The End of an Era

My final final summary of learning is complete! As we near the end of another semester, I am excited to share what I have learned during EC&I 834 and all my Edtech courses with Dr. Couros. The planning and creating for this particular summary of learning was a very reflective process that allowed me to think about my growth and learning throughout my Master of Education degree at the University of Regina. I started my degree with an Edtech course, so it seems fitting to end my degree in the same way.

Early on in the semester, Amanda and I decided to complete our summary of learning together. This allowed for lots of conversations about our learning to take place and to brainstorm many different ideas for our summary of learning. In the end, we decided to to focus our summary not only on the current semester, but on our experiences as teachers during a pandemic. I think we speak for most teachers in that the last year has been extremely challenging with many ups and downs, but more importantly, a lot of learning. In our summary, we share some of the tools, tips and bigger issues like digital equity in online and blended learning. We hope you enjoy our video and even catch some of the subtle lockdown jokes along the way. Special thanks to a few current and former classmates for making an appearance in our video:

As I sign off for the final blog post of my degree, I would like to thank all my classmates and professors that have made the Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction a very meaningful and memorable experience. I am grateful for the connections I have made with colleagues and I look forward to continuing my learning beyond my degree.

Keep in touch,

@Catherine_Ready

Exploring the Elements of Art – The Final Course Overview

My course prototype focuses on one strand of Grade 3 Arts Education: Visual Art. The course will provide lessons and activities exploring the seven elements of art: colour, shape, line, form, space, value and texture followed by a final project to tie everything together. The course will also connect with the Saskatchewan curriculum Grade 3 Arts Education theme: Environment. All lessons and activities will be within Seesaw activities, including instructional videos that are also available on a YouTube playlist.

Course Website: Exploring the Elements of Art: Grade 3 Arts Education Unit

All course information, including the Course Profile is available on the website listed above. I also provide a detailed outline of the course with links to each focus lesson. For teachers that do not use Seesaw, I have provided screenshots of the activities and direct links to the instructional videos available on YouTube.

Below is a brief screencast that will walk you through my course. I encourage you to look through my course website on your own. Although the course was designed for an online asynchronous environment, the activities and videos can also be used in a face-to-face or blended learning classroom.

My course design and creation served two purposes – to fulfill curriculum requirements for my own Grade 3 students and for my EC&I 834 course prototype project. I chose the visual art strand of arts education because I wanted to explore ways to implement lessons and activities with limited student supplies. Since students are working at home, I am unable to provide unique art supplies, like paint, pastels, clay and different types of paper. Instead, I based all activities on supplies that students would be expected to have at home from a regular school supply list (markers, crayons, glue and scissors).

One benefit of creating and implementing the course with Grade 3 students from the beginning was that I was able to design a lesson based on a specific element of art and then a project to go with the lesson. After the first week of receiving student responses, I made some adjustments for subsequent lessons based on feedback from my EC&I 834 classmates and student work. One example was to include a self-assessment piece for all art projects to encourage the best quality of work from my students. I think designing the entire course from start to finish without involving students would be very challenging, so I enjoyed the opportunity to work through the unit at the same pace as my students.

Each week I recorded an instructional video based on an element of art and I tried to maintain the same theme and opening montage. I wanted to be able to produce a video playlist at the end of the unit that fully covered each element, and I am very happy to report that I achieved this goal! I feel that the unit is very comprehensive and succinct and could be adapted for use in different grade levels as well. It is my hope that any teacher could use this course, even if they do not use Seesaw with their students. The instructional videos and art projects were designed to be used in all learning environments.

I hope you enjoyed exploring my course!

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Collaboration in an Asynchronous World

In my post last week, I explored the different ways I have worked to build relationships and community in an online learning environment. Opportunities for student collaboration are a key factor in building and maintaining relationships among students and teachers. A challenge in an asynchronous online class is that collaborative activities are often more difficult to organize and manage. Expectations and guidelines must be set in advance and teachers do not have the ability to shift an activity in a different direction if they find it to be unsuccessful. Instead, they have to try something different with the next activity.

In the A.W. (Tony) Bates text “Teaching in a Digital Age”, Section 4.4 – Online collaborative learning, specific design principles are introduced that have been associated with successful online discussion. Many of these practices are important to incorporate in any student collaboration online. For example:

  • appropriate technology (choosing the right tool for your intended goal);
  • clear guidelines on online student behaviour (being respectful in comments or discussions);
  • student orientation and preparation (make sure the students know what to do!);
  • clear goals (that are understood by students);
  • clearly defining learner roles and expectations (determining the frequency of comments, for example);
  • regular, ongoing instructor ‘presence’ (how will you monitor the activity?).

