Ramblings. Musings. Required coursework.

Category: EDET 637 (Page 1 of 5)

Week Twelve Reflection

I succumbed to the joys of adult learning with my posts this week…and by that, I mean that life was crazy and, by necessity, took precedence this week. Given that fact, I wasn’t able to build the actual interaction with my peers that I’ve come to enjoy over the course of the semester. That said, I was able to learn from and comment on several peer blogs.

I related to both Mariah’s use of Google Forms and Gerald’s use of formative assessment. I’ve found the Google suite to be a great tool that I am able to embed in Blackboard to mimic face-to-face peer interaction in my online course. I also told Gerald that I have discovered a preference for frequent formative assessment – I like that it’s low key and allows your students to continually demonstrate what they are learning (or allows you to modify as necessary).

Chelsea mentioned her use of pre- and post-tests and I asked her how she implements them; I’m curious as I am debating using one for my research. Finally, I told Jule that I’m jealous of her ability to use Exit Tickets (I love them and they’re not really practical in an online course) and asked her a few questions about Kahoot. We use it in my school for a fun way to review content, but I’m curious if it’s able to be used to track student performance like some of other clicker software allows.

For my personal reflection, I’m finding it somewhat frustrating knowing my data and evidence will be more limited than that of my peers. I talked about this in my weekly blog, so I’m not sure there’s a need to readdress the issue in detail, however, I do think it’s a bit more challenging to document interactions when the course is already established and you don’t see your students daily.

Week Twelve: Collecting Evidence to Document Learning

I know I mentioned this before, but I think collecting some of the suggested evidence is more challenging in a graduate-level, online, asynchronous course. While I am able to document interactions via Blackboard and demonstrate student learning through their comments and presentations, consistency in format and process is imperative in an online course, which makes major modifications to delivery difficult mid-semester. This is particularly true of a course tied to the process set forth in a syllabus provided at the beginning of a semester that stands as a contract between you and the students and generally is not modified. While I would have no problem collecting some of the suggested evidence, such as journaling my daily interactions with students, collecting pretest and posttest data, actively modifying content or process in the moment based on student engagement, in a face-to-face course where I saw my students each day, it becomes infinitely more challenging to make an assignment fit a process and procedure that was established several months ago and has, for all intents and purposes, been working really well.

That said, while I do believe I will have less evidence than my peers in face-to-face classrooms with daily contact, I am able to collect evidence to document student learning and my ability to participate in the learning process. Due to the course being taught online, several of my modules demonstrate my participation in the learning process. I am also able to use course announcements and emails to document my interaction with students, whether answering questions or asking students to reframe how they are considering some of the content. To demonstrate students’ learning process, I asked them to complete a Pre-Survey to assess their prior knowledge moving into the unit. While the course does not rely on testing in any way, I will be able to compare these responses to the information contained in their final presentation. Their final presentation will be the majority of the evidence that allows me to assess their mastery of the content. Finally, although these do not occur in this module, students complete a final presentation which includes a reflection of their learning in the course and mid-semester and end-of-course evaluations. The data collected in all of these reflections informs the changes I make to the course each semester.

Week Eleven Reflection

It’s odd to be one of the few (perhaps the only?) in the class teaching an online, asynchronous course. Given the methods for content delivery in a standard unit, I had very little real data from this semester to reflect upon – much of the data that informs my decisions is actually from previous semesters. Also, while I have had an opportunity to do some structured support, it’s difficult to say where the module will go two-three days in.

Rachelle, as a former student, did reinforce the need for the changes I am making in her comments on my blog. I engaged with her comments around the importance of being flexible and never feeling as if we are “done” – while we may achieve expert status in our field, there will always be more to learn and do. Along those lines, I commented on Kendra’s blog about the importance of flexibility in any teacher’s repertoire. As a pillar of both good teaching strategy and differentiation, it is imperative that we tackle the things we have set forth to do each day with flexibility…this ensures our students have the best experience and prevents us from going home grumpy when we may not complete our “To Do List” every day.

Gerald and I interacted on both our blogs about both the challenges and rewards of differentiation. I was excited to hear that his differentiated unit is going well, particularly given his initial trepidation. On my blog we discussed how important communication is in an online course to build both student “connectedness” and to ensure that we are differentiating to meet their individual needs. His blog also encouraged me to think about the importance of aligning assessments to both our standards and our content.

Finally, as someone who loves Excel, I asked Josie what processes she intends to use to ensure that her students are able to start where they need to begin…in other words, taking into account the prior experience and knowledge (or lack thereof) across the diverse range of students she teaches.

Week Eleven: Challenges and Successes Implementing the UbD Unit?

With an online, asynchronous course, it’s a bit difficult to determine how things are going in the first week…particularly given the design format I use. I teach seven, two-week modules in a semester and each module allows for 10 days of content acquisition and demonstration of learning, while the last four days focus on peer interaction and feedback around student demonstration of learning. That said, I do build in formative assessments using Voicethread and Google Forms and I communicate with the students frequently using both the Muddiest Point discussion board and emailed announcements.

