Science 8… goes online…

I can’t believe we have reached the end of this course creation. It feels like it went by quickly and there is so much more to learn and do. Of course we have more outcomes and lessons to add to your unit but with the help of my partner Miranda, things came together pretty smoothly. As previously mentioned, we chose to use Google Classroom. It is the large management system that Prairie South School Division uses and we are both familiar with. Miranda is currently teaching fully online for our division and I am away on maternity leave. Her experience far outweighed mine when it came to navigating google classroom. Miranda’s ability to unit plan and create an organized skeleton for our project amazed me. Within minutes she had the outline for our course set up. Together we came up with four lessons to create an enjoyable learning experience for our students even tho it was all being done online. We created activities for our students that they could do at home with the supplies that are likely found at home. We used a variety of tools such as flipgrid, flippity, goformative, parlay, edpuzzle and google slides. We kept a consistent flow to our course so the students would pick up a routine and navigate through each assignment easily. For us, google classroom is a clean and easy way to teach online. It works well for students of all ages and abilities. We hope you enjoy exploring our course as much as we enjoyed making it.

The overall process of creating this course was pretty great. I have always admired Miranda for her ability to plan and keep things so neat and organized. This was a great way to see into the way she thinks and sees things. I think some of my favourite moments this semester came during our zoom calls where we talked about what we would do and then often got side tracked talking about life. It made me realize how much I miss working with her. I also loved that I got to learn more about how google classroom worked. I was challenged to try and create some activities for students using tools/programs that were new to me. It has now provided me with the confidence to bring some of these tools into my classroom when I go back in the fall. Google classroom used to seem so complicated to me but now with the organization of our course I find it simple. The way we used bookmarks for lessons and clipboards for assignments made sense to me and I think it will for parents and students too. I liked that the navigation tabs between announcements, classwork and people are clearly organized at the top of the page. It keeps important things separate and clean. I liked that there is a way for students to interact with the teacher and their class both as a group and privately. The announcements page is a great way to keep everyone in the loop with upcoming zoom calls or assignments that are due. Overall, I see myself using google classroom more now that I have had this experience! If you want to check it out please use the codes below!

Course Profile

Google Classroom Access code : yrn4fye

Goformative Access Code: WN5VV9

I wanted to play around with Screen Cast so I went ahead and made a video of our online course. Feel free to check it out.

Talk to Me Goose…

“A relationship with the one you are trying to teach, lead, or love is where all the power lies” – Dr. Jody Carrington

This quote means so much to me as so often the best way to reach our students it by building those important relationships. This is something I have always been aware of but after attending a Dr. Jody Carrington presentation and then reading her book “Kids These Days” it all just became so clear. A connection with our students is so very important. This is where we develop the ability to communicate with them all in the individual ways that they need. This is where we learn about their struggles and their triumphs. This is where we make a difference. I find the majority of the students I work with have special needs or behavioural needs and when I am able to build a personal connection to them, I find way more success. I also notice that they pick up on the frustrations of their teacher and tend to respond in a more negative way. If only their classroom teacher would focus on building a connection to this student first, then teach next, they may find more success.

With this in mind, I feel it is incredibly important to have a way for students to communicate with the teacher through online learning. This can be in a group setting but also on a one on one basis. Miranda and I have discussed using multiple tools to allow for a lot of communication throughout the course. Google classroom is the main platform our course is based out of so we will be using all the features it has to offer. Students can comment on assignments, announcements and other posts that have been made. They can also use the private chat feature to ask the teacher for questions. I know in previous experiences, comments on assignments can be an issue as students just get silly and post random words or engage in conversations that do not need to be on the google classroom site. Flipgrid is another tool that will be used. It can be used in exit slip activities, inquiry questions posted by the teacher with students responses for everyone to see, a way to respond to others post or projects other than posting comments and so on. Jamboard has been one tool we had planned to use but after last class we may have to use whiteboard.chat to experience all it has to offer. It was a lot of fun and it gives the students an option to interact with one another. Our school division also uses zoom as a main form of communication through video chat. This allows for large group discussions or lessons to take place and it also allows for one-on-one teacher-student conversations to happen in real time and “face-to-face”. This brings back what Dr. Jody Connection says about the importance of connection. Having the ability to see the students face and their body language to the best of your ability is important. You might learn a lot more about where they are at with the lesson by being able to chat with them in that way. I do think my perspective has changed now that I am a student support teacher compared to a classroom teacher because a huge part of my job requires small group or one-on-one lessons. Also a lot of what I do in a day is very hard to do with a fully online program. The school I work in is a community school and we have a lot of high needs students. I really struggled with the change last spring when Covid hit and I am missing those students even more now that I have been away from the school for five months. I know that online learning can be amazing in so many ways but the students that I work with really struggled with it. They would rarely show up for any of their class zoom calls, they did not turn in assignments and were essentially MIA from all aspects of learning. The only thing they were consistently there for was our weekly zoom call with our little “conversation group”. When in the classroom