Student Interaction and Collaboration Ideas

In my course, “Exploring the Elements of Art: Grade 3 Arts Education Unit“, I have a few ideas that could be incorporated to encourage student interactions and collaboration. It is important that I consider the parameters of my course, as it is for younger students in an online, asynchronous environment.

  1. Seesaw Blogs – to share student artwork with classmates in a safe, teacher-moderated and password protected blog.
  2. Google Jamboard – to share student artwork.
  3. See Think Wonder – as a framework to support group or breakout room discussion in online meets (although not part of the asynchronous model of my course, it is a possible extension activity if online meetings are offered).

Seesaw Blogs

As my course activities are posted on Seesaw, using the blog feature would be a great way to share student artwork and allow students to comment and reflect on other classmate work. A note – check with your Seesaw division administrator, as this feature may not be activated with your division accounts. In Arts Education, self-reflection and critical response to artwork are all part of the curriculum and learning process. Learning how to provide a useful comment, like using the TAG Method is also building our learner’s 21st century digital literacy skills as they think about what they post online. Furthermore, this tool works great in an asynchronous environment as students can post at any time. To be successful, I would ask students to post one piece of their artwork per week and expect students to write at least 2 quality comments on other student work. Teachers can monitor and approve comments before they are posted, so it is an excellent opportunity to teach good comment expectations.

Google Jamboard

I have tried using Jamboard on many occasions with my students, and through trial and error I have found that there needs to be a lot of guidelines and instruction before students use the tool. For example, setting the expectation of what is appropriate to put on the Jamboard (to avoid the random scribbles and unnecessary pictures and comments) and the teacher frequently monitoring the board. For this collaborative activity, I would place students in small groups of about 4 students. Each group would have their own Jamboard with multiple pages/boards with different student artwork from that group on each page. The expectation would be for each student to use the sticky note to write a quality comment about each piece of student artwork. I like the idea of keeping the groups small, because then you can make sure that every student receives the same number of comments and it will likely be easier to manage from a teacher perspective. I imagine it would look something like this:

See Think Wonder

This activity was suggested to me by Erin as “Think Notice Wonder”, and this is a similar version of the thinking routine. This blog post gives great examples of how to incorporate the routine in many different subjects. It would also be a great tool as an assessment piece in a Seesaw activity examining artwork, but we will save assessment for another post! Although my course is asynchronous, this could be used as an enrichment activity if you host online meetings for your students.

As a collaborative activity in an online meeting, it would be fun to use this routine to look at different artist work (either professional artists or student work). Students could be in breakout rooms (if your meeting platform supports breakout rooms), or in smaller group meetings. Teacher presence at different points during the process would be beneficial to keep students on task, but I think letting students be on their own (similar to group work in a physical classroom) would allow for meaningful student connections to develop.

To facilitate the process, I would do an example with the whole group to demonstrate the process, then I would allow students to repeat the process with different artwork in smaller groups. They could collaborate in a shared Google Document or Jamboard to answer the questions together. The opportunity for real-time discussion would hopefully allow for deeper connections and understanding of the artwork. In particular, it would help meet the Critical/Responsive curriculum outcome of responding to arts expressions.

What is the Goal?

Bates explains that in designing quality interactions online, it is important to have clear goals for yourself and students in any activities that involve collaboration. Is the purpose to build community? Deepen learning connections? Meet curriculum objectives? All of the above? Whatever you decide to do, be intentional with your activities and have clear guidelines for students.

I would love to know if you have used any of these strategies in your own classroom! What worked? What would you change?

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Building Relationships in Online Learning

We recently celebrated the 100th day of school for students in my school division. For many students, this has been 100 days of online learning that families chose for the 2020/2021 school year, compared to the emergency remote learning that everyone was forced into in Spring 2020. In my experience, the biggest challenge in both the emergency remote learning and the current online school year has been building and maintaining relationships with students. In the spring, I had the benefit of working with students in person first and developing a class community before moving online. But this school year I am working in a completely asynchronous online school, so relationships and community have been the most difficult aspect to develop between students and teachers.

