Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Reflection: iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Teaching



Standard A

The online teacher knows the primary concepts and structures of effective online instruction and is able to create learning experiences to enable student success.

Strengths

My drive to enhance learning for my students, of all modalities, aligns with ensuring student success. I have taken several online courses to use as models of success. My Face2Face classroom experience has been successful with the blended learning that I have incorporated over the years. I

Challenges

Though I have myself am technically competent and have experience teaching and “blending” my curriculum for students I believe one of my upcoming challenges will be ensuring that I streamline with more focused expectations. I also believe that as I move my classroom to a more “blended/flipped” classroom that I stay on task as an online educator and facilitator of learning.


Standard B

The online teacher understands and is able to use a range of technologies, both existing and emerging, that effectively support student learning and engagement in the online environment.

Strengths

I believe that my technology background is a great asset and has allowed me to use various types of technology in the classroom. I can remember before document cameras connecting my video camera to my LCD projector for class demonstrations. My nature has always been to bring technology into the classroom to help with instruction having maintained a class website before school districts set up teacher pages on their school sites. I am my school site’s Information Technology Lead and Webmaster that keeps me current from meeting with colleagues and sharing latest technology for educational use. My “tech tool kit” includes a class Facebook, Twitter, UStream, Posterous, Blogger Pages (Assignments & Newsletter), Prezi, Screencast / Jing, Camtasia, Google Hangout, Remind 101 (text broadcasting), and Socrative to name a few that I use for student learning.

Challenges

This is more of don’t go crazy with all the emerging technology. I have in the past jumped on board something new without a complete thought process of what I want end result and product to be for my students. I think that every teacher needs to keep in mind that just because some technology is “cool” that if you don’t think of how you want the students to use it and the end result the “cool” factor doesn’t matter.


Standard C

The online teacher plans, designs, and incorporates strategies to encourage active learning, application, interaction, participation, and collaboration in the online environment.

Strengths

I am a big proponent for collaborative based projects and use technology as a component. Examples include;
  • · students writing their own scripts, videotaping, editing and publishing to the web
  • · using Prezi, Google Drawings/Documents/Presentations, Bubbl.US

I believe that my philosophy on treating individuals and intolerance has been conveyed and will be continued to be conveyed in an online learning environment. I use message boards, blogging and group pages in conjunction with Twitter and Facebook to develop bonds for my students.

Challenges

In this area my biggest challenge will be coming from ensuring that all participants are doing their piece of collaborative online work. It is easy to see online work being completed but the need for record keeping/blogging of the process will need to be implemented as part of assignments.

Standard D

The online teacher promotes student success through clear expectations, prompt responses, and regular feedback.

Strengths

One of my strengths is in the area of prompt writing and focusing students to Blooms’ HOTS so that they are using prior knowledge and analyzing new information. I keep open line of communication (email, FB, texting, etc.) so that I am able to answer student questions about assignments. In more complex assignments I accompany written directions with assignment videos explaining in depth expectations.

Challenges

My greatest challenge will be creating rubrics that are usable, in that respect I mean valid and user friendly. I do have a bank of rubrics but to convert them and update to a more “blended/flipped” classroom expectation will be the upcoming challenge in the new academic year for me.

Standard E

The online teacher models, guides, and encourages legal, ethical, and safe behavior related to technology use.

Strengths

I think all educators struggle in the area of plagiarism, for me I set up lessons that develop students’ abilities to properly use information and in turn giving credit (citation) as required. In using several lessons and practice sessions I have been able to nearly eliminate plagiarism in my classroom. Setting up resources for students to use that are free-use has also been a big help.

Challenges

My school currently does not use any plagiarism checking programs such as Turn It In or Ithenticate so being vigilante in showing students how to now plagiarize and looking for it in their work will be a focus that can't be passed over.


Standard F

The online teacher is cognizant of the diversity of student academic needs and incorporates accommodations into the online environment.

Strengths

My teaching philosophy is based on teaching to the student not the class which fits nicely into this standard. I have worked with a variety of students who have included gang members, absent parents, low income, at-risk, 504, IEP and GATE students all of which have needed individual understanding of their modality for learning. As a teacher I learned that a student who goes home and has to take care of home, siblings, etc. because of absent parents either from working or other reasons (alcohol, etc.) their last concern is homework. I have learned to adapt my lessons for students so that they achieve knowledge based on their individual abilities and circumstance.

Challenges

In teaching a fully online class my philosophy would be tested as it becomes difficult to gather all the knowledge one would need, however if a community is built as in Standard C it will help break down the walls needed to achieve. One other area will be to make sure that my online class is 508 compliant and revisiting my “old” material and editing for compliance.

Standard G

The online teacher demonstrates competencies in creating and implementing assessments in online learning environments in ways that ensure validity and reliability of the instruments and procedures.