we had a period once a week that focused on social skills and was basically a way to connect together as a group outside of the classroom. All the students involved are diagnosed with low-cognitive abilities and require some type of support with their learning. However, the 45 minute zoom call that often turned into an hour or more, was the one thing they consistently showed up for and participated in. This really showed me how important connection was for them. I think that is the benefit to having a few options for communication but also not too many to be overwhelming.

With a course that is all online, authentic assessment can be challenging to attain. The interactions and candid conversations can provide some insight into a students understanding. Using nearpod, or edpuzzle and adding questions along the way will provided some feedback too. We also included a few flippity or goformative activities as exit slips in an attempt to gather some more information. The completion of these and assignments/projects will provide feedback but it also is hard to know if they used other supports to answer the questions or if they truly do understand the material. I would love to hear what others are using for assessment as it can be a challenging part of online learning.

Overall, I think with the right set up we can communicate with our students efficiently but in my opinion it is hard to replicate what we can accomplish in our classroom environment. But like my little conversation group, talking online can also become a safe place that students open up more than ever. Finding what works best for our students learning is what it is all about. Any other suggestions for communication? I would love to hear it.

P.S. If you haven’t watched TOP GUN… please please please… grab some popcorn and fire it up! My husband had never seen it when we first met and now he joins me and quotes it all the time. A classic!

Something to Think About…

Almost a year ago to date we were forced into the world of online learning. It all happened so quickly it still feels like such a blur. When this all happened due to the coronavirus, I was barely using google classroom or any other form of online learning in my classroom. As a student support teacher, I found myself doing intervention based on students needs and providing reading support for a majority of my students. The classroom teachers used google classroom but I was not very familiar with it at all. Once I started teaching from the “comfort” of my own home, things changed. I struggled with finding a way to connect to my students that seemed so easy to do in the classroom. Navigating the lessons online took some getting used to and we managed but the in person communication was really tough. Some of my students were fine, but the ones I really work with were not. See, a lot of my students have different needs and require some extra assistance. Using a computer was not ideal for these situations. Social cues, and picking up on others body language became tough. We were connected through technology, but we were we really connected?

For the few months that we navigated through online learning with no in school support, I found myself constantly worrying about my students and how they were doing. If they did engaged in learning it was usually done with their whole class. I found myself going from spending the majority of their learning with them to barely getting the chance to chat. I was struggling. I missed my job, my role. my responsibilities but most of all I missed my kids! So if I was struggling with it all, they must be too right? Honestly, I am not sure I will ever know but in the article I found about students in Ontario they focused on how online courses are affecting students with disabilities. In this article it stated, “When it comes to learning disabilities, many students are simply unable to focus in spaces that are not specified for schoolwork”. I can imagine this is a tough adjustment for parents, teachers and students of all kinds but for a student with special needs this would take a long time to adjust to. Routine is so important and going to school is part of the learning routine. I know I had a student on my caseload that really struggled with this. She was unable to understand the concept of a pandemic and that she wasn’t sick so why couldn’t she be at school. Being with her peers and other classmates was a huge motivator for her to stay in the classroom and take part in the learning that was happening. Losing this was crushing for her. She fought her mom daily at home and it really put a lot of stress on her single mom. These are the types of situations I find myself constantly thinking about. On the other hand, the article talks about the students with special needs that have benefited from online learning. This gave me a fresh perspective I had not thought about. The students with physical disabilities that struggled with getting to school no longer had that barrier between them and their learning. Online learning was more comfortable and they were able to focus on their studies. This is also the case for students that have anxiety about being at school. It gave them a safe place to learn. This was a perspective I had never really thought about.

