Sunday, March 29, 2015

Personal Online Case Study

Personal Online Case Study
Monica Hayes

Over the past nine months, I have broadened and extended my knowledge of the online world in regards to education. Google has opened my eyes to a whole new way of communication that I never before utilized. I have employed teaching strategies using the likes of Storify, Google Docs, Google Groups, and Powtoon. I have also dabbled in Wiki’s collected online MOOC badges, used Twitter educationally, and started to globalize my teaching. Communicating with students and teachers through different online mediums has helped develop my skills in creating an online or blended learning atmosphere.
Using Google as the base of this program has spilled over into my classroom teaching. Students are communicating through email for assignments. They have Tweeted responses to content-related questions, and have created multiple assignments in different mediums for me. As I continue through this year, I have constantly tried to challenge the way students produce material. Instead of writing traditional essays, they have created Storifies. Communicating with others has not only been done through verbal discussions in class, they have used Google Groups to respond to me and others, while prompting each other to think further. Exposing students to these types of communication, mediums, and technological devices has created a better atmosphere. STudents, when given the choice, more frequently choose a technological device to produce work as opposed to paper and pencil.
I believe my knowledge of Google and ability to navigate and communicate and create lessons is a great advantage and would be quite effective in a blended learning environment. I have already utilized these aspects in my teaching within the past months. Sharing documents, commenting and suggesting on students papers, and using email with students has made teaching in the 21st century more effective and beneficial to all. Using the backwards design model of creating essential questions with direct objectives  that focus on understanding the curriculum is a core value of blended learning. The common core is very blended learning - adaptive. In creating lessons and units based on the common core and blended learning model, the students will have a better opportunity to develop autonomy in their learning. This is a strength as all of my curricula taught has been developed using the backwards design. AS we continue to grow in this “industrial age” of education, more and more students are becoming dependent on technology. However, in class, they are still dependent on the teacher. In the shift to blended learning, students can own their education more than they can in a clasroom. The teacher has the ability to teach material, then facilitate as students navigate through the information to gain their knowledge. This is more and more the trend of how we communicate in today’s world. As technology continues to increase, more job positions are global than ever before. USing the blended model alone is practice for our students’ futures! Being able to take material and synthesize an answer autonomously is the goal of blended learning, and essentially, preparing for the job market.  
Using my learning hub more frequently is something that would I would need to improve to be an effective online teacher. The blended learning model needs a home where students and teachers can access for the latest and most up-to-date material. As I continue through this program at UNH, my hub continues to grow. I can, and have, uploaded lessons, worksheets, announcements for students to access.
For the blended learning model to be a success, I would need all students to have access to the web. For some, this is still an issue and in lessons I have recently taught using Twitter, there were issues for students without access. Furthermore, based on contracts and budgets, etc. I know teaching an online class would require changes be made to our contracts, or more money for teaching an online class. This is bound to create waves with either the teachers’ union, the board of education, or both. That is probably the biggest issue in creating an online class for our district.
Personalizing learning is another aspect of the blended model that would be modified. Using the blended model has advantages to personalizing learning. Using Google has been most beneficial to me as a teacher in regards to my special education population. SCaffolding and supporting students with modifications has become more easily accomplished using the technology. The blended model would allow me to modify material more efficiently for certain populations.
I also believe using MOOC badges as a source of credit for class could be an integral part of integrating and developing a blended learning atmosphere. I find the challenge with using badges as finding a way to show students they hold value. If a class credit can be used, it would be a source of motivation to take a blended learning course as students would need the credit to graduate. Otherwise, I wonder if students would choose to take a traditional class over the blended learning class because they are more familiar with that model.
Using the blended model would also change my accessibility. I would have to accept that students would need to, or could, reach me all hours of the day. In traditional settings, teachers are available until the bell rings. However, I have noticed just just this year, as I have created a more online/blended environment by using Twitter, Google Docs, Groups, and email, students are requesting my assistance outside of the walls and hours of the school. This is something that I have had to adjust to and remind myself to check my email nightly to see if anyone needs help. This would be a must in a blended learning class.
In reflecting, I have found that I would be an effective blended learning teacher. Professionally, I am more and more qualified as I make my way through this 6th year program. However, this reflection has showed me that I would embrace being a blended, online teacher. I hope to be one of the first to teach an online class in my district and just recently, I was put in charge of researching this very task, per my assistant principal!

Friday, March 6, 2015

#walkmyworld It's Like You're My Mirror!
What do I see in the mirror? Well I wish Justin Timberlake was looking back at me and singing this song for me but, sadly, he isn't. What I see in my reflection is a mixture of hope for the future, pride for the present and wrinkles from my past! But that's why there's makeup! I am proud that I get to go to work everyday and grateful I have a job in something I enjoy doing. I also find pleasure and comfort in knowing that I am allowed to teach at a school that is very welcoming and tolerant. Enjoying the people you work with is a huge part of how I feel when I look in the mirror. I can't imagine what it's like to look in the mirror and dread the rest of the day! I am also hopeful that one day I will be able to share my pride and enjoyment with my knight in shining armor aka my Justin Timberlake!