Strengths

This is a strong area as for me as the projects and assignments that I use are technology based for valid learning and understanding of material. Examples include students using Prezi, iMovie, Google Presentation, or other WEB 2.0 tool like Cinch/Posterous to show understanding of material.

Challenges

My upcoming challenge will be to move the final non-tech assignments over to an online environment and developing guidelines, expectations and rubrics that prevent plagiarism taking away validity of the student work.


Standard H


The online teacher develops and delivers assessments, projects, and assignments that meet standards-based learning goals and assesses learning progress by measuring student achievement of the learning goals.

Strengths

Standards-Based assessments come in a variety of methods from summative to formative and alternative. I use not only what would be called “standard” tests but project-based assessments that incorporate various forms of technology. I have a full understanding of my curriculum standards and have historically developed standards based online activities.

Challenges

My challenge with this standard is to not fall back on  F2F assessments in my blended/flipped environment. I will need to work on developing more online assessments than what is truly needed so that I have a bank to work from as learning unravels in my classroom.

Standard I

The online teacher demonstrates competency in using data from assessments and other data sources to modify content and to guide student learning.

Strengths

Reviewing CST data with my grade level and department Professional Learning Communities is old hat to me and translates to analyzing my own assessments. I have collaborated on grade level common assessments, based on CST results, which are analyzed for student achievement and follow up lessons are developed with further assessment to ensure student success.

Challenges

The greatest challenge will be in converting valid assessments to an online platform that takes the responses (data) putting them in a usable format.

Standard J

The online teacher interacts in a professional, effective manner with colleagues, parents, and other members of the community to support students’ success.

Strengths

Interacting with my community is a strength that has developed overtime. I have coffee hours for parents and my peers to build relationships. I communicate daily through emails and blogs using Google + and Blogger with students and parents sharing assignments, newsletters and important information. I utilize my school district’s online grading system to keep parents informed on grades. This program also allows for emailing updates so parents do not have to continually log in. These are just a few ways I communicate above the social media and my class website that contains important information.

Challenges

I think my challenge for Standard J will be to not become complacent with how I communicate and rely on it as the best way. It will also be important that all my community members (colleagues, parents, students, etc.) feel they can question, comment and discuss information and details. Communication is a two way street and both parties must be able to speak freely in a positive manner to achieve greatness.



Standard K

The online teacher arranges media and content to help students and teachers transfer knowledge most effectively in the online environment.

Strengths

My ability to adapt media and content for students, parents and teachers is a strong point. I fully understand embedding, html code, and have used various platforms for online information. I have used my own website, created my own Moodle for students, and incorporated a host of online services to share knowledge.

Challenges

I think my upcoming challenge will be moving more of my content to online and creating new content that is relevant and captures the audience (students). It is important to keep the information relevant and engaging for students to be successful.




How have you changed as a learner and an instructor through this process?

I have changed in my view of how I create my material and looking at not just the students currently enrolled but the students that have the potential to be in the class. In making my online presence 508 compliant for not only those future students but visitors as well so that my all feel welcomed to my online presence just like my F2F classroom.

What is your action plan for implementing changes in your teaching practice as a result of new learning?

I currently teach two different classes, Language Arts 8 and Social Studies 8, so my first step is to focus on one class at a time. I will begin first with Social Studies (U.S. History) and using my already developed Comprehensive Assessment Plan as a template to build upon for each unit within the course. I will continue to use the WEB 2.0 tools that I have in the past and my only change will be to use them more building on what already has worked.

How do you plan to continue your learning about online teaching? 

I am the technology lead and webmaster for my school which allows me the opportunity to connect in Professional Learning Communities with my technology peers. In addition, I will be collaborating with the LMS leads for my school district as I implement an online learning presence that becomes more blended/flipped. I also attend technology conferences like CUE (Computer Using Educators) and subscribe to Google Certified Teacher online blogs, etc.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

4.3 Reflection: Social & Professional Networks



Social Media, it is around the majority of us every single day whether it is Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Instagram, etc. people see and use it in their daily lives.I have both social media for my personal and professional life as a teacher. I find that using social media in conjunction with my student and parent population I am able to communicate more with them because of the daily use of social media by a 21st century society.

There are definitely drawbacks to using social media both for myself and my students & parents which by no means is a deal breaker for it's use as a communication tool. I, as I'm sure they, sometimes find myself diverging from the task and "browsing" the internet or the social media page itself. I do believe that self realization of the task does occur and we all complete the tasks we started. As I write this blog itself I am sidetracked with the Facebook notifications as they pop up for my Facebook page that is opened in one of my tabs. I find myself reading the notification then switching back to finish writing.

