Sunday, December 18, 2011

Week 6 of CED 550

This weeks module was about online courses and the shift towards 21st century skills, my school districts current online course involvement, and the Virtual Schools Legislation in Wisconsin.

During the module I was excited to watch the Learning to Change/Changing to Learn video and the Shift Happens video. Videos like these always provide me with the inspiration I need to continue moving forward with the changes that I am trying to make within my own classroom. My favorite part of the learning to change/changing to learn video was the quote at the end. "This is a very exciting time for learning. It's the death of education but it's the dawn of learning, and that makes me very happy". This is a reflection of how we need to change and how this change is positive for our students.

We needed to complete a Scavenger Hunt to determine our districts involvement in online learning. I felt like my district is positively working towards the changes that we need to shift towards 21st century learning. This is a very slow process but I am glad that I am actively involved with this change and I am excited to pilot a flipped classroom next year.

My flipped classroom model will provide my students with an opportunity to gain 21st century skills by fostering their ability to connect, create, and collaborate in an online environment. The students will be utilizing Moodle as their main Learning Management System. This online environment will be a place to watch/read lectures, take assessments, collaborate on discussion boards, complete lab simulations, and share information. I hope to utilize in class time for collaboration on labs and homework. The pacing of the course will be determined by the student. This is a more student centered approach that will hopefully benefit my students and help them develop the necessary skills to become life long learners.

The last assessment that I completed this week was a review of the Virtual Schools Legislation in Wisconsin. It was interesting to read the concerns about virtual charter schools. I have not previously considered the financial concerns that are connected with this trend. I now understand the Virtual Schools Legislation in Wisconsin and am concerned about the lack of focus on the benefits for students. It appears that most people are concerned with districts losing money to virtual schools instead of how a virtual school may benefit the student. Another concern is that outsiders may view virtual schools as a money making opportunity since they typically have lower costs of operation. My hope is that we get all of the political and financial aspects worked out so that we can focus on the most important issue, the students.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Week 5 of CED 550 - Collaborative

This week we listened to more presentations from our classmates. The focus of our asynchronous class was collaboration.

My experience with online communities has been positive. I have primarily experienced these communities through my grad work and I believe that this makes a difference. The communities that I have been a part of have consisted of people that are invested in what they do. They are interested in the topics and care about the group. This is what makes our group successful and my experiences positive.

I believe the biggest benefit of collaborative groups is the chance to hear others' opinions. It is always great to hear different perspectives about a topic. Collaboration has allowed me to gain a more robust understanding of a variety of topics because I have been able to learn from others.

I believe the greatest challenge of collaboration is finding the time to work together. Even though the web 2.0 tools have drastically changed the way that we collaborate, the reality is that we still need to sit down and make a conscience effort to communicate with others. Resources such as google docs allow us to collaborate asynchronously, but we still need to take that step. The hardest part about collaboration is that your group is as weak as your weakest group member. If someone does not share, the group falters.

My biggest concern regarding social development and socialization is that individuals who thrive in an online environment may not be able to communicate their thoughts when they are face-face in a large group. I find that it is easier to text, email, and post my thoughts than it is to vocalize these same ideas when I am in a large group. If an individual chooses to only share his/her thoughts through technology, he/she may not be able to communicate outside the online world. This would be a major disservice to our students.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Week 4 of CED 550

The focus on this week was student-centered online learning, differentiation, authentic assessments, and rubrics. We needed to create a Student Centered Lesson with Differentiation, Authentic Assessment, and a Rubric. I chose to create a lesson on Charles' Law using online lab simulations.

As a science teacher, I believe that students need to experience the content that we are discussing. Labs are an important piece of the learning process. While working on this module I was glad that I had success finding a lab replacement. The online lab simulation was a good replacement and it allows the students to kinesthetically explore the concepts.

This week in class was also my chance to facilitate both a synchronous and asynchronous discussion on blended learning. Here is the 15 minute presentation that I gave on Blended Learning. Here is the topic for my asynchronous discussion. I felt like both the synchronous and asynchronous discussions went well. I was glad that I chose to incorporate a video into the discussion and it seemed liked the topic was well received by my colleagues.

I think I could have improved my synchronous lesson by utilizing a reporter instead of having all of the students write on the whiteboard at once. I found this to be overwhelming and I do not think that the students were able to read all of the good comments that their colleagues posted. In the future, I would also like to use the poll features that Eluminate offers. It is a great way to get anonymous feedback from the students and it also provides great discussion points.