FInal CEP 811 Reflections

Professional Assessment & Evaluation:

It’s fitting that the final week of CEP 811 is all about evaluation and assessments. This course incorporated a strong focus on the maker kits that we purchased during the first week of the course. When I was choosing my maker kit (Raspberry Pi), I was not looking into how I could use the kit in my specific classroom or the specific subject I teach. However, after engaging in Maker Education throughout this course, I could definitely see incorporating this whole idea of “making” into my classes, especially since I teach Science and, like James Paul Gee states in the Edutopia video, Science has always been about learning by ‘doing’ science. Would I specifically use the Raspberry Pi in my class? Probably not. I found making Life Science topics (the main subject I teach) with the Raspberry Pi challenging for myself, and feel that sixth graders would struggle using the actual Raspberry Pi to “make” with. As in, I would be the one “making” and the students would just use what I made, and I feel like that is not the purpose of Maker Education.

Still, I would still have students “make” in my class, and to evaluate the effectiveness of their product based on the purpose of their product–specifically if the product addresses the needs of the original problem proposed. I would also take from Grant Wiggins’ rubric for creativity and assess whether students used materials in unique or creative ways while not being wasteful! For example, in my Life Science class, I may have students make a tool to unclog a model of a clogged artery while we learn about the circulatory system. Or during our unit on Ecology, I may have students make habitats for small organisms (such as a birdhouse for a bird) that meets the needs of that organism. Could these things be made using the Raspberry Pi, probably not–but still, I’m really excited to take the ideas behind Maker Education and make it a reality with my students.

 

Personal Assessment & Evaluation:

I do feel like I made personal growths in CEP 811. I was able to re-visit some ideas from my College of Education days (such as learning theories) and use these ideas in a whole new way in different designs and technologies. I deepened my knowledge of re-purposing (which I was introduced to in CEP 810) and also learned some completely new ideas, like remixing! All in all, I do see growth in my understanding–I really appreciate that the courses in MAET (so far) work on connecting concepts to innovating ideas in education. In this course specifically, I sometimes felt like we were jumping around a lot–for example, we began by learning about re-purposing/remixing and were introduced to our maker kits, then didn’t do anything with our maker kits, then had to go back to working on our maker kits. We also had our conference proposal assignment which seemed to be randomly thrown in as well with some other assignments that didn’t totally feel like it made the course “flow” very well. However, all in all I feel that I did expand my understanding of my maker kit, and deepened my knowledge of many new concepts.

References:

Gee, J. (2008). Grading with Games. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU3pwCD-ey0

Wiggins, G. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: yes you can, and yes you should. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/

Choose your own SoTL Adventure!

As CEP 811 winds down, we are learning about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). MSU’s Office of Faculty and Organizational Development describes SoTL as a way to promote teaching as a scholarly endeavor which is worthy of research as well as create a community of teachers who add their research and gain from the research of others. This week we were asked to “Choose our own SoTL Adventure” by finding scholarly articles about our own teaching practices and areas of interest and writing an annotated bibliography about each article. This could not have been accomplished without the help of a librarian at MSU’s Library, which lead me in the right direction to find such articles.

I began by listing out some of my interests, which included: Implementation of a digital curriculum, mastery learning, and blended learning for K-12 education. While researching, I found a plethora of articles in each of my interests, but decided to focus on the articles related to Blended Learning.

 

Gedik, N., Kiraz, E., & Ozden, M. Y. (2013). Design of a Blended Learning Environment: Considerations and Implementation Issues. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. 29(1), 1-19.

This article is a study done on transitioning a college sophomore level course from  face-to-face to a blended model. The study tracks the instructor, peers, and students as the course progresses throughout the semester. The outcomes present many advantages of transitioning to a blended learning course (where each week some activities are face to face and others are online). These advantages include students furthering their discussions in an online forum where they are able to elaborate more and have the conversation recorded in a way where they can refer to it later. However, there were disadvantages that went along with the transition as well. The instructor found that she was spending more hours, on average, per week as she had to prepare for her face-to-face time with students as well as prepare online discussions, etc. She struggled with providing immediate feedback in both environments and managing the technology (i.e. recording her voice on her powerpoint presentations). The article concludes that the meaning of learning does not change with a blended learning model, however the course designer must take many aspects of learning into consideration while designing a blended learning course.

This source was helpful in understanding the major task of transitioning a face-to-face course into a blended model. This article was reliable in that the study shows the pros/cons of transitioning into a blended learning environment, and the tasks required to make this transition a reality. I found the study very interesting–especially the struggles the instructor encounters, however it may not be as useful to K-12 educators whose schedule of courses are different than higher education courses.

Imbriale, R. (2013). Blended Learning. Principal Leadership. 13(6), 30-34.