I try to guide my students to use social media and all internet sites as part of their learning process. This is one of the main understandings in my classroom as I have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy and we use mobile devices constantly for learning. Using social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc. I am able to communicate and students are able to communicate freely in a 24/7 environment. I additionally embed the feeds/posts into my website for students to follow if they do not have any of these social media accounts. It is because of my use of technology in the classroom that has students wanting to be in my classroom. This forward thinking using what they know as fun as a learning tool has them actively involved learning about new ways to use their mobile devices.

Moving forward I think that having students incorporate Twitter into their learning process by posting topic information or websites using hashtags (#) will add to how they use social media. As I have moved over the course of the past year to a Google presence in my classroom and the use of Google +, Blogger, etc I'm interested in how that will now become the platform of preference. I do not see myself eliminating Facebook as it connects with students and parents but see more of Google + being utilized as my social media of choice.




Sunday, July 1, 2012

3.3 Reflection: Using Web 2.0 Tools

This reflection is based on how I would use a WEB 2.0 tool in the classroom with students and the process that it would be used in and how it relates to the HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills) of Bloom's Taxonomy. This reflection has actually been difficult for me as I use many WEB 2.0 tools in the classroom daily with students. These tools are second nature in the process of learning within the four walls of my classroom. 

As I reflected on the past year and activities that students undertook using mobile devices and WEB 2.0 tools I think of a web quest that was QR Scan based. Students were given a handout with QR barcodes for activities that hand them analyzing documents (primary sources), maps, watching video clips and gathering information from websites. The ability for students to work collaboratively in groups for this project was extremely helpful for the handful of students who did not have a mobile device. Students would also use their own laptops, iPads and the classroom iPads (we have 2 in the class) to process their results.

Depending on the device students would create podcasts, iMovies, Prezis, Google Presentations or Thinking Maps using Bubbl.US all students were able to engage in the activity with their individual learning modality. Students would compose blog responses, perform skits that would be recorded (iMovie) or evaluate maps as part of understanding a historic event. These are just some of the tasks they would complete in their processing and understanding of curriculum.

A WEB 2.0 tool that stands out for immediate use as students enter the classroom is Google Voice. Google Voice allows students to text messages to the teacher without having the teacher's personal cell number. Teachers set up a phone number through Google Voice, teachers can even select their number based on a word or series of letters. As students enter the classroom a trivia question or warm up activity is waiting for them on the board. Students text their response during the beginning class activities as they enter and prepare for the class. Though not every student has a cell phone they can borrow and add their name to their response for holding each student accountable. Students are able to text messages/questions throughout the class as necessary. This keeps them on task but able to send the teacher their question to be answered. As the teacher facilitates the class activity they are able to monitor questions and join groups as needed or address the whole group as necessary. Google Voice is great for the shy students, the student afraid to ask a question or the student that asks a lot of questions and needs to be focused.

Google Voice doesn't lend itself to showcasing a student's work but students using Spreaker an online podcasting platform that has apps for Droid and iPhone will allow students to create an end product. Spreaker allows students to create a radio talk show to showcase their learning. I see this in my US History class as a way for students to do biographies of the important figures from history; like Paul Revere, Thomas Jefferson, Sam Houston, Eli Whitney and a host of other key figures. Students would use their Mobile Devices to research, write and then produce their podcast using the Spreaker app or going to the Spreaker website. 

Some students may wish to take this to a different avenue and instead of creating a podcast (radio show) and film a Dr. Phil style show. This opens up new areas as students create characters, backgrounds, and role play explaining the importance of the individual for the biography. Students video tape their Dr. Phil show and edit on the iPad uploading their published copy to a site like Vimeo. The activity described will take a series of class periods before the final copy is published. This is only just a piece of what can happen in classes and has happened in my class in the past.







Google and Google +: A Teacher's Cloud Helper


Google +, this is my newest success story for my classroom in the realm of WEB 2.0 and its ability to make life as a teacher easier. Google + is a social network very similar to the more popular Facebook. Google + however is, in my opinion, a super tool for classroom teachers. In order to understand Google + you first must realize that Google + is more than just a social network but one piece to an intricate puzzle that Google has woven together and continues to mend new improvements into it.

The foundation of Google + is what is known as your Circles. Circles is the term used for the categories of relationships a person might have in their lives. In my case, I have family, personal friends, colleagues, technology networks, education networks, students (broken down by class) and parents (broken down by class) all groups of people that I interact with and wish to share information about my life. I however do not want to share my personal life with business or students/parents. I also do not want to share with my family and friends newsletters or homework that I send out to my students and parents. This is where the Circles come into play, I decide based on the information who I wish to send it to, similar to an email distribution list but with the perk that it’s online (Cloud Based).