I think the transition to online learning for all students was an adjustment. Parents had to adapt to supporting their students learning and also juggling working from home too. I am sure many are experts at it now and some might still be struggling a year later. I just think sometimes we forget about the added hurdle of teaching a student with special needs from home. I loved how the first thing mentioned in an Edutopia article started off by suggestion that a learning environment is established. It totally fed off the previous article I had mentioned. It had two main areas to focus on:

SET UP HOME-BASED LEARNING
Learn about the home environment and create a space for online learning
– Set goals and objectives that suit the at home learning environment. These may differ from the goals that were set for learning in the classroom
– As the teacher touch base often and be involved
STUDENT GOALS AND LEARNING
– Emphasize structure: Routine and specific structure helps any student thrive but especially those with special needs
– Clear communication between home and school is important
– Sensory and movement goals need to be met

The Autism Awareness Centre also offered up some great ideas to engage students in their learning. They talked about teaching life skills, art and incorporating students interests regularly. The therapeutic experience of baking, painting, sculpting and doing things they love helped with engagement and can open the doors to other conversations. They also emphasized the use of movement, sensory and even relaxation time. I know how hard this scheduling can be in a school setting but hopefully with these suggestions and considerations the online process can run a little smoother!

I know this past year has been a unique situation and thankfully for the most part we are back to teaching in the classroom. I am sure a lot of teachers are incorporating a blended learning style in order to keep lots of content online in the case where we are sent home again. I also think both students and teachers have learned a lot about using technology in the classroom and have likely started including more tools in their daily teaching. I think that is a positive that has come from all of this. Plus some students may have found an easier way to learn and have gained confidence from learning online. I just think that so often we forget to think or even mention the students that require support in the classroom that cannot be offered through online learning. Just like everything, moderation is key and learning to navigate through our lessons to meet each students needs is just part of the job. So I ask the same question found in this article, “How can educators increase engagement for kids with special needs online right now?”

Feedback…

Last class we were able to meet in small groups to discuss how our modules and courses profiles were playing out. It was really neat to see how everyone tackled this project and how we all see this project a little differently. It was great to hear the feedback our classmates were giving and also to gather some ideas from the other examples we saw. I was in the larger group so I was able to see four other courses as well as share my own. The nice thing about this was that I was able to see four different tools or platforms being used. First I got to see Moodle and hear about how easy it was to use but adding a little more flare to the platform involved a little more experience and background knowledge with coding. My experience with UR Courses gave me a reference point to look at and compare. Next we looked at Canva which is something I am unfamiliar with. It was encouraging and made me curious to explore a bit more on my own. Next we took a peak at Microsoft Teams. I was really curious about this one as my division uses google classroom. So I was curious to see how the two compared. We hear so much about both platforms that it made things a little more clear to actually see a working example of a course. Finally we discussed google classroom which is the platform Miranda and I are using and the one I do have some experience with in my own teaching.

Due to the larger group, I was the last one to go and things were a little rushed. I did not get a chance to really share our course and the work we have done so far. Unfortunately, I did not receive much feedback as we were kicked back to the main room. I did not walk away with nothing though. Hearing the ideas that my group had for their own blogs and the feedback they received helped me too. Alec even joined us while Darcy was sharing his presentation and gave some valuable suggestions. He mentioned that using unlisted videos on youtube can help free up much needed space on your platform. This allows users to view the videos within your platform by using a link rather than taking up a bunch of space. The fact that it is unlisted means that it will not be found in a search by some random people. Miranda and I did make two videos for the hook for each lesson. When I created them using Vyond, I then uploaded them to youtube. From there we used this link to insert them into google slides. It made the process easier for Miranda and I to share them and add them to our project without having to battle sharing a large file size. I never even thought about how much space it would take up in our platform. This also brings up another point from Alec. He suggested attaching multiple links to any outside source you are using. This might include the actual link underneath a youtube video in google slides. It is a safety net and a great suggestion.

