In my first year teaching I worked with a small class of grade 9 students, who were grouped together in hopes that having one teacher for the majority of their classes would ease their transition to high school. Some of them had documented learning difficulties, while others were identified by classroom teachers. Regardless, all of the students needed adaptations at some level.
To ease with a novel study it was suggested that I use WYNN (Products & Services: WYNN™Literacy Software Solution), an assistive reading technology. Here is a video tutorial of the software.
WYNN allows users to hear and see content being read aloud to them. The content is either uploaded, inputted or typed in the program. Students are able to customize their colours, fonts, sizes and voices. It could be used for entire class with a projector or students could use with individual devices. It sounded like a great way for use to achieve our novel study. Unfortunately, it was more difficult to get started than it was to use it.
Here are some of the difficulties I encountered:
In the end I am not sure if it was worth the hassle, even now. By the time we actually we able to use it students were distracted by the features and the fact that we were not in our regular classroom. I am glad that I attempted it. If anything I learned a lot about processes and how things work/ flow systematically in schools. It would have been more beneficial if students had greater access either at home, or more consistently at school.
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One of my long time favourite assessment tools is Microsoft Forms. Below is a link to a sample for I created for students to submit their prospective business ideas. There are 19 various types of questions that students must answer. As soon as an answer has been submitted I can view the responses in a spreadsheet. This allows students to easily submit their work, it also allows me to organize and print their responses so their colleagues can see and analyze them as well.
Here is a comprehensive video if you are interested or curious about using Microsoft Forms. In my experience they are very similar to Google Forms, as far as format and structure.
I chose Microsoft Forms for this student response assessment as it allows them to easily and fully submit all of the information I require for our initial business idea evaluation. I don’t find this tool very challenging to use, although I do feel like there is a lot of back and forth. Every time I go to make a change or view a response it opens a new tab. That gets a bit confusing, but I have never had a major issue. In my experience students enjoy this as it has all of the required components of the assessment, so nothing is overlooked for their part.
Pros: easy to set-up & use, by making the questions required you ensure students responses and once saved you always have access to past ones you created.
Cons: responses are displayed in Microsoft Excel format, so if you are not familar with that you could have an issue. Like I said previously, it opens a new tab every time a change is made so that gets a bit confusing.
Although I have used it mostly for formative assessment, it could really be used for either. There is even an option to create a Quiz as opposed to a Form. This response details that although they have the same capabilities with a Quiz you can: provide scores, answers, and add in equations in addition to providing feedback. Therefore, it could easily be used for formative or summative assessment. Below is an image of the question options used for both the Form and Quiz.
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The video below explains how our information is “becoming an extension of ourselves”, and the web is evolving. Web 3.0 is allowing us to be connected everywhere, with everything. It highlights many of the benefits (connectivity, promotion and ease), along with some of the pitfalls (security) of Web 3.0.
“The web influences people’s way of thinking, doing and being, and people influence the development and content of the web. The evolution of the web from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and now to Web 3.0 can be used as a metaphor of how education should also be evolving, as a movement from Education 1.0 toward that of Education 3.0. The Web, Internet, Social Media, and the evolving, emerging technologies have created a perfect storm or convergence of resources, tools, open and free information access.” (Jackie Gerstein)
Gerstein’s metaphor is a good comparison of how learners these days need to be active in their own learning.
My initial thought about Web 3.0 learners (teens specifically) is that they are NEVER offline, they always have their device nearby and they don’t really know a world without social media. This becomes problematic as they need to regulate their own usage, and focus on whatever it is that requires their attention at the moment. This is advantageous as they are able to access and share information anywhere, at anytime. The main impact on education I feel these days is the focus. I believe we are beyond taking cells away for punishment and need to encourage/ model/ teach appropriate device usage.
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For my own educational experiences as a student I have attended: face 2 face, blended and solely online courses. I have used Moodle and UR Courses, which I have sometimes heard described as the ‘scroll of death’. I have enjoyed all, but have found some a blur in the way that I am not sure how much actual learning took place as the courses were more of a checklist to be completed.
Image via Giphy
As far as our current classes meeting using Zoom – I LOVE THEM! We are able to attend class and connect without the hassle of having to drive to the university. It also makes planning easier for those who have full-time jobs and/ or children. If you are unfamiliar with Zoom here is a quick introductory video.
If I was teaching an online class I would use Zoom so that there was a required a consistent meeting time. I believe this provides a greater connection for the students and allows for some more traditional instruction such as instructor’s lecturing, group presentations and discussions. Compared to fully online reading content this is more engaging and meaningful. It provides a good balance to keep online learners connected, while providing a consistent content delivery method.
The article Ten Ways to Overcome Barriers to Student Engagement Online provides some simple easy ways to engage online learners. A few that stuck out to me were: making contact before the first class, sending reminders to keep students on task and encourage sharing. All teachers require some effort to ensure students are engaged, but online courses have special considerations since the human face to face element is missing.
If my courses were to shift to online or distance learning I would require students to connect online at a certain time, as well as connect one on one via Skype or another video chat method. This would be crucial to maintain continual contact and check-ins with students. While many high school students are now taking online courses, and I believe it is a valuable experience some students would struggle with focus and keeping on task and up to date. I would struggle with ensuring the students are understanding and following along.
Here are my questions:
Thanks for reading!
This week for our eci833 class we were instructed to watch the following video.
The gentleman in the video describes how he was working on a paper, that resulted in him joining a ‘save the sloths’ cause. It resonated with me, as while I was watching/ listening to the video I was formatting this post and half listening to see if my children were still awake. So although, I wasn’t off in a web dive like he was, I was not fully focused on one thing.
While there are many valuable resources online for professional and personal use, I find there is a lot of junk to sort through. Even something as simple as online price shopping for computer mice recently became an annoying task, or perhaps I need to search smarter when searching for something specific. I know that more than once I have sat down for a five minute social media break, and wasted 20-25 minutes.
I did find the quote in the video regarding email interesting “When workers don’t check email, they focus for longer on tasks and show less physiologic signs of stress”. I feel that I am pretty good at reading and responding to email in a timely fashion. However, just the week at the end of a class period someone asked me if I had seen an email that they had sent at the beginning of that class period. I did see it, but was teaching and helping students. It was a general informative email that did not require a response. They were simply reiterating what the email said. Regardless, I was a little taken aback as it had been less than an hour since it was sent. Although, they were coming from a helpful place, and just happened to be walking by my room I still felt that maybe I was a bit behind. It would be a nice experiment for me to close my email and only check it when I am not teaching and have time to actual read and respond to any emails right then and there. I wonder if I would be more focused and less stressed. Gif via Giphy
More than anything the phrase “do one thing” reminds me how over-connected we can be sometimes. Even things as useful and practical as schedule syncing with my spouse can become stressful, as we are trying to manage everything from a bunch of different places, all at once. Plus, I rarely attempt to commit items to memory as it is all electronic. Personally, I have been trying to get small things off of my to-do list, at school and home. Basically, if it takes 5 minutes I try to do it now. It’s definitely a work in progress, as am I.
Here are my questions:
Thanks for reading!