Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Reflective Blog Post EDU 651

This course has helped me to clarify and understand the meaning behind the myths about online learning.  Over the past few years my views on these myths have changed a great deal due to the fact that I am learning more and more about what online courses truly consist of and how they are beneficial to students learning. 

The biggest take away from this course is how to appropriately identify the myths individuals have about online learning and ways in which an educator can ensure that these myths do not hinder their learning.  In the beginning of this course we had the opportunity to create a personalized learning plan.  This plan helped me to focus on areas I needed to improve upon as well as the myths I wanted to primarily focus my studies upon.

 One of the assignments I enjoyed the most was the note card confessions.  I had never had the opportunity to do an assignment of this nature and at first it was a challenge.  After a lot of time and planning I was able to get the hang of how to create the note card confession and how to tell my own story.  It helped me to realize how much I have changed as an educator over the years and how my views of online teaching has as well!   

Monday, June 29, 2015

Literature Review- Instructional Design when you get in a Bind!

Instructional design is extremely important when creating online courses.  In order to ensure needs of all learners are being met there are many strategies and instructional practices that can and should be used.  Many researchers have identified successful methods of instructional design and several are reviewed in the following blog post.

Research has shown that using the ADDIE model is beneficial to instructional design and implementation.  What is the ADDIE model?  The ADDIE model is a framework for design which includes five stages.  The five stages include analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation.  In order to get a better understanding of the ADDIE model click on the link below for more detailed information! 
 ADDIE Model

ADDIE is a clear and concise instructional design method that has proven to support student success.  One of the major components of this strategy is creating a detailed and precise syllabus.  The syllabus guides the course and an instructional pathway for learners. 

Another model that has proven to be beneficial to learners is using the Universal Design for Learning model.  Take a look at the following link to understand a little more about the UDL model.  UDL Model
This model has been used to create a more accessible learning environment for all students.  Mobile devices have been used to increase student participation and understanding of material though the UDL model. 

In conducting the literature review I have identified a list of “must haves” in instructional design.  Please take a look at the list below:

-The entire course needs to be created and ready to go before the course begins
-Create a detailed and specific syllabus
-As the instructor always be open with communication and present in conversations
-Use simple design structures
-Use teacher created videos to teach new concepts, explain procedures, etc.
-Provide students with collaborative opportunities
-As the instructor facilitate but let instruction be student-led
-Identify students background and use within the course
-Allow the course or sections of the course to be self-paced
-Differentiate lessons/activities based upon students level of ability
-Use games as a form of instruction!
-Provide real world examples and simulations
-Ensure course material is accessible
-Provide detailed and specific feedback for all learners
-Reflect, reflect, reflect: Always reflect on your instructional design methods and how to improve/change them for the future.

In order to effectively meet the needs of online learners’ instructors can use the strategies and methods listed above in their instructional design.  Always be willing to step outside the box and try new things!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Compare and Contrasting of ADDIE and Understanding By Design

As educators we are constantly using Instructional Design Models to improve our instruction.  After completing a great deal of research on several Instructional Design Models, I have determined the importance of comparing different designs.  In the following blog post I have compared the similarities and differences between the ADDIE Model and the Understanding by Design model. 

The Addie Model consists of five different phases which include; analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation.  In order to become more familiar with each phase of the ADDIE model please visit the following link.     ADDIE- check it out!                

The Understanding by Design model consists of only three stages which include desired results, acceptable means and learning plan.  To learn more about the Understanding by Design model please visit the following link.
  Understanding By Design- check it out!      

There are several similarities between the Addie Model and the Understanding by Design model.  Both of the models provide educators with step-by-step approaches to follow.  The two instructional designs allow educators to analyze and determine students’ needs and abilities throughout the teaching process. Not only do both of these designs allow educators to analyze student performance and success, but themselves as well.  A good teacher reflects on their own teaching and makes adjustments to their instruction based upon their findings.  One of the biggest areas of similarity between these two models is the fact that other stake holders can play an important role in the implementation process. 