Happy I Like It GIF by swerk - Find & Share on GIPHY
Source

Heidi mentioned in her presentation of moodle that she wished it wasn’t so “vanilla”. She felt it was boring to look at and wished she had the knowledge and experience to change the colors on her dashboard. It made me realize how fortunate we are with google classroom. It has an attractive dashboard and it is easy to follow. I think for both primary and high school students and those in between. It is easy to navigate especially because we have ours organized by outcome. I know a lot of the primary grades use SeeSaw and I do not have much experience with it. It was mentioned multiple times in our discussion about how things are interchangeable between SeeSaw and Google Classroom.

After talking to Miranda she discussed some ideas she gained from her group. Since we are doing science and we have the option to complete some really neat labs, a suggestion of using the app True Visage to do the labs live for the students was thrown out there. If you can record this, then it would be a great way to include the students as if they were in the classroom. They could ask questions on the fly and the lesson would be influenced by the students interests and curiosities. With the ability to record this live, the students that need to re-watch the video or watch it because they were missing that day, will have access to this. Something they wouldn’t have in the classroom. If you cannot record the live lab then that is a downfall. However, if they missed school that day, they would be out of luck too. Another piece of feedback we received was to use EdPuzzle to create a stop and start video of the youtube videos we did share. This would allow us to include some multiple choice questions or other moments of reflection during the video instead of just watching it all in one go. With our course being all online we have the ability to use some variety with each lesson to try and keep students engaged. Back to the drawing board to add some more details to our course and take some of this feedback to improve our next two lesson and course as a whole!

My thoughts on Formative!

In EC&I 833, last semester, I was introduced to an online assessment tool called Formative. The group allowed us to use it a bit during their presentation and it really sparked my interest. It seemed easy to use and allowed student interaction while using the tool and it also seemed like a legit way to assess our students learning, especially if we are online teaching. I was excited to give it a try but would have to wait until next school year to give it an honest try with some students. However, with Christmas plans changing and my family no longer able to make it home for the holidays, I made our annual Christmas Trivia night into an online version that we played over zoom. I split the teams into breakout rooms to complete each round and the answers were submitted via Formative! I finally had an opportunity to use it. Based on that minimal experience and some more exploring the last couple of days, I thought I would share a few of my thoughts on this online assessment tool.

Overview:
When I first started creating the trivia questions on Formative, I thought it might be a bit of a challenging and time consuming process. My trivia was all short answer so I was only using one style of question and they had a powerpoint presentation on my screen that they used to follow along. I had six rounds to create. Some had two part questions, some required a photo or digital file to go along with it. I really was not sure how I would be able to do this. Here is an example from our connection round! Any guesses on how all three of these questions are connected?

Once I actually sat down and made the quiz it took no time at all. I simply input the question and supplied the answer. Done in about twenty minutes. I was amazed. The photos or media files I needed to add was super basic. The only tricky part was figuring out a way to have the two part questions as one question. For example: Name the title and artist for name that tune. I had to create a question for each question. So for a ten question round, I ended up with twenty questions. I had to then award each question out of five points instead of ten. It was a simple way to fix it but it wasn’t as smooth as I had wanted it to be. Maybe there is a way around this that I missed or maybe that is a more doable option if I paid for the premium version. Here is an example of a two part question, do you know the answer?

I also liked that I could create classrooms. This allowed me to create groupings for the different nights I had my trivia night. I could then assign each round to the different classrooms. This also allowed me to open and close the formative assessments so that only each grouping could see the questions. It also allowed me to sign up the recorders for each team ahead of time. So as a teacher, you would set your classroom up at the start of the year. You could have formative assessments created ahead of schedule and then just open them when it was time for the students to complete the assessment. When an assessment was closed then they are unable to see them. They do not even show up on their list. With a simple click of the mouse you can open the assessment and the students get instant access. This was nice because I would simply open up each round of questions as we started the round. This way no one was able to cheat and look ahead.

