Student Accounts for Diigo

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FAQ – diigo help.

This is a possible resource to use with my new teaching assignment.

EdTech 523 Final Reflection: Synchronous Lesson Delivery

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It’s reflection time, looking back on the whole course.  However, this reflection is really just considering the last couple of weeks, which include the activities of Module 6.  Nonetheless, since this is my last reflection of this course I believe it is worthwhile to briefly comment on the whole enchilada.  The activities of this course included great collaboration pieces that gave mutual support among my course peers. We were able to share insights and observations which enriched all of the learning process.  The course objective continued to wet my appetite for online education.  Additionally, the contact with the professor helped me imagine the real world experience of teaching online.

Module 6 was primarily focused on synchronous learning activities.  The reading materials provided me with a review of best practices as well as a fresh look at synchronous teaching strategies.  The synchronous lesson assignment required my partner and me to select one of these strategies for our lesson.

The student list allowed me to choose a partner on the basis on content specialty.  I sought out Heather as a partner because we were really the only two that work with language based instruction in both English and Spanish.  She agreed.  We initially met to discuss our ideas.  We came to a consensus to develop a lesson for a Spanish course by using the cracker barrel strategy.  Essentially, this meant that our lesson would utilize breakout rooms where we would create a role play environment in the each room.  In one room, I was the waiter in a restaurant, and in another room, Heather was taking orders at Starbucks; of course, all of this was in Spanish.

After we planned the basic idea of our lesson, we met at least twice to practice, and each time we were making revisions to the lesson.  Our biggest revision was offering learning assistance to our classmates, who, we assumed, knew very little Spanish.  We created a script that they could follow, so they knew what was expected of them in a response.  They also had the choice to choose from the menu items, which was on the main whiteboard screen.

So we had our lesson developed and we were looking forward to delivery.  It was our turn under the big lights, then I had a misfortune; my microphone cut out completely.  It wasn’t easy to resolve, but fortunately our practice sessions did help me troubleshoot part of the problem.  Eventually, I was back on and I was able to show up and take the order in the Mexican restaurant breakout room.  Later, we were able to reflect on that experience, and we discovered that team teaching offers a tremendous advantage in these cases.

I was able to participate in all the lessons that were presented that night.  Due to the time difference, I had to wake up at 3:45 am in order to join with everyone.  However, it was worth it because I saw some great ideas and it was followed with great discussion about online learning and the course objectives.

Reflection Questions

  1. What are appropriate assessment strategies in synchronous and asynchronous delivery methods?

As a language based teacher, I realize that there are objectives that encompass every form of communication.  Writing and reading objectives are more appropriate for asynchronous delivery.  These assessment strategies come in the form explaining objectives, setting the standards in a scale or rubric, presenting comprehension questions, or perhaps even needing to show teacher examples.  However,  listening and speaking assessments can benefit greatly from synchronous delivery, and in many ways this approach is essential for this type of assessment.  The form of assessment varies from objective based to diagnostic based.  Students can be given specific objectives, but many of these assessment will measure the natural speaking level of the student.  A teacher can use a checklist or rubric while listening to a discourse online.

  1. Does this look different than assessment in traditional classrooms? How and why?

The speaking and listening assessments will greatly differ from a traditional classroom.  A controlled environment is the primary reason this assessment differs online, and I believe that an online environment has many advantages over a traditional classroom environment.  The teacher can decide in an online environment if the communication is one-on-one, small group, or whole group.  Most traditional classrooms don’t offer this.  This is a huge advantage for the student, who might be intimidated to speak in front of others.  Also, in listening activities, the online environment prevents students from gauging their peers’ responses to an inquiry about comprehension.  This will generally produce truer results.

SMS Generator

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SMS Generator.

This is a good resource for students to create written dialogue between characters.

Here are the comments from a EdTech colleague.

There is no login (but you must create a password to save anything and retrieve it later) and no phones invovled! Students can create dialogue between historical or fictional characters.

EdTech Week 10: Sampling Discussion

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The professor gave us the following for reflection:

Whether you are looking to choose students from a class (or from employees in a workplace) for a special project or you are looking for a pool of people to take a survey, the first thing you will need to do is decide on how you will choose your sample, or group of students or employees.

So, based on this week’s readings (The ABC’s of Evaluation, Chapter 8),

  • What are some ways you could choose that sample?

