Well, we are finally nearing the end of our major project! Having the experience of remote learning under my belt due to the pandemic was actually somewhat helpful when designing my prototype. I entered this course with some background knowledge of Google Classroom, Google Meets, and creating assignments virtually. Of course, I wouldn’t say I was doing any of this remarkably well, but it was helpful having some experience to draw from. This assignment gave me the chance to reflect on and recognize what worked, what didn’t, and what I missed that may have made my remote learning experience go a little smoother. Plus, having the opportunity to learn about some ed. tech tools was a bonus! Keep reading to learn more about my prototype and process!
Course Prototype Overview
I teach Grade 4/5 and designed my course for my current group of students. There are a variety of learning needs to consider, so I figured this would be a good group to design my prototype around. One of my favourite assignments to do with my students is novel studies! I love the classroom bond that this assignment brings and I feel it is a great way to expose students to different kinds of literature. Since I wanted students to have more interaction with each other, I decided to tackle this idea in the form of literature circles/book clubs. I envision this course being completed using the flipped model. Students have tasks they must complete outside of school (e.g.: watching their instructional videos) and work on their assignments at school. I found this model appealing because there is potential that I could make this work in my own classroom and it allows me to provide more small group/one-on-one time with students. Bergmann highlights that this is one of the key features of the flipped model, as he states, “It’s about maximizing class time for deeper student engagement.” To differentiate for the variety of learners in my classroom, I decided on three different novels:
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Grade 3-4)
- Restart by Gordon Korman (Grade 5-6)
- Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown (Grade 2)
Students were put in groups based on their novel and were assigned a specific book club task for the week. The tasks each student has changes on a rotation schedule. These tasks are: The Connector, Illustrator, Word Wizard, Plot Profiler, and Discussion Director. For my group of students who are reading Flat Stanley, I’ve adapted their book club tasks slightly. Outside of class time, students would read or listen to their chapter section, then watch their instructional video that shows them how to complete their task for that rotation. I planned on posting videos I created myself of their chapter section read alouds and using EdPuzzle to create comprehension checks. In class, I would meet with each group and students would use their class time to complete their task. Next, students will meet with their group and share their work. After their meeting, students must post on Flipgrid to share their task for that rotation and comment on three of their classmates’ posts. Lastly, students must also complete a self assessment through Google Forms to offer me some insight into how their meeting went.
My final module was designed to be a “wrap up project” around the concept of theme. At this point, students would be finished their books and their book club rotations. To begin this project, students must first watch their instructional video on theme. Next, they must choose one of the three options to do for the Theme Project (this portion would be completed prior to students coming to school):
- Theme Collage
- Theme Poster
- Theme Script and Skit
Students will complete these projects at school and I will provide small group/one-on-one instruction as needed during class time. When students have completed their projects, they will share them in the form of a Flipgrid post and must comment on three of their classmates’ posts. Lastly, students must also complete another self assessment to offer me some insight into their Theme Project. Students may also present live to their classmates in the form of a presentation.
Below, I share all of the links and documents that are part of my first and second modules. I will also address the peer reviews completed by my colleagues to highlight some adjustments I made to my course. It is important to note that Google Classroom doesn’t allow visitors, so I’ve provided all attachments and links. I have also created a First Course Walk Through for Module # 1 (see below) and a Final Course Walk Through that includes Module # 2 (keep reading… you’ll get to it soon…).
Module # 1 Attachments & Links
After I received some feedback on my first module, I decided to make some changes! I will go into more detail when I discuss the process, but one of my main changes was including Google Docs. for students who prefer to read their chapter section rather than listen. I took the EdPuzzle questions from the read alouds and put them into separate Google Docs for each novel. This way, students can complete this however they like and I am able to check for comprehension! To view all of my attachments and links from Module # 1 click here!
Module # 2 Attachments & Links
Flipgrid: The Theme Project Reflection
Materials for Each Project Option: Theme Collage Organizer, Theme Collage Slideshow, Theme Poster Organizer, Theme Poster Instructional Video (Google Drawings), Theme Poster Google Drawings, Theme Script and Skit
Course Prototype Process
Getting My Bearings…
This project truly was a process! I already entered this course with some background knowledge, which was helpful, but I definitely had a long way to go! Before I began creating my Course Profile, I needed to decide which subject area I wanted to cover. Initially, I thought about doing something in Grade 4 Science. However, my students have been very engaged in our current book club. Since I’ve been working with this idea already in my classroom, I felt it would be beneficial to think about how this could look in a blended/online learning environment. Plus, teaching a split, I’m always looking for ways to bring the two curricula together! Book Clubs just made sense!
Diving Into The Course Profile!
Since I decided on Literacy, my first thought was, “How do I make this accessible for such a wide range of reading levels?” This sparked the idea of having three novels, between a Grade 2-6 range. Our Discord chat was helpful when I was deciding on a lower level book– I had lots of great input from everyone! Lastly, I decided on using a flipped model for my course format. I felt this model could transition smoothly into my current practice, should I ever decide to use a flipped approach. In my Course Profile, I named a variety of tools I thought about using, however, I used some tools I was not planning on and did not use tools I thought I would. The following are the tools I implemented: Google Docs, Google Slides, Jamboard, EdPuzzle, Google Drawings, WeVideo, iMovie, and YouTube. Initially, I thought about working with characterization for the wrap up of Book Clubs. In the end, I decided to focus on theme, as I felt we have not worked with this concept very much in this unit. In addition, I saw a lot of opportunities for differentiating assignments by working with theme.
