Saturday, October 27, 2012

Online Teaching Experience Response

This week in CEP811, we were asked to look at the Michigan Merit Curriculum Online Experience Guideline Companion Document  and reflect on how we could use these technologies with our own students. I've never seen this document before and it was interesting to see how they defined each online tool and what technology standards each one met. This is an extremely helpful document as I'm starting to plan for my blended class. This makes it very clear what each tool does and how different standards help students learn. Since I use Moodle to teach that class, I would be able to post the standards right by each assignment. It will also be helpful for my other students as well, who won't have as much online exposure, but will still be doing internet-based assignments.
  • What content could this help you teach? 
I teach high school English and mostly have seniors. We read several novels throughout the trimester. I already use Moodle for my blended class which is one of the tools listed. I love that I can post by day to let students know the schedule. I also enjoy that I can link to assignments or upload assignments directly on there. Students are also able to collaborate in forums. According to the site it allows for "Integration Sustainability, Life-long Skills, and Teacher Involvement". It really helps me deliver content and interact with students on days we're not together in class. For my other sections of Senior English, that are not blended I use a Wiki which uses similar features to a Moodle, but in a simplified way. I can still put up a class schedule, post assignments, and have students collaborate. It allows me to give them an online experience, even though we're together in class everyday. The webquests help give all students information before we start a novel. For The Great Gatsby it was essential students understood the 1920s. The webquest allowed students to visit websites and look up information and put it in their own words. It also allowed them to dig further into any information that caught their interest. I also tried blogs in my blended class. Instead of a journal, which my other classes keep in class, they had a blog. They used the blog to reflect on their reading, answer questions I posed, and respond to each other. It made their journals viewable to the outside world and thus held higher stakes. Students spent more time thinking about their answer, revising their posts, and actually writing their responses than my students who kept their journal in class. The only way I used videocasts was when I posted directions or a tutorial for students in my blended class to follow. I created one for "logging into Moodle" and one for "saving a video on Windows Movie Maker". It was essential that I could communicate effectively to my students when they were away from class. Finally, Senior English requires a research project. I liked that this chart included sources and standards for when my seniors research. We spend a lot of time discussing credible sources and practicing looking at websites. I actually wrote my lesson plan earlier in this class about that.
  • What type of pedagogical strategies might you use with your students?
This Michigan Merit Curriculum guide incorporates not only technology, but effective ways for students to learn. I already use a lot of them because I feel they are engaging for students. I posted some of the strategies in my response above. Having things like Moodles and Wikis allows for visual information to be presented to students. It allows teachers to post videos, podcasts, charts, etc so students can see and hear the material. Students can do more interactive collaboration and assignments through these tools, which helps them learn. The webquests lets students access information independently, without being fed the content by the teacher. Students tend to process and understand the material better when they are discovering it themselves. The blogs allow for collaboration and a way to express themselves in a public forum. I think the different technology tools really make it possible to differentiate instruction to students.
  • What technologies do you think would be harder to use with your students? Why? 
My students don't all have computers at home or reliable internet. So some of these assignments might be harder to always incorporate. Like in my regular classes I have the Wiki as an addition to class, not an expectation. When we do the webquests I spend an entire day in the computer lab making sure students can get the assignment done. Our school blocks a lot of websites as well, so I have to tailor where my students get information based on that. Things like keeping an online portfolio, chatting with an expert, or having interactive discussions with peers, might be harder in my context. It may work for my blended class because one of the requirements is having high-speed internet at home. But for the majority of my students, I need to make sure the technology adds resources and offers opportunities to enhance the class, but is not a hindrance to their learning. I'd love to try and incorporate more of these into my blended class because some of them I think my students would enjoy and benefit from. I'd need time to explore the resources and connect them to my content.Overall I think this document was extremely helpful and accessible. It made me think about the technology tools I'm using and how they are benefiting students.

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