This article was written by a high school principal from Baltimore, who was faced with the challenge of improving science learning to his high school students. Many of their graduating seniors went onto further their education, only to find out they were required to retake science courses they were to have already had in high school. Imbriale chose to implement a blended learning model which makes learning personalized, and extends learning outside the walls of the classroom. Imbriale’s school designed a blended science course where students learned biology, chemistry, and physics through a “history of science” course. Flipped learning was incorporated where students would watch videos on labs and then perform those actual labs in class the next day. The first year, they had to make many changes, one being improved professional development for teachers, however, the blended learning model was successful in terms of showing personalized growth within individual students.

This article was very helpful in understanding how a blended learning model could be successful in a high school environment. The information seems very reliable and is actually rather interesting reading it from the perspective of a principal. I would be nice to see the actual data from this course, especially since the principal said that after the first year, they did have to make some changes. How did those changes benefit the personalized education they were aiming for? This article helped me first, have a better understanding of how a course could be turned to a blended course in a high school classroom. Second, since much of my understanding of blended learning is from college level courses, this article helped me realize that blended learning can be successful in K-12 education.

 

McKinstry, E. (2012). Expanding CTE Opportunities through Blended Learning. Leadership. 42(2), 30-31.

This article focuses on a need to promote career and college readiness with high school learners, specifically those in Career Technical Education (CTE) courses. McKinstry writes about a high school in Los Angeles which offers professional development, teacher certification, and other resources for teachers wishing to blend their courses. The main idea behind incorporating a blended learning model is to promote a rigorous curriculum within career technical education. Many districts that have implemented this type of learning noted that one of the major benefits is that they are able to offer courses that would otherwise not be available for their students.

The article does makes some valid points about promoting rigor in the classroom, namely with career tech classes, which may have a stereotype of not being as rigorous. Compared to other articles I read, this one did not offer as many suggestions as to how to implement this type of curriculum into a school, but does show another example of blended learning in K-12 education. Also, I would be interested in the success rate of students who went onto fields they had studied in their CTE classes prior to blended learning versus after blended learning.

 

Schorr, J., & McGriff, D. (2012). Future Schools: Blending Face-to-Face and Online Learning. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review. 77(5), 30-37.

This article showcases about four different schools from elementary to high school that have taken the blended learning model and made it their own. In each of the schools, the authors describe what a day in the life of one of their students might look like. All the schools use some sort of program that students spend some portion of their day on that program. These programs are designed for students to practice a certain skill, learn some new concept, or assess what the student has learned. In each example, the teachers are given immediate feedback on the students’ learning and is able to use that data to place them into groups. So, if a student is using the computer one day, and is struggling with that specific concept, the next day the teacher may put that student in a small group where they are focusing on that content. The article mentions that these schools happen to be high poverty schools, yet their success using the blended learning model is shown in their data.

I am really glad I found this article, it seemed to express exactly what I was curious about–can the blended learning model work in K-12 education? The very first example is about first graders who are successful in their classes by using blended learning. I also appreciate the fact that the authors support each school with the data that shows their improvements, and also mentions the different programs each school is using, and the ways they have found it to be successful.

 

Pape, L. (2010). Blended teaching & learning. School Administrator, 67(4), 16-21.

Pape, the president and CEO of the Virtual High School Global Consortium in Maynard, Massachusetts, describes how developing courses that blend face-to-face interactions with virtual tools helps foster 21st century learning in her school. She describes how in one high school social studies class, students were using wikis, digital storytelling, blogs and other web tools to learn about human rights violations around the world. The teacher mentions that before, her students felt disconnected to these topics and were never really interested are now learning these concepts in a whole new way and are making deeper connections with their learning. Pape goes on to describe the different tools that are available for implementing a blended learning model as well as the success stories of many teachers.

This article gives another perspective from an administrative point of view on how blended learning reaches all students in their school. This is helpful to read, as it shows the amount of support offered by administrators to instructors who are implementing blended learning into their classrooms. I also appreciated the web toolkits Pape writes about and how they are successfully implemented into blended learning classrooms.

 

This assignment would have been much more tedious had I not worked with a MSU Librarian. I chose to use the online chat feature which connected me directly to a Librarian named Jonathan. I asked him where I could find scholarly articles about the topics I was interested in, and more specifically how I could narrow down my search to certain topics. He immediately sent me to the library’s homepage and directed me on which tabs to click. I found out rather quickly that I was able to search for scholarly articles in the field of Education, which already helped me narrow down my search. He told me the ERIC system was probably my best bet, since it was the largest database for articles on Education, and then gave me examples of how to search for articles using keywords. I asked him if this was available to non-MSU students, as I thought I would definitely want to share some of my learnings with my colleagues at my school. Jonathan did tell me that ERIC is a government based program and some articles would be available, but having my MSU login would grant me access to some articles I wouldn’t otherwise have access to.