Monday, July 28, 2014

Response to Research Post #7-Twitter for the Classroom and Google Classroom

Twitter for the Classroom 

If  you've been following my posts, you've realized I've re-acquainted myself with Twitter. It's been a slow process, and I'm still not using it like a teacher should (darn me and my social proclivities), but I AM learning how to navigate the whole hashtag thing, and how to carry on a conversation in the Twitter-sphere.

Dr. Spring shared this article with me from a fellow digital media educator's blog. I believe I have already shared an article about Twitter (or one that contains thoughts on how to use Twitter) in my blog, but I thought this post was particular accessible to other educators of the higher level persuasion.

Dr. Deyamport, the aforementioned blogger and professional media instructor, provides a list on how educators should use Twitter to their advantage. This list a tad bit shorter than the list I posted earlier in the semester, and it contains information that I have not previously discussed. For example, Dr. D emphasizes having a reliable bio and photo on your Twitter page. I think my bio at the moment is a bunch of words that describe me. Just words. Separated with periods. Much like this. My current bio could work, but I think I can amp it up. I also should update my photo to just a photo of me in all my glory. I love my husband, but he isn't as recognizable. Sorry, Cale. I wish there was a way to change my Twitter handle, but if there is, I'm unaware. I created my Twitter page wayyyyy back in 2009 when I was 20 years old and obsessed with Lucky Brand Jeans and anything else made by the Lucky Brand corporation. I still love Lucky, but I'd like to have a different handle. Maybe I can make a whole separate page just for my "professional" persona? And then leave the Lucky Brand to lucky celebrities I stalk? (I'm looking at you, Tom Hiddleston...)

You already did. 
Dr. D also stresses the importance of sharing on Twitter. I've realized that lots of online articles I've read have a little button where you can "paste" it directly to Twitter. I know, I know, I'm slow at discovering things, but hey, better late than never! I decided that this week I will post 3 articles of the "scholarly" persuasion. Meaning, no stuff from Buzzfeed no matter how appropriate I think it may be.

Finally, Dr. Spring also shared an article on Twitter about the Google Classroom. You can find it here. Basically, Google has finally taken all the badass things it offers in relevance to educators and combined it into one hefty space. In Warnock's words, Google has created its own CMS of sorts. The posted link provides a video tutorial that I think is worth watching.

Follow me on Twitter! @luckybrandluv

Response to Warnock #6/7- Chapters 16-18

I did not post about Warnock last week due to time constraints, but I'm back on track this week!

I've seemed to have reached a stalemate with Warnock. I feel like the first three-fourths of the book contained a wealth of information on how to perfect any sort of online class. Now Warnock has honed in on the "writing portion" of his profession, and I feel a little bit lost. I will confess that I am not a strong teacher when it comes to pure writing and rhetoric. If you've been following my blog or know me, you'll know that I'm a ninth grade English teacher. South Carolina's English I curriculum does not contain staunch standards on teaching writing. Now, this doesn't mean I let my kids leave my class illiterate. However, I do not ever assign large, 5 page writing assignments. Therefore, the ideas that Warnock offers on how to teach composition are a bit confusing to me. In chapter sixteen, Warnock stresses the importance of collaborating with other teachers. I believe this is what I should do in order to tackle my inadequacies with teaching writing and rhetoric.

Friends in this course that teach writing online: What are your thoughts on what Warnock says in chapter 16? Has collaborating in a similar space helped you with teaching? How can some of your online teaching skills spill over to f2f teaching?

Chapter 18 should be labeled "Helpful Things for People Like Kelly Who Don't Know Much." I liked the hybrid of a glossary/list of helpful things. I'd already mentioned the important information at the back of Warnock's book, but chapter 18 lists some hands on elements such as textbooks and websites.

