Crossing the Finish Line

At the beginning of this class we were asked to set some goals we’d like to accomplish throughout the course. Mine were:

  1. Gain a better sense of how to build an online or blended course and how to use it to effectively with students.
  2. I want to continue to build my professional learning network through this course and Twitter.
  3. My final goal is to finish my master’s!

I believe I have met these goals but my learning is not done. With the amount information and resources I have been introduced to by my professors, Alec and Katia, and all my classmates, I have enough learning to keep me busy for a second master’s degree! I’m hoping now that I have finished my master’s, I will have more time to explore many of the online tools and apps that were mentioned or used by my classmates in this course.

So, with so much learning, how did I sum it all up? Well, Megan and I teamed up again to sell you on EC&I 834!

It is now I start doing my happy dance because I’m done my Master’s of Education. Oh, there were so many times I thought this day would never come! It has been a ton of work but I have gained so much through the process. Thanks to all my professors and classmates that have taught me so much along the way.

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Online Prototype….Done!

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Our course prototype assignment is drawing to a close. Although I have learned an incredible amount from this project, I am relieved. It means we are almost done and that means I am, oh, so close to finishing my Master’s of Education! Before I get ahead of myself and burst into song and dance about the joy I feel over this, I better get this final blog post done and sum it all up.

This assignment really epitomizes what project based learning is. Our class was introduced to this project on night one, and much of what we have discussed throughout and the skills we have learned have been applied to this project in one way or another.

My group, Benita Struik, Megan Weisbrod, and myself decided to shoot for the moon with our class prototype on Social Justice. We split the topic into three sections and each of chose a section to tackle. Below is an excerpt from our class profile (it is long so I’ll give you the highlights but feel free to read the document in its entirety).

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This unit is designed to engage and empower students through the exploration of social justice and social justice issues.

Module 1- An Introduction to Social Justice

Students will develop an understanding of what social justice is, and they will be able to provide a definition. As a class, students will look at a social justice movement and examine different components. Students will be given choice of a cause/issue to research. Students will then be asked to justify whether it is a social justice cause/movement through a blog post. Students will be given the opportunity to respond to each other’s posts.

Module 2- Global Issues

Students will develop an understanding of globalization and its role in social justice. Students will be able to define and answer 10 basic questions about globalization. They will know what global social justice is, find examples and present an issue to the class. Students will also understand the role of photographs that depict social justice issues.

Module 3- Get Involved!

In this module, we build upon topics covered in Module 1 and 2 and expand these ideas to local social justice issues. Students will be asked to think of things they would like to see changed within their community. Students will then research and explore local organizations that support their interests. Students will create a display to represent a local organization that supports their cause at a Kids for a Cause Fair. Community members and organizations will be invited to attend and students will get an opportunity to share their knowledge. Students will reflect on their involvement and make a personal commitment for the future in a blog post.

This unit is designed to scaffold learning for students who may be unfamiliar with social justice and promote engagement through student led learning using choice and embedding technology. Each module is designed with a suggested instructional teaching guide including: multi-day lessons, recommendations for time, suggested differentiation, and formative and summative assessment.

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As I mentioned, we’ve have been working on this project since January! We introduced the prototype in our second post of the year in Blending Social Justice. It was rough outline of our plans. The next week we chose our LMS – Google Classroom. This post outlines the many reasons why we chose this learning management system over others. The week after, we tried out a creation tool we’d never used before. I made a video with SMART Recorder and although I never used this in my prototype, I will use it in my classroom. Also, viewing some of my classmate’s prototypes gave me a better idea of how I could use it effectively for a blended learning experience. In blog post 5 we reflected on Bates’ book Teaching in A Digital Age and the impact that different types of digital sources (text, video, audio, etc.) can have on our teaching and learning. In Creating Community, I discussed the importance of building community in an online space and how it is an essential step to making our students feel welcome, safe, and ready and willing to learn. In our next blog post we looked at using discussion boards in open or closed spaces and how that might affect learning. Finally, in my post Coming to a Close, I took a look at the process of putting it all together and the final stages of the prototype project.

After we finished the prototype, some of our classmates had the chance to review it and give us feedback. The following is our response to that feedback and the changes we would make moving forward.

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Overall, our feedback from our colleagues was very positive in nearly all areas of our prototype. They praised our prototype for ease of use, variety of tools and activities, and the seamless flow from one module to the next. In addition, they appreciated the small details we added like our introductory video, inclusion of instructional guides, and having access to artefacts and documents in more than one location in Google Classroom. Our colleagues also acknowledged our course profile was comprehensive and well thought out. As with anything, there is always room for improvement. Below are our responses to the suggestions that we will take into consideration when we use this material with our students.

  • One of our colleagues had some trouble with some of our links and access to a Kahoot.
    • Our respondent thought the trouble with the Kahoot may be related to the Kahoot session needing to be started.
    • For our other links, we will go back and ensure that all of our links are accessible and in working condition and make adjustments accordingly.
  • One respondent noticed that some of our documents were in differing formats and would have liked to have seen it consistent throughout.
    • Moving forward, this is something we would definitely change. Ideally, with Google Classroom it would work seamlessly with our Google Drive so all our documents uploaded would be in the format of Google Docs so we would be able to make copies for each student with ease.
  • One suggestion was to add a brief introduction to the unit before the video so students would know what they were watching for (keywords, definitions, aims).
    • We liked this suggestion and felt it worth considering for future revisions.
    • For middle years, we would like to see students connecting keywords with the “word work” that is already going on in class. This may mean using “word work” notebooks or word walls in the classroom.  

Thank you to all our reviewers and the positive feedback. It makes all our hard work worth it!