Purpose/Background

This page is for FP teachers who have been training to teach class.com courses. We need to complete the following;
  • Operate/Navigate the Class.com (BlackBoard) system
  • Review an article on online learning/teaching
  • Assess a Class.com course using our UBD framework and PBL lens
  • Identify types of students that are likely to succeed in an online learning setting
We completed the 1st item in our pre-work and one day training on January 11th.

Article Review

Working in a group of 3 or more, find an article about "online learning/teaching", read and discuss it and then post highlights and any questions/concerns raised by the article. Please put the name of the article and the names of those in your group at the start of each. An article and some links can be found in

Valerie:
#1 - http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/academic/advanced/coursesonline.pdf
In the article that I read, it stated that the 21st century workforce is not being defined by the ability to perform low-skill jobs, but by "the intellectual capacity and ingenuity required to compete in a rapidly expanding global marketplace. " This reminds me of the "Shift Happens" presentation. We are preparing students for jobs that don't even exist yet. The majority of these new jobs are going to require more higher-order thinking and 21st skills. I feel very good about the work we do at Future Pathways with preparing students for the world at large and I see incorporating online courses, in whatever form that takes, as another way of ensuring student success once they leave us. How powerful would it be to have a student take at elast one online course before graduation? We would guarantee that each student had experience with online learning and was prepared to use it in the future.
#2 - http://www.evergreenassoc.com/documents/KeepingPace2006.pdf
The first part of the article is an executive summary of the state of online learning in the US. Most of the information is dated (September 2006), when you consider how lightning-fast information changes and updates today. It provided some good information about the issues surrounding online education, such as funding, staff development, and accountability (of the material and the student). Most of these issues seemed to revolve around the state level of introducing online learning, but I think they are obvious things that we will need to think about regarding the use of online learning in FP. The rest of the article simply went into further detail regarding the information stated in the executive summary.

Teresa:
#1 Connections Academy
I found that, like Class.com, many of the online learning opportunities are basically restructuring a text. There is little higher level thinking in many cases. This particular e-learning company promoted the idea that the interactive format and graphics/visuals made for more student engagement than "text alone". The text is still the measure of instruction in so many places. How can we lead online learning to a better place?
#2 NACOL
I read an article written by the NACOL and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. I was drawn to this article because of our connection with "21st Century Skills". One of the questions they were examining: "Can you build 21st Century Skills through online learning?" Their answer was a big yes--they believe that 21st Century Skills are "critical to online learning" and pointed to independence, time management, etc. I agree. In the many online courses I've taken, I feel that intrapersonal skills are built. One other reflection is that by participating in online courses, I learned to be more concise in writing. Online discussions help you limit your words and say only what's needed.

Melanie-
#1- Online Courses
I read an article on online learning. I found the article interesting but vague. It focused on how online learning can help challenge our students so that they can become more successful. It is a way for all students to be pushed in their academics and be able to take courses that may not otherwise be available. I thought that it sounded great...and I agree for the most part. However, just because a class is available online, it does not mean that it is a valuable resourse...each course needs to be evaluated before assuming its worth.
#2-NACOL
I read an article by NACOL on online learning as well. I thought that this resource was very informative on how online learning can really work and be a great opportunity for students. There are several ways that teachers can use online learning to help students learn and to challenge them. I also mentioned that teachers are still able to get to know their students through their writing and communication, and connections are still made even without meeting in person.

