I'd like to give you a glimpse into my online classroom
and real life classroom.
In future blog posts I will address all of the different online tools that I use in my classroom but in this post I want to talk about Notes; or, what we call in the online class; Extreme Notes.
(Angel and BlackBoard are some other examples of online learning platforms).
I create videos of me teaching the notes. I purposely make them no more than 3-5 minutes long. (I use
a Bamboo Tablet
on my MacBook to create the videos but you could use
a SmartBoard or other Interactive White Board
or a video camera and PowerPoint also.)I also scour the previous Regents exams (online at: http://www.nysedregents.org/livingenvironment/ ) for questions that relate to content and I find YouTube videos that reinforce the concepts I want the students to understand. I then put them into the lesson.
This is how the Extreme Notes works: the students watch a short video and copy the notes (they can pause and review if they need to). They copy down the notes into their binders.
The entire process of creating what was a 40 minute lesson takes over 4 times as long to create but there are many benefits that make it worth the effort if you can find the time. When I recorded my videos I taught all four sections of my class the lesson face-to-face then during my prep period at the end of the day I would turn off my lights, lock the door and hide in the corner and record the lessons so I wouldn't be interrupted. Once interrupted, you have to start over. After the videos are created the work is not over, each lesson has to be planned out so the videos, Regents Questions, basic questions, and the sequencing has to be mapped out and put into place. I was on the computer so much at home that my husband coined a new term for me: "A mouse-potato" (similar to a couch potato...but I was always on the computer).
Here are the main benefits I have found for teaching the content online:
Benefit #1: I no longer have to teach that concept four times in the same day. Although we often make changes to adapt to each classes interests and class discussions, you have to admit that your lessons are still 95% the same in every class. Every time I was lecturing the old way I was thinking to myself that there has to be a better way to do this.
Benefit #2: Because I am not directly lecturing each class for at least 4 times a day...I don't lose my voice in November anymore. In the past I could almost predict down to the day of the year when I would have laryngitis but not anymore.
Benefit #3: I am not distracted by signing a pass, a student who is trying to do their math homework, a student with uncontrollable hiccups, a fire drill, a student trying to get the class off task, etc. I remember exactly what I want to say and exactly when I want to say it and every class gets exactly the same instruction.
Benefit #4: I now am able to assist all of my students when they are confused with something in a way that I couldn't when I was the soul source of information in the classroom. I am now my own classroom aide.
Benefit #5: My students can go through the notes at their own pace. In the past it was a struggle to keep the fast writers engaged while waiting for the slow writers to catch up. Now they can pause the video, copy what they need and listen to the video. Some students also have a problem listening to the explanations while writing. Now they can write then listen, write then listen, etc.
Benefit #6: The students can watch the videos as many times as they want without "looking stupid." They can even download them on to their iPods or iPhones and watch them anywhere to study. I had a girl in my class last year who would watch the videos on her phone while doing her hair in the morning.
Benefit #7: They can access the lessons from anywhere in the world if they have an internet connection. So now if they are on home instruction or on a family vacation, they are still a part of our class and do not miss anything going on in class.
Benefit #8: In the past, I would ask a question to the entire class and it was challenging to get all students to think about the question and come up with an answer. Although there are some ways to get more engagement from the students most often one student would answer the question and we would move on. It was tough to get all of the class to participate in their learning by thinking. By 9th grade they had become skilled in question avoidance (by not looking the teacher in the eye, letting the one student answer, and letting the class move on without them). Now, each student has to answer the questions by themselves. They can use their notes, and take the amount of time that they personally need to process the information.
At any one time in my classroom there are 24 different students at 24 different places in the unit. They may be on the same assignment as somebody near them but they are at a different part of that assignment. No longer do they have somebody right next to them with the answers. They all have to do the work themselves.
originally posted at ballinwithballing.blogspot.com