And that brings me to the end of the book. Overall, I enjoyed this textbook if you can even call it that. My first blog post on Warnock discussed how accessible the book is, and I still stick to that claim. While I still maintain that I probably will not teach online in the near future, I still EXTREMELY appreciate all the parallels that can be drawn between Warnock's words and the real-life classroom. I plan to add this to my shelf at Fort Mill High School. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Response to Research Post #6 - 10 Things Teachers Should Know about GoogleDocs

I apologize for the late post. Yesterday was a doozy, and I plum forgot it was a Monday!

Today's research themed post centers on GoogleDocs. GoogleDocs first appeared in my orbit around 2010. I used it for my WRIT 350 course as a way to peer edit a paper. It was neat, but we basically used different colored fonts to write in comments and add our thoughts towards a peer's paper. I will say I garnered good feedback on my paper, and I did not feel like my group was going through the motions.

Obviously GoogleDocs has come a long way from just using colored font to add comments. Now you can create quizzes on GoogleDocs, surveys, tests, etc. and the best part? You can spy on your students! I will admit that I have not used GoogleDocs to its full advantage, but I have left assignments for my students to complete while I was out sick. For example, I found a neat web quest about Shakespeare online, so I uploaded it to GoogleDocs and left instructions for my sub. Students were to get in pairs and complete the web quest using Chromebooks. While I was home sick, I was able to log into my Google account and see if students were doing their work. It was great because I was able to go back the next day and praise those who worked diligently and then of course, take points off for those who did not complete the assignment.

The article linked below gives some handy insight into services offered through GoogleDocs. I've already mentioned some above (editing features, etc.) but some new ones I'm looking into are the research tools and the ability to leave vocal comments.

What are your experiences with GoogleDocs? Love it? Hate it? Don't know much about it? Let me know!

10 Things Every Teacher Should Know about GoogleDocs

Oh, and PS. The website where this article came from, Edudemic, is FANTASTIC. Dr. Spring has posted several articles from here on the Twitter page, and I've been using it for the past week to do some research for the annotated bib assignment. I especially enjoy the "How-To" section! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Response to Research Post #5- Effective Feedback for Learning

20 Ways to Provide Effective Feedback for Learning 

I don't know about you, but I love lists. Lists are great, and I always feel so wonderful when I can cross things off a to-do list, or read a bunch of information in as few words as possible. If you're a fan of lists, you should read Buzzfeed and Mental Floss on the daily because they are made up of a bunch of useless lists about stuff you LOVE. Disney movies, marriage tips, funny stuff kids say, the lists go on and on!


Today's list does not cover things you might not know about Beauty and the Beast (a personal favorite of mine). Instead, it's about how to give effective feedback in any situation. Dr. Spring posted this article on Twitter a few days ago, and I linked it at the top of this post. What I especially like about this article is that it addresses feedback in multiple situations, not just the classroom. While the core of the article talks about teacher feedback, many of these tips can be applied to any work environment. I listed my favorite below.

4. Ask the 4 questions.
Studies of effective teaching and learning (Dinham, 2002, 2007a; 2007b) have shown that learners want to know where they stand in regards to their work.  Providing answers to the following four questions on a regular basis will help provide quality feedback.  These four questions are also helpful when providing feedback to parents:
  • What can the student do?
  • What can’t the student do?
  • How does the student’s work compare with that of others?
  • How can the student do better?
Look, a list within a list! Seriously though, I could do these four things a lot more when conferencing with a student one on one. I almost want to put this on a little card and post it on my desk, it seems so valuable. The fact the conversation starts on a personal note is always a plus. 