Erika
#1 - NACOL http://www.nacol.org/docs/NACOL_21CenturySkills.pdf
I read an article by NACOL on 21st Century Skills. I found this article very informative. This article talks about how US students are falling behind their peers internationally. This article also talks about how in the business world demands are not being met with technology use. The use of time management is also an issue. I found that this article relates to us a lot, because we are teaching kids to use 21st Century Skills and time management that can help them out in the real world.
#2 - eSchool News http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=52228;_hbguid=95c64d10-fea6-43b5-9aa8-fb5c99472112
I read an article on the eSchool website about Cell phones tackling reading and language barriers. This article discussed how you can take a picture with a cell phone and it will read back to you what you took the picture of. For example, the phone took a picture of a $20 bill then told the person it was a $20 bill. They talked about how this is good for students who have a hard time with English, because the phone can talk many different languages. Its also useful for those who are visually impaired. The article states that the best use is for the military and hospitals. I think that it is useful for certain circumstances like those who are learning a language, but I also think that it is not helping our kids today for when they go out into the real world and get a job and have to read different types of documents.
PJ
#1-online courses
Based on the offerings I’ve researched (including Class.com) one crucial component necessary for student success is excellent writing skills. I think these courses would serve a few of our students well, but we need to be very careful in checking prerequisites in order to avoid bad experiences for our students. For example, I am not referencing basic writing skills wherein a student recognizes a thesis statement and the basic five-paragraph ‘freshman’ essay and realizes that all paragraphs need a topic sentence. I am referring to essay questions and assignments requiring a solid background in the literary classics, literary terms and mastery of exposition, narration, description, personal and journalistic writing and knowing when it’s appropriate to use an informal format and the correct voice for the appropriate audience, etc. For example, one of the resources asked a U.S. literature question on Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. In order to answer the question l, however, students would need to know Steinbeck biographical material as well as reading other novels and short stories by him. The question asked to compare and contrast the theme from this novel to the author’s other works and to make correlations to his personal life and relationship based on that theme. Any on-line courses I have viewed for high-school level students seem to consist of advanced-placement type assignments. Again, there are some students who could handle an upper level class in language arts. It’s possible the other curricular areas aren’t as challenging; I only looked at some of the writing and literature classes.
#2 article
I read an article that was fairly general. It did make a valid point on personalization that we sometimes overlook. When students take a course on-line, they are not judged on their looks or behavior. Their grades might be a better reflection of their abilities when we filter out all of those superficial factors- (not that teachers stereotype kids, but students often have a certain 'reputation' with other students, or act a certain way that may/may not influence their work).




Class.com, UBD and PBL

Working with a group of 3 or more, pick a course that one of you might teach on Class.com. Examine the Class.com materials in light of the UBD framework and PBL. Respond to the these questions in the space below. How does the Class.com course align with our UBD? How does it "fit" with our FP PBL approach? How might you modify the course to enhance the alignment/fit? Please put the name of the course you evaluated and the names of your group at the start of your responces.

Group: Gene, Valerie, and PJ
Class: CONVERSATIONAL ENGLISH: EXPLORE YOUR WORLD
How does the Class.com course align with our UBD?
The content is Earth Science based. This would be a good course pairing. It aligns with the ELL UbD well. It covers most skills, excluding the second understanding relating to cultures until unit three.
The course objectives led us to believe the more culture would be incorporated. They also led us to believe that English 9-12 would be good course pairings, due to the fact that an emphasis was placed on elements of literature. However, through our search we did not encounter these elements until units three and four. At the end of these units, they provided a story, incorporating the content vocabulary and the cultural pieces.
It also seemed very heavy on the reading. Although audio files are available (listening), the amount of reading is not comparable to the writing or speaking. Speaking is a “practice” suggestion at the beginning of a unit lesson.

How does it “fit” with our FP PBL approach?
While the course objectives listed “projects and activities,” we didn’t really see any. Assignments were viewed that seemed more skill and drill. There were also many quizzes and tests. Activities that were multiple choice provided feedback when the answer was incorrect, however, the “please explain” function simply confirmed that the student had answered correctly or incorrectly (ie. there was no explanation).
We saw the benefit of using the content vocabulary in an ELL project comparing homelands to the US in terms of Earth Science. There were some graphic organizers that would help students organize their thoughts. This class would work well as the research before a teacher/student-created project.