The book identifies two categories for gathering sample groups: probability sampling and non-probability sampling.  Once I determined what I wanted to evaluate, the process that I used most resembled a non-probability sampling and more specifically a purposive sample.  For me it was a practical and efficient decision.  Since I already knew the framework of the program that I want to evaluate, I decided to chose my own group of students and evaluate the program with them.  I could have sought another teacher to run the program with his group of students, but this would have been a major time imposition for both of us, considering the training and the information exchange that would be involved.  I have a former colleague who is running a version of my same program with his group of students, but we are so far away geographically that the observations and information exchange would be limited.  Nonetheless, the sample student population would not be random in either of those cases, unless you determine that the administrative scheduling was done in a random sort of way.

  • What experiences have you had in choosing samples?

I have never been in a situation where I was able to pool a sample group from a greater population.  In my limited sampling of populations, I have always had smaller manageable groups so, I could survey the whole group.  In the program that I am evaluating, I had to make decisions about groups and student leaders, but my decisions were based more on track record than anything else.  The program that is being evaluated is based on student hierarchy, which creates a social dynamic and the students are usually not accustomed to it.  However,  I have set up the survey in such a way that I can measure attitudes, opinion, and impact based on student roles. 

  • What are some things to watch out for and/or avoid in selecting samples?

When I think of my own evaluation project, I have to laugh a little when I read this question.  Because I decided to evaluate a program in which I am the facilitator, I had to be very selective of my group.  I work with students at a very volatile age of 14-15 years old.  I was with the same group of students last year.  All of them have matured, but some more than others.  Also due to culture and family issues in some students and the administration, there are variables that I cannot control, making it difficult to initiate some educational endeavors among several students.  There was really only one group that I could depend on in terms of maturity and responsibility, so it was a no-brainer when it came to selecting that group. 

In the case that a sample needs to be random, there are so many uncertainties among the people that are selected.  If it is crucial that everyone in the sample needs to give feedback then I don’t know if the sample can truly be random.  There are always people who are not able to participate or do not respond in a timely manner, which makes it difficult for evaluators to depend on them.  In general education, a sample of a particular class has a good probability of having a mix of skills and academic level, but as education levels become more specific, you will likely have a group of students with similar goals and interests.  Regardless, most educational sample groups are preselected groups that neither the teacher or the evaluator has selected.

Grants for Teachers – Grant Wrangler

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Grants for Teachers – Grant Wrangler.

Here is a site that lists available grants for teachers.

EdTech 523: Module 4 Reflection

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Overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem

Overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem

Module 4 was a transition period because I was ending one group project while I was getting started with another, and in between we had Spring Break, when my wife and I traveled a few days to Jordan and Israel. I agreed to work with one group to develop an online resource for online teachers and work with some other students to develop some discussion questions for the upcoming module.  This gave me collaboration opportunities where we met in Google Hangouts, shared a Google Doc, and exchanged friendly emails. I’m glad that I did both as I was able to use some of the work from the online resource as a reference in my communication plan.

Doing homework at the Dead Sea.

Doing homework at the Dead Sea.

Additionally, I was able to work ahead  by reading the material for the next module so I could prepare the discussion questions I will present.  Lastly, I would like to comment about chapter 9  on “Transformative Learning” in Building Online Learning Communities. This chapter was very inspirational for me because it described so much of what learning online has meant for me.  It also aligns with my philosophy on learning and teaching.  This chapter meant so much to me, since it is affirming my desire to grow confident learners through online education.

The other course textbook, Learning in Real Time, helped me to envision the role of synchronous communication in online learning.  As I was reading through this text I had to think of discussion questions, but my mind was really opened to the power of synchronous communication for building an online community.

Self Evaluation Using My Grading Scale

It seems natural for me to transition my skills as a teacher to the online environment.  I enjoyed putting together my grading scale for online discussions. My experience as a teacher has helped me know how to clarify expectations and also prevent problems with students before they happen.  Of course, I imagine students that range from a typical pre-teen to a solid full-fledged teen, which are the age groups that I have been working with the last few years.  Also, my grading has been influenced a little bit by the IB Curriculum, which is my current grading standard.

It is also a little unfair evaluating myself with my own grading scale, and this is based on two factors.  First, I made the grading scale based on general ideas that I have used when I respond to a discussion prompt.  This will likely work in my favor because I know what I like in a response, because it is often what I do.  However, the second factor does not work in my favor so much.  I am probably my own worst critic, so using my grading scale with my perception would probably cause me to nit-pick details in my response. When I consider my experience, while using my own scale to evaluate myself, I would not make any changes to my scale.

Nonetheless, I think of my last post which responded to one of the students who posted a discussion question.  I know that I didn’t do all the tasks that were associated with the research of his writing prompt, so I would probably loose about 3 points there.  I make up some ground in the area of content for posting some relevant information. I really wanted to discuss Chapter 9, which was one of the required readings and no one made a prompt that addressed this chapter, so I took the opportunity to steer the discussion in this direction, but at the same time I did address many things in the response.

There were many opportunities to respond to other students’ posts and I know I met the minimum requirement, and my posts are generally very thoughtful, so I received all 10 points.  Finally, I am a language teacher so I have developed many skills for using language in communication.  I make occasional mistakes with my writing, but I usually make a point to review, and I pride myself on my creative approach to writing, especially the introductions.  I know I took care of these details in my response, so I received 5 points for each scale.  Oops! I did not include any picture or media to accompany it, but at least I made up for it in this post.  This brings my total score to 32 of 35 points in that post.

Changes to Discussion Facilitation

Even though I have not facilitated a full scale discussion yet, I can already imagine some of the challenges associated with it.  I already know what it is like to feel overwhelmed with reviewing many writing assignments, so I could imagine the work load easily getting out of hand if students are constantly posting lengthy responses.  I would have to get to know certain features of the LMS that allow me to review overall activity.  Even though I want my students to write with quality and to feel like they are writing with a purpose, I know half of my job is complete just by getting them to do that.  In other words, I won’t feel that it is necessary to read every word, especially for the student responses.  I would have to learn some teacher shortcuts for reviewing these, as well as encourage more peer review and accountability among the students.

Communication Plan for Online Teaching

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ONLINE LANGUAGE COURSE

This communication plan is considering the communication role of the teacher and the student.  It encompasses considerations for the administration, content delivery, peer to peer communication, and assigned work done during an online language course.  It is divided into four parts.

PART 1: ROUTINE ADMINISTRATIVE TASKS

Every Work Day

  • Check General Questions or Technical Problems Forum
  • Reply to direct contact inquiries
  • Post any relevant updates in the News Forum
  • Set up  or solicit a communication appointment with 1-2 students

2-3 Days Into a Module

  • Check for activity on discussion forums and provide feedback
  • Scan LMS for activity or monitor the flow of multiple step activity
  • Dedicate time to grading or offering feedback from previous module
  • Finish grading most activities from previous module
  • Display and comment on poll results if a poll given the first day of the module

2-3 Days Before Module Ends

  • Scan LMS for lack of activity and contact students or parents as necessary
  • Check discussion forum and monitor student feedback
  • Be available for an informal synchronous discussion (offer different times on different days)
  • Prepare supplemental resources for the next module

PART 2: DISCUSSION FORUM STRATEGIES

At the Beginning of the Course

  1. At this point, you should present your prepared orientation of the course, which includes: a teacher introduction, a tour of the course webpage, rules of netiquette, warning about password safety and other security issues, and completing an icebreaker activity with a teacher example.  Also review the  Orientation Guide for Preparing New Online Learners.
  2. For the first activities, ask the students to update their course profile with a short biography.
  3. Also, ask them to complete a poll or brief survey about previous experience in online courses.  If possible, allow the students to see the ongoing statistical results of the poll or survey, so they can compare themselves with the overall level of their peers. 
  4. Lastly, whether it is an icebreaker activity or an assigned post, require the students to upload (with their post) an image within the LMS.  This will help them gain confidence with the technical aspect and the user friendliness of the LMS.  The Caption Contest is just one example of an icebreaker that will allow students to accomplish this goal.

Throughout the Course

  1. For each module, the students will be provided instructions for posting in a discussion, as well as a minimum requirement for responses to other students. 
  2. Each module will provide a prompt that sets the standard for content.  In the “Discussion Forum Assessment” (below)guidelines are provided for the quality of peer responses.  Equal consideration will be given to the use of language and the unique expression, or creativity, of each post. For more information, review the following section.

