EC&I 834 - Designing for Online and Blended Learning

The Making of a Blended Learning Community for Primary Students

We assume that learners will want to come together, that they will be mutually supportive, and they will be driven to learn. But it is important to realize that communities, and particularly virtual learning communities, are not inherently good, desirable or ideal. – Shaping the Metaphor of Community in Online Learning Environments by Richard A. Schwier

As educators we know that when we model a skill, behavior or action our students see that and are eventually able to internalize that they too can do that. Some will put their own spin on it right away and some will do exactly as they have seen, working their way to putting their independent touch on it. Some will do the complete opposite but that’s where we come in! As Schwier mentions in his paper, communities are not naturally formed. They begin as environments and must be nurtured in a specific way to become a community. I felt like this piece really reinforced for me why Amy and I have chosen to organize our prototype in the way that we have.

As Amy mentions in her post this week, we have chosen to create a blended grade 2 science course. We have our rationale together, our course overview and an outline of the modules ready to go and into our Weebly which will act as our LMS. However, just like Amy mentioned our LMS is a bit of a pseudo LMS as it is not the space where students will go to access their required tasks for the course.  However the Weebly  does provide educators with everything they will need to teach this course. Provided my teaching assignment stays the same next year, I plan to continue to build the remaining modules in the course to use for this unit in Science next year!

weebly
A look at the homepage for our course prototype LMS.

Inside each of the categories Amy and I have linked to several google docs that we have curated to guide teachers in planning and teaching this course. Some of the docs are set so that they can only be viewed and not changed. However, we do have one that allows for collaboration of educators and for feedback on the unit itself. We have designed this so that any educator can take it and use it with the technology resources they have available to them. Whether they be plentiful or not!

As an idea for an introduction to the unit, we are having students watch the videos found on the main page of the Weebly and then commenting on this TodaysMeet. We have also linked to a ‘how to’ video for those educators who are not familiar with how TodaysMeet works.

Being that we are planning a course for primary students there are certain factors we needed to take into account, such as:

  • Reading abilities
  • Access to technology at home
  • Comfort and understanding of how to use technology
  • Problem solving skills
  • Student ability to write and share understanding or collaborate with others.

In came Seesaw! If you’ve read my blog posts before or were part of #eci833 last semester you have seen how passionate I can be about the use of technology and specifically Seesaw in a primary classroom. The ease of use, student friendly organization and possibilities are truly endless and my teaching has changed and continues to change sometimes daily because of this amazing tool.

So how are we going to use Seesaw?

Our purpose for using Seesaw comes from the opportunities it provides. Students are able to access it on any device and at any time. Seesaw offers various ways to log in and the information needed to log in can be provided by the teacher very quickly. Whether it be the QR code, an email or a text code. Though teachers will need to explicitly teach students how to log in, the process is very simple and takes very little time for students to get used to. Once they know how to log in, it’s smooth sailing from there! Many students are able to pick up how to use the app on their own without instruction. However, for those that need more guidance a conversation with a classmate, a quick screencast or conversation would clarify any confusion.

As Amy says in her post:

SeeSaw also provides a multitude of options for posting content, students can draw, video, add notes, pictures and even audio recordings to share what they have seen or experienced.  Additionally, the Facebook feed like format allows for comments/likes etc., which has benefits for the ‘outside world’ interactions.  As we are attempting to implement a ‘flipped classroom’ sort of feel, the modules will each dictate what is required of the students.

Amy and I have both created a Seesaw class for our prototype. To show what a possible activity for students might look like I created a sample post that students would comment on:

seesaw

As the teacher of this course, a quick look at the student responses would allow you to see who understands solids, liquids and gases and who needs additional support. This could be a formative assessment piece or a summative piece depending on where it is implemented in the unit. The teacher is also able to comment and could direct students back to read or view the comment.

Our sample lessons/modules will run similar to the activity that I did with my students shared in last weeks post on Intentional Teaching.

After reading this post do you have any questions or I wonder comments for us? Would be great to hear from you as we continue to work through the organization of our course.

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7 thoughts on “The Making of a Blended Learning Community for Primary Students

  1. I think you and Amy are incredible for taking on the task of working with primary students and developing this course around them. I mean it makes sense since those are the students you are working with, but I feel intimidating designing the course for high school students so I can’t imagine how you guys are feeling with primary aged children.

    Seesaw is a great tool and is really user-friendly for students, teachers, and parents. I think you have chosen the right tool for the age group you guys are working with. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

  2. Great post. You guys have done a lot of work on your project. We are doing something similar in using See Saw, but we are organizing our modules on a Google Classroom format. Good to read some similar thoughts at the primary level, as we are creating ours for grade 3. Thanks for posting.

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