15. Return tests, papers or comment cards at the beginning of class. Returning papers and tests at the beginning of class, rather than at the end, allows students to ask necessary questions and to hold a relevant discussion.
This is one I actually disagree with. I always return assignments on Fridays, usually 30 minutes before class ends. While I appreciate questions from ALL students, I do not appreciate losing the attention span of 30 15 year olds. My suggestion is to always set aside a specific time fopers and tests at the beginning of class, rather than at the end, allows students to ask necessary questions and to hold a relevant discussion.
20. Invite students to give YOU feedback.
Remember when you finished a class in college and you were given the chance to ‘grade’ the professor?  How nice was it to finally tell the professor that the reading material was so incredibly boring without worrying about it affecting your grade? Why not let students give you feedback on how you are doing as a teacher?
Make it so that they can do it anonymously. What did they like about your class? What didn’t they like? If they were teaching the class, what would they do differently? What did they learn the most from you as a teacher? If we are open to it, we will quickly learn a few things about ourselves as educators. Remember that feedback goes both ways and as teachers it is wise to never stop improving and honing our skills as teachers.
Student feedback is an idea I've played around with a lot since becoming a teacher. I believe getting genuine feedback from students is important. For this school year, I'd like to create a survey of some sort for students to complete one day after their big state test. They can do it on the iPads and I could go into the next school year with new ideas and suggestions. Obviously high school freshmen are different from college students, so I would have to limit my questions to two or three pertinent ones, but it can be done. 
What are you thoughts about giving feedback? Do you hate it? Love it? Do you like mid course meetings? Or do you prefer old-fashioned comments on assignments? I welcome your feedback! Get it?  

Response to Warnock #5-Chapters 13 -14

I apologize for the shorter post, but I have been feeling under the weather for several days. I'm tired all the time and have zero energy. YUCK! I will say that is one big perk to an online course, you don't have to show up to class and infect everyone with your sickness.

Today I want to respond to a couple of things that Warnock said in chapters 13 and 14 that struck me. In chapter 13, Warnock once again stresses the importance of organization and consistency. I stated early on in this course that WRIT 510 is only my second online class. The first online class I took did not heed Warnock's statements about clarity and scheduling. For example, at the beginning of chapter 13, Warnock writes, "Teachers must create a sense of pacing and predictability in an online course. Students are creatures of habit." Amen, Warnock. Going with this week's focus, I believe catering to students and their habits is key to assuaging student anxiety (and teacher!) anxiety. This streamlines over into the regular classroom and matches with Jaggers article I posted two weeks ago. Students with learning disabilities thrive in a regimented environment, and this same thought could be valuable for students like mine who go on to higher ed. Also, the mix of mini and informal assignments discussed in chapter 13 are great, especially in preparation for larger assignments. I think completing a "baby" flipped lesson was a great intro to the large one we will do later on this semester. It forced us to get out of our comfort zone and really apply the thought of teaching online. I realize some of my classmates already teach online, and that's awesome! For someone like me, it was valuable in relation to using in my real classroom.

Chapter 14 discusses collaborative learning which I am NOT a huge fan of in the online environment. Obviously I assign group work in my ninth grade classroom, but it is always closely monitored and limited to small assignments. One of the big draws with online school is you get to work at your own pace...well, the pace set by your professor. I appreciate Warnock's idea in having a group create a specific website etc., but it's my personal opinion that we are all adults with our own lives and more than likely enrolled in an online course because it fit our schedule. I understand the professional world requires group collaboration, but setting up a time to all work simultaneously is tricky and frustrating.

If I were teaching an honest-to-God online writing course and decided to do a "team assignment" as Warnock calls them, I would have set parameters already in place. Meaning: I would already have roles for students to fill, and then they have to complete their portion of the assignment and create one final product. This may be micromanaging a tad, but I feel like it would be most fair. Thoughts?

This pretty much sums up my thoughts about chapter 14. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Response to Research Post #4 - Flipped Classroom Tips

If you haven't already noticed, I'm 100% on board with this whole flipped classroom thing. I first heard of a "flipped" classroom when I attended a technology summit last summer. I possess a Flip camcorder, and I thought, "Dang, I'll get right on this."

They stopped making these little boogers and that sucks. RIP Flip. 

