. become more comfortable using online learning platforms at an in depth level.
  2. smoothly integrate technology into my everyday classroom that is meaningful for both my students and myself.
  3. step out of comfort zone and try new methods of content creation and delivery.

I am excited and nervous about the challenges that this class will bring. I am confident as I work through these challenges I become a better teacher for the benefit of my students.