For my post this week, I am going to look at some of the successful ways we foster community in the Edtech courses with Dr. Couros, my own experiences as an online teacher and ideas from educators and researchers around the world.

#ECI834 Community

  1. Twitter – Throughout my five courses with Dr. Couros, one of the most successful tools we have used for sharing resources and tips has been through the Twitter hashtags, #ECI830, #ECI831, #ECI832, #ECI833 and #ECI834. At the start of a class, we immediately add 20+ Twitter accounts to follow and build our professional learning networks. Throughout the course we are able to share relevant articles, topics of interest and share our course projects and blogs. As I work through my final Edtech course, I am realizing how awesome it is to still be connected to my classmates after the course is complete, like @vendi55 and @NSmith for example!
  2. Discord – I also enjoy our private course community on Discord and the various channels used by students. I find that the opportunity to engage in informal conversations in the #general channel helps build class community as we start to learn more about classmates beyond our identified professional roles. The ability to access the app on our phones makes it even easier to quickly ask or respond to questions directly related to course content and information like deadlines and assignments.
  3. Blog Commenting – Commenting on course blogs throughout the semester helps us learn more about classmates and follow their Edtech journeys. It is also a great place to seek support and feedback, as well as learn more about different topics since we often choose different directions for our blog posts. I like the opportunity to reply to comments on blogs as well since we can ask and answers questions. I think this is where a lot of my professional growth occurs in Dr. Couros’ courses.
  4. Breakout Rooms – During our Zoom meetings, moving into breakout rooms has been a great way to get to know classmates in a much smaller setting. It is less intimidating speaking with classmates in a group of four compared to the entire class. In these breakout rooms, we tend to stray from the original topic or question, but the learning is always taking place. For example, we learn about different career opportunities within the field of education when listening to the perspective from administrators, consultants and higher level educators. I also think the opportunity to share personal experiences and examples helps everyone make deeper connections to the course content.

Overall, the #ECI834 class community has utilized many tools to build and maintain relationships beyond the course dates and materials. I have even received advice about potty training toddlers from my classmates – thanks Erin! I am very grateful that I have been able to learn and grow from many talented, inspiring and positive educators.

My Online Teaching Experience

Receiving a class list in an asynchronous online environment is overwhelming at first. It is simply just names on a page followed by access to previous data like reading levels and grades. My first challenge was getting to know students as a teacher before I could even think about a class community. Here are some of the successful and unsuccessful ideas I have experimented with this year.

  1. Seesaw “About Me” activity – The first activity I assign to a new student in my class is this activity (or any variation of it) so I can get to know a little bit about the student. Many students add a picture or a short video introduction. I reply to every student with a comment and try to find a connection with the student. (“My favourite subject is Arts Ed.” – I love Arts Ed! Especially music!”)
  2. Regular Online Meets – Setting a consistent schedule for online meetings (that are optional in our asynchronous model) has been a great way to “meet” students and hear their voices. Cameras can be on or off, but most students love to have the camera on at some point, especially with a fun virtual background. I always send the link out about 15 minutes before the scheduled time and as the year has progressed, many students come early so we can have some informal conversations like what they did on the weekend, what they are looking forward to or playing fun games like “spot the difference”.
from Insider.com

3. Small Reading Groups – My division uses Google Meets, and unfortunately breakout rooms are currently not an option with our version. I set up a weekly schedule where I meet with 5-8 students in levelled reading groups to participate in guided reading. Although the meets are fairly formal, I think it has been useful for some students to meet in a small setting and start to see familiar faces, especially when we have our larger whole group meets.

4. Morning Message – I started to incorporate a “Morning Message” on a class Jamboard every day. The message usually followed a theme like, “Movie Monday – what is your favourite movie?” and students would answer on a sticky note and sign their first name. It was lots of fun at the beginning, but as time went on some students started misusing the board by deleting or adding pages, adding scribbles over the board, or adding images that were not relevant. Unfortunately there is currently no edit history in our division version of Jamboard, so I am not able to track who is making the changes. Eventually both students and myself became frustrated with constant problems, so I switched over to a daily check in, using a Google Form like this one. Unfortunately this only gives me information and we are not able to replicate the idea of a group whiteboard message in a classroom.

5. Hour of Code – Once a month, I host an “Hour of Code” with my students through a Google Meet. We have tried a few different tutorials that were originally suggested by Curtis B. and his group last semester, and they are so much fun! Here is a very basic layout of how I run the hour:

  • Set the date/time and provide students with a link for the Google Meet. This is an optional activity and just for fun.
  • In the Google Meet, send the link for the tutorial (like this Minecraft Hour of Code) in the chat.
  • Remind students to watch the video at the beginning and let students begin working at their own pace through the tutorial. (Some students are experienced, but many are beginners just like me!)
  • I share my screen to act as the “beginner” example, so students who need help can follow along. I often get stuck on certain puzzles, so we pause and ask if any students who have completed the level can help out.
  • We work on the tutorial for one hour with no pressure to complete all the puzzles. The goal is simple to code for an hour!

My experience running the Hour of Code has been overwhelmingly positive. It combines a Google Meet (the social interaction students are looking for) and teaches some relevant coding concepts. The best part is it get students interested in coding and to explore it on their own time. If you want to learn more about how to run an Hour of Code in your classroom, I suggest you start by reading all about it on the Hour of Code website.

While it is not perfect, I think that hosting regular online meetings has been the most successful aspect in creating a whole group class community. Reviewing course content has been valuable for students, but I think engaging in fun activities like a Quizizz or directed drawings during the meet are when students relax and start to show their personalities. In a recent daily check in, I asked students what is something they would change about their online school experience. Two common answers were seeing their friends and daily Google Meets. It is clear students are missing the social interaction with their peers, so I will continue to create opportunities for students to meet in both formal and informal meetings.

Advice from the Twittersphere and beyond

I have come across many ideas on social media about building relationships and community online over the last year. It seems to be a common concern of many educators who are missing the in-person connections with students.

I enjoy reading articles from Dr. Catlin Tucker and appreciate that she explains why it is important to build community – so that students feel more motivated to learn. The suggestions in her post include:

  1. Set Agreements as a Class
  2. Start Class with Community Building Conversations
  3. Go Deeper with a Dialogic Interview Format

One of the first activities I did with students in our initial Google Meet was go over ideas that would make the meetings successful for everyone. We made some basic guidelines, like using the chat respectfully (ex. not talking about playing Roblox later), staying muted unless it is their turn to talk and using the raise hand feature if they have a question. I also try and start each Google Meet with a Jamboard activity or question for the chat which helps with Dr. Tucker’s suggestion that “The goal is to get each student to unmute and share their answer to break the ice and get them comfortable speaking during a video conference.” I have not tried the Dialogic interview format, but it looks like it would be a fun breakout room activity for students!

One of my favourite resources for online teaching is Jennifer Gonzalez of Cult of Pedagogy (Thanks for the recommendation, Amanda!) In the post, “9 Ways Online Teaching Should Be Different From Face-to-Face”, Jennifer reflects on a podcast interview with Melanie Kitchen about adjusting our practice for teaching online. Community Building and Communication are one of the most important areas highlighted and she discusses the importance of building social emotional skills in the early weeks before diving into curriculum. Another detail explored is that community needs to be a priority for teachers as well. This suggested article looks at the importance of teacher well-being when teaching online. In my personal experience, this is something I did not realize I was missing as an online teacher. I am at least lucky that I can interact with colleagues as we all teaching online in the same building, but I wonder what it is like for teachers that are working from home?

Cult of Pedagogy

The final resource I am going to share is from Dr. John Spencer, who we had the privilege of interacting with in one of our EC&I 834 class meetings last month. Dr. Spencer touched on the ideas of relationships and community in his presentation, and his website is full of ideas and posts if you search “relationships online”.

“Building an Empowered Community in Distance Learning Courses”

Dr. Spencer lists seven excellent ideas in his post, “Building an Empowered Community in Distance Learning Courses” including:

  1. Spend more time letting students share their interests.
  2. Launch a democratic leadership team.
  3. Have students negotiate norms and procedures.
  4. Create student jobs.
  5. Make synchronous meetings more interactive.
  6. Design collaborative projects.
  7. Use frequent check-ins to connect with students individually.

While some of these ideas may not work in your online setting, I think the goal is clear that by building relationships with students, we are empowering students which will ultimately help with engagement. Do you use any of these practices when you have moved to online learning at some point this year?

Relationships, Community and Engagement

Through my personal experiences in our Edtech courses with Dr. Couros, as an online teacher and through research online, I have come across some common themes when building relationships online. First, it starts with building student-teacher relationships while working on building class community. If you can start making progress with relationships and class community, you will ultimately have more engaged and motivated students. For anyone that has experienced online learning as either a student or teacher, being engaged and feeling empowered in your online course leads to more meaningful and deeper connections with classmates and course content!

What strategies have worked for you for building relationships in an online environment?

Until next time,

@Catherine _Ready

Feedback: An Ongoing Process

This week in our EC&I 834 class, we met in small breakout rooms to share our course prototypes and first modules. It was a great experience reviewing the courses as we all come from different teaching backgrounds and experiences. Thank you to Miranda, Raquel and Devin for the positive feedback in our breakout rooms, as well as advice from Erin and Amanda throughout my course building process. Here are some of the suggestions I received and how I plan to implement the ideas.

First, here is a link to my course: Exploring the Elements of Art: Grade 3 Arts Education Unit. I decide to prepare all of my activities in Seesaw, but my biggest challenge was how to present my course in a simple and easy-to-follow package for educators. One suggestion I received was to change the opening text on my homepage. Originally it looked like this:

To make the course more inviting for educators, I changed “About the Course” to “Welcome!”. I also changed some of the text in the opening paragraph in an effort to sell the course and entice educators to continue exploring the course.

I also struggled with my menu titles and options throughout the process. At first, I did not include a page with the Course Profile (which was originally posted on this blog site), so I added an edited profile to reflect some changes I made to my original post. These include changing the number of lessons and using an Arts Education folder in Seesaw instead of a “landing page” work-around option.

Course Modules? Modules? Lessons? Focus Lessons? Focus Modules?

Word choice can be complicated, and I think this is an area I was really overthinking when setting up my site. Since my course covers the seven elements of art, I thought it would be useful to refer to each element of art as a “focus” for the particular week. Seven (7) focus topics followed by a final project to complete the course. The reason for this word choice is that for some “focus” topics, there would be two Seesaw activities (a practice activity and an assessment activity). Through conversations with classmates, I changed the wording from “Focus Modules” to “Outline” as a menu heading. When you click “Outline“, you are taken to an outline of all the lessons covered in the course (with links to each lesson). In the dropdown menu, I had “Lesson Overview”, which took you to the same “Outline” page. This was confusing for some classmates, so I took the suggestion of removing the redundant menu item. Now, the only pages listed in the dropdown menu will be each lesson listed as “Focus 1:…”, “Focus 2:…”, “Focus 3:…”, etc.

Seesaw Activities

Since my course activities are accessed through Seesaw, it is assumed that an educator will use the course if they use Seesaw. But, for my classmates that do not use Seesaw, I provided links to the YouTube videos and screenshots of the activities so they could have a sense of course. In many cases, educators could adapt the lessons from the screenshots and videos to use the unit without Seesaw, but for the purpose of this class, I will be focusing on creating Seesaw activities and instructional videos.

Each activity is available for teachers to save to their personal Seesaw libraries, and they have the ability to copy and edit the activity if necessary. The feedback about the activities was very positive, especially from classmates who do not use Seesaw with their students. Since I am currently using this unit with my Grade 3 students, I was able to show my breakout room how the activities have actually worked with students and the results so far. I also have the benefit of making adjustments as I go along for future activities (especially with having very clear instructions in a completely asynchronous online environment).

Assessment

I provided clear rubrics within my Seesaw activities, but one suggestion from a classmate was to include a self-assessment piece. I love this idea since I think arts education is a very self-reflective process. I will be including self-assessments within future activities that include assessed art projects.

Try not to overthink it!

Overall, the best advice I received was to step back and not overthink the website! My Seesaw activities make sense, but I struggled with the wording and organization of my website for the purpose of educators who want to use the course. I am still not convinced it 100% user friendly, so I appreciate any other feedback you have about the ease of access and understanding how to use the course.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Edpuzzle: A Review

Last semester in EC&I 833, I had the opportunity to review an assessment tool, and I chose Knowledgehook. After reading Amanda’s blog post, I remember learning about Edpuzzle for the first time and thought it would be a great tool to try with my students. I still haven’t tried it, so this is the perfect opportunity to explore an overview and review of the tool, strengths, weaknesses and potential for teachers as a content creation tool.

What is Edpuzzle?

First of all, Edpuzzle is a (mostly) FREE platform, which is an immediate bonus for any teacher. Here is a short video explaining some of the cool features:

Getting Started

First, I created and verified my account with Edpuzzle, and there was even an opportunity to add my school to “connect with educators” in my schools. I started by clicking the question mark in the top right corner, which led me to a “Getting Started” YouTube Playlist. To be honest, usually I just dive into a tool and start playing around, but to give an honest review, I felt that it was important to explore all the resources and information available.

To use with students, I have to first ‘create a class’ and then explore different LMS integrations, including a very simple Google Classroom integration. One of the challenges with online learning is all the different student accounts and passwords, so I appreciated the option of an “open” class compared to a “classic” class type, which gives the teacher various student analytics, but also requires students to login.

Classic vs Open Class Type

When I clicked “share class code” with students, I was faced with this pop-up, which made me realize that to use this tool with my students, I will likely have to get permission from my school division (which is a similar process for using apps like Flipgrid). This goes to show the importance of doing background research on a tool before you immediately start using with students.

Creating Content

I felt like I hit a bit of a roadblock with the class set up, so I decided to leave it for now and try creating some content instead. First, I searched for a video I often use with students when teaching colour theory. I chose this video because it is engaging, short and to-the-point. Edpuzzle has a built in search bar for YouTube, so the video was easy to locate. Furthermore, it showed me 209 different Edpuzzle versions using this video that had already been created by users! I looked at a few for inspiration then started working on my own version. I decided to use my video as review for students after we have already completed our initial colour wheel lesson. I should also note that you are able to upload your own instructional videos as well. For my video:

  • I added a variety of multiple choice and open ended questions
  • I cut one section from the video about complementary colours (since we did not cover this in our lesson)

Here is my finished product. You can try the video as a guest!

To assign to students, I clicked “Assign” to my test class and chose the option to prevent skipping and turn on closed captions.

Using with Students

For the purpose of this review, I am going to assume I have permission to use Edpuzzle (although I will confirm with my division before using with students). I pretended to be the student and joined the class using the link provided and completed the colour wheel video assignment. One problem I discovered is that I originally allowed Edpuzzle to create fun nicknames for students, so unfortunately I am not able to track student progress. An easy solution is to change this option in your class settings.

Strengths

Edpuzzle is relatively easy to set up and integrate with a variety of LMS platforms like Canvas, Schoology, Moodle, Blackboard, and Google Classroom. You also have the option of creating your own class either with student logins or with open access through a class code. The best part about Edpuzzle is the content creation tools. You can easily select a pre-existing video from YouTube, Khan Academy, TED Talks, National Geographic or upload your own video. Some of the (very easy to use) creation tools include:

  • cutting sections from the videos
  • adding questions (multiple-choice or open-ended) or notes at any point in the video
  • adding voice overs
  • prevent student skipping
  • add closed captions

Edpuzzle has a very large collection of videos that can be filtered by subject, grade level and country made by other Edpuzzle users. To me, this was similar to exploring the Seesaw Activity Library, because you can also edit videos that have been created by other users.

Weaknesses

The only downside I can potentially see is using this with classes that do not have a dedicated LMS platform. If you have a platform and permission to use with students, the integration should be very easy. With this integration, you will have access to analytics which could provide assessment evidence. In my case, I mostly use Seesaw with my students and I am hesitant to add another website for students to login and access. That being said, I did try sharing an open link for students to try the video and simply used it as extra practice and review. If you want hard analytics, then you should have it fully integrated with your LMS or have dedicated student logins.

Overall

Image result for 4.5 stars out of 5

I would rate this app a solid 4.5 stars out of 5 stars. The content creation aspect was so easy and valuable and it allows educators to use pre-existing videos that can be focused directly on what the students are learning. In my own experience, I often find videos that are almost perfect, but always add in a detail that is not relevant in our context and sometimes ends up confusing students. I also love the idea of browsing the community library of videos or even creating an Edpuzzle assignment with my own instructional videos. In my opinion, the only downside to this app is trying to figure out a way to share it with your students that works for you as a teacher. Like I said many times, additional logins are a constant headache, so if you can have seamless integration with your LMS I think it would be smooth sailing. Last but not least, this app is FREE*. I kept waiting for something to pop-up saying I needed to upgrade to a premium version. For that reason alone, I think every educator should check out this app!

*Mostly free. Educators can store up to 20 videos in their account with the free plan. Learn more here.

Have you used Edpuzzle with your students? What grade? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Exploring the Elements of Art with Grade 3

The Saskatchewan Curriculum mandates that students spend 150 minutes per week to study Arts Education in Grade 3. Within Arts Education, there are four strands: Visual Art, Music, Dance and Drama. My course will focus on one strand, visual art, for Grade 3 students participating in asynchronous online learning.

“Colores” by ckmck is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Course Overview: The Elements of Art

Target Audience: Grade 3 students (ages 7-9)

Course Timeline: 12 lessons and activities over the course of about 6 weeks.

Course Delivery:

  • Online asynchronous learning.
  • Students will use Seesaw to access activities that will include instructional videos, assignments and assessment opportunities.
  • All activities will be scheduled and released in sequential order.
  • Instructional videos will also be accessible via a YouTube playlist.
  • Course outline with links to Seesaw activities will be hosted on a “landing page”, pinned to the top of the student journal.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes:

This course will focus on one strand of Arts Education: Visual Art. The course will provide lessons and activities exploring the seven elements of art: colour, shape, line, form, space, value and texture. The course will also connect the Saskatchewan curriculum Grade 3 Arts Education theme: Environment. 

CP3.7 – Create visual art works that express ideas about the natural, constructed, and imagined environments.

CP3.8 – Create art works using a variety of visual art concepts (e.g., contour lines), forms (e.g., drawing, sculpture), and media (e.g., pencils, pastels, found objects).

Course Materials:

  • Computer/tablet and Internet access
  • Basic art supplies:
    • paper
    • pencil
    • glue 
    • scissors
    • colouring supplies (ex. markers, pencil crayons, crayons and/or paint if they have it)

Special Considerations:

  • All Seesaw activity instructions will include both text and audio to support all Grade 3 learners.
  • Students may need support or guidance from a learning mentor or parent/guardian, but the course is designed to be completed without assistance.

Activity Completion and Assessment:

  • All activities will be released in sequential order, starting with 2 activities per week.
  • Students will be expected to complete each activity before being assigned subsequent activities.
  • Some activities can be completed directly within Seesaw, but assessment activities will be completed outside of the app on paper. Students will take a photo of their work to show the completed assignment. 
  • Students will be provided with a clear rubric for all assessment activities. Learning mentors or parents/guardians are encouraged to review the rubric with their student before submitting for feedback.

Since students are participating at home without access to school art supplies, I based the activities on supplies students would normally be expected to acquire for in-person learning. I have also made the assumption that all students will have reliable access to technology and Internet (since they would be enrolled in an online school). I would love to hear any suggestions that would make this course more accessible to all students as well as any other feedback to support the course creation. Thank you in advance!

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

To flex or not to flex

This week we had an excellent discussion about blended learning and the different definitions of the term. Dr. Couros shared a tweet to ask for opinions of what blended learning is all about, and I was intrigued by one of the replies:

“Hyflex learning” is a new term to me, and I decided to dig deeper and learn about the model and how it is used in education. My classmate Jocelyn explored the concept of HyFlex Learning in her post this week and a great article, 7 Things You Should Know About the HyFlex Course Model that gives a definition of the HyFlex model as an “instructional approach that combines face-to-face (F2F) and online learning”. For the purpose of this post, I decided to focus on how the HyFlex model works best in a post-secondary environment, the advantages and disadvantages of the model and possibilities in a K-12 setting.

What is it?

The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) explains that HyFlex model combines the terms “hybrid” and “flexible” to create a learning environment with both synchronous and asynchronous learning components. The “flexible” part means that students get to choose which learning avenue they will follow and understand that all students will be provided the same quality instruction and assessment. The three participation paths include:

  1. Face-to-face synchronous sessions in person (in a classroom)
  2. Face-to-face synchronous sessions online (ex. via Zoom)
  3. Participate fully asynchronously using the learning management system (LMS)

The most important takeaway is that all students will achieve the same learning objectives.

The Logistics

I found the description of different scenarios and ways to set up HyFlex Learning by the Columbia CTL to be very useful to understand the model. For example:

An example using video, audio and chat for synchronous learning and all content posted on the LMS – Columbia CTL

Another area to consider are the different student-instructor interactions. The example below is from Hybrid-Flexible Course Design edited by Brian J. Beatty.