In reviewing the two models, there were also several differences between the ADDIE model and the Understanding by Design Model.  The ADDIE model is more focused while the Understanding by Design Model is broader.  For example, the ADDIE model might be focused on one particular lesson while the UBD would focus on an entire unit.  To see an example of a Understanding by Design Model and the focus on an entire unit please click on the following link:   Example   

The thing that jumps out at me the most in comparing these two models is the fact that the Understanding by Design Model is working backwards from what we are accustomed to doing.  The UBD Model begins with desired results while the ADDIE model begins with analyzing. 
The ADDIE Model and the Understanding by Design Model are both very beneficial to the educational world.  Take a look at the two models and determine which would work best in your educational setting and/or try them both out to see which is more beneficial to you and your students! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Universal Design for Learning

Over the last few days I have had the opportunity to research and learn about the Universal Design for Learning.  I really enjoyed learning about UDL and how I can use the guidelines to improve my online instruction.  Over the past year I have begun to integrate technology more and more into my instruction and I am trying to create a successful blended learning environment in my classroom.  By using the Universal Design for Learning  I have been able to reflect upon things that I do well in the classroom and many things I can improve upon.  Please take a look at the guidelines below and my reflection to each area.  

Provide Multiple Means of

Provide Multiple Means of
Action and Expression
Provide Multiple Means of
1.Provide options for perception
-My students have a choice in receiving information auditory or visually.  When I first began doing the online assignments I tried to video tape everything I did for the students.  I realized that sometimes they wanted to have something different and read information on their own.

4.Provide options for physical action
-Students need to be constantly moving and doing new things.  As a first grade teacher I definitely relate to this and try to remind myself often of this dire need.  When looking back over the year I think I fell into too much of a rut in doing the same things with the students whether they were physically moving around or changing activities.  Next year I am going to ensure that I focus on this area more!
7.Provide options for recruiting interest
-In all of the classes I have taken through LR I have learned to give students choice in what they are learning.  To be honest I had trouble doing this this past year.  It is not that I don’t want to give the students the freedom, I think it is that I have a lack of organization to enable students to do this.  Throughout the summer I plan on working on this area in order to start the next school year off with a bang!
2.Provide options for language, mathematical expressions, and symbols
-The area I think I do this the most is during our Guided Math groups.  Students use so many different resources and strategies to solve problems.  For example, students may use their Ipad to draw base ten blocks or they may use strictly just numbers to complete the problem. 
-I feel that I could improve in this are in other subject areas such as Reading and Science!
5. Provide options for expression and communication
-Communication, as in all things, is extremely important.  In many lesson I have done in the past I have a lot of student talk going on which includes students explaining what they are doing or how they feel on a particular topic. 
-I need to work on building fluencies with graduated levels of support for the next school year.
8. Provide options for sustaining effort and persistence
- To be honest I feel that this year I was just trying to keep my head above water and I was trying to figure out what I was doing.  Next year I am looking forward to providing students with more challenging and stimulating activities/assignments in order to optimize their learning.
3. Provide options for comprehension
-I always try to activate student’s background knowledge before teaching a concept but sometimes I think I am so focused on teaching the new skills that I forget to do this sometimes.  On the other hand I have my students take pre-tests so that I know what they already know and so I can accurately gauge their instruction. 
-An area I feel I need to work on is to focus more on students being about to generalize more during instruction.  Often times I am just in a rush to move onto the next skill/objective when I need to slow it down and have the students truly reflect on what they have learned.  This will in turn show me their true comprehension of the material.
6. Provide options for executive functions
- I feel that I monitor student’s progress on a consistent basis, however, I need to teach the students to do this as well. 
9. Provide options for self-regulation
-Throughout the school year I feel the students did a great job motivating each other but I think I need to focus on having them do more self-assessments and reflection.  As a teacher I know I have to reflect on what I do on a daily basis in order to be the best teacher I can for my students.  The students need to reflect as well and set themselves to just as high standards as they do for each other.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Brining Stories to Life!

So many times in my classroom I try to think of creative ways to merge classroom instruction with technology in a fun and innovative way.  Students need to be able to make that connection to the technology world by creating and doing things on their own. 

                My first grade students had made silly monsters in Art class.  They were so excited to share the monsters with me when they came back to class.  Usually with an art project the pictures just get sent home and we move on to the next activity.  However, the Art teacher, Marion McClure suggested that the students create stories about their monsters.  I thought to myself, what a great idea!  The students could write their own story about their monsters while using the writing skills we were currently working on which was using transition words in their writing.  Then we could record the students telling their story about their monster and create a QR code of the story telling- what a way to bring their stories to life!