An example of my classroom with the rooms closed and open. Simply click on the lock and change it to open.

Now that we are well on our way with the trivia game, I wanted to know if they got the answers correct or not without having to sift through each team. That was my whole point of using this. An efficient way to “grade” their answers without a lot of downtime. I only had 2 or 3 teams playing at a time but I can only imagine how much faster this would be if I had a simple short answer, true and false or multiple choice test. I would save so much time on my marking! To be successful with the short answer I had to make sure I provide enough correct answers. With the premium version it gives you the option to turn on features that allow for less “false negatives”. In this example I added some common spelling mistakes just in case.

I also found out that as you are correcting a quiz you can choose to add to correct responses. This will then change all the others that have that response to green. I found I had to go and confirm the incorrect responses were in fact wrong. I was able to do this while they typing in their answers without them even noticing. Here is a picture of a completed round.

Do you know the answer?;)

As you can see at the top, this is an overview of the whole assessment. I can also look at each question if I choose. By clicking on a red response it brings up a panel on the side and I am able to see what they wrote and adjust the grade if need be. One thing I really liked about this was that I could look as they were completing the assessment. I did not have to wait until they had submitted it. I could correct as they were working on it. I also really liked that you can adjust the grades to provide the students with half marks and so on. It seemed flexible in that sense. I know that my experience using Formative was not totally a classroom experience but it still gave me the experience of creating an assessment and using the tool. It allowed me to see how my students used it and how smoothly it work. I had zero struggles with the student side of things. They all were able to answer the questions with ease and had no technical difficulties. This experience has definitely grabbed my interest and I do plan on implementing it into my classroom or hopefully the teachers classrooms that I work with. I am not totally sold on this program yet but I already warned my Principal that I might be seeking a premium subscription next fall!

Pros:
I have already stated quite a bit about what I liked about this program but I thought I would still include them:

  • User friendly and easy to navigate
  • Students are able to access it and navigate it with ease
  • Has multiple types of questions included in the free version and even more in the premium
  • Can be used in face-to-face, blended, virtual, online classrooms
  • Teachers can create their own assessments instead of only being able to use assessments that have already been created
  • Great visual of students correct answers when using simple answered questions.  Provides the mark too and different options for answers.
  • You can have multiple classrooms on one account
  • You can include co-teachers on the premium account
  • Many more that I am sure I will learn about as I use this program more!


Cons:
I am really liking this program so far but I am sure there are more flaws than I have found so far:

  • Correct answers can be marked incorrectly and therefore you still need to look over each assessment.
  • Students could cheat so assessment might not be authentic. 
  • For the extra features you have to pay for them. As an individual it costs $144 a year to use.  As a school or school division it required me to call in.  This price isn’t as high as I thought it might be.  A monthly payment was only $15.  So maybe this is a pro!?  Look at all the features you get with it…

Potential:
I think like most tools we have at our disposal, it is what you make of it. This could be a disaster, but it also could be something great. I think it will take some getting used to on both the teacher and the students behalf. I think it is hard to use as assessment in some cases because you might worry that the students are cheating and having someone else fill it in or maybe stealing answers off the internet. There are a lot of variables to consider when it comes to collecting assessment and using it for grades. That is a whole new can of worms! I do plan on using this and hope that it will be beneficial. I think students will enjoy it and it will help some of my students with special needs that will prefer the use of a computer to complete an assessment rather than pen and paper. I would love to hear from others that have used Formative. Any pros or cons you would like to add to my list? Do you enjoy using this program in your classroom? Why did you stop using it if you did?

In case you made it this far…. here is a quick video explaining Formative’s capabilities!

Source

Our Course Profile!

Many years ago, I got the pleasure of working with a teacher that absolutely blew my mind. She was so incredibly organized, her understanding of the curriculum was next level especially in the areas of math and science and to top it off she built great relationships with her students. Miranda and I were literally on opposite ends of our little rural school out in Mortlach. I was the Kindergarten, grade one and grade two teacher and she was the high school Math and Science teacher. She was a tonne of fun and I loved learning from her even though the material we were teaching was very different. Fast forward to today and here I am getting to work with her on class project!

For our class assignment I was excited to get to work with this teacher that I have always admired! Since I am not currently teaching, we figured we would create a course that would work for her current online teaching position. I knew I would still benefit from it as I could pass it onto the teachers I work with and also I would get to catch a glimpse of how she creates her lesson plans! Not to mention learning about all the different ways we can use the presentation tools we have access to! Hope you enjoy what we come up with!

Course Profile: Grade 8 Physical Science: Optics and Vision

By Miranda Sonmor and Jocelyn Wigmore

Target Audience:

The targeted audience for this prototype course is grade 8 students working from home in a virtual school setting.  

 Course Timeline:

This prototype course is focused on one out of four units found in the grade 8 curriculum.  The unit we are focusing on is Physical Science:Optics and Vision.  It would take 6 weeks or more to complete. 

 Course Delivery:

The course will be delivered using google classroom as the main platform.  Students will work in an asynchronous format where they will be able to follow along with lessons and watch video explanations posted on the google classroom. 

Each lesson will come with a written description as well as a demonstration video in order to meet the needs of the students.  Students will also have the opportunity to talk with their teacher directly through scheduled zoom drop in times. 

 Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes:

This online course focuses on the optics and vision unit found in the grade 8 curriculum.  It consists of 4 different outcomes that focuses on how our vision works in regard to light, mirrors, lenses and the help of optical devices. The four outcomes are as follows:

OP8.1:  Identify and describe, through experimentation, sources and properties of visible light including:

·         rectilinear propagation

·         reflection

·         refraction.

OP8.2:       Explore properties and applications of optics-related technologies, including concave and convex mirrors and lenses.

OP8.3:        Compare the nature and properties of human vision with optical devices and vision in other living organisms.

OP8.4:         Evaluate the impact of electromagnetic radiation-based technologies on self and community.

 Guiding Questions:

The course will be created around the following questions to promote higher level thinking. We found these on the North East Cornerstone School Division website.  

OP1

  1. What types of light are there?
  2. What properties does light have?
  3. How do the properties of light affect our daily life?
  4. How can we manipulate light and how does it travel?
  5. How is light related to absence of light?

OP2

  1. How does light interact with transparent, translucent and opaque materials?
  2. How does light interact with concave and convex mirrors?
  3. How can ray diagrams illustrate how light travels within optical devices?
  4. How have optics related technologies enabled scientific research?

OP3

  1. How can ray diagrams illustrate how the human eye sees objects?
  2. How does the human eye perceive color?
  3. How is color produced?
  4. How can optical technologies enhance human vision?

OP4

  1. What are the characteristics of electromagnetic radiation?
  2. What are the characteristics of visible light?
  3. What instruments can emit, detect and incorporate electromagnetic radiation? How is electromagnetic radiation part of our world?

Course Materials:

This course will be most successful when all students have access to technology.  This could include an online school that is completed at home during the school day.  Or it may be in a classroom setting where students have access to technology and work at their own pace. 

To meet the needs of the students that do not have a device at home the school will provide them with one to use for the school year. For those families with multiple students participating in online learning, devices will be provided on a one per family basis. Consideration will also be given to zoom times to meet the needs of limited devices in families. 

 Special Announcements:

 Students with special needs will be able to complete this course with the assistance of technology.  They can submit their answers by video recording their assignments instead of typing them and submitting them.  They can use google read & write.  They can schedule one on one meeting times with the teacher if they require extra assistance or further explanation. There is an SST available for students needing assistance. 

English as an additional language learners will be able to complete this course as they can have access to the videos posted to rewatch numerous times.  They can also use google translate and google read & write to complete written assignments.  They will also have the opportunity to interact with their peers to continue the development of their english language skills. There is an SST available for students needing assistance. 

 Attendance:

Since the course is on google classroom, students will be able to access course material on a daily basis.  Class announcements, deadlines and general information will be found here and students will be expected to check it daily.  Since the majority of the class is found online, students that are home sick or away due to travel, can still access the course material.  Students will have scheduled zoom sessions and deadlines for their course and they are expected to be present for these dates.   

Assessment:

 Assessment will be completed using google classroom, nearpod, goformative, and various other tools as needed to meet the needs of this course.  Nearpod will be used for the delivery of some lessons and will consist of check-in questions to confirm students are understanding the material.  Google classroom will have assignments that the students will need to complete throughout the course.  Students will be expected to use different technology to demonstrate their understanding of their learning, slides, posters, essays, etc. Goformative will be used as part of the formative assessment processes.  During scheduled zoom times, a teacher may be able to collect data based on conversations using collaborative tools such as Jamboard, Kahoot, flipgrid, etc. There will be no unit exams because students will be expected to demonstrate their understanding in other ways. 

Students will be assessed based on a rubric constructed using the Saskatchewan curriculum outcomes. 

Assignments:

 The assignments will require the students to complete tasks that will include videotaping themselves, written work via google classroom, completing assessments on goformative, research projects, online labs, etc.  Each lesson will have different requirements but a thorough explanation will be given prior to the completion of the lesson.  Students that require assistance or accommodations will be met on an individual basis.  

Rationale:

This course was designed in the format to be immediately used in a virtual school setting. The course is being designed for students to collaborate with the teacher and their peers to increase student engagement but still flexible enough for students to complete on their own due to personal circumstances. Google classroom was chosen because it is a simple easy to use delivery system that most students are already familiar with. This productivity suite has been attached to all staff and student accounts and has been used in the division for a number of years. The use of nearpod, jamboards, kahoots, flipgrid, goformative and other tools is to keep students engaged in their learning. This course is also being created to be flexible to the needs of the students and able to be altered year to year, student to student based on the needs of the class. 

Hyflex Learning…Will it work?

In our breakout room we pondered what Hyflex learning was. It was a brief discussion as it happened just as the room was coming to a close. We simply mentioned we had not heard of it and were curious what it was. When I saw that it was one of our blog prompts it seemed like a no brainer to do some research and see what I could come up with. Basically it is a learning model that combines face-to-face and online learning. According to 7 Things You Should Know About the HyFlex Course Model article, it states that “the lessons are taught in-person, synchronously online, and asynchronously online.” This provides students with a selection of how they want to learn based on their preferred learning style. This also allows for the course to be student-directed and provides them with some flexibility. This type of learning is currently found in Universities over public schools.

A set up for this model could follow the design mentioned in the What is HyFlex Course Design? article. This shows how students determine when they will complete assignments and also demonstrates a combination of online work and face-to-face meetings.

“While there are different practicing definitions of HyFlex, I worked on a grant that focused on flexible attendance with due dates. Students can choose to attend face-to-face meetings and earn weekly participation points or complete equivalent work online and earn participation points. There are due dates for the online set of materials to ensure students stay on task.To prepare students for the face-to-face meeting or online activities, they have Before Class Work (BC), which closes on a specific date. The next set of activities is in-class work or in-lieu of in-class (online work). Once in-class or in-lieu of in-class is complete, they have after-class assignments to bring the weeks objectives together (AC). Both sets of activities (in-class or in-lieu of class) will cover the same objectives, but the format is different, and the activities will reflect the difference in format—online versus face-to-face.”

This is one example of how a professor used this model, it is not the only way. Throughout the course it is important to provide your students with feedback as they work through the outcomes. A formative assessment at the end of each module provides students with a voice about what they learned and how effective it was. Clear communication is key to success.
Here is Dr. Jenni Hayman, Chair of Teaching and Learning at Cambrian College in Sudbury Ontario discussing how they have used HyFlex Learning amid the Coronavirus Outbreak.

Source

HyFlex Pros…

I think if I was writing this post a year ago, it would have a very different perspective. This past year due to Covid we have been forced to take our schooling online. This has changed the way outcomes are met and how classes may be administered in the future. This experience may have prepared public schools to learn how to use a HyFlex approach in their schools. It will allow for students, that for whatever reason are require to stay at home for extended periods of time, can keep up with their studies. This type of format may help students with special needs. It may help students with anxiety that struggle with attending school and being face-to-face on a consistent basis. It simply provides options for students to finish their studies.

HyFlex Cons…

I think one of the biggest challenges will be the digital divide. Do the students have devices that they can use to access the course content? Do students have internet access at home to use the devices if the school supplies them? Do the students have the knowledge to use the technology to complete the online component? For example a newcomer may not be familiar with using a computer and this could be very challenging for them. If we are teaching in the primary grades, we may require the parents to help out with the online part and that may not be possible due to work and other circumstances. Some teachers may not have the knowledge to create online lessons plans so there is a lot of extra training and time required for the planning of this type of learning. There are privacy issues that need to be considered and finally as stated in the 7 things we should know article, ” HyFlex places more responsibility for learning on students, and some lack the skills, maturity, and self-motivation to succeed in such an environment”

In the end, I think the Hyflex model has some really great ideas. Blending face-to-face and an online component seems to be the direction we are headed. What that looks like exactly after the Covid dust settles (hopefully) who knows. I know I missed some pros and cons, I would love to hear some that you feel should be included. I think a blended learning approach is more likely our future but I am not sure it will look like the HyFlex approach but hey, I could be wrong! What do you think?

A Brief Introduction…

My name is Jocelyn Wigmore and I am a student support teacher in Prairie South School Division. This is my 11th year of teaching but I am currently just starting my second maternity leave. I have been a student support teacher for 6 years and I really do enjoy it. I completed my inclusive education certificate and I am now working on completing my masters in curriculum and instruction. I have absolutely enjoyed the journey so far, especially the courses I have taken with Alec. You really do come out of them with a wealth of knowledge! My time these days seems to be spent juggling my masters and keeping these little humans entertained!

Goal number one is create a collection of tools that we can use to further my teaching using technology. I feel like in the past two courses ( EC&I 830 and EC&I 833) I have expanded my knowledge of what tools are out there. Some I have already started to play around with a bit so that when I go back into the classroom I am ready to apply them to my teaching right away. For example, goformative is one tool I am super excited to try. Since I am not in the classroom right now, I made a trivia for my family to play over zoom during the Christmas holidays. They submitted their answers using goformative and it was such a positive experience! This is a prime example of one thing I was able to pull from my previous course that was shared during a group presentation. There is so much value in learning from one another in these courses!

Goal number two is to use Twitter more often. I created an account (This is me) way back in my undergrad I believe it was. I have barely used it up until now. Our school has an account that we are encouraged to use so I tend to use that occasionally instead of my own personal account. After taking two other courses with Alec, I have started to follow more people and have been exposed to some really neat resources. I hope to dive into the Twitter world a little bit more. I want to find some more interesting people to follow and try and share them with the rest of you. I am more than happy to hear any suggestions you all have. Share with me some of your favourites!

Goal number three is to use the major project in this class to really set up some great learning opportunities for my students. I do find some of the previous tools and conversations surrounding technology in the classroom has been more fitting for a whole classroom setting. Of course, those ideas can be adapted to suit a smaller group setting and they can work with my students but I want to make sure I am utilizing that to its full potential! I tend to do a lot of small group reading support (LLI) and the occasional math support. Before I went on maternity leave I was working with a teacher and a supply some in class support so I know that I could create something that we could both use together. When I think about the school I teach at, I know that I will need to find a way to create lessons that can be blended with both online and offline use. A majority of the students I work with do not have a computer or even internet access at home. We are fortunate to have class sets of chromebooks in our school but if I was to use this lesson beyond those four walls I would face some major challenges. Therefore, when creating this lesson I will need to make sure it is something that can be done offline too!

I am really excited to be taking this course and I cannot wait to see what we learn over the next few months! I do know that we have a wealth of knowledge coming from Alec but also from each and everyone in this class. It is going to be a great semester!