How might you modify the course to enhance the alignment?
· Eliminate some of the activities that are confusing (homonyms)
· Create speaking activities as requirements
· FIX THE DICTIONARY!
· Supplement with authentic PBL/UbD piece(s)

Group: Melanie and Teresa
Class: US History A/B
How does this Class.com course align with our UbD?
We were frustrated at the seemingly "trivial" items that were "covered" and tested over. Several times we looked at each other and said, "Why does anyone need to know this?" We believe some content could be eliminated; other parts rearranged--perhaps around themes, understandings, or essential questions.
How does it "fit" with our FP PBL approach?
There were no real "Project-based" assignments or assessments. Although there were several attempts to make it personal (with writing prompts), there was little authenticity--or any of the 6Fs, 6As, 21st Century Skills, etc.
How might you modify the course to enhance the alignment?
-
Remove or re-order curriculum around themes, understandings, questions.
-Create performance tasks and assessments that reflect the 6As, 6Fs, and 21st C Skills
-Use teacher conversations (phone, in person, through email) to deepen thinking.
-Students would have the oppportunity to do more with the information they are learning besides papers. (projects with the material?)
-copies or revisions would be accepted and promoted rather than the given assignments and tests.

Group: Valerie, Erika, Sarah, and Teresa
Class: American Government
How does this Class.com course align with our UbD? It seems to "cover" everything, but not in our type of framework. We see some benefit for using the site for research purposes. It's very thorough, but not interesting. Lots of "hmmm...who cares?"--lots of reading, writing, quizzes.
How does it "fit" with our FP PBL approach? First reaction: "it doesn't"--second reaction: it's more about reading information and writing, no GRASPS, etc. There was one writing assignment on making a policy to eliminate teen pregnancy (good cross-curricular idea) but it requires work outside of the "class.com" structure/coursework, would require dialogue with the student and further discussion.
How might you modify the course to enhance the alignment? Similar ideas as those stated above. Cut out dry pieces, insert "real life" and "21st Century Skills" pieces, change the order to make more digestable. Is it worth having five units (one per branch, etc.)? Could we separate the "everyday person government class" stuff from the "I want to major in political science government class" stuff. Could we include links with more details--beyond the requirements?

Group: Erika
Class: Health Science 1A
How does this Class.com course align with our UbD? It seems to cover all the important information needed in a health course, but it doesn't fit into our type of framework. There are a great number of websites that can be used for research. I like how they laid out the different activities and how to go through each section.
How does it "fit with our FP PBL approach? It doesn't. There are quizzes for the students to take once they are done with the section. The course objectives were listed but no project activities for the students to do. It did offer self-check activities which I see is good and a lot of time we ask the students to reflect on what they have learned. There were also video clips of people in real life situations for students to view.
How might you modify the course to enhance the alignment?
-By adding projects for the students to do instead of writing papers.
-Have the student send in their self-check papers either by email.
-Take out the quizzes and test.
-Have phone call conversations with the student to make sure they understand the topic. This would be good to do after they have sent in the self-reflections sheet to tell the student they understand or to talk with the student if they do not understanding.










Online Success

Examine materials on types of students that seem to do well in online learning. Identify a student (present or past) you have who would seem to be a good match for online coursework. Some materials on "Online Success Factors" can be found in Describe that student's attributes in the space below.

Valerie: Being self-directed is extremely important. So is the ability to be comfortable communicating through writing. With these things in mind, I feel that I have 2-3 ELL students that would be good fits for online learning. Without the ability to communicate in writing, these classes are very difficult. As writing it usually the last thing that an ELL (or an English-speaking) student develops, we'd want to make sure that they have the necessary skills to complete the course.
Teresa: I think that being self-motivated and maintaining good time management are crucial. Students must possess these or be "in progress" on them. I've taken several online courses and if I hadn't had the drive to log in and the skills to prioritize and manage my time, I easily could've sunk. One area that teachers can support is in monitoring progress and giving reminders, encouragement, etc. Even though it's "distance learning", we shouldn't be distant.



FP Tools

Here are 2 proposed tools to help us select and enroll students.
Student Recommendation form
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And a draft survey