Then a whole school year went by with zero effort. It's hard to reinvent the wheel when things are going well and you're busy. Fellow teachers in this course, what are some tips to get my butt in gear? I like technology, and I'm fairly good at troubleshooting when left up to my own devices. I prefer the "tinker with it until it works" method of learning, but I know there are some other ways. This class has been a great start, but what are some other resources you suggest?

20 NEW Facts about Flipped Learning in High Ed

This little ditty was posted on Twitter via Dr. Spring, and it contains some shocking (in a good way!) and insightful tips about the "flipped classroom." Well, maybe tips isn't the best term-more like 20 factoids and statistics debunking the mystery behind flipped teaching. Below are some of my favorites.

5. On average, 8 out of 10 flipped teachers have more than 6 years of experience teaching; 42 percent of ‘flippers’ have been teaching for 16 years or more.
I've  only been teaching for 4 years, so I'd like to break this statistic this year by pledging to do something "flipped." Who's with me?
6. While math and science classes were still flipped the most, there was a significant increase in English classes. In 2014, flipped teachers also reported using the method for social studies (18 percent), technology and computer sciences (17 percent) and world languages (7 percent).
I can name five assignments right off the bat from my English classroom that would be great for the flipped environment. Book report assignments, small class notes, mini-online lectures, and extra credit opportunities to name a few! 
19. The most common concerns about Flipped Learning are: student access at home, needed instruction on how to make or find high-quality videos, how to best use additional classroom time, and the time required to develop a flipped course.
Here's the major bump in the road. What do we do about students who can't afford computer access at home and have no way to transport themselves to a public library? In my opinion, this is where the school steps in. I know that Rock Hill school district now has iPads for all 5th graders as long as their parents sign a waiver and attend one info session. Also, despite massive budget cuts, schools are getting access to new technology now more than ever. Teaching is all about being able to monitor and adjust at the drop of hat, and I feel like the concern on "how to best use additional classroom time" is over the top. I know what I would do if I could cut out 20 minutes everyday spent on explaining things five times: party! Just kidding, I would actually build in times for more meaningful activities and possibly cross-curricular stuff. 
What are your thoughts on this facts and statistics? And furthermore, are you proud that I stepped out of my comfort zone and used a photo this post? Baby steps! 

Response to Warnock #4: Chapters 11-12

Warnock begins chapter 11 with a pitch for online grading and feedback. He writes, "When you teach writing online, your methods of responding to students are forced to change, often for the better. In many cases, the change is mild: you begin typing in-text comments on a word processor instead of writing them hurriedly-and sometimes illegibly-in the margins. Similarly, you type a brief (but possibly longer than handwritten) end comment" (121). Warnock's thoughts on feedback mirror my own. If I could type everything, I would definitely give better constructive feedback while spending less amount of time. Warnock's comment about "illegible margin notes" fits me to a tee, and it put into perspective things I could be utilizing as a teacher.

I cannot tell you how nice it would be to have my students turn in major assignments electronically. Just this past year, I have played around with GoogleDocs a little bit. I've managed to create a class quiz and give one assignment entirely online. It was a book report assignment, and and I modeled to students how to access the assignment and turn it in via GoogleDocs. It worked well for the most part, and I was able to give feedback in a more personal light. However, the assignment was problematic for students who do not have computer access at home. I discussed this obstacle in an earlier blog post, and my suggestion for this is to build in time for students to work in class. I realize this defeats the purpose of an all-electronic assignment, but baby steps are necessary in order for larger change to occur.

Warnock's ideas towards voice comments and podcasts are great, although the software Warnock mentions seems a bit convoluted. Vocaroo is a fantastic little tool you can use to record your voice and download to make a podcast. It isn't very fancy, which is exactly the way I like it. I've used this in a previous online course with great results.

As for the chapter on grading, I really don't have much to say about this except that Warnock is absolutely.postively.insanely.correct. Holistic is the way to go for grading writing assignments, and I like the fact that Warnock pushes for everything to be graded. Even if it's for a small grade, effort counts and should be rewarded.