                Recording and brining this entire project together was a learning process for the students as well as myself!  The students were surprisingly very nervous to record a video (although they had been recorded many times in the past).  The students wanted their videos to be perfect and they wanted to get it done very quickly.  They had to learn two important things.  One was that their videos did not have to be perfect and the second was that they had to put more time and effort into things that they were maybe not used to doing as first graders.  The students worked very hard on their stories and every student was videotaped telling their story.  In order to make their recordings truly look like a video we used the iMovie app to doctor up the videos.  In using the iMovie it allowed us to increase their voice volume, create transitions and add special effects such as each student’s name to their video.   The next step was creating the QR codes.  At first I did not realize that you have to convert the video into a URL.  In order to do this I had to create a youtube video of each recording.  In order to protect privacy I selected the option to not have the youtube videos available for all to see.  By creating the youtube video I was then able to copy and paste the URL link into the QR code generator.  The QR code generator I used was which is a free and easy resource to use.  Then we were able to easily copy and paste the QR code into a word document which then could be printed and attached to their artwork. 

                My students were so very proud of their monsters and videos and how they were able to bring their stories to life.  They were displayed at North Newton’s Art Show and are now on display at North Newton outside of the library.  I have attached one of the student’s videos so you could see the finished product!  If you have any questions or need a hand in creating your own videos please don’t hesitate to email me!  Technology and video creation is an incredible asset to our classrooms and I encourage you to try it out for yourself! 

Click here to view one of the students videos! 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Methods for Asynchronous Facilitation

Online teaching is being more and more prevalent in today’s world.  Online asynchronous discussions have been and continue to be used as a platform for exchanging information, communicating, and evaluating and supporting learning.  Just like in face-to-face instruction, educators come upon some challenges while facilitating asynchronous discussions.  Below is a list of a few methods that can be used to improve asynchronous facilitation

Make the topic interesting and relevant to the students and the content you are teaching
  Students need to feel invested in what they are learning and it helps to get them drawn into what they are learning.  In the discussions make it relevant to the student lives and or explain to them the relevance of their discussion(s). 

Encourage participation
To make a discussion truly beneficial there needs to be a great deal of interaction and participation.  As the instructor/facilitator it may be beneficial for you to set the ground rules for discussions.  These ground rules could consist of participants posting and replying to at least two of their classmates or providing additional information to another students post.  As the instructor you need to model this by giving feedback as well. 

Ask open-ended questions
In asking open-ended questions students feel more comfortable in sharing their opinions and giving feedback to their peers.  Open-ended questions allow students to take the discussions to a much higher level because there is not a right or wrong answer.  Encourage the students while they are posting to also ask open-ended questions of their peers.  In beginning a discussion for the first time in a class it would be a good idea to model this for the students.  Give them an example of what an open-ended question compared to a single answered question can do in a discussion! 

Create a safe environment
One of the most important things to do in asynchronous facilitation is to create a safe environment.  Students need to feel like they can speak and share freely in discussions and interactions within the group.  If students feel like their input is valuable they will be much more willing to provide this input into discussions and group work.

Be precise and clear-but don’t run the show!
When beginning a course make sure you have given precise and clear expectations and rules.  Students need this structure in order to not only understand what they are doing but so that they do not get frustrated.  It is important to have precise and clear directions and expectations but a the same time as the teacher you are facilitating not leading.  You are laying the ground rules for the class and allowing students to take the lead as well. 

I hope the suggestions above can aide you in your asynchronous facilitation.  Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and to try new things!  

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Digital Toolbox: Reflection

Throughout this course I have had the opportunity to learn about many digital tools that are available to educators.  First and foremost I was impressed and overwhelmed by the technology and resources out there! We are no longer in the days of looking up a lesson plans in a text book or using files that have been stored away in our file cabinets.  So much is at our fingertips waiting to be revealed! 

The TPack framework, SAMR model, and ISTE Standards for Students helped me to realize the importance of really evaluating digital tools.  As an educator there has to be a reason why we use certain tools and digital tools are no different.  For example in the ISTE Standards for Students it states how student’s digital citizenship is one of the key areas teachers should be focusing upon.  Students need these experiences to work collaboratively and build their technology skills in the classroom.

In saying all of this I am thrilled to say that I now have my very own digital toolbox.  I have seen firsthand the benefits of having a digital toolbox upon my student’s learning and my teaching performance.  I have already used so many of the tools that are in my digital toolbox and will continue to use them on a daily basis.  I know that I will continue to add resources to my digital toolbox in the future-I can only imagine what it will look like in a few years!  These resources will aid in my students learning by increasing their knowledge of technology and allowing them to use the technology in their everyday lives. 

I have also thought about having each of my students create their own digital toolbox.  This has helped me tremendously and I think will help them to grow as a student and will greatly benefit their education throughout the rest of their lives.  

Take a look at a snapshot of my digital toolbox: