Week 6: Changing facilitation strategies, July 20, 2014
Week 7: Feedback given to me, July 27, 2014
Week 8: Final Project and reflection
June 13, 2014: Week 1 part 2
I just watched a video that is at http://projectfoundry.org/project-based-learning-explained/what-is-project-based-learning.html. I think it is the same video that is in the explanation part for this part’s work. We’re learning what project based learning is. In my introduction I warned that I was often cynical and I’m afraid my cynicism is already creeping out. In the example in the video, it was a science teacher who decided to try something new the following week. I don’t know why I thought it was a chemistry teacher, perhaps because I find it impossible to do PBL with chemistry requirements. In our example video, the teacher decides that that week they’re going to study why people get sick from the flu. I have a few problems with this video.
- If the course has standardized testing at the end of the course (or in April), the teacher can’t deviate from the planned sequence of lessons.
- If he is at a school where all classrooms teaching the same subject cover the same material each day, then he does not have this freedom.
- If he is at a school where every teacher teaching the same subject covers the same material each day, then he does not have the freedom.
- Was studying viruses a part of his content standards? Is this something he was expected to cover anyway?
- By taking a week or longer to cover this single topic, what was he not able to cover in the course? What had to be tossed out?
With one of the Edutopia videos:
- Where is the evidence that this can be done in classrooms that are not funded well?
- All of the students were wearing uniforms. Even if this was a public school, they obviously have some control over what the students wear, and therefore have made a connection with the students’ parents. What about schools where parents don’t care if their kids go to school? The school is the inexpensive babysitter? I’m not saying it can’t be done there, but showing examples where kids are using equipment that could not have existed at my school because it would have been damaged or stolen does not give me the inspiration I need to do PBL.
- I’m not saying kids can’t do this. They totally can. I had my biotech kids doing things I did in graduate school. What concerns me is how we reach the students who are ready to distance themselves from school. The student who is interested in school will do PBL without a problem. Yet we’re saying PBL should be done to capture the kids who don’t buy into school. How do we get PBL into underperforming schools?
Managing Project Based Learning: Principles from the Field
“Teachers typically do not lead instructional activities, nor do they dispense resources, or present material to be learned. Students find their own sources, conduct their own research, and secure their own feedback. “ page 3
I could only dream of doing this. What I need to see is how you can do a totally open ended project without having it cost a fortune. I certainly did not have the money to let every group decide what materials they needed and my students’ parents could not afford to buy their materials.
I did find this part to be true: “Experienced PBL teachers report that they spend very little time
promoting student engagement or handling student misbehavior. Teachers often spend their time participating in projects as peers rather than as classroom managers.“ page 3
What is written on page 5 matches some of my experiences. I found that I could not just let students run wild with a project. I still had to create some sort of goal for them to reach. With the projects that worked, students had control over how they acquired information (I provided resources, too) and what details they did with the information. For the physical science project, they had to have the ball move 50 cm and interact with at least 3 simple machines. For the chemical science project, they did some research and then decided as a small group which aspect of generating the brown cloud they wanted to become experts in. For the crop + country GMO assignment, they picked their crop and country, I gave them a list of things I wanted to see in their websites. Even with this much control and structure, many students had difficulty with the freedom. It is very hard to break the rhythm students expect from classes that in their past were textbook or lecture based.
On page 12: “Avoid bottlenecks between courses: coordinate project schedules
with other teachers.” I tried to do this at one school where I taught because I like to have students do independent projects continuously. I wanted to have teachers post on a common calendar when they were planning major projects or tests. Teacher freedom stopped this from being able to happen- nobody wanted to share their planned due dates for a reason I’ll probably never know. Then again, I was only 20% of a person so why would any of my ideas have significance at this charter school?
“Collaborative learning promotes time on task as well as friendships across diverse groups, such as race, ethnicity, gender, or school cliques (Johnson & Johnson, 2009).”
– This is assuming the classroom is not already segregated based on diversity because one set of demographics is in my classroom and another set of demographics is in my peers’ classrooms.
” Collaborative learning benefits students across grade levels, academic subjects, gender, ethnicity, and achievement level (Slavin, 1996).”
– Do you mean collaborative learning in general or are my courses now not subject specific?
“Lower ability students tend to work best in mixed groups, medium ability students in homogeneous groups, and for higher-ability students, group ability levels make no difference (Lou, Abrami, Spence, Poulsen, Chambers, & d’Apollonia, 1996).”
– I am actually happy to read this, although I still find that homogeneous grouping of lower ability students works better because the intimidation factor is less present. They may need additional teacher guidance, but that is what my job is. I fear that lower ability students who have become too enabled will utilize a stronger person to do all of the work for them. When there is nobody there who can carry the load, I’ve found that it gets pretty well distributed and if the students want to do the work, they will.
Post a reflection regarding your research this week on Project-Based Learning. What were you able to find? How do you think PBL will fit into your teaching style? Do you have an idea for a project? If so, begin articulating it now.
I found several examples of PBL in biology and chemistry and highlighted a biology one for my post. It was about catching diseases and the spread of contagious ones. In the past I did a project on genetic diseases and considered changing it to fit with this project, but I really don’t want to just redo something I’ve done before.
I don’t know why, but a couple days ago I kept getting exposed to issues dealing with oceans. It got me thinking, what makes an ocean clean? I mean it is the home for so many animals that do everything in it: eat, swim, sleep?, excrete, and even have their eggs fertilized. When we say we need to have clean oceans, what do we mean? Once we determine what a clean ocean is, what can we humans do to make sure we help keep the oceans clean for the animals that live there?
Reflect on what you have learned this week, as you have settled on an idea for your project. Comment on the tools you are using or the resources you have reviewed
Respond to the question: Is it still PBL without an authentic audience?
Among other things I learned this week is that the NGSS are not as bad as I expected them to be. I am glad I don’t have to dissect them for real, though, because the way they are organized sends me into a tizzy. I’d have to rewrite the document for it to make sense to me. And why couldn’t they make the pdf document with links to what is listed in the table of contents?
Tuesday’s town meeting was really useful. I love collaborating and it was helpful to have immediate feedback from my peers. I also learned that my body is not ready for me to have a job that requires me to be outside the home for more than a couple days a week. I still hate my idiotic body and the stupid limitations it puts on me. I suppose on the good side is my ability to do physical therapy exercises is getting better. I still can’t walk without falling into walls, though. Plus I did too much and fear the dizziness is going to come back, which would really suck. But enough whining because this is supposed to be my professional log and not a personal one. I just don’t see my professional life expanding like I was hoping it would. Too many jobs want me to be able to lift 50 lbs, at least that is what the job descriptions say. And why do I have to go on site someplace when I can do the same thing from bed on my laptop. After all I did most of my Masters in Ed Tech on my laptop while lying in bed supported by pillows.
Is it still PBL without an authentic audience? I think it is. I think the peers in the class can serve as an authentic audience. I know we always want to show off the kids to other adults. I did whenever I could, but the reality of things is that there are not always adults I can show off my kids to. The year I had the ESL physical science students do projects, I videotaped them giving their presentations. I shared the video with the person in charge of the ESL support center so she could see what ESL students are capable of doing. She was thrilled and the students were amazing. I was never given that course to teach again, I think because I was able to show students capable of thinking, writing a small paper, and giving an oral presentation in English. The papers could be written in Spanish, but I wanted the oral presentation to be in English. Was this PBL? No, not really. It was a large, collaborative project where students worked in groups, designed and created an apparatus that allowed a ball to move 50 cm, drew blueprints that were ¼ scale, wrote a short paper in our tiny computer lab that had the old fashioned Macs, and gave an oral presentation. The requirements were to have three simple machines in their build, the rest was up to them. So in a way it was open ended, but I gave them the direction and put requirements on the final product: the three simple machines.
With the human genetic disease project, once again I only had students present to their peers. I did not have students build websites until a couple years after I started this project so we were still doing paper based communication. I did, however, include the personal point of view component of the project like with what I created when I was a student teacher. The personal point of view component could have been authentic if they chose to interview a doctor, a person with the disease, or a caretaker of someone with the disease. The informative brochures they made could also have been authentic if they were high enough quality to be made available in a clinic. If I were to do this project with students now-a-days, I would have them build websites to communicate their findings. Building a website, by default, opens them up to an authentic audience if they build the websites some place that lets them be seen beyond the school’s firewall.
The crop + country project was the first one that I had students build websites to communicate their findings. These had potential, but these kids were very difficult to motivate, and to get them to do anything outside of class time. They had been way too conditioned with NCLB methods of memorize and barf back on a test to want to learn how to build a website. The folks doing the senior projects did not realize yet that they should have students build websites- they were still in the paper world with the trifold poster boards. It was not until after I had students use Google sites that other teachers at my school realized the computer lab could be used for something other than them having a free period.
So is an authentic audience necessary? In my never humble opinion, no, but what I’m learning PBL to be is a little different than I remember it being when I first learned about it back in 1999 at the JFF conference. What I had been taught is that students create the questions which then leads to the completion of assignments. I think that Backwards Design (UbD) with its driving question method of creating curriculum has been integrated into PBL so that PBL is like Backwards Design that lacks the final outcome being spelled out to teachers. In Understanding by Design, you pick the standards, write a driving question, create the final assessment, and then figure out what you’re going to do to get the content information into the kids’ heads. We’re sort of doing that, but we don’t know what the final assessment will be when we create the learning opportunities for the students in PBL.
I’ve been on the rant long enough for the moment. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.
July 6, 2014
Assessment is for students.
I honestly don’t know if I am being mindful enough of these Key Principles of Effective Assessment. I would like to think that what I’m designing is for students with enough guidance that they feel comfortable exploring on their own. One of my biggest concerns is that students are just going to go to a Wikipedia to find all their information. I am so sick of students copying and pasting from a Wikipedia that I am intentionally directing them to specific websites they are allowed to use. I know that wikis are not all horrible, but they do the research process for students. I used to not trust wikis, but now that I see how the ones that post to them are probably too arrogant for their work to be incorrect, the ones who post will regulate each other. I also appreciate the Wikipedia organization and its efforts to ensure credibility of what is posted. Even so, I’m not ready to just let students go off to a wiki site to get primary information. Given that I’m setting this limitation, I am still trying to let students have freedom to explore and make their own choices and decisions.
Assessment is faithful to the work students actually do.
The webquest is supposed to assist students in figuring out what is important on our topic and give them enough access to websites so they can choose important features to include in their Venn diagrams. I still need to create “A day in the life of…” and am hoping to incorporate requirements that lets students celebrate what they have figured out about how an ecosystem works. Can they trace carbon through an ecosystem? I am still thinking about how to have them present their stories because I want them to include pictures. I will be looking for websites that cater to students creating their own “books” or stories so the kids can have flexibility with how they present their ideas. I want the storybook to be unique per student because I want them to trust themselves to have ideas and to be able to find information. If this was done in my classroom, they would have the flexibility to collaborate with others to share ideas. I just don’t want duplicated projects.
Assessment is public.
Since it is a Google form, the webquest results can be published if anyone is curious about what is said. I don’t know where students can draw Venn diagrams online. I know I can go places to get a Venn diagram template, but where do they go to actually construct one online for others to see? This is so embarrassing that I have the MET and don’t know the fundamentals of how to have students make their work public without having them scan their work so it can be uploaded into a webpage. I need to investigate the links we were provided in this week’s lesson some more to see if any of them allow for students to draw circles and fill them with words. It sounds so simple that I should already know how to have students do this. Their story is going to definitely be done with an online format. I don’t know which one yet, though.
Assessment promotes ongoing self-reflection and critical inquiry.
Hopefully the summative assessments are going to have these components built in. The TED talk and accompanying project should be group oriented. I intend to use the stories the students write to create their groups for the summative assessment part. Within the summative assessment, students will be doing formative assessments where they maintain an annotated bibliography, do self-reflections, and peer evaluations on a regular basis. These assignments have not been created yet.
A couple links relating to this week’s work:
Our Assessment Page at project template site
Reflection Week 5: Option 2: Scaffolding in PBL
July 12, 2014
Scaffolding is important to anything that involves a process. Learning and educating is a process. I am conflicted with what to write in this reflection because I want to go on a rant about how this is how I’ve been teaching for the last 20 years (when I was in a classroom), except with the new PBL, there is a guiding question that is supposed to be the focus of the scaffolding. It is very hard to write this without going off on a tangent, probably because I am so frustrated at the moment.
I rarely choose an easy path; that is not usually my style. If you want me to elaborate on that, just ask. I am frustrated because I chose to try this project using the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which are extremely new to me, and I am finding are very flexible, but not in a helpful sort of way. I am finding it very difficult to figure out which life science standards written in NGSS style apply to my question, if any. I think the hunger issue is very important and can apply to biology, because after all I started the PhD plant pathology program in 1991 with the idea I’d find a way to use biology to feed people. (That ended up with my first Masters degree, the MS in plant pathology.) I still know life science content can be used to help people.
I am trying very hard to refrain from whining about how the last time I tried doing this project it proved to be a failure because I teamed up with somebody who did very little to no work. I don’t think anybody will believe me because he has now pulled out a really thorough project, even though it is not using the NGSS, nor is it a novel concept / idea. If I felt like I had the freedom to go shopping for convenient standards, or do a problem that has already been done a few dozen times, I would probably be further along. The reality is, the scaffolding I will be doing is somewhat unique because I don’t think many people have figured out yet how to incorporate PBL and life science NGSS into a traditional school structure that has standardized life science testing in April / May.
I admit that I was flustered during the first 3 weeks, spent the last week redoing everything, and am now finally able to relax a bit and do a more thorough search online for other people’s ideas. Guess what? I’m not finding much of anything concrete. The webquest page, http://www.webquest.org, came up with zero webquests for science in grades 9 – 12. Most of the other things I am finding are blogs or editorials on how the NGSS are written so that PBL will be natural. The actual scaffolding of a biology project for PBL that meshes with NGSS is not easily found. I have to assume somebody has already done this. I am not so arrogant to act like I’m the first person trying to do PBL with the NGSS in life science.
Now that I see there are not many resources already around to link life science NGSS with PBL, I am going to take more liberties with my scaffolding justifications. Because I thought there are rules that I should be following, my creativity has been suppressed. I see now that I may have to break a few “rules” because I can’t see anybody having success with them. I am not able to find ideas or handouts I can “borrow.” With this new found freedom, I may actually be able to pull things apart more than I have been. I feel the need to justify why my idea is not so lousy. Perhaps I will create the scaffold that my searching has been unable to discover.
I still want to narrow my question because I want students to focus on an ecosystem way of solving the problem, but I’ve understood feedback to suggest that I’m narrowing things too much. If this is for a biology class, it is not that I can’t bring in humanities concepts, but I also can’t let students avoid doing biology because their focus is only on the humanities ideas. Solving local hunger problems are not usually addressed in life science classes, so it may turn out that in reality, my ideas are just ideas that will stay at that level: ideas. I still have a couple weeks to think about things, so we’ll see what happens. I can’t help but feel like a failure because my question and the standards I want to use to justify it don’t seem to exist as the standards are currently written.
Not being the sage on the stage is actually my philosophy of being a teacher anyway. I really despise lecturing and found it to be one of the biggest wastes of time. There is so much that needs to be done during classtime that goes beyond merely spouting factoids at kids. So for me, my teaching process won’t have to change much. I am very comfortable tossing things at kids and having them figure it out. I admit that most of what I did with kids was not as open ended as PBL is supposed to be, but I don’t have to be a control freak all of the time. I’m a better teacher when I let the kids teach me things.
Effective facilitation involves trust. There is trust in two senses. First, I have to trust the students to stay attentive and to do their work. The second version is the students learning to trust themselves. This is something I had to work on with some students more than others because they really had to know at every moment they were doing things correctly. I often found myself telling students, “Trust yourself. You’re doing fine.” They were, but they were not able to see it for themselves. I truly felt accomplished if I was able to get a student to trust herself. That by far is worth more than seeing students earn an “A” on a test.
Some students need more time than others to become comfortable with the idea of not doing cookbook science labs. Like with any ambiguous situation, students need reassurance they are going in the right direction. As long as the students are comfortable with the structure and feel secure enough to take chances, they will. When I had students who were not successful, it was often due to a larger picture than what was being attempted in class. With the non-college-prep students with whom I did the “brown cloud” project, lack of success was due more to students not coming to class than they not working during class time. This project was pre-Internet so working on their own to gather information was difficult for many to do. I had lots of books that were appropriate to address global warming and pollution so they could do the research they needed to do during class. Personally I felt like that project was not a success, but it was not because the students were incapable of doing the work.
The main change I need to make for my teaching style is becoming aware of how to structure an open-ended project/plan. It is very hard at the moment for me to imagine a real PBL unit because of my unemployment and lack of knowing kids attitudes. Even when I was in the classroom 2007 – 2010, kids attitudes surprised me because they had become so much less self-reliant. I had gotten so frustrated with trying to get them to do anything that I made their “final” a project. They had to pick something in biotechnology that we had not been able to cover and create a way to teach it to their peers. I made it as open ended as possible. They had to create questions students would be able to answer while they were being taught, but otherwise it was very open ended. I don’t remember exactly what went wrong other than me being excluded from so many projects. If I did the same thing again, I would need them to tell me daily what they figured out and are doing. The final results were very good. My students who are artists did art and my gaming geeks made a board game. What is sad, though, is that I had spent the entire year trying to get kids to trust me and to buy into the class and even in the end, I’m afraid too few did. Many students who resisted all of the highly structured assignments also resisted the loosely structured one. I just could not win with that crowd.
Use the resources from this week to assist you as you think about how you intend to debrief your PBL experience. Some questions to consider:
- Who will you involve in the process?
- What will your process look like?
- Is it just a one-time assessment?
Debriefing the project will hopefully not be something new to the students because I hope that I have been getting their feedback all along. While I will see their evaluations of themselves and their peers, which will help me figure out where the structure is lacking, getting direct feedback from students has always been helpful. I usually do an end of project or end of term survey that asks students concise questions about what was done during the activities. I routinely change my teaching methods based on student feedback.
- Who: feedback from students or other people who were directly involved with the project.
- What: surveys or informal conversations
- When: at least at the end of the project. If somehow I can keep in touch with the students after the project or if I get to be their teacher again, then I will continue to pester them for feedback.
Week 8 reflection to class
***What do you know understand best about Project Based Learning?
If I look at Project Based Learning as Understanding by Design that requires an open-ended project, then I understand what we’re doing. The only problem, of course, is that with UbD, the final assessment is determined by the teacher to be the ultimate way of evaluating student competency in the content.
***What do you understand least well?
How to create an open-ended final assessment that adequately measures student competency in content standards.
*** What did you expect to learn in this course? What did you actually learn? More, less, and why?
I was hoping to learn how I could adapt this process to fit with online learning. This class was in its own way PBL, because we all created something while following a set structure. Was it as open-ended as PBL is supposed to be? Did we actually create projects?
I still don’t know if this could be done virtually for anything other than a virtual problem. We can’t feed people with computers, can we? It is not like they can munch on a keyboard, however could we create a website that got real three dimensional people to do something for people who are hungry?
Because I’ve been a BSU student for three years, I know that collaboration can happen online, so the group-work part of it is not a barrier. Making any product that is not electronic is the biggest barrier I perceive when we have kids do PBL in a virtual classroom. I would love to be proven wrong.
***What will you do with what you have learned?
Oddly enough, I will probably use the Web 2.0 tools I learned, more than any other component of the course. If somehow I manage to get hired by a school that wants to do PBL, I will certainly pull from this website for ideas. I don’t know if I’ll still be able to access the website because it is trapped in Boise State’s Google arena, but maybe I can find a way to migrate parts of it to my personal gmail account? It would be a shame for this to merely be a memory.
From my rationale paper:
Google docs and other web features allowed us to collaborate in EDTECH 597, Digital Game Design for K12. Aaron, Christina and I collaborated with writing a program for our app (common Dropbox folder), creating a presentation, creating a flowchart to map out our plans, writing a paper collectively, and creating videos (mp4) to demonstrate our progress. To facilitate planning, creating content, transferring it to the submission forums on time, and processing our parts of each section, we utilized a common Dropbox folder, Google Docs, and Gliffy.
Dr. Thompson had us “practice” writing a request for proposal (RFP) document. In this document we had to plan how to execute helping Far West Laboratory with their need to educate their school clients.
I think this is a reflection on what was done for the VoiceThread moderation:
Voice Thread moderation
How do you help students interact effectively in an online course?
A few of us have posted examples of how we help students interact effectively in our discussion areas. Although Chris has not held online discussions with students, she likes the small group approach. In addition she likes the idea of having students be facilitators. Bret confirms the importance of using multimedia and unique opportunities to engage a discussion. James also likes the idea of having student facilitators and freshness to the content, but cautions against overwhelming the students with too many new ideas or tools to learn. Sarah points out facilitator involvement is crucial, yet the facilitator needs to be careful to not become the discussion. Let the students be the discussion by finding a balance between facilitator input and student contributions. Earl stresses modeling effective communication so novice participants experience what they are expected to do in the discussion. So far our discussion has focused on group size, discussion format or setting, facilitator involvement that may involve student facilitators, and modeling what we expect of the participants. What other suggestions do you have about how to get students to interact in a discussion forum or even with wiki collaborations? We have a few more days left for this discussion, so please provide examples from your classroom, experiences with online learning, ideas from the readings, or unique perspectives you’ve acquired while in this or other online classes. What has motivated you to interact in our online courses?
How do you sustain online discussions?
A few people have shared aspects of online discussions including how the discussion is launched, what happens during the discussion, and how to prolong it. Kathryn stresses the importance of using open-ended questions to allow for freedom of expression of ideas. Bret cautions instructors to not assume that an open-ended question will guarantee student participation that stays focused on the topic. How would you build community building into the online discussion that may be more natural to create in a face to face environment? Sarah seeks the perfect balance between structure and flexibility. What suggestions do you have about how to create flexibility while still giving enough structure so students feel safe in the environment? Earl suggests extending discussions with hypothetical situations. With that in mind, what do you suggest we do to get people who have not posted to this discussion yet, to post to the discussion? Do the facilitators send out personal invitations to the discussion? Do we respect that for this discussion we are graduate students and therefore have the choice to participate or not? If you are working with adults like we are, but who may not be as comfortable with the online world as we are, how would you lure them to volunteer their ideas in an online discussion?
How do you keep a presence in online discussions without taking over the conversations?
So far, everybody recognizes the importance of having the facilitator being a part of the discussion. Kathryn points out that creating a social presence by providing feedback to participants. James suggests instructors target the posts that are not getting many responses by replying directly to those ideas in an attempt to stimulate discussion based on what is said in the neglected posts. Sarah’s audio file was not loading at the time I crafted this summary. Jessica recommends brevity while including leading questions to further the discussion. How do you suggest a facilitator follows these recommendations without overwhelming the discussion? How does one provide feedback, but not so much that it curtails further discussion?
How do you use online discussion in your blended courses?
So far we have heard a few ways people can use online discussion areas to allow for collaboration or submission of individualized perspectives on a topic. Glori has her students do mini-case studies by perusing the literature and deciding what they would incorporate into their own practice. Adam does a sort of jigsaw where he posts questions about themes in geography and allows students to self-select which ones they will respond to. Then he challenges students to visit a different theme and contribute to its thread. Bret confirms the uniqueness of using discussion forums as a review area for essay exams. He commends Adam for using the discussion area to stimulate student interactions and follows up with questions about procedures for doing such discussions. Kathryn suggested using the discussion areas as a place to do summarizing activities or for students to provide feedback on the course without having time constraints you can have in the face to face classroom. Sarah not only uses discussion areas as a place for students to brainstorm, but since it is out in the open, she can also give feedback and approve their ideas before students prematurely commit to a topic that may not be as fruitful as originally anticipated. What are some other concrete examples of ways you can engage students in an online forum?
In EDTECH 523 we created a synchronous presentation and were required to watch other presentations as well. To focus on other people’s presentations, we were asked to create an evaluation guide that we could fill out during the presentations. After the groups finished, we emailed our presentation form to the respective group. I’m connecting to my evaluation instrument by having a link to it here as it was uploaded to WordPress. The other link is to it living in my Google Doc area. Finally, I did a copy and paste of the document and put it at the end.
Purpose of this assignment: Create an evaluation instrument for evaluating the quality and appropriateness of synchronous instruction.
Yes/No or N/A
|Introduction to the lesson:Could be a poll on the screen or an activity on the whiteboard- just has to be something students can do to amuse themselves until the session starts|
|Presenter reviews classroom controls|
|Audio and/or video enabled for participants|
|Students do something in the classroom other than just sit there.|
|Presenter records session|
|Students are encouraged to raise hands if they have questions|
|A copy of the ppt slides if applicable|
|Web links are available|
|Presenter remembers to turn off recording|
|Polls for formative assessment|
|Polls to keep students engaged|
|Student expectations shared|
|Questions for students to answer that they will turn in later|
|Shares files students can download as take-away info|
|Presenter provides files students can download so they can follow the lesson as it happens|
|Ppt slides are uploaded to a share screen or are shown from presenter’s computer as a shared screen.|
|Students are used to help advance the lesson|
|Encourages student-student interactions.|
|Encourages student-content interactions.|
|Students use whiteboards or the equivalent to answer questions.|
|Formative assessment is done so the presenter can see if the lesson was successful|
|Student product is used somewhere in the lesson to either evaluate student work or to give an example of what can be done at a student’s level|
|Presenter is organized so that there are not unnecessary lulls|
|Presenter speaks clearly|
|Presenter speaks slowly enough|
|Presenter speaks loud enough|
|Some sort of closure|
|You can tell there was a reason this worked better as a synchronous lesson than an asynchronous one|
For Module 5 your summary should include information about the following:
- Complete the required reading and review materials provided on synchronous tools and strategies.
- Develop a lesson to be delivered synchronously using appropriate instructional strategies.
- Practice delivering your lesson.
- Create an evaluation instrument for evaluating the quality and appropriateness of synchronous instruction.
- Post the completed evaluation instrument and your reflections to the Evaluation of Synchronous Instruction forum in the MAIN discussion board.
- Please, also submit your completed evaluation instrument to the appropriate link in the Module 5 activities for grading.
- Submit discussion idea and/or lead a discussion.
- Participate in ongoing discussions. Apply critical thinking and questioning strategies to your discussion posts.
Module 5 was fun because it got me back in the Adobe Connect classroom which is always a challenging environment to be in because it is so convoluted. Preparing for Bret and my synchronous lesson has also been fun because it is collaborating with someone who is intelligent and knows more about our topic than I do. This means I get to learn something while doing this project and have someone who can patiently handle my questions when I get lost. In contrast, since I bought the Adobe eLearning suite in the fall, I have Adobe Presenter which takes PowerPoint files and uploads them to the Adobe Connect server. It was a nice opportunity to refamiliarize myself with the software.
My evaluation instrument was somewhat incomplete so I revised it as I reviewed the synchronous sessions. Interestingly, when I evaluated the Photoshop lesson presentation I realized I had not planned on evaluating something that was not necessarily like something listed in chapter 6. Bret and I have been trying to figure out how to adapt what we want to do to fit one of the suggested activities in chapter 6 and still be within 10 minutes. I think we have a clue what to do and I hope everybody who wants to be a part of our audience will join us and the other presenters on Thursday, May 3. It was also a relief to see that there will be at least six people in our audience. We were not sure what type of audience we could count on so we can now plan breakout rooms and student activities better.
It makes sense that chapter 5 in the Learning in Real Time text is applicable to Module 6 since it covers formative assessment, how to integrate it into the class, and how to pick up on non-visual body language. Since that chapter may need to be a part of the Module 6 reflection, I won’t go into more depth here. I will share a few ideas about chapters 4 and 6, though. For chapter 4, I found their analysis of various online teaching settings to be accurate based on what I’ve experienced. I used to IM with my students when they had a quick question and at times we would mosey on over to our virtual office to use the whiteboard for further explanation. Explaining dimensional analysis through IM can be done, but using a whiteboard is much easier. Although I have never taught or taken a class in a MUVE, I think that is what second life is like so I expect I will experience it when I take the class that has us use second life. Although I’ve attended webcasts, I’ve never led one. Although I have had a few online teaching opportunities, I’ve never actually been able to hold an online lecture or class session for students who were expected to be physically present. My current teaching situations are one-on-one and my previous one had live sessions as optional features for the students. I could do them as often as I wanted to, but they were never required to attend a session. I hope that one day I do get to have a real online class with real students that will be “my” students that I get to usher from one lesson to the next. The activities in chapter 6 will be very useful once I have the setting and the bodies with which I can practice.
Module 6 is where we teamed up with a partner to plan a live presentation for our peers using the Adobe Connect software. This is the reflection I wrote after Bret and I did our presentation, which was a fantastic experience.
Module 6 reflection
The readings and how they are reflected in our presentation:
Chapter 5 of the book was my favorite chapter. Even though Bret and I scoured through chapter 6 figuring out what type of interaction was possible and feasible, chapter 5 contained stuff that had tangible meaning for me at this time. In our presentation I played the role of behind the scenes host. I tried to calm people’s worries if they were expressed in the chat area during the presentation. I made it to one of the breakout rooms to help them get started with their conversation and let them know that they were doing great by writing on the notes screen. I also let them know they could use audio and video cams in the breakout room without bothering others. Before we pulled people out of the rooms, we sent the 20 sec warning that you were going to have your reality change. For the anticipated review of what went on in the groups, I pulled up the notes screens so they could be seen by everybody and therefore not be left out of any discussion. We also planned for a parting gift, which apparently did not download for some people. I have no clue why that didn’t work because we put the documents in there correctly. I also hope that some people get to take the survey so they can see what a Google form can do and if they use the links at the end of the form, they can view the data as it comes in. I was glad to see some welcomed the idea of having a “parting gift.”
I did not get to enact all that was suggested in chapter 5, in part because I was not a solo presenter. Also, since we were doing a round-robin of classroom jumping, there really was not a way to be prepared enough to welcome people as they entered. I understand that it was difficult to get people in as guests and Bret and I learned that barrier early on. I think this is why he came in our room as a guest and had me turn him into a host. Somehow everybody was turned into a host so it did not matter that Bret did not enter as a presenter/host. In some ways, the software is too friendly by putting a cookie in our machine and not making us re-register for each room. That is why I used my Mac when I was a participant and my PC as the presenter. I anticipated quick room changes and knew I’d mess it up if I tried to enter the other rooms while using my PC because the PC is cookied. It is not reasonable to expect people to have 2 computers to do this lesson so we could not expect everybody who had already presented to be out of the presenter registration. I think that is why so many people showed up as hosts when they entered the room- their machines were cookied and it is tough to remove that status. I guess since I spend so much time trouble shooting things because I often find them difficult to maneuver through quickly, that it proved to be an asset for me to know the Mac would work fine in the guest position.
Bret and I also used the Mac as a guest computer when we prepared for our session. Since we could not talk very clearly when we were not in the same room, it was hard for one of us to be presenter and the other to be guest when we practiced. I signed in to our room as a guest from my Mac laptop so I could see what the guests would see during the presentation. That is what taught me how the breakout rooms work. I could tell that putting ‘Mel on the Mac’ in a breakout room did not stop “her” from being a part of what was happening in the main room until the “start breakouts” button was pushed. Part of my nervousness in the beginning of our presentation was being afraid everybody would let their curiosity get the better of them and they’d move themselves out of the breakout rooms before we started them. The plan was originally to keep people as guests because we did not want them to play with stuff that was already set up to go. Fortunately we are working with adults so my fears were unnecessary. Everybody behaved themselves as perfect students and none of our tricks got messed up before they were delivered.
The backchannel- Bret and I did not necessarily see eye to eye on the backchannel, but this was not my place to be the total control freak so I went along with our main chat area being a backchannel. I don’t know if Bret has ever participated in a backchannel chat during a real presentation. I’ve actually only done it once, and that was when it was being taught to me at an ASCD presentation last year. I wanted there to be a backchannel and a real chat area, but it would have been too chaotic in the short amount of time we had. We named it the backchannel anyway so people could see that if they had enough room on their screen area, they could have 2 chat windows during their presentations- one for real concerns and the other one to be social. I am biased toward letting people use presentations as a way to make friends because sometimes not everything that is said needs to be heard.
That was another place I was not able to communicate well enough to get it into Bret that he did not need to do a lengthy introduction to what an LMS is. In our last practice he did narrow it down to maybe 2-3 min of talking, but today he went for more than 3 I would guess. I know my patience started to wane and I came close to just sending out the polls while he was talking. If you think today’s presentation was long-winded, you should have seen it during our first practices. I respect Bret because he wanted people to learn something during our presentation and he really is an expert on today’s talk. That is one reason we did this topic; it is relevant to what we may do as teachers and Bret had to do something similar for people in his district. Plus it had so many components that let us expand it in ways that let us play with Adobe Connect.
Bret did a fantastic job of outlining our expectations and establishing the norms for our session. You may have noticed that he built it in to the beginning of the PPT slides. He designed the presentation slides and let me go crazy with Adobe Connect bells and whistles. We somewhat followed the suggestions given starting on page 84 where there is one main person up front and someone else behind the scenes. I did not do all of the logistics alone; Bret helped with setting up the 4 types of polls and how to space everything so it would be ready to be used when we needed it to be there. I took care of naming things in a way that would make sense to us and others, putting the exit survey in a website link pod, uploading files for the file share, and creating the exit survey in Google Forms. Since I bought the eLearning suite when I was taking 521 I wanted to play as much as I could with the software. For some reason I could not get Bret’s slides to upload correctly so he did a screen share for our presentation instead of it being a file he used from the EDTECH servers. It would actually be really cool if the eLearning suite was required instead of the other CS5 suite because then we could possibly have lessons on how to use Adobe Captivate. I’ve only played with it once, but that is something that would be an asset to know how to use for online teaching. Dreamweaver , Flash, and Photoshop are also a part of the eLearning Suite so if you get to make suggestions to the department, you would not be too out of line if you suggested having the department use the eLearning suite in the future.
Other people’s presentations:
Even though I tried to follow advice and looked at other people’s eval tools when I revised mine for tonight, I found what I thought was important was somewhat tangential to what happened. Since the presentations went so fast and I did not want to take time to watch the recordings, I had lots of gaps in my evaluation forms. Regardless of what it seems I did not learn, I found these things to be new to me and very useful:
- Students writing on whiteboards. I knew it could be done, but had not experienced it myself in Adobe Connect yet. Actually I don’t know if I knew there could be interactive whiteboards in Adobe Connect. Had I known, we may have set up a whiteboard for each breakout room instead of using notes windows to record student interactions.
- Students could format their notes screens. When we pulled up the Notes screen for group 1, they had done some formatting. That was so cool. I don’t know if anybody else noticed it, but it was neat to learn that students could take ownership of some of their output if Notes pods were used for collaboration.
- I am still not sure what Adam did so we could move things on the whiteboard. I may have to email him to see if he can tell me. Adam did the music lesson, didn’t he?
- I liked Barry’s equations on the board. I had not thought of being able to pre-arrange whiteboards for each student until I thought about how to use what he did in his lesson. I do not expect you have had a chance to read my feedback to him yet so I will also mention it here. If I knew who my students were that were going to show up, I could create a whiteboard for each student. They come to class and put up a problem on their whiteboard while they wait for others to arrive. Another way of doing it could be to “seed” the whiteboards with problems and assign the whiteboards to students as they arrive. They would put up their work so they could explain it to the rest of the class during the session.
- This sort-of ties in with what Janette and Earl did with the chat windows. Even though we followed directions and only wrote on the chat screen we were assigned to, I wonder if they could have been set up to be pre-assigned to students and restricted from others being able to write on them. I had not thought of using chat windows as a way to run small discussions. Watching that process was very useful.
- I liked how Chioma used the chat window for formative assessment- she kept us alert because she was asking questions that required feedback. Even though I was a little disoriented because her Adobe Connect window would not open on the Mac at first, I found her technique to be effective. It was quick and she could use online learner cues (p.82) to gauge participant interest.
- Travis and Kirkland were very creative by having a game be the final assessment. I also found it interesting how they assumed everybody should know how to do a screen-shot. Is that the level of our online students? Do they know all of these techniques? If I did not have Snag-It I would be at a loss for how to do screen shots and actually use them.
The only problem I had with the presentations, other than them going at a pace that was a bit too fast for me to be comfortable with the changing scenery, was that there were not enough of them. I thought we were excluded from the rest of the spreadsheet because we were not welcome in other sessions so I did not try to be a part of them. Now that I see how talented my peers are, I wish I had been. I learned something from everybody today. It did not matter if their presentation had been memorized, polished, perfect or not, everybody offered something unique that let me walk away with more than I had arrived with in my bag of tricks. Thank you for this opportunity.
Reflect on assessment of learning outcomes in online environments. Consider the following questions in your reflection:
- What are appropriate assessment strategies in synchronous and asynchronous delivery methods?
I think formative assessment is more readily done in synchronous sessions because the feedback is instantaneous. It could be done asynchrously, but the instructor won’t know what the students are thinking until the student remembered to turn in his/her assessment.
In both cases, written assessment where students analyze something can be effectively done.
- Does this look different than assessment in traditional classrooms? How and why?
I think it looks somewhat different online than in a traditional classroom because students who are afraid to volunteer an answer in the classroom will often speak up online. Even today, everybody participated in Chioma’s questions. She did not call on single students like what normally happens in the traditional classroom. This is one reason I want to be an online teacher and enjoy being an online student. I hate answering questions in verbal face to face discussions, but as you have seen, I am quite prolific online. I know I am not unique so I wanted to used online discussions to compliment the ones we did face to face. Once again, I assert that hybrid instruction is optimal because the learning environments are diverse and can cater to the diversity of our learners.