I Prepare for Student Work, Customize for Student Engagement, and Plan for Classroom Content, Structures, and Systems that Work Appropriately for Students

Each module in my course contains five basic sections: Introduction, Objectives, Required Materials, Assignments, and Supplemental Resources. The Sound Cloud audio Introduction provides students with both a framework for the module and ensures they understand why it is relevant to both the course and their learning (the “so what” factor). The module-level objectives make clear the desired learning outcomes and are mapped to the course-level Student Learning Outcomes. The Required Materials indicate where a material is required or if there is choice, while the Assignments section provides a list of items that must be completed with their due dates. Finally, the Supplemental Resources section contains all of the materials I deem fall into the “would be nice, but not necessary, to know” category.

For content acquisition in this module, I provided a brief video closed-captioned introducing the Relationship of Learning Objective, Assessments, and Instructional Strategies, a short text-based description of rubrics, and a video on Formative and Summative Assessment. Students are asked to read a few sections in their textbooks and skim two supplemental resources. They are also required to do a resource exploration, selecting two resources relating to their particular interests in assessment; they share these sources, and a brief description, in the Resource Share discussion board. To complete a formative assessment of their understanding, students complete a Check for Understanding on an embedded Google Form. Students draft and submit answers and then are able to see peer responses; at this time, they are asked to reflect on the culmination of their learning and post any questions they still have to the Muddiest Point. Finally, the Assignments section instructs students to create a 3-5 minute audio or video presentation, using the technology tool of their choice, that they will post to Voicethread for peer and instructor comment and review. They will also complete the Stage 2: Desired Results section of their Course Development Plan and have the option to submit it for feedback prior to the final submission in the next module. Students who submit their plan for feedback must provide feedback to their peers who post.

Evidence I Participated in and Contributed to Individual Paths for Learning

At this time, I’ve provided a variety of ways to access resources and choice in content acquisition materials, where possible. I created means for both formative and summative assessment within the module. On Monday, I announced the opening of the module and that the discussion board format would occur in the form of a presentation. I reminded them that they could seek assistance or post questions by using the Muddiest Point. Midway through the week, I let them know that I provided extensive feedback on their initial submission of the Course Development Plan and that I created a discussion board post in the Muddiest Point to address questions they raised and common issues I saw in their submissions.

I Use Data from Observation and/or Surveys to Inform the Unit

Much of my design of this module was informed by student surveys from last semester. I converted the Introductions from text-based sections to audio content. Choice was added in materials and, based on the struggles I saw with defining formative and summative assessment, I created a video that explicitly defined each. I also opted to allow choice in technology for the presentation to differentiate, but also allow students to push their boundaries and comfort levels with technology.

Week Ten Reflection

This week felt a bit like déjà vu. To be completing an Understanding by Design 2 Template and discussing how I will assess my students for a module where they are in the process of creating a UbD Template, learning about assessment, and determining how they will, in turn, assess their students is a bit of a circular trip. I didn’t plan it that way, as it honestly worked best with my already scheduled modules, but it’s been interesting to wrap my head around for sure.

I think what I struggled most with this week was how to build differentiation in an online asynchronous course that’s already being taught. Beyond simply losing the face-to-face time you would generally have with students, the online nature of the course makes real change mid-semester difficult as most courses follow specific templated designs (in the sense that each module has distinct items, follows a similar flow, etc.). Additionally, as most higher education courses have a defined syllabus set out at the beginning of the semester, change has to be done in the parameters for grades and course participation that are set forth from the beginning. Taking this one step further, I’m working with adult learners who prefer meaningful learning experiences and not work for the sake of work. Taking all of that into consideration, I needed to create a differentiated unit without changing the basic structure of my course, without requiring any work that was not already reflected in the syllabus, and ensuring anything I asked of them was meaningful. While I managed to make the module look good on paper, we’ll see how they felt when the presentations and reflections start rolling in…

Aside from the work I completed on the UbD, I was able to interact with several of my peers around their work on their UbDs and differentiated instruction. Mariah and I were able to interact around the concept of flexibility in teaching. When I taught K-12, I was easily frustrated by the rigidity of the state standards and district practices I encountered. Gerald and I have discussed this offline recently, so I shared a few rhetorical questions that I debate about the less-than-optimally-flexible system we (America, not we locally) have created; Mariah responded that, living in rural Alaska, she actually has the support to be a bit more flexible in her teaching, with the support of her Administration, which I think is great. I encouraged Kendra to consider rethinking the specificity of her Essential Questions as Wiggins and McTighe encourage questions that are broader by nature to allow students to make relevant and lasting connections across their content knowledge and experiences.

I encouraged Gerald, as an experienced teacher, to consider all the things he does on a daily basis for his students to make their learning more successful as differentiation. Often times we are so caught up in new terms or new concepts, we don’t realize that we’ve likely been doing aspects of the process all along. We also interacted on my blog, discussing how we can limit the amount of reading required for our students while still ensuring they get the content needed to be successful.

Finally, I shared with Jim that I really like his classroom management practices and his flexibility in allowing students to work in ways most beneficial to them. I believe thinking outside of the “traditional classroom” box is the best thing we can do for our students who, as we all know by now, don’t come in a one-size-fits-all model!

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