Examples of student-instructor interaction – Hybrid-Flexible Course Design (Beatty)

Advantages

From the outset, the HyFlex model looks like a dream! Students have the autonomy to choose the learning path that suits their needs best. For example, student athletes do not have to worry about missing content if they are travelling for games or tournaments, students with special medical needs can find a way to the make content fit into their schedule. And the biggest advantage is that in-person classes could possibly continue throughout the COVID pandemic. Until there is widespread vaccination, it is difficult to imagine massive lecture halls with 500+ students taking place on university campuses.

Disadvantages

Unfortunately, I feel that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages in the HyFlex Model. In “Fall Scenario #13: A HyFlex Model“, the authors explain that,

“…navigating the challenges of teaching to both in-person and online students, while also creating rich interactive learning experiences for students participating in the course asynchronously, is hard. If done poorly, faculty run the risk of making the students at a distance feel like second-class citizen.”

The time, training, technology and organization required to run a successful HyFlex course, where all students have a rich learning experience almost seems impossible. An instructor would likely need an assistant to monitor different aspects of the class (like the chat feature in a synchronous online meeting) and then also have someone competent to make sure all the technology is working at all times. Also, designing the material to provide engaging learning experiences for both synchronous and asynchronous learners would require a lot of out-of-the-box thinking. How would you manage class engagement with asynchronous learners? Anyone who has taken an online course that relies on forum posts for student interactions understands how difficult it can be to stay engaged.

E-learning platform and distance learning
The Chronicle of Higher Education – ISTOCK

HyFlex Possibilities?

The HyFlex model is promising in the post-secondary world with the proper training, technology and support, but I feel like it would not work in a K-12 setting. First, I think for the model to work, students need to have the ability to work independently without support from a learning mentor or guardian. Second, students need access to technology and broadband Internet access. This may work in a high school setting, but then you are dealing with teachers who will likely lack the training and support to succeed with the model.

Kevin Gannon wrote an opinion piece called “Our HyFlex Experiment: What’s Worked and What Hasn’t“. Although he describes many of the challenges of the model that have swept across campuses during the COVID pandemic, he mentions that some colleagues have had success. While he notes the HyFlex courses are hard to build, they are even more difficult to teach.

So the real question is, do you think HyFlex courses are here to stay? I think it depends on the type of course and the willingness of a school to support the successful implementation, training and technology to run a HyFlex course. A good final reminder through the HyFlex experiment this fall,

“All of us are learning how to increase our capacity for compassion, flexibility, and empathy. Given the circumstances in which we find ourselves, that may be the most important outcome of all.”Kevin Gannon

Would you ever take a HyFlex course as a student? Would you ever teach a Hyflex course?

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

The Final Lap

It is hard to believe that my final course in the M.Ed. Curriculum & Instruction degree is here! I have thought about what this last semester would feel like a lot over the last 2.5 years as so much has changed in both my personal and professional life.  I was pregnant with my daughter in the first course of my degree, and it seems like every other course can be matched up with some sort of sleep regression or baby/toddler milestone!  Similar to how my daughter has developed over the last couple of years, I have grown as both an educator and student.

(2019) 1 puppy and a baby

(2020) 2 puppies and a toddler! Where does the time go?

My first degree was a Bachelor of Music: Piano and I continued with the Bachelor of Education After Degree from the University of Regina.  Until this year, my entire career has been as an elementary Arts Education teacher in many different schools within Regina Public Schools.  In Fall 2020, I moved positions to begin teaching Grade 3 at eSchool with Regina Public Schools. This is a completely online school and honestly, a dream job. I am always so excited to use what I am learning through the Edtech courses with Dr. Couros and to collaborate with like-minded educators at eSchool.

My three goals for learning in this class include:

  1. Continue to build my Professional Learning Network (PLN)– The best part about these classes is the course community that goes beyond our semester. I hope to continue to build these relationships through our course hashtag on Twitter, collaborating on Discord, and being a more active commenter on student blogs every week. Time to dig deeper!
  2. Develop a course with high quality instructional videos and resources- For the major project of creating an Online/Blended Course Prototype, my goal is to use the skills I have learned in previous classes to create content that can be used beyond this course.  I also hope to try and incorporate new learning from this course into my current role as an online teacher.
  3. Create an epic final summary of learningMy best summary of learning experiences have been ones that I contemplated throughout the semester. Since this will be the last summary of learning and project of my M.Ed. degree, my goal is to create a summary of learning that is not only reflective of my experience in the course, but also in the field of educational technology.

I look forward to learning alongside the #eci834 crew and exploring the world of educational technology, especially online and blended learning!

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready