Summary of course prototype

The course prototype I created with a small grade four English as an Additional Language (EAL) group in my mind, is focusing on adjectives. In order to have easier access, I organized and posted all the elements in Scholantis , under “Assignments”. This will give the students an opportunity to become familiar with using the LMS Regina Catholic Schools utilize. Creating the Ten-module course prototype was a wonderful learning experience, giving me a chance to become familiar with a variety of online learning tools, such as Sway, Mentimeter, Edpuzzle, Kahoot, Youtube, Flipgrid, and Screencastify. I am looking forward to further develop the other eight modules of my blended course and implement them. I think that these flipped lessons will be beneficial for a number of reasons, such as: encouraging students to learn more about technology, giving them a chance to learn at their own pace and providing more time for student-student and student-teacher interaction, as well as helping students learn while away in their countries of origin.

Course walk through  provides a short overview of my Scholantis site including all the elements. After having to redo the recording several times and dealing with a huge range of emotions …

… I can definitely see the benefits of students’ recording themselves, especially if they are not native speakers.

Thank you for all your ideas and positive feedback and a special thank you to my reviewers for the amazing ideas! I couldn’t have done it without you!

Forms of student/student-instructor interactions implemented in my course prototype

The ten-module unit plan I developed is a blended learning course including both, flipped lessons and face-to-face instruction. I chose asynchronous format for this course to better address the needs of the grade 4 English as an Additional Language (EAL) students giving them the opportunity to listen to the course as many times as needed, with the focus of reaching students who are away from the classroom for a longer period of time. By having Scholantis as the Learning Management System (LMS), students become not only familiar with the learning platform used by the Regina Catholic School Division, but they also have easy access from all over the world using their Office 365 accounts. The advantage of the flipped format of the course is that it gives students the opportunity to listen to instructional videos through the Scholantis Learning Management System (LMS) before class, providing more time for group work and addressing questions.

In my first module on adjectives, I implemented the three key phases of knowledge construction of the Online Collaborative Learning (OCL) developed by Harasim (2012). As part of the flipped lesson, students become familiar with the content while listening to a short lesson on adjectives. This lesson includes pictures, written sentences and audio recording so it is easier for the EAL students to follow, leading to better understanding. After the students listen to the recorded lesson at their own pace, and practice using descriptive words related to the short video on Hawai’i pollution, they review the content in class with the help of Mentimeter. After watching a motivational video, students brainstorm adjectives that describe the main characters from the short film using Mentimeter, organize their ideas through student-teacher and student-student interaction by sharing their answers, and synthesize the new information by creating and recording five sentences in Flipgrid. During this class, the role of the teacher is to focus on scaffolding the students through their learning process by providing the appropriate resources, activities, and guidance if needed. Students can build knowledge through being active and engaged participants (Harasim, 2012).

Throughout the unit, as part of the face-to-face lessons, students will practice working as a group while playing various games, such as memory games, matching, error correction, etc. Students will have assigned partners in Flipgrid, whom they will provide positive feedback focusing on the 3Cs and a Q. This is an effective way to teach positive peer interaction while learning from each other.

In order to meet all students’ needs, I incorporated various assessment strategies. The formative assessment will include anecdotal records on student participation and assignments, quizzes on Mentimeter and Kahoot. As part of the summative assessment, instead of giving the students a quiz, they will create a culminating project to show their understanding of the material in the form of an assignment. The students will pick a family picture that they will describe by forming and recording eight sentences using adjectives in the correct order as well as regular and irregular forms of comparative and superlative adjectives. They will examine a sample in class as part of student-teacher interaction. Students can use the example given to create their own description using Flipgrid. I will also provide and link the assessment rubrics to the module. With the help of the online aspect of learning through flipped lessons, I am focusing on providing my students with a more flexible model of delivery in order to meet their needs in a digital age (Harasim, 2012).

Response to feedback

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my assignment and providing me with positive feedback and great suggestions! I would like to apologize that accessing my work created some difficulty. The school server went down on that weekend and nothing was accessible. Luckily, I had everything saved on my computer and I was able to send them as attachments. One thing I learnt in the past is that technology is wonderful, but you always have to have a backup plan in case something goes wrong. I did make some changes in the meantime and my Scholantis site should be easier to access next time.

The other issue was caused by Interestingly when I signed up, I was able to create a five-question assignment, but when I was trying to access it, it did not let me. So, I ended up redoing the assignment, and this time I was only allowed to put in two questions, since I am a non-paying member. This time it worked but it had a different code. I liked, but I also see myself using it only if I can afford to be a paying member. 

I would also like to clarify the age group I am targeting. This unit is planned for ten-year old students, attending grade 4. I think this unit would be way too complex for eight-year old students. I don’t think that the curriculum for younger grades requires students to have such thorough knowledge of adjectives.

I think having an introductory module teaching the students about the functionality of Scholantis is a great idea. I was actually thinking of teaching the students at the beginning of the school year how to use Scholantis, Mentimeter, Edpuzzle, and Flipgrid before any content is introduced. I think it is very important for them to become familiar with these terms and tools first and learn how to use them, otherwise this unit would be an overwhelming and stressful experience.

I really like the suggestion of adding a You tube video. I already found one that I like, and I think it will fit perfectly in my next module. The reason I created the Sway lesson, was to practice making content from scratch.

Since this is a flipped-lesson, the first part was intended to be completed at home. The students had a short content video (Sway) to listen to followed by assessment where they had to listen to the Hawai’i Pollution video and add descriptive words when the question marks pop up. The students’ answers are recorded in edpuzzle. I could give them feedback in both edpuzzle or Scholantis. Scholantis shows the students when an assignment is due, it shows if it was turned in or not, and if it was assessed or not. There is also opportunity to comment on students’ work and provide feedback.

The second part of the lesson was intended to be the face-to-face lesson, where as part of teacher-student interaction, we review the role of adjectives. The two-question quiz developed in would show the teacher if they can identify the adjectives in a sentence. The second assignment is focusing on the students’ ability to come up with descriptive words of the man and mom & girl from the motivational video. For example, the vocabulary words I was looking for to describe the man are: caring, helpful, kind, generous, giving, loving, happy, believer, strong, tall, short, brown hair, brown eyes. I like the idea of providing students with a list of adjectives or a link to a web site with supporting material. This would be helpful in case they are struggling with descriptive words and even for vocabulary building.

The reason I picked this activity to be completed in the classroom, so as part of teacher-student interaction we can brainstorm and record the adjectives on the board, that the students can use later on when creating and recording their short summary of the video in Flipgrid. The latter would be assessed as well, where I look at correct use of adjectives in content. 

Throughout the first module there are a number of little assignments that I would use as part of my anecdotal record to have a better picture of student understanding and provide continuous feedback when needed.

Thank you! 🙂

University of People

Reading my peers’ blogs, I was surprised that I was not the only one having a hard time finding the right topic for this week’s blog. I am still not sure if I found the right one, but I found something that raised my interest and made me do some research.

Feeling lost, I typed in TED talk – online learning and I came across a 2014 presentation done by Shai Reshef, founder of an online university, named University of People.

What I liked about this TED talk was that it pointed out the benefits of online learning being a lot more affordable, and accessible. To make it accessible to students who don’t have broadband, this university created a low-tech online program using open-source. Students can access the text-based materials and respond to them asynchronously. There are also optional video lectures and links to online videos. The benefit of this online program is that students can study at their own pace completing an assessment at the end of each week. There is also a peer-to-peer system included, where they provide each other with feedback. Students view this as a great support system, with the opportunity to learn from each other. The university also assigns students to a personal adviser to help them be successful. Teachers can be reached through email and having only 20 students per class makes it possible to provide individual support.

After reading a few reviews and articles about the university, I came across a number of pros and cons:  The first issue that was brought up was that this university has national and not regional accreditation which can cause problems later on when looking for jobs. Another major con was that this university is advertised as a tuition-free university, but there is registration fee and assessment fee that students pay before taking their exams. The advantages of this fairly small online university are that they offer three undergrad and a master’s program taught by professors from different universities, who have expertise in teaching university level classes. Having the opportunity to access this program from anywhere in the world while studying in English is also a major benefit, with English becoming lingua franca.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find information if the credits can be transferred and how a degree from the University of People is viewed by employers. Since there is no demo class, I guess one has to give this program a try to see if they like it or not. 

I don’t know how prestigious this online university is and it is not my job to decide, but going back in time, in the small town in Eastern Europe, having an online option for further studies in English would have steered my life in a different direction. After graduating from high school, I ended up going to a renowned university in the capital city and passing the entrance exam, I was able to study for free, meaning there was no tuition. But this university life was far from being free. The special library passes, the materials, and living in a different city far from family made it both financially and emotionally draining. Experiencing different ways of teaching and learning, I would have preferred online courses, with the possibility to listen to the material several times if needed, to be able to acquire the material more profoundly from the comfort of my home. But the real surprise was when I realized that my degree from this prestigious, accredited university was not accepted in Canada and my four years in education program needed an extra three and a half years of full time studying in my new country in order to be able to teach.

What I found out over the years while moving from one country to another is that transferring credits can be tricky. Since studying takes a lot of effort, I feel one should always try to find the right fit. Both deciding on a face-to-face or online course/program can be overwhelming. Taking the time to do research to find the most valuable courses for ourselves is crucial. At the end of the day it all comes down to one’s needs when considering further studies.

Thank you for reading my blog!