Google + interfaces with Blogger and this is where Google + and Circles take on a whole new meaning. One app that I utilize almost daily from my iPhone is my Blogger app. What I do is take a snapshot of my whiteboard with homework listed for the day (or week) and post it to a Blogger page that I have set up for Class Assignments. After making the appropriate comments and attaching the picture into the app I send it off to be posted to the Blogger site. It is at this point that Google + and Circles come into play as I am automatically asked if I want it posted to my Google + page and to which Circles. I click on the appropriate student and parent Circles and each one is notified of the post. For those without a Google + account they receive an email of the homework. This whole process takes 60 seconds at best and eliminates any questions that students or parents might have about class assignments.

In addition to homework I also post my class news on a separate Blogger that is for my news and newsletters. Any notes or charts from class will be posted to the Assignment Blogger if they are complex for student review later at home. Google +, Blogger and the rest of the Google Suite of Apps have become a part of my classroom’s daily habits. I post to the site regularly various pieces of information and students either comment on the Blogger or use another great Google app, Google Voice to text me questions. Google Voice, more on that app and its uses in another post.

Google + for students in my classroom helps them in a 24/7 mindset that they are able to access information from class on the Blogger Assignment page. This might be simply the homework or a more complex Thinking Map that was drawn during a Whole Group or Small Group activity. The use of the combined Blogger and Google + Circles ensure that the outcome of completing assignments and understanding the curriculum from class lessons is viewed in the original classroom format (picture of information from the classroom). Looking at the HOTS from Bloom in this part of Google + is limited but the application of using the Hangout feature of Google + allows for video conferencing and here is where Google + steps up the level of Bloom. Students are able to Hangout with one another at home for assignment activity, Hangout in the class with specialists in topic areas such as book authors, historians, museum presenters, etc. In having a Hangout they are able to ask questions of individuals who are specialists in the field of study gathering more information than they would normally from a textbook. Learning goes Beyond the Classroom.

3.2 Activity: Collaborative Presentation of Web 2.0 Tools / WEB 2.0 Tools - Cinch Cast (Prezi)

3.2 Activity: Collaborative Presentation of Web 2.0 Tools / Web 2.0 Tools - Cinch Cast

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

2.2 Reflection: Methodologies of the Online Instructor


As I read the information in the module about Online and Blended Learning it seemed to be written from my perspective. The basis for the use of technology for learning had several key components that are set up to make a successful experience for all parties involved in the learning process. The teacher, in a position to enhance student learning must be flexible and willing to not only monitor student progress but change the course of the journey as the student grows. 

In my realm, my classroom, I have set up several systems to make sure that communication is done systematically to both student and parent. Communication was the first bullet point of key skills for teachers of online learners. I have set up within my Google + Account a series of Circles (By Classes) for Students and Parents. These Circles allow me to communicate with the persons of interest daily through postings of homework, newsletters, or important class news. I utilize Blogger for my Student Assignments and Newsletters which allows for a digital library of current and past information. By using the App features on my iPhone I am able to take pictures of my homework board, notes, charts, etc. from the class and post them to my Assignment (Blog) Page on Blogger. Once posted I am then able to share it through Google + to my students and parents. This is just one way that communication is done daily to my students and their parents. The newsletter works in a similar manner from my PC, iPad or iPhone depending on the information being communicated.

Another form of communication that I use is Google Voice, a great feature that allows me to communicate immediately with students and parents. Many teachers feel awkward with giving students their personal cell phone number (or home land-line for those that still have one). Google Voice allows for the user to create a separate phone number that can be user-generated and have it forward to their cell phone. This has become a great tool for me both during the school day and after school. Students during class (because I have a BYOD policy) are able to text questions that they might otherwise feel funny with asking publicly in class.This is great for the shy, introverted student or someone of an intra-personal modality. Beyond the classroom bringing 24/7 access to students and parents they are able to text for assignment clarification or other concerns that might arise. Google Voice allows for learning to be one step closer to 24/7.

Keeping students differing learning modalities in mind and understanding that some students do best with visual learning I have set up live study casts for students using UStream.TV. This works wonderful as students would know the date and time of the broadcast and could plan accordingly either to watch live, watch the study cast at their leisure and/or watch it several times at their own pace. Students would send in emails, Twitter Messages, Facebook Messages, text messages with questions that they would like clarified for the study cast. Surprisingly the majority of students would participate either during the live feed or watch it later as their schedule permits.

I believe that using technology as I currently do in my classroom (having only scratched the surface here) will seamlessly translate to an online learning environment.  I do believe that one of my obstacles in an online learning environment would be deadlines as I strive currently to focus on the learning and not the deadline. I do believe my online learning model will be more of a blended flipped classroom this will not pose as much of an issue as I will have students in the classroom face-to-face.