PART 3: DISCUSSION FORUM ASSESSMENT

Each discussion is worth 35 points.  The grading scales below will indicate how the total point values will be calculated for each discussion.  Review the tips for each scale.  These will indicate the best strategy to maximize your discussion forum grade.

Content Scale: 1-15

Tip: Read the discussion prompt thoroughly.  Make sure you have addressed all of the content requested in the prompt.  Some prompts will have more than one question.  Also, reread any written posts to make sure your ideas are clear for the reader.  Use appropriate structure of sentences and paragraphs as necessary. If the response to the content is unclear, this will affect your overall grade.

Peer Response Scale: 1-10

Tip: When responding to peers, make sure that at least two responses are thoughtful and complete.  For example, a thoughtful response goes beyond the “Good job” or “I like it” and reflects on what the other student has written. Here are some general examples: Your response can connect your own personal experiences to what your peer has written, it can question your peer to seek clarification or ask about his or her sources or opinion, or it could offer constructive criticism about their argument or opinion.  Be cautious with constructive criticism, since the person, who wrote the post, has feelings.  In order to avoid a war of words, be gentle and/or gracious with your criticisms.

Language Use Scale: 1-5

Tip: Make sure that you are checking for general correctness in spelling, vocabulary, capitalization, and punctuation. Also, because this is a language course, text language should be used lightly (not more than 2-3 occurrences in a post).  In other words, make sure your words are complete.  Smiley-cons are acceptable when appropriate.

Creativity Scale: 1-5

Tip: Each person is unique in their own expression, however to tip the creativity scale in your favor you can consider the following.  Look for opportunities to write creative introductions to your posts.  Consider inserting an image, drawing, or video that supports your content.  Add a link to text when you are referencing something that is not directly related to the material or it is not considered general knowledge.

Note: Inappropriate posts or responses may be removed and will affect your grade.  Depending on the severity of the inappropriateness, further action may be taken against the student as indicated in the Code of Conduct.  If your profile security has been violated or breached, communicate this to your professor as quickly as possible, and try to remedy the situation if you can (for example: changing the password, making sure you log out from public computers, etc.).


PART 4:  MANAGEMENT ISSUES AND STRATEGIES (CONTINGENCY PLAN)

When working with a group of students online, there are possible issues that will arise, requiring the teacher to respond with communication strategies.  Consider the following communication needs to confront the related issues.

Individual Communication

  1. As noted in the section “Part 1: Routine Administrative Tasks”, an online teacher will be watching for inactivity in individual students and make contact with those students or parents a priority. 
  2. Other issues that might require a teacher to make individual contact, is when a student shows any dominant characteristics in general, by trying to control discussions or responses, or perhaps he or she may exhibit dominant characteristics in group activities.  Although this may be difficult to perceive online, if there are any repeated actions by one student that may be deemed as unhealthy for group communication, it should first be dealt with by communicating privately with that student. 
  3. If offenses have occurred between 2 students and it has escalated to a heated exchange, it may be necessary to meet with those students privately during a small group chat.

Whole Group Communication

  1. There are instances when a teacher notices undesirable activity in public places and perhaps it needs to be addressed with the whole group. 
    1. If a heated exchange between 2 or more students escalates to an inappropriate level, the teacher may need to consider censoring communication and addressing the whole group about the problem. 
    2. A similar type of teacher intervention may be necessary when a discussion gets off track and the main topic is no longer being discussed.  In this case, consider posting a reminder on the thread or in a general forum area, which reminds students of the topic or redirects them, and if necessary, a thread can be frozen or removed if the discussion is creating a strong diversion. 
  2. Other situations that may call for whole group communication is when a teacher perceives that there is either a lack of whole group activity or a common misconception among many responses. 
    1. In the case of misconceptions, the teacher can address this with more clarity about the instructions, or create an alternative presentation that describes the common misconception, or a presentation that either offers more guidance for the students or even shows a teacher example. 
    2. In the case of whole group inactivity, the teacher can reach out to the whole group through various forms of communication and solicit feedback and try to determine if there is a problem with the material or tasks. 
    3. However, what might work best is gathering information from regular contact with the students and use it to form a poll or survey that can be distributed to the whole group.  By soliciting the students in this way, it is less intimidating for them to voice their opinion or concerns, which are related to the course.

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