Creating Module # 1
My goal for Module # 1 was to set up Book Clubs. In order for my set up to make sense, I felt I needed to outline each of the weekly roles and provide “mini” modules. I also created the task sheets for students through Google Docs., as well as differentiated task sheets for my lower level reading group. Something that I felt lacked with my remote learning set up before was peer interactions, so I decided that students need to create posts and comment on each other’s posts through Flipgrid. In addition, I created read alouds for a chapter section of each novel. I then used EdPuzzle to create comprehension checks to engage the students as they listen. I wanted my read alouds to reflect the classroom environment and offer a sense of presence, so I did them myself. Students would watch their read aloud and their instructional video for their Book Club task at home. In class, I would meet with groups and provide time for students to work on their assignment. After filming, I edited all of my videos through iMovie and posted them to YouTube. The final step was to organize this on my course shell. Google Classroom allows users to make Topics to help organize assignments, which made this quick and simple!
Most of the feedback I received echoed my own thoughts. I was quite happy with how my first module came together, but quickly realized that this would be difficult to maintain for the entirety of Book Clubs. The recommendations from my reviewers were fantastic! Click here to read in detail about my feedback, but in summary:
- Creating read alouds for every chapter section for each book will be a lot of work. Try finding audiobooks or read alouds to share with students. Students could also be required to read their chapter section independently on occasion. YES. This was a lot of work to create! If I were to use this “in real life” I would definitely need to cut down on my level of self-created read alouds. As much as I think this offers a sense of presence, there are other aspects of my course that fulfill this requirement.
- Providing Google Docs. with the EdPuzzle questions for students who do not want to listen, but would prefer to just read on their own. This was a great idea! I can still do a comprehension check with these students, while also offering them another avenue to complete their reading! I added this to my first module, as noted above.
- I should clarify my rationale for my decision around the course format. I went back adjusted this on my Course Profile. I agree with my reviewer on this one… I wasn’t very direct, so hopefully this adjustment changes that!
- Course interactions were a strength in Module # 1. This was a piece of feedback that made me feel proud because I was very intentional about building community online. Although the students would see each other at school, I felt it was necessary for this sense of community to be developed online as well.
Creating Module # 2
Since creating my Course Profile, I changed my mind about how I wanted to wrap up this assignment. I decided to shift from characterization to theme. I felt this is an important component to address in a novel study and that there were many opportunities for assignment choices. Providing choice is important, as students are more likely to be successful if they have an opportunity to drive their own learning. In addition, I wanted to provide students with options that were hands on and digitally based to reach a variety of learning styles, as Bates highlights the importance of knowing your students. To complete this module, students must watch the instructional video on theme outside of school, along with the video that outlines their project options for The Theme Project. Students will then come to class with an idea about what they would like to do for their project and meet with me in their groups, so I can touch base with each student. Once students have made their decision, they will work on this during class. Again, I used iMovie and YouTube to create these videos. As I began creating Module # 2, I thought about adding a speaking component to my outcomes. Students may present their projects to an audience and they do regular posts/comments on Flipgrid, so I felt this outcome fit in well. I revisited my Course Profile and added in these outcomes for Grades 4 and 5.
Other Ideas and Thoughts…
I found developing ideas for this project somewhat overwhelming… The opportunities are endless! Since we did not develop a full course necessarily, the following are some ideas I would potentially put into action in a fully designed course and some other questions/thoughts.
- For my instructional videos I used Google Jamboard as my “whiteboard”, which was easy and served my purpose for the videos. If I were to complete this course, I would like to use Jamboard with my students during their Book Club meetings to brainstorm predictions, inferences, ideas about characters, etc. Out of curiosity, what tools did you use to create your videos? Normally, I don’t have any issues with iMovie, but I’ve been finding the exporting process so incredibly tedious… Any other suggestions?
- I would definitely need to adjust this course based on my students. I feel like there are a lot of working parts, so some aspects would need to be downsized or only completed on occasion. Perhaps commenting on Flipgrid could be completed 2 or 3 times throughout the course rather than for every meeting? Thoughts? Ideas?
- Bates highlights the SECTIONS Model, which focuses on choosing appropriate media. I do believe that “less is more”, however, I think it is also beneficial to be critical and continue exploring new tools! Are there any tools out there that I would find helpful/more effective than what I used?
- I’m on the fence about this one: Opening my Google Classroom stream for students to connect with each other or myself. I have done this in the past and it has turned into unrelated/unhelpful comments that clog the feed. I like that it is informal, but giving this kind of freedom may be too much for some groups. However, a happy medium to consider in the future is the Question feature on Google Classroom. Having something specific to respond to and limited to only one part of my course shell would make having forum-type discussions much smoother! In this post, I discuss some ways I planned on creating meaningful course interactions. Bates highlights the importance of having clear expectations and teacher presence when having students interact online . If I were to incorporate forum or informal posting, pre-teaching around this would be necessary! I’ve created a Flipgrid Response Rubric which is included on my course shell. If I were to design a complete course, I would develop some lessons around digital citizenship and creating productive posts/comments online.
…And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for…
I hope to continue building and adapting this course over time. I appreciate all of the feedback and guidance along the way. Thank you for taking a read!
Until next time,